We review the Fuji Aloha 1.0 Ironman triathlon bike
Fuji Aloha 1.0
Fuji produces a full range of aero machines and even its entry-level bike ticks most top-end feature boxes to produce a good-looking and super-friendly introduction to reduced drag riding.
Frame and Fork
The Fuji frame certainly looks the part, with the short inset headset tube giving seriously low cockpit potential and thin carbon-bladed aero fork giving cutting-edge drag reduction. Deep oval down tube, aero seat tube with wheelhugger cut-out and skinny top tube keep airflow clean. Rearward facing dropout wheel slots manage tyre clearance, and the gear and rear brake cables are internally routed through the tubes.
You can also dismantle and rebuild the two-position seatpost to give a properly radical forward- pedaling position. This is great for those who like to feel that they’re right over the pedals or whose guts get crushed by a conventional seat angle when they’re in a deep tuck. It’s a neat touch – especially as the deep section seatpost is carbon – and shows Fuji have really done their triathlon bike homework and applied it right down to this affordable level.
There’s no concession to cost in the kit either, with the Shimano Dura-Ace tip shifter, Ultegra/105 gears and FSA chainset transmission seemingly the default on £1,500 aero bikes this year. Well-established brand Oval Concepts provide the mid-weight semi-aero wheels with bladed spokes, slightly flexy reverse bolt stem, colour-coded saddle and dual-pivot brakes. Profile’s widely adjustable T2 and T1 cockpit provides comfortable contact up front, with Dura-Ace tip shifters for efficient ‘in tuck’ gear changing. The complete bike package is reasonably light, and small touches like the cable rub protectors and height markers on the aero post add daily use convenience.
Ironically the first thing you feel when you hop onto the Fuji is that the saddle is too low. Checking with shoe heel and tape soon proves that actually it’s OK, but the low-slung bottom bracket and saddle area contrasts with the high profile arm pads for a more ‘sit up and beg’ feel than normal. The low head tube means it’s easy to drop another few centimetres out of the front end if you’ve got the flexibility to handle it though. Alternatively, you can keep all the spacers under the stem on the tall steerer tube for a more orthopedic outlook on positioning.
There’s noticeable flex through the front end, plus more bounce and spring in the bars and pedals and a less-focused acceleration response than some of the competition when you press hard. The steering and line holding is similarly soft edged rather than razor sharp or battleaxe solid when it comes to getting your knee down or keeping the bike locked on line when leathering a big gear round. While this means the whole bike definitely feels more Toy Story than Terminator, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all for an affordable entry-level aero bike.
For a start, the frame and cockpit softness means a very comfortable cruising feel that relaxes you into the ride with a smile on your face for as long as it takes to get to the finish. We don’t mean it encourages you to give up on effort entirely either, it’s just the frame doesn’t flog you relentlessly forward to beat the last calories and muscle twitch out of your legs before you’ve even started the run. The handling is blissfully relaxed and surefooted too, meaning lazy reaches for back pocket gels or casual scrolling of computer data became the norm however gusty the weather.
It’s similarly encouraging on descents too, where we still felt we could have read a book or sketched the passing scenery in a pad at 70kph plus. Even our ex-pro triathlete tester Joe rapidly warmed to the overall friendliness of the frame and position and despite the soft feedback telling us otherwise, actual on road speed wasn’t far off its quickest rivals on a rolling test course in gusty conditions.
It’s not as sharp or as inspiringly quick as the fastest bikes in its price range, but the Aloha is as friendly as it sounds. Super-confident handling, comfortable ride quality and a well thought out, adjustable ride position make it very ergonomically efficient and ideal for those wanting to hit T2 fresh rather than fastest.