Fuji Norcom Straight 2.5 tri bike review
It doesn’t matter how aerodynamic, light or stiff a bike is, if you can’t get into a comfortable position, riding it is going to be difficult – which is why Fuji has gone to such lengths to make its range of Norcom Straight bikes so accommodating in terms of fit parameters.
There are five sizes available, but the adjustability built into them means even the smallest and tallest riders have a wide spectrum of position options open to them, from aggressively low to almost upright. And much of this is thanks to the bikes’ innovative cockpits.
The head tube on the Norcom Straight 2.5, like all the Norcom Straight models, is truncated so that you can run an ‘extreme’ low-profile set-up and have the stem level with the top tube. The stem is from Oval Concepts but was designed in collaboration with Fuji to have the same diameter as the frame’s top tube and a profile that sits perfectly flush with it. Spacers and different angles of stem are available if you don’t have the spinal flexibility for such an acute position, though.
The seatpost – also by Oval Concepts – provides more positional fine-tuning thanks to its 180mm of height adjustability and the 70mm of fore-aft adjustability in the saddle clamp, providing effective seat tube angles from 74° to 81°.
It’s more than enough to give the 6ft 5in American triathlete Matty Reed room to stretch his legs and pitch him forward over the bottom bracket. (And, incidentally, plenty for 220’s similarly lanky test rider, who had space to spare in the aerobars and seatpost – a rarity in a 57cm bike.)
Slim, swift and surefooted
Fit may have been prioritised, but that’s not entirely at the expense of performance, because while the Norcom’s been built to be accommodating it’s also shaped to be rapid.
It’s essentially a slimmed-down, leaner version of Fuji’s D6 TT/tri bike, so as well as full internal cable routing and integrated aero brakes it also benefits from a frame that’s narrower and less bulky than its predecessor.
The most noticeable changes are on the trailing edge of the head tube and the junction of the top tube, seat tube and seatstays, which are considerably sleeker and more refined than on the D6. But the Norcom Straight isn’t only more aero than the D6 (16% according to Fuji’s figures), it’s also stiffer, thanks to the use of ribs in the fork and down tube.
Oval 327 Aero alloy clinchers will guarantee a fast ride
But the most important thing about the Norcom Straight is the fantastic ride it delivers. In a word, it’s excellent. It feels light, it responds instantly to every input, accelerates easily on flats and climbs and turns with the agility of a road bike. For a tri-specific bike, it’s certainly one of the most comfortable and responsive on the market at this pricepoint.
Much of its handling prowess is down to the frame, but some of the credit has to go to the brakes too. Usually integrated aero brakes are spongy and toothless, especially when the rear brake is mounted behind the bottom bracket. But the TRP anchors here are great and let you barrel along safe in the knowledge that you can pull out a big stop if required.
Ride-wise, the Norcom Straight is up there with the very best, but it’s not without niggles.
First (and this relates to all the Norcom Straight models), it has just one set of bottle cage mounts on the down tube. If it’s going to compete with the top tri-specific bikes, it needs considerably more storage options, and preferably ones that can be integrated. There are mounts on the back of the seatpost, but they’re only for a Di2 battery pack.
Secondly, on the 2.5 the Vision bar-end shifters are horrible. They’re better than the previous versions, which looked more like brake levers, but the material is cheap-feeling plastic for the blade and they’re so stiff that getting enough leverage to move them often means you have to bring your arm up off the extension. If it wasn’t for the shifters (the storage options are a more niggling issue) this would be an unbeatable tri bike for the price.
(Images: Jonny Gawler)
Verdict: A genuinely special bike in terms of fit options and ride quality, but it lacks storage options for triathlon and has horrible shifters in its 2.5 guise, 89%
Contact : www.evanscycles.com