Ridden and Reviewed: Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 Carbon Hardtail Mountain Bike

Race-ready with the Fuji SLM

Our coworker Eddie getting ready to race with the Fuji SLM

We first had an opportunity to throw a leg over the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 at the Outdoor Dirt Demo. It was hot off the presses at the time and was something like the 48th bike claiming to be “The Ultimate Bike Ever Made” that we’d seen that day. By this point in the afternoon though, we needed to see some proof in the pudding. You can’t imagine our surprise when after a couple of laps the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 turned out to be our favorite bike of the day.

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About The Bike:

The Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 is a 29″ carbon fiber hardtail bike that’s tailor made for the XC and racing markets. Reading over the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 parts spec, there’s a lot to be impressed by. This is a carbon fiber hardtail that’s dripping with XTR. XTR shifters and derailleurs, sure. But brakes? Cassette? Chain? This bike is decked out in Shimano’s highest level of racing components with only the carbon Oval M600 Crankset breaking the pattern. Why would Fuji decide to pass on Shimano’s crankset? As anyone who has recently spec’d a mountain bike will tell you, Shimano doesn’t make their XTR crankset with a true PF30 spindle. You can get an adapter for the Hollowtech II spindle, but if you truly want to take advantage of the increased stiffness afforded to you by the SLM’s PF30 bottom bracket, a crankset like the Oval M600 is going to deliver.

The Oval M600 crankset gives you the benefits of a 30mm axle spindle

The Oval M600 crankset gives you the benefits of a 30mm axle spindle

The next area that the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 excels in is the frame. Rather than trying to pass off some lesser carbon fiber as the next big thing, Fuji actually uses the next big thing. C15 super-light high-modulus carbon outfitted with internal shift cable routing, the aforementioned PF30 bottom bracket, a tapered headtube and wide 142x12mm dropouts. This makes for one of the lightest hardtail frames available while also providing stiffness to spare. The bike darts uphill so fast you will leave your friends in the dust.

Fuji also offers Fuji SLM 29er 1.3, 2.1, and 2.3 to make it easy for riders to find the 29″ hardtail to fit their needs and skill levels

The (almost) full Shimano XTR group delivers pro-level performance

The (almost) full Shimano XTR group delivers pro-level performance

The Ride:

Enough about the components, let’s get to the riding! The very first experience we had on board the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1 was one that would be repeated with nearly every ride: the tester riding the SLM 1.1 had to wait at the top of the climb for everyone else to catch up. The 29” wheels and knobby tires gave confidence to spare on the descents and it even held its own through moderate rock sections. Where this bike truly excels, however, is the climbing. You’ll float uphill as though the tires are filled with helium.

Another thing that became clear in the ride quality is that this bike was spec’d by someone who really rides and understands mountain bikes. A perfect example is the handlebar. Sure, it was probably picked out of Oval’s lineup for being the lightest bar they make at an amazing 185g. But that’s not all a bar is about. This bar is 710mm wide and has a 9 degree sweep giving the rider confident handling and a comfortable hand position.

Well spec'd parts, like the bars, give the bike an amazing ride feel

Well spec’d parts, like the bars, give the bike an amazing ride feel

The Verdict:

Thoughtful component choices and a finely tuned ride quality make this one of the finest hardtails we’ve ever ridden. This bike is for the rider who wants to squeeze every ounce of performance from his machine, who wants to win races, and who will settle for nothing but the best.  The XC racing bike snob will be as happy as the everyday trail warrior. They are all sweet perfection in mountain biking, balancing weight, comfort, and performance. If you’re thinking about buying a hardtail that you’ll never want to part with, look no further than the Fuji SLM 29er 1.1. The bike was so fast, that we all started arguing about who would get to use our demo model for the upcoming race season. Sitting atop the Fuji, our coworker Eddie rocketed straight to the top of the podium.

Most races on the SLM end only one way: the top of the podium

Most races on the SLM 1.1 end only one way: the top of the podium (#3 left early, it wasn’t just a two person race)

Ridden and Reviewed: Charge Cooker Maxi Fat Bike

I’m not much of a mountain biker. Mostly, I get my kicks—such as they are—on the road. I dabble every now and again, but nothing serious. That is until the dreaded Polar Vortex (I, II, or III– I can’t remember which now) pummeled our North Carolina office with a couple of inches (gasp!) of snow, taking road cycling off the table. I was getting all ready to not ride a bike at all and go lift, when instead I was given a chance to test ride the Charge Cooker Maxi fat bike on a snowy trail ride. I scrounged around for some ill-fitting clothing, geared up and headed out. I admit I looked at the bike dubiously, but within minutes of getting on, I was sold.

Snow biking puts a new spin on old trails, and is a great way to spice up your riding routine.

Big fat bike, big fat fun.

About The Bike: The Charge Cooker Maxi is a fat bike with a steel frame and fork. The bike is designed to accommodate massive, 26X4” tires that mount on 26” x 80mm wide Wienmann rims. This gives you the feel of riding a full suspension bike without all the mechanical moving parts. The bike is a beast that can pretty much roll over anything, and is great for snow, sand, loose dirt, or just generally finding your inner-gnar on the trail. It’s equipped with a SRAM X5 2×10 drivetrain (with an FSA Comet crank).

Rear brake arch has plenty of clearance

Rear brake arch has plenty of clearance, and rack braze-ons make it ideal for bike camping or other off-road touring

Unboxing and Set Up: My Charge Cooker Maxi was already set up as a demo bike, but it should be generally straight forward, since it’s basically a conventional full-rigid mountain bike (with massive tires), so you don’t have to worry about setting suspension sag or fork rebound. The only thing to be aware of is pumping up the tires— they’re so big that even getting to the ultra-low volume of 8-10 PSI can take you several minutes.

I added a set of Forte Platform pedals, bringing the weight to about: 36.6 lbs.

The Ride:  Taking the bike out on the trails in the snow was just pure fun. At first I was a little nervous riding the bike over the snow and compacted ice, but all my worry turned out to be for naught. The bike handled the snow, ice, and buried trail hazards with ease. The feel of the bike is less like riding a mountain bike and more like driving an Abrams tank, sans cannon. It didn’t so much roll over the snow as churn through it, and I rarely felt like I lost traction (actually, the only time I did was when I tried to take an icy corner too tight). I truly felt like I could roll over just about anything—which proved to be the case. Because the tires are so huge, and have such a low volume, the bike can handle rough trail like a full suspension bike—making tackling rocks, logs and trail bumps feel easy and comfortable, but the full rigid frame and fork gave a feel of pedaling efficiency you sometimes don’t get from a full-squish bike.

The bike just kind of rolls over anything

The bike just kind of rolls over anything

The bike isn’t the lightest thing in the world, particularly if you’re used to a featherweight XC rig, but to lament it’s weight is to kind of miss the point. The fat bike isn’t about winning races, it’s about going anywhere you’ve ever wanted to go on a bike. Even with all that heft, it’s still maneuverable and light enough that I was able to chase down some of that ever-elusive Fat Bike Air at one point. Handling was pretty easy, and didn’t feel nearly as sluggish as I had expected. The bike easily got up to speed, and carried momentum nicely into turns. The mechanical disc brakes provide great all-weather stopping power that easily scrubbed speed and provided well-modulated stopping power when I needed it.

The gearing on the bike is also nice and low, so you can spin at a high cadence, but still generate plenty of torque and power to tackle almost anything in your path. One small niggle I did have was fit. Because of the geometry modifications that had to be made to the chainstays to accommodate the massive rear tire, I found the q-factor on the cranks to be a little too wide for me, however that was fixed by simply switching from clipless pedals to a pair of platforms. This actually turned out to be preferable anyway, since I was able to wear hiking boots instead which were A) warmer, and B) easier to get off the bike and go check out stuff off the trail.

Tackling the snow and ice was easy-- and a blast

Tackling the snow and ice was easy– and a blast

The bike also incorporates rack mounts, which make it almost ideal for bikepacking or really getting out and exploring the back country. With no suspension to worry about, the Cooker Maxi would be a nice and dependable rig for some serious trail trips. I love touring and s24o (sub-24 hour overnight) bike camping, so I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of taking the fat bike out and exploring the mountains of western North Carolina this summer.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a fun, versatile, go-anywhere bike, the Charge Cooker Maxi is definitely for you. No matter what conditions or terrain, I have no doubts that this bike could handle them with ease. The Cooker Maxi takes the best aspects of a full-suspension and a hardtail and mixes them together—but with more utility. If you’re not worried about racing, but just want a pure adventure machine then this is the bike for you.

The adventures on this bike have just begun

The adventures on this bike have just begun

71 Reasons We Love Cycling

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It’s Valentine’s Day, which means we want to give a special shout-out to our sweethearts, waiting at home for us to take them out for a nice evening. We’re speaking, of course, about our bicycles.

Whether you’re young or old, a seasoned vet or shopping around for your first bike, you’ll agree that there’s a million reason to love cycling, but we probably can’t think of them all ourselves. So help us out, what do you love about riding?

Here were our Top 71 Reasons To Love Cycling

  1. Unwinding from a long day
  2. Spending time outside
  3. Nothing makes you tougher than riding in bad weather
  4. It makes your legs look ripped
  5. Going farther than you thought possible with your own power
  6. Getting to tell other people “I rode here”
  7. Earning the descent by climbing up first
  8. The first day of the year when you don’t need arm or knee warmers
  9. Those conversations you can only have during a long ride
  10. Feeling dog tired and completely happy
  11. Achieving personal bests on long climbs
  12. Post-ride beers
  13. Trying to turn your significant other into a cyclist (your results may vary)
  14. New Bike Day
  15. The feeling of triumph when you fix your first flat
  16. Those days when you get on the bike and just feel strong
  17. The taste of a fizzy, sugary drink at the finish line
  18. Long, lazy evening rides
  19. Battling the elements
  20. Knowing, in your head, you are a 5-time Paris-Roubaix winner
  21. Having a whole other set of clothes just for cycling
  22. The sound of cycling cleats on coffee shop floors
  23. Passing all the cars stuck in traffic on your way to work
  24. Falling in the rock garden, then going back and nailing it
  25. Letting yourself get lost, and discovering a new route you never knew existed
  26. The feeling of freshly shaved legs
  27. Pre-race jitters
  28. The Zen of Bike Washing
  29. Discovering a new favorite gel flavor (here’s to you chocolate ClifShot)
  30. Riding with no hands
  31. That feeling of flying when you hit the right line on a descent
  32. Unzipping your jersey on a climb
  33. Picking out your favorite bottles
  34. Meticulously unpacking and repacking your hydration pack
  35. Driving home with a muddy mountain bike
  36. The first time you perfectly wrap your handlebars
  37. Learning to unclip without tipping over
  38. Charity rides: doing something you love for a good cause
  39. Secretly watching Le Tour on your computer at work, then minimizing it real fast when your boss comes to your cube
  40. Coffee
  41. Having a shed full of tools Bob Vila doesn’t know about
  42. Seeing things you’d never notice in a car
  43. Sunsets
  44. The agony and the ecstasy
  45. Managing to put on your rain jacket without stopping
  46. Sitting on the top tube at a traffic light
  47. Railing the berm
  48. Vowing to race ‘cross next year
  49. Telling everyone who will listen that you could have gone pro if you’d started earlier
  50. Ride mileage that gets longer with every retelling
  51. Having a rapport with your mechanic
  52. Checking the weekend weather forecast on multiple apps
  53. Driving to the ride
  54. Riding to the ride
  55. Post-ride meals that taste like manna from heaven
  56. Because some of my best thoughts have come while riding a bike
  57. The open road or the perfect trail
  58. Freedom
  59. Meeting new friends
  60. Spending time alone
  61. Learning how to fix it yourself
  62. Sharing tips with a new cyclist
  63. Talking about the ride after the ride
  64. Wearing spandex in public
  65. Losing weight
  66. Getting up before dawn to go for a ride
  67. Chasing the sunset on your bike
  68. Spring Classics
  69. Watching the Tour
  70. Zero emissions
  71. No gas, no parking fees, no insurance

And, of course, to find that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the cyclist in your life (or your bike), you’ll find everything you need at Performancebike.com, or your nearest Performance Bicycle store.

6 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides

Well, it’s happening again. We’re getting all hunkered down for Winter Storm Pax or whatever they’re calling it. Like the rest of our area of the country, we’ve gotten hit with the Storm of the Century, although we’re pretty sure we just had another Storm of the Century like two weeks ago or something. At this point, we’ve spent more days on the trainer than we care to admit. As much as we love the focused and intense workouts that you get on a trainer, sometimes it’s just good to get outside. Which we did, and we felt all kinds of tough too. It’s not often you get to ride in the snow in North Carolina.

Here we are, on the run from the Toughness Police

Here we are, on the run from the Toughness Police

But if you’re like us, you’re probably about ready to get outside too. Well, don’t let the weather keep you in, because with the right clothes and some smarts, you can get out and enjoy some outdoor riding in any temperatures. For more ideas on how to prep your bike for the weather, check out this article we did a while back.

1. Layer Up:

Dressing in layers can help you effectively control your body temperature, manage moisture buildup, and stay warmer. Up top, start with a base layer, then a jersey, then a jacket. For colder weather, you can try adding a second baselayer. On the legs, try using tights that don’t have a chamois, so you can wear them over your favorite shorts for an extra insulating layer. You can also wear knee warmers under tights on extra cold days.

What we wear (30-20 degrees): Sleeveless baselayer, heavy-weight long sleeve base layer, soft shell jacket, bib shorts, Windstopper bib tights, wool socks, shoes, overshoes, neck gator, winter hat, heavy insulated gloves, thin liner gloves

With the right clothing, riding in snowy, cold weather can be more fun than it looks

With the right clothing, riding in snowy, cold weather can be more fun than you think

2. Mind the Fingers and Toes:

Nothing ruins a long ride quicker than cold fingers and toes, or worse, sodden layers. Try wearing thin liner gloves inside your insulated gloves, and wearing thinner socks with overshoes. Liner gloves will provide an extra insulating layer and help absorb sweat. Thinner socks will help keep the blood circulating to your toes in cold weather, while the overshoes provide the main insulating layer. If it’s really cold, as one of our readers suggested, try wearing toe covers underneath your overshoes, or layering your overshoes for more warmth. If you’re out on the road though and find your feet are getting too cold, try stopping at the next gas station or fast food place you pass and ask if they have any tinfoil. In a pinch you can use it wrap your toes for some extra warmth.

Yes, the foil wrap looks a little goofy. But you'll have the last laugh when you can still feel your toes.

Yes, the foil wrap looks a little goofy. But you’ll have the last laugh when you can still feel your toes.

3. Keep Dry:

No matter how cold it is outside, you’re going to sweat when you ride. Try carrying a spare baselayer, gloves (or glove liners), and hat in your pocket. You can change them when you stop to use the bathroom or top up your bottles, so you’ll be able to get back on the bike feeling warm and dry. And always, always, ALWAYS carry a packable wind/rain jacket. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, it can save you a lot of misery.

Even a lightweight jacket like the Louis Garneau Super Lite jacket can offer crucial protection if the day gets colder than you planned. Plus, it packs up tiny enough to easily fit in a pocket

4. Hot Bidon:

If you’ve got some insulated water bottles, try filling them with a warm drink, like herbal tea or Skratch Labs Hot Apple and Cinnamon mix. Sometimes a warm drink is just what the doctor ordered.

Keep this warm in an insulated bottle, and you'll be toasty and hydrated

Keep this warm in an insulated bottle, and you’ll be toasty and hydrated

5. Eat Up:

When you ride in cold weather, your body is not only burning calories through exercise, but also to keep warm. This means you’ll probably need to eat more than you normally would to keep up with demand. Make sure you bring plenty of energy dense food with you.

Energy dense foods, like Clif Bars, are essential when riding in cold weather.

6. Take Breaks:

Even the hardest of hard men need to get out of the cold sometimes (see Milan-San Remo 2013). It’s important to take regular pit stops to get out of the cold and warm up for a bit. You’d be surprised at the difference a cup of coffee and ten minutes in a gas station can make.

So how about it? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.

9 Questions with Cyclocross Pro Jonathan Page

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Fuji Altamira CX 1.0 Cyclocross Bike that Jonathan Page rode in 2013

Fuji Bikes is proud to sponsor 4-time U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Jonathan Page, so we got in touch for a few quick questions before he represents the United States once again at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Jonathan Page has had an illustrious ‘cross racing career, including a 2007 CX Worlds silver medal, in addition to his 4 U.S. titles and numerous top placings in Europe – last year he raced on the Altamira CX 1.0 cyclocross bike, and this year he’s upgraded to the top end 1.1 model. The 37-year-old is based in Belgium – he’s the only American man to race full time in the rough and tumble of European cyclocross, battling for respect every week. He writes a great blog on CyclingNews that details his ongoing adventures, but read on below for 9 quick questions from this American cyclocross superstar:

How did you get started racing cyclocross?

I started racing because my best friend growing up raced ‘cross.

Jonathan_Page_6Why do you race cyclocross in Europe full time?

I wanted to race against the best in the world, so I came to Belgium.

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

What’s the best part and the hardest part of being a pro cyclist?

Best part is getting to be outside. Worst part is that it is 24 hours a day.

Jonathan_Page_5What was your favorite or best race this season and why?

Bredene, because I was able to battle for 6th place even with broken ribs.

Jonathan_Page_8Who’s the most important person on your race support team?

Everyone on my support team is really important to me. Without my family, friend and mechanic Franky, sponsors, and supporters, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Jonathan_Page_3Does your family travel with you during the season?

This year, much less than I would have liked. But they are with me now, on my way to the Nommay World Cup in France, so that’s great!

Jonathan_Page_4What’s the biggest mistake that you see amateur cyclists make when they train and what’s your best advice for them?

I don’t think there is a cover-all answer for the mistake part of this question. My best advice is just to have fun!

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

If you could ride your bike anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Right now, anywhere sunny would be great, as it hasn’t stopped raining since I got back from the USA. But I think my favorite place to ride is in the Swiss Alps, with cows bells ringing all around me.

Jonathan_Page_9What do you have in your pocket when you go for a training ride?

I keep it simple – only my phone and a Clif Mojo Bar or 2.

Check out this video from Global Cycling Network for an in-depth look at Jonathan’s Fuji Altamira CX cyclocross race bike.

All photos © Wil Matthews (unless otherwise noted)

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