For the past few months, we’ve been putting 2 Fuji mountain bikes through their paces here at our home office, and we can definitely say that Fuji’s MLink suspension technology is very capable, and a lot of fun to ride. Our test rigs were the trail-oriented Fuji Rakan 29r 1.1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike – 2016 and the more enduro-oriented Fuji Auric 1.5 Full Suspension 27.5″ Mountain Bike – 2016 (as raced by pro mountain biker Lauren Gregg on the enduro circuit in the US). So which one should you pick? Read on below to find out which one fits your riding style.
Fuji Rakan 29r 1.1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike – 2016
First up is the Fuji Rakan 29r 1.1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike – 2016. As the name implies, this is a 29″ wheeled mountain bike, with an A6-SL custom-butted aluminum frame hung with a mixture of SRAM and Shimano components. Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes handle stopping duties, while SRAM X1 1×11-speed components handle the shifting. There’s a Fox Float Factory 3-position rear shock, and Fox 32 FLOAT 29 Factory FIT 3-position fork – each with 120mm of travel. Wheels are DT Swiss X1700 Spline Two with a 15x110mm thru-axle front, and a 148x12mm rear, originally shod in Schwalbe Rocket Ron, 29″ x 2.25″ tires.
While we are talking about spec, there is one change that we did make, and another that we would have liked to make on the Rakan 29r: you’ll notice in our photos that there is a WTB Weirwolf on the rear now, and a Vittoria Morsa G+ 2.3″ tire on the front. We tore a hole in the rear tire on some jagged rocks, and decided to replace the front in order to add more handling heft – we are just a fan of burlier rubber for our rocky and rooty local trails. The spec change that we would have liked to make is to add a dropper post – but the frame does come with appropriate routing to add one later.
But the bigger question, of course, is how did the Rakan 29r ride? The description that all of our testers kept coming back to was super-efficient – the novel MLink four-bar linkage system uses a mid-length linkage in the rear triangle, which combines the suspension tuning previously possible on only short-link systems with the geometry advantages of long-link systems (although the MLink rocker pivot does make it hard to find a home for a water bottle). This leads to a stiffer rear swingarm, short-ish 449mm rear chainstay geometry, and a smooth, bob-free and efficient ride. The Rakan 29r is a great trail-riding machine, with a 69 degree head tube angle to keep the handling nimble in the woods. Our addition of a burlier front tire gave us more confidence going downhill, but the stock setup is still plenty capable on descents. We’ve had a blast riding this bike on our local trails – it’s a well-balanced ride that feels fast and stable.
Fuji Auric 1.5 Full Suspension 27.5″ Mountain Bike – 2016
The second bike in our test stable was the Fuji Auric 1.5 Full Suspension 27.5″ Mountain Bike – 2016, which also features an A6-SL custom-butted alloy frame and Fuji‘s MLink patented suspension system, but built around the 27.5″ in-between wheel size. Suspension is 160mm front and rear, with a rugged Rock Shox Pike RC Solo Air fork and tried-and-true Rock Shox Monarch RT3 in the back. Shimano handles shifting duties with the latest 11-speed XT setup, in this case mated to an XT double crankset (although we’d rather see the simplicity of a single front chainring). Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes bring your speed under control, and a KS Lev Integra seatpost lets you adjust your saddle height on the fly. The DT Swiss M1900 Spline wheelset features Boost 148 x 12 rear hub spacing, and come shod with Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35″ tires. All in all, it’s a really solid spec for an enduro-ready bike, down to the short stem to keep the handling crisp.
So how did the Auric 1.5 perform on the trail? It’s a bike with 2 personalities, and both of them are a lot of fun. The highly efficient MLink suspension platform means that the Auric 1.5 is actually pleasure to ride uphill, which is something that you won’t often hear about a 160mm travel enduro-capable machine. But when the trail points downhill, the Auric 1.5 really begins to shine. All of that smooth suspension travel translates into a huge smile on your face as you fly down the trail. There is nothing too steep or gnarly for this 27.5″ wheeled bike to handle – it is ready for anything that you can throw at it. So if you live for ripping the descents, but also want a bike that is fun to ride uphill, the Auric 1.5 is going to be your choice from these 2 capable mountain bike options.
2017 Fuji Mountain Bikes
After riding both the Fuji Rakan 29r 1.1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike – 2016 and the Fuji Auric 1.5 Full Suspension 27.5″ Mountain Bike – 2016, we are excited by what Fuji has been building with their mountain bike lineup. But they are not resting on their laurels for 2017 – we got a chance to see, and ride, what they have in store at the Interbike cycling trade show. The rock-solid frame designs mostly carry over with a few tweaks, but we love to see changes like 34mm stanchion forks with Boost spacing, a dropper seatpost, and the option for 29″ or 27.5″+ wheels on the new Rakan.
The new Auric gets a more aggressive 160mm Rock Shox Lyric for 2017, which means it will be even more capable going downhill. For the XC speed demons out there, the SLM 1.1 hardtail gets a SRAM Eagle XX1 kit with a new Rockshox SID fork – a true racing rocket. And one of favorite bikes is the new Bighorn 27.5+ hardtail with a 120mm fork – a burly-tired option for folks who like the simplicity of no rear suspension. So no matter if you are looking to pick up a deal on a 2016 mountain bike, or are waiting for a new 2017 model, Fuji has some fantastic off-road machines that you definitely will want to check out.