It has been sometime since I have blogged. In March, just in time for the summer, I sold my Giant Great Journey that I converted to a rigid hardtail single speed rig then bought an 09 Fuji Tahoe SL29. The search took sometime. Budget allowed me to buy a hardtail since full suspension 29er frames that are locally available would cost me in the area of USD 12oo to 2400. The cheapest being a pre-owned Spez Stumpy to the costly, Ellsworth, Turner and Niner. For hardtail 29er built bikes those locally available are by Haro, Fuji, Marin, Cannondale and Gary Fisher. I was partial to an Air9 Niner, a Manitou Minute fork and Mavic Crossmax29 wheels but this would mean having to sell my SantaCruz Bullit to finance the build which I didn’t want to do. My research said that if you could afford two bikes make one a hardtail 29er and full suspension 26. The jury is still out when it comes to full suspension 29ers based on my research.

The Fuji Tahoe SL29er is the top model from Fuji. There are 2 lower models that all share the same frame with the SL but have different components to fit a certain price.

Based on the box that the bike came in it was labeled as a 17inch medium (the website mentions that the 17inch is a small). Measuring it center to top and it was indeed a 17 inch so I guess it is a small.  The color is what seems to be light root beer. Tubing is a proprietary tubing called Altair which is a butted 7005 aluminum. The series 7000 aluminum is the harder, stronger but more brittle aluminum as compared to the 6000 series. Welds are fairly good with the majority of the weld scales and lay being of equal distance but as always intersections are sort of haywired. I don’t like how the downtube is suddenly tapered to fit the bottom bracket width wise. The bb is the area of the frame that has a lot of lateral torque due to pedal forces much more when a biker pedals hard like getting out of the saddle and hammering an uphill. Frame builders believe that by spreading the width of the down tube equal to the width of the bb this will lessen flex. Unfortunately the taper of the Fuji seems to be an after thought as it looks like a bad guillotine amputation. It doesn’t look that bad when seen from the drivetrain side but when seen from the other side it really is out of whack. I would rather that they started the taper around a third down the downtube. The Fuji badge is one crappy job. Some cheap, thin, stamped alloy stuck with low cost double sided tape. The tape (not 3m) doesn’t even reach the edges of the badge so that when your rag snags a sharp edge of the badge, you can be sure to bend and ruin the badge.  Stays are adequate for a 2.35 tire and the S bend of the left chainstay is adequate for maneuvering your wheel without it getting scratched by the rear rotor. All this are basically cosmetic issues as it really is a tough frame but on the heavy side. This is my second China made bike, the first being the Jamis Parker III and I believe the Jamis frame is better built but it doesn’t mean that the Fuji is poorly built.

For the cockpit-handle bar, stem, seatpost, seatclamp are branded Fuji, grips are generic, saddle is an OEM WTB Rocket V, headset is an integrated Cane Creek. The fork is a RockShox Reba SL with poplock. Drivetrain is full SRAM X9 with the crank being a TruVativ Firex 3.1 GXP. Pedals are Xpedos. Brakes are Avid Juicy 7 with a 7 inch front rotor and a six inch rotor for the rear. This is a good thing becuase the 29er wheels have more leverage making a 7inch front rotor reasonable. The wheels are WTB 32h Laserdiscs, Formula (branded Fuji) hubs with generic black spokes and chrome nips. They have stayed true up to now. The weakest part of the build I believe are the Fuji branded parts, weak meaning heavy.  The wheelset is also heavy but on the positive side I find them tough. The tires are Conti Mt. Kings which I find inadequate for thr trail and for hardpack but I plan to wear this down before I upgrade it. The inner tubes are Cheng Sin 700c 52/47 which I believe are too thin for a 2.2 tire. True enough it has gone flat already. I decided to replace it with the appropriate size. The fork seems to be flexy for me as compared to my  08 Fox Van RLC that is on my Bullit. This can probably be attributed to the leverage of a 29er wheel. The fork is set at 3 inches, comes with a manual and 2 plastic spacers however the manual doesn’t mention what it is for nor how to use it, maybe they should use a dvd format for a manual just like Fox. Otherwise, just pump the Reba SL to your recommended PSI and your choice of rebound and ride away. The rear Juicy 7 probably needs to be bled as the lever return is slow after being engaged. No issues at all with the X9s, its my first time to use SRAM and it shifts just as crisp as Shimano.

I’m not an authority on bikes but the feel of the ride is that it is long and tall. You feel stretched and have the feel of tipping over when taking on a tight switchback. Some say that the tall and feeling of tipping over is a natural feeling when on a 29er and not specific to the Tahoe SL29. Ride is on the harsh side which is characteristic of robustly built frames in this case the diamond downtube. I upgraded to a Ritchey WCS shorter stem and seatpost, the bar to an On One Mary with Salsa Pepperjack grips and the saddle to an aftermarket broken in WTB Rocket V. I also installed a Cateye Strada wireless cyclocomp, replaced the Xpedos with Shimano SPD platforms and the SRAM PG950 cogset was replaced with a lighter XT cogset. All of these came from my parts bin. I replaced the Firex crank with a Stylo which was just a trade and some cash.

The bike cost me USD1000 it’s a price that cant be beat with the SRAM X9s, the Avid Juicy 7 and The RS Reba SL. If your plan in the future is to upgrade to a different frame then this the 29er for you as you can transfer everything and sell the frame to help finance the purchase of a different frame. If you plan to keep this as your main bike it will serve you well as it is well built and has good components for the price. If you plan to sell it eventually, the parts that come with it will help you sell it for a decent price.

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