In 2013 Fuji started with a new line of triathlon bikes to replace a very successful D6. A line of bikes called Norcom Straight was presented, and that was greeted with a mixed comments – from very good to quite critical. Later another line was presented, Aloha, but i’ll focus on Norcom Straight. It is offered in 5 different frame sizes and two basic versions, which differ especially in the quality of carbon. Version 1.* has carbon C10 , while version 2.* is C5. Key differences is in weight and rigidity of the material.
I have a model Norcom Straight 2.1, therefore i’ll focus my description on this bike. Others may differ, also due to the fact that different price ranges of the equipment are used. 2.1 is the “high end” version with the C5 carbon.
Design – frame – handling
With its focus on fit, Fuji set off on the quest for maximum adjustability, so thateveryone would be able to find their perfect position. Fuji claims “We’ve created a bike that fits to the rider, rather than forcing the rider to fit to the bike.”. It also claims that the Norcom boasts an 18 per cent improvement in aerodynamics over the D6. Model 2.1 is blue and it really looks great. The cable routing is quite clean and done inside the frame. As expected, bike works great on straights, is solid uphill, there is also no twisting or something similar. Fuji also said it made this bike stiffer comparing to predecessor, they have introduced BB86 bottom brackets to improve the BB stiffness. Cornering and responsiveness of the bike is also good enough, though it cannot match dedicated road bikes on twisting roads. The only problem i had was with the strong side wind, where it was really uncomfortable (and shaky) to ride on aerobars. But i guess that could be a problem with most tri bikes. The stem can be slammed within the pocket for an ultra-aggressive position or mounted on stacked, custom-designed spacers that fit directly within the pocket for a more upright position. On the latter, even longer rides on aerobars were comfortable, and the bike is certainly well suited for ironman. The weight is OK (i’m not a weight weenie), with ultegra gear weighs 8.74kg.
With Norcom Straight 2.1 equipment is Shimano Ultegra, with 11 gears. The extra equipment is mostly from Oval (aerobars, saddle, chainset), brakes are TRP. What i miss is better suited frame for extra storage of drinks. For example, frame holds only one bottle (there are no other holes). There are also holes in a seat post, but, as they are planned for electronic shifting battery, not really usable and distanced to close, to hold or to be able to fix a bottle holder (even if you don’t use electric).
Drivetrain One cannot argue much against Shimano Ultegra group. It’s light, the shifts are crisp and quick (though shifting levers on aerobars is so so), it basically has great features. It is a true workhorse for those who don’t want to pay premium, but still want durability, low weight and more. Front has 53/39 teeth, while cassette on the back 11-28. This enables even tri bike to have a very low gear for going uphill. Of course, it doesn’t do wonders and sometimes (for example Ironman 70.3 in Austria) i had wished I had some more “teeth” in the back or less in the front.
Brakes are aerodynamic, hidden behind the fork. They look great, but they are not so great when it comes to setting them properly as they are more difficult to set up as ordinary brakes. They are OK in action, but not really good. I trust them much less than normal road bike brakes.
Steering Handlebar is Oval 750 (aluminium) with aluminium bars… (S-bend). In principle is highly customizable and Oval and Fuji have gone a long way. However, problems start when using it. First of all, from the front, due to its thickness, it doesn’t look very aero. But i will not argue that. Problem is in it core construction. The aerobars (or basically elbow pads) would come loose and shift while riding. Really annoying when you, after 90km, end up in different position that you started. And when this pads start rubbing the handlebar. I tried overtighting (far above what Fuji and Oval suggest), but it still comes loose after so many kilometers or hours. The handlebar is adjustable, but it is not sturdy enough to be usable – this is probably the worst point of this bike. I don’t have any complaints with braking levers.
Saddle was the first thing I changed. Its a very personal thing, and I just didn’t like the feel of original saddle (Oval R500T Triathlon). No way that my soft spot liked it. I replaced it with Specialized Sitero Expert, which is perfect for me. On the other hand, seat post is excellent and customizable.
Wheels are carbon wheels, with aluminium braking pads. Adjustability is a bit difficult, but ok. Clincher. Height is 45 mm, and that is already an entrance to the aero teritory. 20 spokes in front, 24 in the back, both wheels weigh 1757 grams, so they are not the lightest on the market.
Testing of the bike and impressions Bicycle looks great, though i would prefer less visible and standing out Fuji and Oval fonts. The equipment is Ultegra and very reliable. However, after months of riding the bike I always hade some noise from the transmission and even servicing the bike wasn’t able to fully get rid of it. I would prefer to have an electronic shifting, however that would markedly raise the price. All in all, bike is aerodynamic, adjustable and great for fast and long straights. What I didn’t like? Handlebars are just awful. You can adjust them, but they move in time. I’m not sure about the quality of TRP brakes. They are in very aerodynamic positions, but they also don’t give confidence for braking. Cornering could be better, but hey, this bike is made for straights. And very good value for money.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Value: 4.5 out 5
More info on the bike… http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/norcom-straight-21#bk_desc_tab
|SIZES||S (49cm), M (51cm), M/L (53cm), L (55cm), XL (57cm)|
|MAIN FRAME||C5 high-modulus aero carbon tubing, integrated seat clamp, integrated head tube, water bottle mount|
|REAR TRIANGLE||C5 high-modulus carbon aero stays w/ chainstays-mounted brake, vertical dropout w/ adjustment for wheel position|
|FORK||FC-440 carbon aero monocoque w/ 1 1/8″ carbon steerer, integrated airfoil brakes|
|CRANKSET||Oval 720 hollow forged alloy, 53/39T|
|BOTTOM BRACKET||Press-fit BB86 sealed bearing|
|FRONT DERAILLEUR||Shimano Ultegra, braze-on mount|
|REAR DERAILLEUR||Shimano Ultegra, 11-speed|
|SHIFTERS||Shimano SL-BSR1 Bar End TT shifters, 22-speed|
|CASSETTE||Shimano Ultegra, 11-28T, 11-speed|
|CHAIN||KMC X11L, 11-speed|
|WHEELSET||Oval 945 carbon/alloy clincher, 45mm rim – 700c|
|TIRES||Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick, 60 tpi, 700c x 23mm|
|BRAKE SET||TRP aero TTV|
|BRAKE LEVERS||Oval 701 forged alloy|
|HEADSET||FSA press-fit top/integrated bottom bearing, 1 1/8″|
|HANDLEBAR||Oval 750 alloy base bar w/ 750 S bend alloy extensions|
|STEM||Oval 760 aero, 31.8mm, 8 degrees|
|TAPE/GRIP||Oval 300 suede-padded tape|
|SADDLE||Oval R500T Triathlon w/ CrMo hollow rails|
|SEAT POST||Oval aero carbon multi-position|
|WEIGHT, LB./KG.||19.23 lbs / 8.74 kg|