The first thing Fuji told us about their new Transonic aero road bike was that it was heavily influenced by their Track Elite and Norcom Straight frames. Now pedigree is one of those things that you cannot fake. Your predecessors were either good enough to be remembered—or were too easily forgotten. So considering that the current fastest bike in the Aerogeeks stable is the Fuji Norcom Straight, we are going to say that the Transonic is coming from very good lineage.
We already know the first thing most of our readers will say when they see this bike – where are the integrated brakes? We asked the same thing. After all, we had already seen what Fuji was capable of with the Norcom Straight.
The answer is two-fold.
First, keep in mind that this is a road bike—not a TT machine. Therefore it’s meant to spend quite a bit more time venturing up and down mountains than it will in the straightaways. TTV brakes, like those used on the Norcom, are aero but use a linear pull (which ends up giving a very short pull), and wheel clearance of just a few mm. Direct-mount brakes provide a longer pull and much less risk of wheel rub.
Second, this is a pro-level bike. If you’ve ever watched a major stage race, you’ve seen a mechanic precariously hanging out a moving car’s window performing a brake or derailleur adjustment. With bottom-mounted brakes that is almost impossible; which is another reason Fuji went back to brakes on the seat stays. Saving seconds in the peloton is worthless if you have to do a bike swap for every little problem.
Fuji is one of the first companies to use the Shimano direct mount front brakes for the rear. They worked closely with Shimano to certify that the brakes could be used in this position and came away quite pleased with the results.
Looking at the frame you can see the standard aero details such as the down tube hugging the front wheel and the fork\head tube integration. The fork is specific to this bike and was developed to match the lines of the Transonic frame. Likewise the seat tube curves around the rear wheel. The rear brake is recessed into the seat stays to shield it from the wind.
The cabling is internal and supports both mechanical and electronic on the same frame. This is a useful feature if you’re looking to buy one of the more economical mechanical builds now and upgrade to electronic in the future. Di2 versions ship with the internal battery. Fuji also included a frame-mounted chain catcher, which is becoming more and more common on the newest frames. The bottom bracket is pressfit 30.
Meeting the Goals
The Transonic was built with three specific attributes in mind – aero, stiffness, and weight. It didn’t have to be the very best at any one, but it had to be a contender in all three. On the aero side, when compared to Fuji’s SST, the Transonic saves you 121g in drag (24 watts). Fuji estimates that over a 40km distance with a rider averaging 300 watts this would translate into a savings of 65 seconds. Compared to their Altamira, the savings is 118g (21 watts), which comes out to an estimated 55 seconds.
As for stiffness, the Transonic matched the head tube stiffness of the SST while being 4% stiffer at the bottom bracket.
And when it comes to weight the Transonic comes out to 950g for the frame and 370g for the fork (size 56). That’s roughly the same weight as the Altamira and 80-100g lighter than the SST.
Geometry and Sizing
The Transonic is going to be available in seven sizes from XS to L/XL with effective seat tubes ranging from 460 to 610.
Spec and Pricing
Similar to Fuji’s strategy with the Norcom, they are going to offer a number of specs with two different carbon options. First up are the SL and 1 series that use the C10 ultra high-modulus carbon. These will be offered with SRAM Red (Transonic SL), Dura Ace Di2 9070 (Transonic 1.1), and Dura Ace 9000 (Transonic 1.3). The SL ships with Oval Concepts 950 full-carbon clinchers, while the 1.1 and 1.3 get Oval 950F carbon/alloy clinchers. The SL will set you back $5,699, the 1.1 at $6,299, and the 1.3 at $4,699. The C10 frameset can be had for $1,999 for those looking to do their own build.
The 2 series frames are manufactured with C5 high-modulus carbon and will be available with Ultegra Di2 (2.1), Ultegra mechanical (2.3 and 2.5), and 105 11-speed (2.7 and 2.9). The 2.3 and 2.5 both use Ultegra 6800 but have different components spec’d out. Likewise for the 2.7 and 2.9 which each have 105. The 2.1 is available for $3,549, the 2.3 at $2,399, the 2.5 at $1,999, the 2.7 at $1,889 and finally the 2.9 at an impressive $1,749.
Two things stand out to us about the pricing. With a high of $6,299 and a low of $1,749, Fuji is covering a huge range of price points and build options. On top of that, this is one of the most affordable ways to get into an electronic drive train. The 2.1 with Ultegra Di2 at just $3,549 is a huge performance bargain. And the 2.9 at just $1,749 offers a very cost effective way to get into an aero frame with the ability to upgrade components at a later date.
Planned availability for the Transonic is 4th Quarter 2014.
It is always hard to have a true first impression without getting in some time in the saddle. However, considering our current experiences with the Norcom, we can’t help but get a little excited. Add to that a range of specs and prices that make this bike available to almost any rider, and you have the potential for a serious contender in the aero road bike category.
The only thing remaining is that first ride. And if we haven’t received a test bike from Fuji by September, we will definitely seek this bike out at Interbike. Stay tuned for more details and our First Ride impressions.