Every time we start a bike test we ask, “Who has this bike been designed for?” Usually we get a fairly good understanding just by glancing at the bike, its spec, and the geometry figures – but that didn’t work with the Fuji Auric. We scratched our heads a bit, then cracked on with the bike test.
Despite being around since 1899, Fuji still fly fairly under the radar on the trail scene. Their name was inspired by Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji, which is a symbol of strength and resilience. Their all-mountain approach is still present for the brand, and the Auric is purported to be a nimble climber – even with its long-travel nature. Its 160 mm of suspension promises to be a riot on the descents. It all sounds great, we reason, but nothing groundbreaking so far.
Upsetting the world order: the MLink suspension system
The Auric’s real indulgence comes from its rear end design, which Fuji have dubbed the MLink™. The design puts the chainstay pivot right in the middle of the chainstay, in a sort of hybrid of a regular ‘floating’ pivot point dual-link design. According to Fuji, this distinctive design is not only more efficient, but its longer link will also cause less wear and tear on the bearings and means that the bike developers could play with shorter chainstays on the design. It must not have worked, as their 438 mm length puts its rear triangle at the longer end of the spectrum.
Looking at other 160 mm travel bikes on the market – which predominately channel a long and slack front end – the Auric’s geometry is at odds with that tried-and-tested formula, and instead sports more compact and steep angles. It strikes us as the image of a first-generation VW Golf in a modern car show – unusual, but not uninteresting.
The geometry of the Fuji Auric
The Fuji Auric in detail
Fork: RockShox Pike RC 160 mm
Rear shock: RockShox Monarch RT 3 160 mm
Brakes: Shimano XT
Drivetrain: Shimano XT
Seatpost: KS Lev Integra
Stem: Oval Concepts 60 mm
Bars: Oval Concepts 760 mm
Wheels: DT Swiss M 1900 Spline
Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Weight: 14.04 kg
Price: € 2,699
The Fuji Auric on the trail[/emaillocker]
For 2017, the Auric’s spec has seen some significant upgrades, although the frame remains virtually unchanged for the coming season. We’ve been testing the 2016 model, and the brand have since countered some of the flaws that we noted in this test. But away from the stats and speculation, what’s the Fuji Auric like to ride?
The diminutive length of the frame is undeniable once you’re on the bike, and the position feels pretty compact. But as the 73° seat angle is fairly slack, there’s still the feeling that you’re in a good position to pedal. Fuji’s hype about climbing efficiency and anti-bob withstood our testing and the bike proved capable of picking up speed with ease, a feat that’s also helped by the fast-rolling Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires. (Note: The Nobby Nics don’t feature on the 2017 model, as Fuji astutely went for a more robust combination that can deliver more consistent grip and puncture protection on descents.)
“The Fuji Auric is a real good-time goer on flow trails. And it’s a super-responsive ride.”
The Fuji Auric is a real good-time goer on flow trails, and it’s a super-responsive ride. It’s the kind of whip that gives you full control when charging and railing around berms. It takes very little coaxing to come out and play, so it’s ideal for really hands-on riders. Give it a taste of air on downhills and it’ll be putty in your hands. Thanks to the fairly low bottom bracket height, the bike corners brilliantly. It uses every single millimeter of its 160 mm travel to the max, but showed zero risk of bottoming out. Add a bit of gnar or high speeds to the equation, however, and the Auric starts to flail. This is the shadowy side to that steep head angle and short frame, and they’re a limiting factor that other bikes in the same travel range don’t really suffer from.
You can’t put the Fuji Auric in a labeled drawer: yeah, it is fairly heavy-duty with a lot of travel, but it’s far from your typical enduro bike. It’s definitely more suited for riders who prioritize agility, but relish the added comfort. If you don’t mind carting a few extra grams on your bike, then the Auric represents a generous rig for long, hilly rides. Just keep your speed in check.
- Super-efficient pedaling
- Great climber
- Twitchy at high speeds
- Lack of grip from the tires
For more information head to: fujibikes.com
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Words: Hannes Janzen Photos: Valentin Rühl