Fuji SLM 29 LTD SL: First Impressions- by Guitar Ted
The 29 inch wheeled carbon fiber hard tail has essentially resurrected the XC race hard tail from extinction. Fuji has offered this rendition of its renaissance XC hard tail in its SLM 29 LTD as another example of how the hard tail XC bike is not dead. If you missed the Out Of The Box post, you can check it out here. Now on to the first impressions.
Ride Impressions: As stated in the Out Of The Box post, I felt that the spec of Bronson tires was odd, and it came home to roost, as it were, in the form of vague feel in corners on extremely dry, hard packed trails. The tires let me down, (literally), by way of the flexy knobs and caused me to crash on one of my first rides. Of course, tires are going to be a personal preference based upon the rider’s terrain, and riding style, so this is to be taken in context here. But that said, this was one of the only negative things I could say about the SLM 29 LTD so far.
Otherwise it was a perfect example of how carbon fiber and geometry can affect a bike’s performance depending upon how these things are employed. Last year I rode the carbon fiber Raleigh hard tail, (review seen here), and found it to be an ultra-comfortable, very stable handling bike suited to wide open trails and fast speeds.
The Fuji is in many ways the Raleigh’s polar opposite. It is stiffer, less compliant, faster handling, and excels at slow speed maneuvering. The latter quite surprised me, especially considering the intentions of this bike. However that may be, the SLM 29 LTD is a very adept slow speed, technical handling bike. The bike also excels at fast, tight corners. Instead of having to modify my usual riding style to herd a bike around the “autocross” style trails here, I could simply lean the Fuji over and as long as the tires would hold up, I could rail a corner at will.
As far as compliance, the Fuji does fall on the stiffer side of the median of carbon bikes I have ridden, but not by much. The obligatory stiff bottom bracket, snappy acceleration, and lateral stiffness are all here, and should be, considering the model’s asking price. The weight, (allowing for spec’ed componentry), is reasonable as well. So, the Fuji hits all the marks that one would expect from a top of the range carbon fiber hard tail aimed at XC/Tral riding.
So far the components have been quite exemplary in their performance and match the level of this bike nicely with the possible exception of the tires and maybe even the wheels. The tires just are not XC level components, but they certainly can be “training” tires for this bike. The wheels, while being in the ball park weight-wise, are not the stiffest wheels in terms of lateral stiffness, and may not be everyone’s cup of tea for high level XC racing. (For a closer look at the wheels, see our review here.) That said, they are not bad wheels, but they do not live up to the level of stiffness the Fuji frame presents to the rider. You will probably notice a little lateral flex there.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the Fuji SLM LTD SL as a whole. A few small nits are here, but they are mostly personal preference items and don’t detract from the overall package as sold. Next up I will have a Mid-Term report for you and I will be testing the bike with a more XC-ish tire to see how that helps, (or doesn’t), the overall bike’s performance. Stay tuned!
Note: Fuji Bikes sent the SLM 29 LTD for test and review at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.