Review: Fuji Norcom Straight
article & images by Nick Salazar
Sep 17, 2013
Fuji and Kestrel (which are sister brands) have recently had a pretty big presence at Interbike's Outdoor Demo days. This year, there were several examples of Fuji's new flagshi tri bike, the Norcom Straight, available for demo. To be clear, I did NOT take the bike out for a ride, but instead took some time to inspect it in detail, take this gallery of photographs, and report my findings here, as a review. So this isn't a riding review, but rather a purely technical analysis of the bike.
And because I didn't come away with a glowingly-positive impression of the bike (read: I'll have quite a few criticisms of the bike), I want to give a little bit more background to rhe review, to my biases, and the reasons I had for coming up with the conclusions I did.
As many of you know, I'm pretty passionate about minimalism and elegance in design, but never when it comes at the cost of function. I'm a passionate designer, and have made quite a few revolutionary products of my own. These products make me biased in certain areas. That is, when I see a bike with a non-aero braking solution (or even an aero one that I consider sub-par), I'm quick to call it out. And sometimes, my recommendation is that the bike have its brake replaced with something like my Omega brake. But I do NOT mean to suggest that the Omega is the only brake I like. There are plenty of really good brakes in the triathlon world. For example, the Trek Speed Concept and the Felt IA both have integrated brakes that integrate perfectly into the shape of their respective bikes, and work very well. Moreover, Felt recently updated its DA model with a new integrated brake that means the bike is no longer Omega-compatible and ONLY compatible with the integrated brake. And I think their integrated solution is fantastic. I think I can be fair even while recognizing my biases.
Similarly, I now have a bias in the aerobar category, because I make the Alpha. But that doesn't mean I can't recognize a great bar when I see one. Need some examples? Well, here ... you... go. Two of those articles were written while Alpha was already in development. Again, I'm quick to recognize where I have a bias, but I still think I can be fair. Both of the examples above will be pertinent to today's article, because I have some bones to pick with Fuji's choice of brake AND aerobar for the Norcom Straight.
So that's all I really have to say in terms of prep. Let's dive right into the details of this rig, and my uncensored opinions of everything. There's a lot of detail in the gallery captions as well, so don't forget to check those out. For now, just hit the jump, and brace yourself for my raw feelings about this bike.