Initial Impressions: The Fuji Track Elite Velodrome Monster
In 2012, Fuji announced a new uber track machine at Interbike, the Track Elite. Based on the technology in the bike, the design of the frameset, and the quality build spec, it was very evident Fuji wanted this bike to be first over every velodrome finish line possible. The best part is that Fuji was able to spec a solid build on this high end frameset for just north of what other companies charge for a frameset alone.
No one on staff here at BikeRumor races at a velodrome. So, when initially asked if we would like to review the bike we passed. However, a good friend of ours, Cesar, does race here in Portland, OR at the Alpenrose Dairy velodrome. We decided to set him up with the bike for the season to see how it fairs.
Head past the brake(less) for full bike details, images, and Cesar’s first impression.
The Fuji Track Elite is designed to do one thing and do it well. It’s only goal is to go around a banked oval as fast as possible. To accomplish this goal, Fuji built a very slippery aerodynamic carbon fiber frame that has internal ribs in both the down tube and fork blades. This yields a bike that is 27% sifter than its predecessor, but also 23% lighter as well. Adding to that stiffness is the tapered head tube. It uses a 1 1/8″ upper bearing, and tappers out to at 1 1/2″ lower bearing. Fuji claims this is a first for a track bike. The final design of the frame is a result of aerodynamic testing in the wind tunnel. Even the seat bolt binder is internal lending to it’s sleek lines.
As for the build up, Fuji used a group of parts any track racer would be happy to call their own. Power transfer is made possible by the stiff Dura-Ace crankset (50t ring), Dura-Ace track BB, and Dura-Ace 15t cog wrapped with a KMC Z510HX chain. The cockpit is made up of a proprietary Oval 931 carbon aero seat post, Oval carbon railed saddle, Oval alloy stem, and the well respected 3T SCATTO carbon bars. Wheels come in the form of Oval 981T 81mm deep carbon rims with Vittoria Pista Evo CS 22mm tubulars glued up. The total build cost runs $4749. I value price point considering what you get for the money.
The only downside to the entire package are the graphics. It feels like a NASCAR, which may be fitting as the bike does go fast then turn left a lot. The shape of the frame is beautiful, but the over the top red, white, and black graphics take away from its appeal. Add in the wheels with their 12 OVALconcept logos and its just to much. If I could change anything about the bike this would be it. I’ve noticed several major manufactures, and a ton of custom builders, using more understated graphics and it would be nice to see that implemented on this ride. This complaint however, has no bearing on the performance of the bike. For more on that, read Cesar’s impressions below.
Cesar’s First Impressions:
The look and feel of this bike speaks louder than words. The bike is light (14lbs 13oz without pedals), stiff, and very responsive to even the slightest input. The dialed in track geometry and well made carbon frame yield a beautifully stiff, and efficient ride. The handling of the bike is quick but not scary, and picking a good line through the corners is easily done. This bike does exactly what it’s designed to do, it goes fast.
Here in Portland, the Alpenrose Velodrome is outdoors, it has a steep bank, and is bumpy. The bike is more comfortable than expected on the outdoor track as compared to my Bare Knuckle steel frame I am used to.
Being outdoors however, does mean wind can become an issue at times. The deep carbon rims and aero tubing amplify this, and can throw the bike off course if you aren’t careful. Personally, I will spend my training laps riding my Mavic Open Pro wheelset and save the OVAL carbon tubulars for race day. The stock tires that came with the bike are great, but I would prefer something a little more robust given the track surface and condition at Alpenrose. Other than that minor issue, the bike is competition ready and I can wait for racing to start.
Fuji produced a video highlighting the Track Elite and the Rudy Project racing team that will be using it. Skip ahead to 2:31 to see a cross section of rib technology used in both the down tube and fork.