This is our first year carrying Fuji bikes. It has been fun but uneventful, a far cry from the compelling history of this storied brand. We say fun because selling bikes is just that. It’s a great feeling to send somebody home with a shiny new bike because you know they’re on the precipice of an entirely new adventure. And by uneventful we certainly don’t mean boring. We mean that thus far, we haven't once had to take advantage of the lifetime warranty that covers each bike. They may be affordable, but they’re definitely not cheap.
The history of Fuji however is quite interesting. The company has been on the top of the racing world, and in the deep end of the swimming pool. Fuji was founded in 1899 and named after Mount Fuji, a towering symbol of strength and endurance in Japanese culture. And as it’s name implies, Fuji entered the market with a strong product and gained a great deal of clout in the cycling world. The company’s trials in the deep end of the pool hit the brand hard in the 1970s, when their distribution model nearly brought the roof down.
Fuji has always been committed to quality and innovation, but for a long period of time in the 70s and 80s, they were sold primarily at big box stores, mixed in amongst inferior bikes. This distribution through big box chains gave the impression that they were the same crap as the hunks of metal displayed around them. Quite the retail travesty. Quality was still a priority for Fuji, but public opinion is fickle, and seeing nice bikes in an awful setting is enough to sway nearly anyone’s opinion.
In 1998, Fuji came under new ownership, and the big wigs in charge made the right choice to bring Fuji into the retail realm that it deserves. The company redoubled its efforts to engineer and manufacture a top quality product and also strategically shifted distribution from big box stores into specialty boutique bike shops. Thanks to this savvy switch in strategy, Fuji is not only making a strong product, but also bolstering the reputation that the company deserves.
Fuji has adopted the motto, “climb your mountain.” They want their audience to apply this axiom liberally to whatever situation seems fit. Fuji’s biggest “mountain” was reorganizing their entire business model from big box victim, to boutique bike shop regular. We couldn’t be happier that they achieved their goals, because now we can send these shiny spaceships home with you. Aside from a hearty gravity bike lineup, Fuji now offers bikes to fit nearly every niche from stylish cruisers to aerodynamic carbon road bikes. If you like, you can literally “climb your mountain” with a spicy number from their XC lineup.
Fuji has a particularly exciting year coming up wherein their bikes will be put to the test in some of the world’s most prestigious races. Team NetApp-Endura was selected as a wildcard entry in the 2014 Tour de France and will be riding the carbon Altamira SL throughout the race. We will also see the Germany based team race on the aerodynamic and outrageously adjustable Norcom Straight in the time trials. Aside from the world’s biggest cycling event, keep an eye on team TIBCO, which will race on Fuji’s women’s specific carbon road bike, the Supreme 1.1. In the marginally terrifying world of track racing, the Rudy Project Racing Team will ride the Track Elite bike throughout the racing season. And keep an eye out for Fuji Bikes in the triathlon scene; Some of the world’s best triathletes will be riding the Norcom Straight this summer including: Sarah Haskins, Matt Reed, Cameron Dye and Sara McLarty.
Whether you’re in the market for a precision engineered carbon race bike or an outrageously stylish cruiser, we think you should check out Fuji. The company has been through several metamorphoses, but we’re pleased with where they are now.