ROAD magazine July 2013 : Page 86
Bike Feature By: Dillon Clapp
Fuji Norcom Straight
The new Fuji NORCOM STRAIGHT has finally been released from behind the walls of the A2 wind tunnel in North Carolina. Three years of research and development went into their new time trial rig, led by veteran product manager Steve Fairchild. “This bike was designed in the wind tunnel,” Fairchild said. “We didn’t just design it on a computer. We actually went through several revisions before we invested in carbon tooling.” Twenty-four different variations were tested on their first visit to the wind tunnel alone. Once they had their ideal design, it was fine tuned by covering the frame with little pieces of yarn. “We had over 200 pieces of yarn glued to the frame that really helped us analyze the flow characteristics coming off of the tubing,” Fairchild said. “You get a lot more information all at once. If it’s got a smooth flow, the yarn stays out; if it’s fluttering, you have turbulence.” This was the first time the staff at A2 had seen someone utilize this type of testing. This meticulous process ultimately gave Fuji a time trial bike that performed much better at various yaw angles with an average saving of 10 watts compared to their previous D6 time trial bike. All this and it’s still UCI compliant. <br /> <br /> What really sets the new NORCOM STRAIGHT apart is its adjust ability. Allowing the rider to hone in their ideal position further maximizes aerodynamics and performance. They worked with the product engineers of their in-house component brand, Oval Concepts, to optimize the integration of the bike’s cockpit. The 3D-forged stem has 135mm of adjust ability; it can be slammed super low into a pocket in the head tube, or raised up with proprietary spacers. With six lengths and two rise options available, a further 24 stem positions are possible. The base bars and extensions also offer plenty of adjust ability and fit options that can be adapted to any size rider, including their 6’5” pro triathlete Matt Reed. An aero post integrates nicely into the frame, and still allows for 180mm of height adjustment with effective seat tube angles from 74 to 81 degrees. <br /> <br /> The bike also includes TRP brakes built into the frame’s aerodynamic shape. The front is tucked nicely up behind the fork and below the head tube, with the rear integrated behind the BB86 bottom bracket. The frame was further leaned up by using their exclusive Reinforced I-Beam (RIB) technology in the down tube and fork. This greatly increases the bike’s stiffness in key areas and improves acceleration. With their adjustable vertical dropouts, changing wheels is just as easy as a regular road bike, but without compromising aerodynamics. <br /> <br /> Adjustability was obviously a standout feature when I first got a chance to test the NORCOM STRAIGHT. Not having to take a hacksaw to the seat post was a nice way to start out the fit, and when going for a more extreme position, the stem stayed tucked in the bike’s head tube. Then, with a few tweaks to the pad width and seat angle, I was off. Right away the bike felt stable; it motored along nicely at even a moderate pace. Its lean looks were nice too. The thin, sculpted frame gave it a feel of all speed and no bulk. When the speeds picked up, or even for short out-of-the- saddle accelerations, I immediately noticed the ultra-stiff bottom bracket, as the bike handled the power without flinching. While it’s not often when you really feel a bike’s aerodynamics, it was noticeably consistent in the cross winds. With the breeze coming from a pretty sharp angle, I was able to feel stable while staying in an aero position. The NORCOM STRAIGHT is an amazing bike that has all of the performance benefits of the fastest TT bikes out there, but with even more adjust ability. If you’re wondering what the heck a “Norcom Straight” is, it’s a section of Norcom Road that the staff regularly finishes their rides on. As of this writing, Fairchild has the Strava KOM on it, using the time trial bike he designed, of course. <br /> <br /> Five models are available, in fives sizes each, priced from $2,299 to $7,499. Find out more at fitcomesfirst.com. And scan these QR codes to watch videos about the bike.
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