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Kudos; Fuji Bikes- NEW Gran Fondo

March 1, 2016

I’ve been lucky over the years to work for some great companies and with some outstanding people. Back in 2011, I left Masi Bicycles to work for ASI (Advanced Sports Inc)- parent company of Fuji Bicycles. One of my co-workers, and fellow Product Managers was Steven Fairchild. Steven is easily one of the best and hardest working Product Managers in the cycling industry. It was an honor and a joy to work with Steven, especially the month he and I spent together in Taiwan overseeing catalog photoshoot and bike sample production. We spent nearly every free hour we had riding in Taichung, exploring new roads there, doing group rides, and simply doing what any true bike nerd loves to do- we rode our bikes a lot.

Today, at an event in Taipei, Taiwan, just before the annual Taipei Cycle Show, Fuji unveiled their revised, reborn, reimagined Gran Fondo line of bikes. When I was with the company, the Gran Fondo series was just launching, and was an offshoot of the SST series (which I personally rode and loved). This new Gran Fondo is entirely new, but draws on the recent development experiences of other new platforms- SL, Transonic. Borrowing technologies and design experience from both of those bikes, as well as entirely new features, the Gran Fondo is reborn.

Obviously, since I’m not in Taiwan, I don’t have a test bike, and I don’t work for Fuji, I really have no idea how the new bike rides. But that’s not why I am mentioning the bike or the launch. I’m simply proud of Steven and all involved at Fuji because I have intimate knowledge of what it takes to create a bike- let alone develop an entirely new product, with new molds, new features, and an eye towards developments in components. A brand like Fuji is not always lumped into the same conversations as brands like Cervelo, Specialized, Cannondale, Pinarello, etc- brands tightly associated with technological development and design. And that’s really a disservice to the brand and the people behind the products. I can promise you that there is no less passion, dedication, expertise, or intelligence at Fuji than those other brands.

I spent many hours with Steven nerding out on bikes, design ideas, looking into the future to attempt to understand the market, the consumer, and the evolving technologies of that time in 2011. We had some really great conversations on our bikes, riding in the hills outside downtown Taichung, or while chasing scooters in the heart of the city. I’m super proud of the time I spent with the company, and I’m even prouder to see the continued hard work of Stephen and the rest of the ASI family.

I have no doubt that the new Gran Fondo will be a great riding bike. Looking over the features, I really like the convertible rear axle/ dropout system that allows consumers to use more than one wheel type. I’m a huge fan of building in options, rather than limits. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to ride one of the Gran Fondo bikes. Looks like it will be a very capable gravel/ dirt/ adventure/ “groad”/ “grinduro” bike. Regardless of if I ever get to ride one or not, I think it would be a shame if people overlooked the bike because it doesn’t have the name of a larger bike brand on the downtube. Even worse would be if people misunderstood the commitment and passion of my friends behind the bike.

Kudos Steven, and everybody at Fuji- I hope sales exceed all forecasts!

Tim

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