Fuji Jari 2.5 | A Budget Commuter

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The Fuji Jara 2.5 is the entry level in the Jari range, which consists of five different build and frameset options. The reason I have chosen to review the cheapest in the range is because I’m a new to the gravel market, so I don’t see the need for me personally to get a more expensive bike when I’m essentially only getting one to work on fitness and wind my riding back a bit when I’m worn out from fast days out on an enduro bike.

My intended use for the Fuji Jari 2.5 was to ride local bridleways and cobbled roads. If I lived in a city I’d likely get a road bike for working on fitness, but in Todmorden I have so many bridleways available it seems a shame to not explore. I also find road riding quite terrifying, especially on bendy country roads.

The Bike

The cheapest in the Fuji Jari range, the Fuji Jari 2.5 is a steel frame with a Chromoly fork. With only the slightest slope on the top tube, the geometry is much more on the traditional tourer side of things than the ‘mountain bike with drop bars’ modern gnarmac bikes we’ve been seeing emerge onto the market.

With Shimano Claris shifters, Altus derailleur and Tektro Mira disc brakes, it’s a budget build. But grind your way through a winter and you’ll be ready to replace many of these components, and you’ve got a steel frame to attach them to.

700c Vera Terra rims with quick released sealed hubs, on Panaracer Comet Hard Pack tyres. The Comets are not as soft and supple as Panaracer’s SK Gravelkings (which are listed on the Hotlines website as being fitted).

You won’t be adding a dropper post to this, but there are rack and mudguard mounts, plus top tube mounts for those long journeys. External cable routing keeps maintenance (and upgrades) simple. The bars are alloy Oval Concepts 325, 31.8mm clamp, 125mm drop, 25 degrees flare, 4 degrees sweep. The stem offers +/-7 degrees depending which way you flip it.

The Ride

A first ride review would usually be just that – a review based on the initial ride, but as I’m new to gravel bikes this is based on a couple of weeks riding from me, with some ‘tasting notes’ of comparison to a couple of other gravel bikes. During testing I soon realised this bike should ideally be targeted at road riding where you may find yourself on a dirt track now and again. Read on to find out why.

The Fuji Jari 2.5 riding position is a lot more upright than I’m used to, and also more upright than a couple of other gravel bikes I tried recently. This makes it great for gentle rides at lower speeds, and it isn’t terrible at climbing, but I have very little confidence on descents due to feeling like my weight is sat further forward than I’d like. For someone newer to riding I imagine this would be an ideal position – not too bent over, quite stable, not having to crank your neck up to see what’s in-front.

The bars are great for someone new to this kind of riding. There’s plenty of space for getting into a stable position, and they feel wide enough to add a bit of confidence to the ride. The forks are not very forgiving – I know, they’re rigid, but despite being chromoly they are particularly rigid.

I do think that any experienced mountain biker heading into gravel, or at least a biker with some knowledge and preferences on components, will find some parts of this bike hard to work with. The brakes don’t fill me with confidence. I certainly wouldn’t be happy riding at speed on this bike because they aren’t powerful enough to stop it in a hurry, which has led to me dragging the brakes down almost everything I can freewheel down and gradually pick up speed on. If you’re used to hydraulics, mechanical brakes are very noticeably less forceful. That said, this isn’t a racey bike, so I may be being a little fussy.

I found the reach on the brakes really difficult. There’s no adjustment but having looked into the various levels of road and gravel brakes, it’s not likely to get adjustment on a build of this price.

I don’t feel I have fully appreciated the gear range on this bike. I was really looking forward to doing some huge climbs on this and needing the full range of gears, but I just haven’t needed them. That does say a lot of the efficiency of climbing on this bike, as I’ve done some very big Calderdale loops on it. Having that big gear range does give you something to fall back on when your energy levels are low, and for newer riders who haven’t yet built up their bike legs they’re a generous aid.

Being new to a fully rigid bike I have found myself standing up on climbs a lot. It doesn’t take much power to get this bike over rough terrain, and it’s uncomfortable in comparison to a hardtail, but it’s been a lot more manageable than I expected it would be. Of course I feel more of the terrain, but sticking to lighter gravel trails didn’t give me any complaints about my wrists. It’s not really a bike for Calderdale’s rougher options.

Overall

The Fuji Jari 2.5 is not an aggressive or racey gravel bike, I’d say it’s a great commuter or ideal for someone new to riding that wants to do a mix of road and gentle off-road riding. It will see you through a long day out thanks to a comfortable riding position and a generous gear range, but it does become uncomfortable on rough descents. If you make wise route choices, this bike is a bargain. If you expect too much of it on technical trails, you’ll find limits.

Fuji Jari 2.5 2020 Specifications

  • Frame // Reynolds 520, Chromoly rack & fender mounts, triple bottle mount, flat mount disc, top tube bento box mount
  • Fork // Chromoly with 1 1/8″ – 1 1/2″ tapered steerer, flat mount disc, low-rider water bottle and rack mounts
  • Stem // Alloy, 3D-forged 6061 stem body, +/-7°
  • Handlebar // Oval Concepts 325, 6061 Alloy, 31.8mm clamp, 125mm drop, 25° flare, 4° sweep
  • Tape // Oval Concepts 300 bar tape, Suede
  • Rear Derailleur // Shimano Altus
  • Front Derailleur // Shimano Claris
  • Brakes // Tektro Mira mechanical disc, 160mm rotors
  • Crankset // Alloy, 44/28T
  • Cassette // Shimano HG31, 11-34T, 8-Speed
  • Chain // KMC Z51
  • Rims // Vera Terra DPD18, 32/32h, quick release sealed hubs
  • Tyres // Panaracer Comet Hard Pack 700x38c
  • Saddle // Oval Concepts 238, Steel rail
  • Seatpost // 6061 Alloy, 27.2mm diameter
  • Claimed Weight // 13.10kg (approx)
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