Fuji Newest 3.0 Road Bike Review

(And now… I present a return to Tri/Running stuff…)

I do a lot of traveling.  In particular, I travel quite a bit to Seattle (where I’m originally from) for both work and leisure.  The problem with travel is that it has the potential to hose up your training plans.  Running is fairly easy to get in as you can pretty much run anywhere.  And finding a swimming pool isn’t too hard if you take a few minutes to check out the Swimmers Guide.  But biking…that’s where things get tricky.  The primary issue being a lack of bike.  In particular – a road bike.  Finding a mountain bike isn’t super-hard.  Finding a road-bike is downright near impossible, let alone expensive.

For the first few weeks of going back and forth to Seattle earlier this summer I tried renting a road bike.  I was quickly spending $40-60 a shot to rent it for 2 days.  Forget that, I had to find a better solution.

The problem is I didn’t want to spend $1000+ on yet another bike.  This wasn’t my primary bike and wasn’t something I rode all of the time.  I would ride it a few times (2-6) a month.

I first tried the source of all things cheap: Craigslist. The problem there though is that most ‘good deals’ on Craigslist tend to last about 12 seconds.  Because I didn’t live in Seattle I would have to negotiate with the seller around a time I was in Seattle (which could be days or weeks in advance), and then there was the issue of bike condition, etc…  It just seemed like a painful experience in the making.

I then tried the second source of all things cheap: eBay.  I had found a few bikes that were new that were cheap.  By cheap I mean sub-$500.  But after some discussions with some cycling folks, it was determined the parts were somewhat crap.

So that left me at a physical bike shop.  I tried a few local places for a used bike, but they were all WAY too expensive.  I tend to shop quite a bit at Performance Bike, because it’s super-cheap.  It’s also a 10 minute drive from my house in DC.  Even better they have a number of places in Seattle.  I also like the fact that they will perform maintenance on the bike for free for life.  That’s really handy since I’m not quite adept at all things bike yet.

The cheapest road bike they had was the Fuji Newest 3.0.  Weighing in at $450 (on sale, which is every other week), it seemed like a viable option.  Adding in a slew of Performance points I had (credits basically), it would bring it down towards $375.  At this point, short of the thing falling apart before I left the store it seemed like a good deal.  So I bought it.

2007 Fuji Newest 3.0 -Large Pic

The major parts are:

  • Frame: Fuji Altair 1 Compact aluminum
  • Wheels: Formula Alloy Road with Kenda K-152, 700 X 25c tires
  • Fork: Bonded Carbon
  • Front/Rear Shifter: Shimano 2203 shifter/brake, 24-speed
  • Derailleur’s: Shimano Sora
  • Crankset: Fuji Forged Aluminum Road 30/42/52T Chainring
  • Brake Set: ProMax Dual Pivot Forged Road

After about 200 miles on the bike (spread out over a few months) I’m not entirely sure I made the right decision.  Sure the bike works fairly well and all.  And I can certainly keep up with folks I ride with in Seattle.  But there are a number of little things that I don’t particularly like:

  1. The bike is 6.5 pounds heavier than my Fuji Roubaix RC.  This is noticeable on hills and flats.
  2. The tires on the bike are a touch wider than I like – and they’ve got all these stupid little tread thingies sticking out of them.  Of course, I could/should fix this problem by just buying new tires.  But this is how the bike was ‘as-is’.
  3. The handlebars have two sets of brakes.  One on the drops and one on the main horizontal portion of the handlebars, closer to the front fork.  I have yet to figure out when I’d use the second set.  Waste of space and weight in my opinion.
  4. I did toss the seat before I even rode it.  It was this massive fluffy thing.  Seriously…on a road bike?
  5. The shifting is sorta crap.  There is a very fine line when shifting up onto the big gear in the front, depending on what gear I use in the back where it will drop the chain.  I brought it back to Performance and this seemingly sharp guy worked on it for about 30 minutes tweaking it a bit and making it slightly better but simply admitted that the parts weren’t that great and that was the primary cause to my shifting issues.
  6. It’s a three-ring bike.  Nuff said.

Now – to be clear: The bike is perfectly fine for a secondary training bike in a remote city and I even used it in a sprint tri race.  But it’s just a lot of little things that are annoying.  I can’t say I ‘look forward’ to riding it.  Once I’m on it, it’s fine.  It would probably be good for a first time road bike person who isn’t sure they want to enter the sport and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a ‘lost cause’ so to speak.  So that’s something to consider.

But I don’t get this overwhelming urge to just go ride it for the fun of it.  In retrospective, I somewhat wish I had spent a few hundred more dollars to get something that I would be ‘happy’ with.

27 Comments

  1. unfortunately (for me), a couple of these features sounds a lot like my regular/primary/only road bike. crap shifting that can't be fixed with the low-end components that came with it and three rings. and mine was at least twice what you paid.

    i. am. a moron. well, at the very least i think it can be stated that i really just didn't know what i was doing which is to be expected for your first bike i think. maybe. but in all fairness i did really like my bike for a while until the shifting started to die a slow death.

    but i concur, mine would be good for someone just starting out or who plans to ride for mostly for leisure. but, that doesn't help me!

    Reply
  2. I know how you feel. When I go back to DC to visit the folks, I have to ride my first ever road bike... which well I love but ain't thrilled about. Compared to my QRoo tri bike at my place... the Spec Sequoia Sport is nice... but not the same. But overtime I figured I had a bike that was good.. hey and at least you are out there riding... raking in the miles!

    I'll feel this as I'll be visiting the folks in DC for the New Year... but I'll live with it and (I hope) you will to :)

    Reply
  3. Hey thanks for this post. I was searching for reviews of this bike after somebody listed one on Craigslist for $350, which seemed like a good deal. I am still on my old steel 1981 Panasonic DX-4000 which weighs about 4 pounds less than this thing, and now it looks like I'll stick with the Panny a bit longer. Anyway, thanks for helping me to save $350.

    Reply
  4. It looks like you're talking about the '07 model. I bought the '08 as a first road bike, and the components frankly *were* crap - especially the shift levers, which had that thumb lever instead of a lever right behind the brake lever.

    I ended up upgrading the rear derailleur and swapping to a 10 speed cassette just so I could put 105 shifters on my bike. I also put a rack on the back for panniers, since this seems like it would be utter crap in a race. That being said, I now have a comparatively fast, long-distance 30 speed (lol) commute monster that I don't think I'll ever really get rid of. The fact that it's heavy just means I'll be better if I decide to get into racing & buy a better bike.

    Reply
  5. Josh

    I'm a college student and I'm looking for a multi-purpose bike for relatively cheap ($500-600) I'm looking at either a Fuji Newest 4.0 or a 3.0. I've heard the parts on these bikes are crap. any suggestions that won't break the bank?

    Reply
  6. I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to say the parts are crap - as mine hasn't imploded yet. But they are fairly limited.

    I'd look to call around some of your local bike shops and see if they've got any 08 models (or even 07 models) chilling around that they can give you a break on. My GF did that and got an incredible deal.

    I'd also see if you can spend a touch bit more (say $700ish), as you can really get some pretty good used bikes in that range on Craigslist. I'd say watching Craigslist for a few weeks is worthwhile as well. It allows you to get a feel for the prices (vs. just jumping in today).

    Hope this helps some. Good luck!

    Reply
  7. It seems like most of you have been buying a lot of the marketing hype that says full carbon skinny tired race light bikes are better, because, well, they're full carbon, skinny tired, and race light. I commute 33 miles a day, so I bought my Newest 3.0 for other reasons, like the ability to get the bars even with superbly comfortable velo saddle, and clearance to run slightly wider 28mm wide tires with fenders. As for the crappy shifting, I had no issue withthe stock shifters, because I bought my bike at a shop known for top notch mechanics (Performance bike is known for having "ok" machanics). The shifting is even beter now that a put on ultegra bar end shifters (friction mode). Try tightening the cable tension using the barrel adjusters on the downtube bosses, a lot of bike shop maechanics seem to over look that.

    Reply
    • I agree with this statement. Most people don't know that sora and 2303 components are that bad if you know how to work them. Also if you are commuting full carbon is stupid due to commuter bikes take more of a beating. I have the fuji newest 3.0 2011 and have over 3000 miles on it. I did personal upgrades like saddle, peddles, stem, and yes carbon seat post (dampens road vibrations better, again some carbon good full not so much for commuting all hype like fixed geared) anyway and gatorskin tires. I work at performance and agree some lbs's have better mechanics but also depends on who works at your Preformance bicycle shop. We have two top notch mechanics ( I am in sales and some mechanic work) Anyway back on subject people yes 105 is better but sora for commuting for most works great. I have 105 on my touring cycle but still love my cheap but reliable (key word) fuji newest 3.0. And as for people complaining about it's not a road bike. It is a road bike not a racing bike! This is a great commuter and I average 23mph plus on this bike so weight not a issue learn how to shift your bike that's all. The only compliant I have with this bike is the adjustable stem. Replace that and get new tires you have a bike that will last you years.

      Reply
  8. Hi Kayln,

    Thanks for stopping by! I'd agree that for a commuter bike, it's actually well suited to the task for someone getting into the 'sport'. But, I still maintain that for longer rides (i.e. 50+ miles), or for racing, it's really not a super practical bike for those who are competitive. The weight is significant compared to a typical bike targetted towards racing, especially if you're looking at competitive racing.

    Just my two cents though - and glad it's working out for you.

    Reply
    • I would have to disagree. I ride 300 miles one way on this bike no issues. Proper maintenance and knowing how to properly shift is key. The weight shouldn't be a issue because people tour with way more weight. I think most people want one thing and get another that's not 105 or better. Agreed 105 and up would be idle but it is not needed. All and all the fuji newest 3.0 with over 3000 miles on it great commuter. And light tours ok I rather be on my trek 520.

      Reply
  9. i'm thinking about buying this bike and would like some opinions. i don't want to invest a lot of money, b/c i won't be riding all that often. i am getting back into triathalons after having 3 kids (all under 5 now), so i really just need a bike for training and the races. i am not trying to be the fastest, just happy to finish. thanks.

    Reply
  10. Hi Sheri!

    Based on your description of your goals, I think this would actually be a perfect starter bike for you. My Dad's been using mine for the past few months and doing upwards of 150-200 miles a week on it, really getting into cycling - and it's working well for him. That's far more miles than you'd likely be doing for a Sprint/Oly triathlon (or heck, even Ironman training), so I think you're good. While he is looking at a new bike this fall, it's mostly because he's cycling enough now that it makes sense to look at a bit better bike.

    As always, feel free to post or e-mail any questions!

    Reply
  11. I am wanting to change my seat on my fuji road bike newest 3.0! I was wondering if someone would help me out on what kind of seat i should replace it with?

    Reply
  12. I am trying to buy my first road bike and I am feeling very confused. I found a 2009 Fuji Newest 3.0 that was bought at Performance Bikes and is being resold on Craigslist for $540. I am trying to figure out if this is the bike for me. I have done three sprint triathlons - all on a Target mountain bike - Ha Ha! My birthday is in a couple weeks and I'm finally getting a road bike. I plan on doing triathlons for years to come. I am already planning to do two Half Ironmans next year. However, our family is on a limited budget and I don't want to pay more than about $500 for a bike. Will this bike be a huge relief abd upgrade from my cheap Target mountain bike? I have to admit, I'm very competitive and want a fairly fast bike. Would a lighter bike be better? If I do buy this bike, will I need to upgrade parts? New tires or a new seat? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  13. PFTiger-

    I replaced mine with just a slimmer seat I pickd up at Performance. Unfortunately, choosing a seat is a super-individual decision. In general though, the less surface area on the seat, the less area for it to rub. For long rides you generally want a pretty stiff seat with little surface area.

    Hi Kristi-

    Pretty impressive to do three all on a mountain bike - nicely done!

    Seeing the Newest resold for $540 seems a bit high, given it doesn't usually cost much more than that new.

    If you're planning a half-iron I'd STRONGLY recommend getting something with aerobars, or at least the ability to do snap-on bars (I did a review of them about two years ago). Interestingly, I saw a pretty nice looking bike from Felt - a road bike - for $800ish retail, but I've seen it as low as $749ish.
    link to feltracing.com

    Both the Newest and the Felt would be MASSIVE upgrades from the Target mountain bike, but I'd fear that you'd be limited with the Newest if you want a fairly fast bike. There's a huge difference between it and even some of the other Fuji's, especially in weight. I swapped out the tires on mine, but that was mostly a preference thing, same with the seat.

    I'd really watch Craigslist or eBay for a bit and see if you can find someone trying to offload a solid bike, especially as the season comes to a close.

    Reply
  14. rodger in nashville

    i don't know if anyone will read this, but it might be interesting as my perspective is a bit different. My daughter recieved her fuji newest 3.0 as a gift from a group of triathletes here in Nashville after her bike, along with all her other belongings, were destroyed when a tornado demolished her college dorm. We are just thankful she survived. At the time, she was training on a hybrid for her first tri, a sprint. She used the fuji for that triathlon. The real spin is that she kept training, and after graduation in may, she successfully rode her bike from santa monica to delaware. See ride;welltour, com. Although she had two injuries, resulting in riding the van for about 3 days, she completed 3100 of the 3400 mile trip. As with others on the team, many on much better bikes, she had some breakdowns, such as 1 broken spoke, broken left shifter, several needed adjustments to deraillers, etc., but the bike did fine. The main things done to it before the trip were a better chain, better brakes, replacing the saddle twice to find one that might work, but the best money i spent was on an extremely precise fit at gran fondo bike shop. I told my daughter i would treat her to a new bike when she finished the tour, at least a nice orbea or bianchi, but she is so attached to her bike, she's not interested. ( i forgot, we also replaced the tires with some great continentals. the bike did great, especially considering days were as long as 141 miles. I realize that by the time we made all the upgrade we could have bought a better bike to start with. As a dad who dreams of having something titanium with campy or sramred, i'm slowly realizing that just because a bike has sora or a triple chainring, i shouldn't write it off. And now the clincher; a stock 3.0 was ridden by another rider in the tour this year as well as a second one by another girl last year. anyway, just food for thought. thanks

    Reply
  15. rodger in nashville

    rodger in nashville, forgive me; just a quick ammendment to my earlier comment. The website i mentioned should be spelled all one word, ridewelltour . I wanted to respond to Kristie's comment of August 21, stating she is looking for a fairly fast bike to compete with. Using the bike i mentioned earlier, my daughter was the first girl in on the last day of the ridewelltour, along with the fastest male. This was the 141 mile ride from baltimore to lewes, delaware, at the atlantic. She did have speedplays and shimano shoes, but i believe mainly she just got stronger as the tour progressed. I had my misgivings about her making it all the way on the 3.0, but i guess this just shows what is possible. good luck!

    Reply
  16. D.R. Fisher

    Like several other folks, I'm just starting to get into road cycling. I want a good bike to start with but don't want the huge investment. I'm a big guy(6'3", 270lbs) so I'm also looking for something sturdy and comfortable. I'm looking for something to ride recreationally and with cycling groups 25-40 mile rides. I've looked at the 2009 Fuji 3.0 Endurance($499) and the Felt Z-100($650+). Any thoughts on which is the better bike?

    Reply
  17. Hi Rodger and D.R.

    Rodger - Absolutely appreciate your insight. As you've pointed out, rider fitness will trump quite a bit. At the end of the day, the aboslute strongest riders will usually win. I'd be curious to see her do time trials comparing the 3.0 to a lighter bike (with better gearing, etc..). Pretty impressive to knock out 3,100 miles on that day after day. Serious congrats! For a non-racing bike, the stock 3.0 is pretty hardy (kinda built like a tank...which means it's also heavy).

    D.R.- There's no doubt this bike is sturdy, it's a beast (compared to many other lighter road bikes). My dad rides many rides on it in that range of mileage without issue. I can't seem to find the 3.0 Endurance for that cheap, I'm only seeing it in the $1,000+ category (link to performancebike.com), and that bike has much better specs that either the Felt or the Newest. The Felt bike looks to be pretty much on par with the Newest.

    Reply
  18. I found someone on craigslist selling thier 2008 Fuji Newest for $200. He upgraded to shimano deore derailleurs. Im just getting into biking and looking to get into tri's... Worth it? Im tight on $$ for now.

    Reply
  19. jim

    For anyone who might read this I have one and after 2,000 miles I have to say it's a pretty good bike for my first road bike. I replaced the chain once and the rear wheel after 3 or 4 spokes broke at different times but otherwise it's a good buy. Yeah, it's a little heavy but still fast. I actually wanted triple rings because I live and ride in a mountainous area. I have some hand and wrist issues so I wanted the brake handles in two positions so I can move my hands around. It's certainly not an all out racing bike but I wouldn't be afraid to recommend it to anyone.

    Reply
  20. Brian L.

    Hey DC,

    Thanks for the review, I actually just bought a new '09 3.0 and I love it. I just started getting into cycling and I'm doing my first tri this summer. Totally right about the shifting, a little rough at first. Hopefully I can get it tweaked so it's better or maybe upgrade the derailuers, but it does what it needs to do for now. If anyone is looking to get into the sport and is looking at a bike that is solid, no frills, and won't break the bank, I'd say this bike fits the bill. My only complaint is the stem... it is adjustable which is nice, but I hit a speed bump and it came loose, no injuries just scared the crap out of me. Either tighten it up really good or upgrade to a solid one piece stem. Otherwise I love it.

    -B

    Reply
  21. -Mark D.

    I'm in a similar boat to aisteve. I just scored an '06 Newest 3.0 for $220. It's got Xero Lite XSR-3 wheels and mismatched tires. I can already see that the derailleurs are not terrific, or may just be way out of adjustment.

    This bike is well used, but I'm confident that with a little attention now, along with a good tune-up, I can get quite a bit more life out of it.

    I've done the mountain bike, bmx, freestyle, etc thing before, but this is my first experience with a road bike, and I'm jumping in head first with a 53 mile ride in just two days after a 7+ year vacation from anything 2-wheeled or pedal-powered. I hope I can at least squeak by on these needing-attention der's for at least this ride, then get it refreshed if I decide it's something I want to keep up with.

    I'm curious though, now that everyone who has posted may have had their Newest 3.0's for some time, what else is there that may need attention?

    Reply
  22. Kalyn Stalinski

    This is mainly for Mark-D but will apply to everyone as well. As long as you have a good relationship with a reputable bike shop, (preferably an independent one as they seem to have the best mechanics) you should be fine no matter what bike you buy. As far as derailers go, what kind you have soesn't really matter. They all work the same. Yes there's a difference in looks, price, fancy materials and what not, but they all work the same. As far as shifting as the limit screws are set and the cable tension is adjusted properly, it will shift fine. The biggest difference in shifting performance will be had through upgrading your chain and cassette. This is where most bike makers cut cost so that they can put a higher end "grupo" on a fairly inexpensive bike. Also, on the Fuji Newest 3.0 in particualr, they crankset can definitely stand to be upgraded. Upgrading to a crankset that uses a splined (shimano octalink or ISIS or something like that), or even better, the new integrated two piece cranksets, will not only shave off a lot of weight, but dramaticaly improve your power transfer.

    Reply
  23. Mike Bike Smith

    being one of those more qualified bike mechanics from a smaller bike shop, my opinion is that the brand does not matter. The companies are super competitive and drive down the prices of each other to a fair and even price.

    The +/- 50 dollars between companies is reflective of their overhead cost, and marketing strategies. Besides that... two $600 bikes from different companies are likely to have the same components.

    There is no such this as a cheap - good road bike. It would be awesome, but there is no financial incentive to produce this item.

    I now work at a Fuji retailer. The 3.0 is the first bike they introduce with integrated shifters. Prices range from 550 to 750, and the fairness of this price depends on where you live AND the cost of continued maintenance. 1 year warranty on parts with reasonable riding, and most decent shops do a 30-60 day check over to replace tension the brake and shifting cables.

    The components are not crap. That is why a "cheap" road bike is still $500 new. No company wants to put their name on anything that they would sell for less. The most important thing is a good mechanic. If the tension is perfect, and limit screws perfect, the shifting on an entry level bike will still just be "good" compared to your friends full dura ace blah blah blah....

    So the moral of the story... is you get what you pay for. The components get lighter, more rigid, and more resilient as price increases. The price increase is exponential, so high end parts cost way way way more than mid range parts.

    Reply
  24. I just bought a Fuji Newest 3.0 yesterday :) seeing all your comments, I admit I have seen it while trying it last night. But to be honest, the only disadvantage i would pay any attention to, is the gearing problem, other than that is a luxury for a starter to be honest :)

    It is a cheap bike, I am sure people manufacturing it wont think of making a perfect bike with that price. A cheap bike is mainly for starters, don't need yet an advanced bike, and OF COURSE it will have less if not much less performance than other more expensive bikes. Cheap stuff are for a reason, but in the end you must be in a win-win situation. Plus it is a Fuji bike in the end, so it will be a good bike anyways.

    If you are a starter, Fuji Newest 3.0 is an excellent bike, it will have cons and pros of course, cos it is a cheaper bike. But I saw people doing very good on bikes less than $100, and I saw people living in north pole too, so, adapt to what you have, increase your performance with whatever bike you had, keep training daily, and take good care of your bike, it will take good care of you back. That's all.

    Reply
  25. AlMarr

    Wow, this is the most informative thread I've came across. I found a newest 3.0 2008 in Craigslist for $200. I've been doing a lot of MTB for a while and I'd like to make the switch. Would it be a good choice?? I'd really appreciate some type of feedback. As you can see I'm a road bike rookie. Thanks!!

    Reply

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