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FUJI JARI 1.1: Budget Badass

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The Jari maybe Fuji’s first-ever foray into gravel, but when it comes to entry-level adventure, the company brought a gun to a knife fight. The Jari flat-out rips. With a dedicated touring bike in the line-up—the aptly named Touring—and a do-it-all road platform called the Tread, Fuji was free to give the Jari a hefty dose of race-worthy performance.

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Using custom, butted A6-SL alloy and an FC-440 Cross carbon fork, Fuji starts with a stiff, durable and affordable platform. There are four Jari models, plus a frameset option. The Jari 1.1 is considered top of the line with SRAM’s excellent Force 1 set-up with a 10–42 cassette and 42-tooth front ring providing enough gear for spirited gravel racing and steep climbing. Hydraulic Force braking on 160mm rotors gives the platform plenty of stopping power. The Jari comes with a set of 36mm Clement X’Plor MSO tires on Stan’s No Tubes Grail Team wheels, but 55mm between the stays gives the Jari plenty of room for 40mm tires if necessary. Fuji’s in-house brand, Oval, is reliable, if unexciting, fare. The bars are an exception—alloy with a massive 25-degree flare, they are a bit of an acquired taste, but one we grew to love, offering loads of stability.

FUJI Words/images: Ben Edwards

The Jari has numbers that thread the line between relaxed gravel grinder and performance gravel racer. The chainstays are 435mm long and the head tube has a 72-degree angle. Certainly steeper and tighter than the Raleigh Stuntman, but not as aggressive as a ’cross bike or the 3T Exploro tested in these pages. The Jari actually feels more precise and nimble than these numbers would suggest and it’s the tall-ish 67mm bottom bracket—which raises the center of gravity—that adds to the bike’s nimble feel.

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Under power, climbing dirt, trucking across gravel-strewn plains or navigating flowing single track, the Jari is lively and quick, and a hoot to ride. It jumps up to speed thanks to the stiff alloy platform but thanks to all the tire volume, it’s as comfy as can be. At 19.8 pounds, it’s no featherweight but it beats most of the competition in its price range on the scale. Fuji has done a masterful job of giving the bike a high-performance feel at the bars and pedals, while retaining the ability for light bike-packing duty and exploration thanks to rack and fender mounts and even a bento-box mount on the top tube. $2,950; fujibikes.com