Review: Fuji Rakan 29 3.7

Tester: Jon Pratt
Age: 46
Height: 5’10.5”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Inseam: 31”

The Fuji Rakan moves deeper into trail bike territory for 2017. It shares the same frame as the 2016 model, but beefs up with sturdier wheels, tires and suspension. This tacks on a bit of weight but creates a bike designed to tackle the more robust needs of the modern trail rider. Fuji has also added two 27plus models to round out this year’s offerings. All utilize the capable MLink suspension system and feature 120 mm of travel.

The Rakan 3.7 is the entry-level choice and is the only one on the family tree where you’ll find the RockShox Recon Silver RL with 32 mm stanchions. Other models see a bump up to 34 mm stanchions on various Fox forks. The Recon feels great, especially when matched to the Monarch RL shock, but you can’t help but want when surrounded by the better fork options on all the other Rakans. In its defense, the Recon does feature MotionControl which offers a simple, effective way to adjust the fork’s low speed compression damping. It also has external rebound adjustment, making it a decent fork at the Rakan’s price point.

The standout on the Rakan is definitely the MLink suspension. Ported over from the Breezer line, with its middle chainstay pivot, MLink allows the Rakan to be an incredibly efficient climber. I never felt like I needed to flip the shock out of its open setting to overcome excessive pedal induced bob. This is great because a lot of the trails around me have relatively short climbs followed by technical rocky descents. Not worrying about switching back and forth between shock modes is A.O.K. in my book. Overall, the Rakan 3.7 offers a predictable ride matched to an efficient suspension. Up, down, through rocks, over roots: I always felt in control.

A 2×10 Shimano drivetrain provided me with all the gears I needed. The Rakan has 36/22 chainrings in front matched up to an 11-36 cassette. Shifting was crisp and responsive, aided by the SLX Shadow rear derailleur. It’s not a clutch derailleur, so you’ll still experience a bit of chain slap, and that limits its usefulness if you wanted to convert to a 1×10 setup, but otherwise the low-profile Shadow is a solid choice.

There are some things like non-tubeless-compatible rims, which are a bit narrow with a 21 mm internal width, and the inability to fit a large water bottle in the front triangle that give me pause, but overall the Rakan is a respectable, moderately priced bike. MLink, a good fork and shock make it capable in the rough stuff, and it climbs well. It even comes with some pretty decent tires, 2.25 Nobby Nics from Schwalbe. I’d personally shorten the stem a bit, but that’s an easy switch.

The main issue I see with the Rakan is the weight. 34 pounds is a lot, and you can feel it as soon as you start pedaling. Every time I took it out for a spin, I was reminded that this was an inexpensive bike. It’s a shame too, because no matter how good the MLink suspension works, it can’t make a bike lighter. Also, the lack of a tubeless-ready wheelset makes this a hard bike to upgrade without spending a good bit of money. The frame and fork are both 27plus compatible, should you feel the need to give the Rakan a bit more rubber to play with.

The Rakan’s MLink suspension system is its main selling point, but its complexity comes at a price premium. I couldn’t help comparing the Rakan to the Marin Hawk Hill, which is lighter, cheaper and simpler, although some of that lightness can be attributed to the 27.5 wheels versus the 29ers on the Rakan. The Rakan also offers 27plus compatibility, making it a more versatile choice. This frame is worthy of upgrading, but the argument can be made that wheels shouldn’t need to be upgraded to tubeless on bikes over $1000 these days. This isn’t in any way a bad bike, but if you are shopping on price, it isn’t going to come out on top.

Pros

  • Decent component spec
  • M-Link suspension
  • Frame is stealth and external dropper compatible

Cons

  • Heavy
  • No clutch derailleur
  • No tubeless rims or tires

Specs:

Reach: 17.3”
Stack: 24.4”
Top Tube: 24.1”
Head Tube: 69°
BB Height: 13.2 ”
Chainstay: 17.7”
Weight: 34 lbs.

Price: $2,099
Sizes: 15”, 17”, 19” (tested), 21”

Photo: Jon Pratt

This review originally appeared in Dirt Rag 197 as part of our Sub-3k Trail Bike LineupSubscribe now to never miss an issue and while you’re at it, sign up for our email newsletter to get fresh content delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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