2022 ENDURO SHOOTOUT
FUJI AURIC LT REVIEW
Photos by Dusten Ryen
Shootout Sponsored by Maxxis Tires & Fox Racing
Fuji’s Auric LT is the most affordable bike in our Enduro Bike Shootout, but is a low price tag enough? Designed to represent Fuji’s take on the perfect bike for big mountain days, the Auric LT packs 160mm of their unique MLink suspension and 170mm up front. Another standout for the Fuji Auric LT is the fact that it’s the only dual 27.5” wheeled bike in our test, something that will likely polarize some riders out there. Let’s dig in and see what this bike’s about and how it performed.
We’d like to thank Fox Racing and Maxxis Tires for their support in making this series possible. Without their partnership these types of projects wouldn’t be possible, if you feel so inclined, offer them a thanks down below! And while you’re at it check out Fox’s new 2023 Product Line and Maxxis’ performance MTB tires here.
• 160mm MLink Suspension
• HTA 63.5
• STA 75 (effective)
• REACH 490mm (Large)
Price: $3,499 (1.5) – $4,999 (1.1)
It’s quite simple when it comes to choosing your Auric LT. Fuji doesn’t offer a choice of wheel size or frame material, instead sticking to their guns with a pair of 27.5” wheels and their A6-SL “super butted” aluminum frame. Cushioning the ride is a coil sprung 160mm of rear travel delivered via their unique MLink suspension system, which sits somewhere in between a Horst Link and dual short link setup to produce some unique kinematics and handling traits.
The MLink four bar suspension system is surely the biggest talking point, as it’s the most unique feature on the Auric LT with that mid-chainstay pivot offering a unique aesthetic. Fuji developed this system to address some issues typically found on other systems, claiming to reduce the flex and binding in the pivots which then leads to less stress on the bearings. The MLink system on the Auric LT is relatively progressive with a 22% progression through the travel that should allow for coil or air shock compatibility. The anti-squat figures sit at 117%-124% at sag throughout the cassette, which should give reasonable pedaling efficiency. Anti-rise is a low 53% at sag, falling down to 38% at bottom out, which should give a relatively free rear end but may be prone to pitching the rider forwards on steeper descents.
The A6-SL frame is made with tubing that is given multiple butting profiles, to reduce the material in low-stress areas and produce a strong yet lightweight aluminum frame. There’s internal cable routing and room for a large water bottle in the front triangle; a threaded bottom bracket; and neat molded rubber downtube and chainstay protection. Enduro Max bearings are used in the pivots to give a long life in testing conditions.
The Fuji Auric LT 1.5 tested is the entry level spec of the two-bike range and retails for $3,499. A move to the higher spec Auric LT 1.1 will set you back $4,999. The 1.5 model comes with a purposeful component spec to offer trail capability at a reasonable price tag. A RockShox suspension package with Yari RC 170mm fork and Super Deluxe Coil Select shock offer limited tuning capability with low-speed compression and rebound on the air fork and just rebound on the coil shock. The drivetrain is an 11spd affair, with a Shimano Deore shifter, derailleur, and crank; Sunrace 10-50t cassette offering a good gearing range; and MRP AMg chain guide. Braking duties are handled by the TRP Quadiem 4-pot brakes, which clamp onto a 203mm front and 180mm rear rotor. WTB is on wheel duties, with their ST i30 rims laced to Formula hubs. These wheels are wrapped in Maxxis EXO casing rubber, with a 2.5” Assegai up front and a DHR2 in the rear. Rounding out the spec, RaceFace provides the alloy cockpit with their Ride series bar and stem, and there’s a TransX dropper post with 150mm drop.
The geometry on the Auric LT is purposefully tailored to the wheel size. The rear end is compact at 425mm, whereas the head angle is a relatively slack 63.5 degrees to regain the front-end stability required to attack gnarly terrain. The effective seat tube angle is 76 degrees for the small and slackens up the size range to 75 degrees on the XL. Seat tube lengths range from 380mm to 495mm, and reach numbers go from 450mm to 510mm with equal size gaps, putting the large size at a relatively long 490mm. Stack heights are very low across the size range, ranging from 585mm to 612mm, and the bottom bracket is a consistent 15mm below the axles. Wheelbases add up to 1,200mm to 1,275mm, with the large coming in at 1,250mm and therefore equaling the shortest on test.
We always love when an underdog shines through the pack of big, spendy rigs. Sadly, the Fuji Auric LT was not the hero we were looking for. It’s not that the bike’s all bad, it just has a major flaw in the geometry when it comes to riding the gnarliest terrain. The low stack height and high bottom bracket make for a very nervous ride when going over very steep chutes or off drops where you need to be looking up ahead. It’s possible a short stem and very high-rise bar would help to offset this, but we didn’t have a bar high enough to try for this test and don’t consider it reasonable for a bike to need such modification to ride comfortably. It’s a shame as the reach is good, head angle is slack, and the suspension platform is pretty impressive too, giving it some potential that just can’t quite be realized.
The MLink system looks a bit precarious and like it would flex excessively, but we didn’t have any complaints on how it worked. The heavy weight of the bike was more detrimental to the Auric LT’s climbing capability, and when it came time to attack the flatter descents the bike did pretty well. Traction was there, it worked fine while braking hard and took both big hits and smaller impacts in its stride. We’re sure that with a better rear shock and fork, the bike would perform even better, making the geometry oversight an even bigger bummer as the bike has some real potential.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Of all the bikes in our roundup, the Fuji Auric LT felt the least like it belonged on steep trails. Despite having a few good geo numbers and a pretty capable suspension platform, the bike just does not instill confidence or a fun feeling while on board in testing terrain. The high bottom bracket and extremely low stack height made for a worrisome ride position going over steep chutes and drops, and the Yari RC fork did not help the cause.
When brands like Canyon are offering bikes that cost just a bit more and have dialed geometry and better components, it’s hard to see where the Fuji Auric LT fits in. We were rooting for this one as it looks cool and the MLink system works well. The good news for Fuji is, frame geometry is very easy to update and if they transfer some more modern numbers to a 29-inch wheeled Auric, we think they’d have a solid, budget-focused shredder on their hands.
Weight: 37.6 lbs
Frame: A6-SL Super Butted Alloy | 160mm
Fork: RockShox Yari RC 27.5 DebonAir
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select+
Brakes: TRP Quadiem | 200F/180R rotors
Bar: Race Face Ride Riser Bar alloy | 20mm rise | 760mm width
Stem: Race Face Ride alloy
Seatpost: Tranz X JD-YSP18P Dropper | 150mm | PLQ Lever
Saddle: WTB Volt Medium Steel SL
Hubs: Formula DC-711 front, DC-3248 rear
Rims: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 32H, 27.5”
Front tire: Maxxis Assegai 27.5×2.5″ WT | TR | EXO Casing
Rear tire: Maxxis DHR2 27.5×2.4″ | TR | EXO Casing
Cassette: Sunrace, 10-50T | 11spd
Cranks: Shimano Deore | 30t
Shifter: Shimano Deore | 11spd
Derailleur: Shimano Deore Shadow Plus | 11spd
Low stack height
Not confidence inspiring or fun
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