Bike Check: Caroline Mani's Fuji Jari Cyclocross Gravel Bike
Caroline Mani proves gravel but for cyclocross is a thing with her Fuji Jari Carbon
Last time we ventured to bike profile corner, we looked at Maghalie Rochette’s new S-Works CruX, which is a cyclocross bike that became a gravel bike. Rochette’s fellow French-speaking racer Caroline Mani is also racing on a gravel bike this year, albeit one that was technically always a gravel bike.
After racing for Van Dessel for several years, Mani put together a new program last year called Pactimo Fierce. Her bike sponsor is Fuji, and thus the new program meant a new bike. While Fuji makes a cyclocross in the Altamira, Mani is on its gravel cousin the Jari Carbon this season.
I chatted with Mani during the Charm City weekend to learn more about her gravel cum cyclocross bike that has bottle bosses for days.
While Fuji has not been omnipresent in American cyclocross, it has had a presence. Jonathan Page rode a Fuji near the end of his career, and Jeremy Powers rode a Fuji during his final cyclocross season in 2018. Both Page and Powers, however, rode the Altamira, Fuji’s dedicated cyclocross bike.
The Jari, which Mani is riding, is a “traditional” gravel bike, although it is billed as a “race” bike, and thus has a lightweight and aggressive position that makes it suitable for cyclocross racing.
“It's technically a gravel bike, but the chainstay is still pretty short. Edwin Bull from Fuji was like, 'Hey, you're going to like this bike,’” Mani said. “If you look at the geometry, I would say it's 'cross and gravel-oriented. If you look at some of the other brands that do a gravel bike, the chain stays are super long and you can't corner. I feel like I'm going through corners really quickly. I don't feel any disadvantage with this bike.”
The Jari frame is made from Fuji’s C15 high-modulus carbon, and the downtube has a boxy shape that suggests aero is not the primary goal of the bike.
Geometry-wise, the Jari … is a gravel bike. The wheelbase on Mani’s 49cm XS frame is 102.0 cm, which, just as a comparison, is a full 2cm longer than a similarly sized Trek Boone. The headtube angle is a slack 70.5 degrees, and as Mani described, the chainstays are a smidge longer than the traditional 42.5cm cyclocross length.
Despite those measurements, Mani said the Jari is suiting her needs. “This bike is still pretty aggressive. This isn't a soft, slow, comfortable bike for going in straight lines.”
What really stands out on Mani’s Jari, especially compared to, say, the prototype Cervelo Wout that doesn’t even have down tube mounts, is the number of mounts available. Mani said she counted a total of 28.
“I could carry a bottle for Rochette here, Katie Clouse here, Clara there. There’s even one for Becca under here. I have to like you if I'm going to carry water for you,” Mani said when showing off the mounts.
There’s a top tube mount for a bento-style bag (IDK if those would be UCI legal), and even a plastic guard underneath the bottom bracket that has two more mounts on it.
The front fork also has mounts for a rack or bags. Cables are internally routed through the fork and frame, although in a more traditional non-integrated fashion (or whatever we’re calling the new trend).
In recent profiles, we have seen a healthy dose of 12-speed SRAM Red eTap AXS, but Mani counts Shimano as a sponsor and is thus running the GRX off-road groupset. The Di2 RX800-series version of the gruppo has super-ergo brake levers that riders have been raving about since the groupset was released.
GRX comes in both 1x and 2x versions, and as we learned at GO Cross when Mani dropped her chain, she is running the 1x version. While Shimano makes a GRX crankset, Mani also counts FSA as a sponsor, and so she ran an FSA SL-K Light carbon crank with a 42t FSA Megatooth narrow-wide chain ring.
And yes, after dropping her chain at GO Cross due in part to not having a chain catcher mounted, by the time Baltimore rolled around, Mani had a K-Edge chain catcher mounted up to her bike.
Shimano’s regular GRX derailleur has room for up to an 11-34t cassette, but a lot of riders prefer a bigger spread in the back if they are running a 1x system. Enter the RX817 rear derailleur that is compatible with MTB-style cassettes. Mani ran an 11-40t Deore XT cassette. She explained her reasoning.
“I can run a 42 (tooth) in the front all year and not have to worry about switching to a 38 or 40,” she said. “I think I have enough gears in front for a race like Zolder where the start is super fast. At the same time, I am ok at Namur which has super-steep climbs. I think it's a perfect combo with that combo available.”
Not surprisingly, Mani’s wheels came from FSA brand Vision. Although not as deep as Rochette’s 50mm deep Roval wheels, Mani’s Vision Metron SL carbon tubulars still had some depth to them.
Like a number of North American riders, Mani is on Challenge tubulars this season. Last year, the company added a red sidewall to its Team Edition S3 models. Mani had mixed Grifo treads mounted when I caught up with her on Sunday morning of the Charm City weekend.
One bit of the rest of Mani’s bike that is interesting is despite being sponsored by Shimano, she chose to run Crankbrothers Eggbeaters pedals. Typically when we see Elites run Crankbrothers pedals they are on the Candy model that has more of a platform, but Mani opted for the mud-clearing Eggbeaters. Fortunately for her, the titanium Eggbeater 11 is gold, which stays matchy-matchy with the Jari’s color scheme.
As we will see shortly, Mani is one for fashion, and thus the cockpit of her bike is also matchy-matchy with the blue and gold paint scheme, with yellow LizardSkins bar tape on her FSA K-Force carbon handlebar.
The blue and gold paint scheme also matches the colors of Mani’s primary Pactimo Fierce kit for this season. While the Baloise-Trek team are technically the “Lions,” their Lion definitely has nothing on Mani’s.
While Mani cannot participate in the Pan-Ams / U.S. Nationals back-to-back weekends, she is planning on continuing her season in Europe this winter. It is TBD on which European riders she will also be carrying bottles for on her Fuji Jari frame.
Caroline Mani’s Fuji Jari Specs
Frame: Fuji Jari, C15 high-modulus carbon, 12mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc
Fork: Fuji C10 monocoque carbon, 12mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc
Shift/Brake Levers: Shimano GRX RX815 Dual-Control Levers
Brake Calipers: Shimano GRX RX810 hydraulic disc
Crankset: FSA SL-K Light, carbon
Chain Ring: FSA Megatooth, 42t
Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX817 Di2
Cassette: Shimano Deore XT, 11-40t
Wheels: Vision Metreon 30 carbon tubulars
Tires: Challenge Grifo tubulars, 700c x 33mm
Handlebar: FSA K-Force, carbon
Stem: Unbranded, alloy
Seatpost: FSA K-Force Light, carbon, zero offset
Saddle: Fizik Argo
Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
More Info: fujibikes.com