I saw a Fuji Absolute 4.2 tandem advertised in the Orange County (CA) Craigslist. Since my wife and I are thinking about buying another tandem, I did a Google search for this bike and came up with almost nothing. We still wanted to try the bike, so we met the owners and gave it a test ride. Our impressions are listed below with the hope of helping anyone else who might be interested in one of these tandems.
First, here are the only links that seemed useful to me:
2007 Fuji Absolute 4.2
2006 Fuji Absolute 4.2
Road Bike Review
Fuji Bicycles Absolute Tandem Tandem Bike
Our Ride Impression
Before riding, we gave the bike a quick inspection. It is a "hybrid" style bike with flat bars, grip shifters, 700 x 30c tires, nine rear cogs and a three-sprocket crankset for a total of 27 speeds. The bike we rode was apparently a 2006 model with dark gray paint, and it looked good. The wheels spun freely, the front wheel was true, and the rear wheel was close to true. Fuji claimed a weight of 34 pounds, but our scale said 38 pounds with pedals, but otherwise completely stock with no accessories. Overall, the bike seemed to be nicely made.
When we hopped on, our first impression was that the bike felt light and responsive. The Shimano Deore rear derailleur moved through the gears positively. Shifting in the front was not positive or quick, but we did end up on the desired sprocket. The V-brakes required a firm grip. The saddles were good for OEM equipment. I'm 5'9", my wife is 5'3", and after some quick adjustments the fit of the 21"/17" bike seemed OK. It might be too small for a larger team.
As we spent some time accelerating hard and riding at a fast pace I began to think that the front handlebar was flexing a lot. Eventually I realized that the soft foam handlebar grips were responsible that sensation. However, we never did get rid of the feeling that the bike was not just light weight, but also best for light duty.
I can't say that I actually observed the frame flexing, but some things we noticed make me think that it was. My wife and I both finished our ride with the feeling that the bike was "wimpy". When we pedaled hard, the chain rubbed lightly on the front derailleur. Was it just out of adjustment, or was something flexing? We have ridden our Trek T900 (also sort of a "hybrid") on all sorts of paved and unpaved roads, and it has always felt solid and confidence-inspiring. We did not feel that way about this Fuji. We recently rode a 2002 Cannondale RT1000, and even though it felt lightweight and responsive, it felt as solid as a rock compared to the Fuji Absolute.
In the end we decided that the bike was not for us. That's too bad, because we were hoping to buy it and upgrade and change some components in order to end up with a nice, low-cost road tandem.
We are not a powerful and fast team. However, we certainly ride quickly at an "enthusiast" level on our own and with our friends in the Orange County Rebel Riders. We would not be satisfied with this bike, but I think that someone who wants to ride for casual fun would like it. It seems to be well-made, and the flat bars and light weight would make it inviting to casual riders. Plus, if you can find one, you can probably buy it for a great price.
We enjoyed our test ride. For us it's a lot of fun to compare how different makers try to solve the same puzzle. Many thanks to "Sam" and his wife, who were selling the bike and took the time to let us try it.