Bicycle Review

For some time I have been meaning to write a review of my now not so new bicycle.  This week is ‘bike to work week’ around the country, so it seemed like a good occasion.  Read on for my full review of my Giant Seek 2 commuter bike.

I have ridden my bicycle to work many days since we came to USU.  For years I rode an old diamond back, a bike my parents gave me when I was in 8th grade.  I had rebuilt it and turned it into a solid, if heavy, commuter.  But a little over a year ago I decided to upgrade (my old bike was donated to Aggie Blue Bikes).

I purchased a Giant Seek 2 in late 2010 from Sunrise Bicycle for a fantastically reduced price since it was an older year model (my 2009 Seek 2 is akin to 2010 and later Seek 1s; Giant changed the numbering).

Here is my review of the bike:

Frame, fork and ride: 

Brushed aluminum mountain bike style frame, chunky welds but clean enough looking.  Cromoly fork, no suspension.  Ride is on the firm side, not harsh but you feel most bumps in the road.  The bike feels light, responsive, and quick but is also burly enough that I am confident hopping curbs.

Ride is not as upright as a cruiser but not as hunched as a mtn bike.  Strikes a good balance.  Overall feel is of a fast commuter that is burlier than road bike based fast commuters (I am thinking of the Trek FX or the Specialized Sirrus).

I like that the bike is very understated looking.  Gray with very little in the way of stickers or branding so it does not shout out to thieves.  And it looks like an adult bike, instead of something covered in stupid colors and graphics.

There are as many braze-ons as you could want: braze ons for full fender sets as well as for both front and rear racks.  I don’t use them all, but it is nice thing to put on the frame.  And there are braze ons for all of the brake and shifting lines and everything feels nice and secure.  Nothing flaps around while riding and it looks nice and tidy.  A smart little detail: all of the cables are routed under the top tube instead of the down tube.  This keeps them clean since they don’t get gummed up by road grime that kicks up from the front tire.  Very clever on a commuter that can be subject to lots of grime.  The bike goes longer between services and runs better for it.  Somebody at Giant was thinking about the details with this bike.

Hydraulic disc brakes:

I suppose these have been around for a while now, but these are a first for me.  They are heavier than a rim brake, to be sure.  But they make a big difference on wet rides.  I think they are a bit better on dry days, but on the wet days there is really no comparison.  Commuting on a rim brake bike on a rainy or snowy day can be a bit skittish at times, you really have to plan ahead and cannot stop quickly if something jumps in front of you.  With these disc brakes, the brakes are every bit as responsive on wet days.  Big plus overall, I think.

Shifters/Gearing:

SRAM shifters.  Nothing all that noteworthy here.  Shimano M30 front and SRAM X5 rear derailleurs.  Again, nothing too remarkable.  All have allowed for very reliable, quick and sharp shifts.  27 speeds is frankly excessive for my daily commute since I don’t have any hills.  I show a lot more wear on 3 cogs than any others.  But for when I ride to the market and such things (down the hill), I appreciate the wider range.  You can get into a full-fledged granny gear (26/36/36 teeth crankset, 11-34 teeth cassette).  I have been glad to have these gears when pulling the kid trailer up a hill.

Wheels:

Alloy rims, 700×32 tires.  Rolls quickly and I feel plenty confident in the corners on dry roads.  But the tires are basically slicks, and I admit to feeling a bit less confident on wet roads. In the snow, they are downright squirrelly.  I may invest in a winter tire.

Complaints:

– Grips: An odd thing to comment on, I suppose, but these are my one complaint.  The grips are comfortable ergonomic style, but I find them annoying since they twist down on the bar so I am routinely having to twist them back into place.  I wonder if there is a way to clamp them into place.

– No chain guard.  I don’t know why bike companies don’t spec commuters with a full chain guard.  I know they are rare on derailleur bikes, but I have seen them (on a Bianchi, I think).  Giant did do one of those plastic guards over the big chain ring which helps some.  I wear a pant strap and have not had any troubles.

Extras:

– Fenders: Planet Bike full fender set.  I like the full coverage, I have ridden in very wet roads and get very little water kicked up.  And I like how they look.

– Lock: Got a Kryptonite Modulus system.  A lock housing is affixed to the frame on the water bottle braze ons.  You can lock one or two cables into this housing.  It adds a bit of weight to the frame, but is pretty secure and very convenient.

– Rack and panniers.  Mtn rack with panniers.  My first time using panniers instead of a commuter shoulder strap bag.  I am totally converted.

– Kick stand.  Here again, I don’t understand why commuter bikes are not just specced with a kick stand.  The Seek 2 can be fitted with a kick stand right behind the bottom bracket, but I find bottom bracket kick stands to be unsteady (especially with a heavy pannier on the rear rack).  There are chain stay kick stands out there, but the Seek 2 has odd shaped (rectangular) seat and chain stay tubes.  And the disc brakes get in the way as well.  I got one to work all the same, but it is a bit jury rigged.

– Bell.  I use mine somewhat liberally.  I think it is common courtesy, but I mostly get nasty looks when I ding someone to let them know I am coming up on their side.

Overall, I have loved my new bike.  I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a burly but fast commuter.

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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
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