Giant Seek 1 Review

Squeaky clean and never ridden.  Photo was taken much earlier in the spring.
Squeaky clean and never ridden. Photo was taken much earlier in the spring.

A little while back I sold my previous commute bike, a Giant Seek 0.  Like many who get into biking, I’ve had many bikes come and go in the wake of my upgrades and new purchases.  Generally speaking, I don’t look back often.  The Giant Seek was one of the very few bikes that I felt real regret in removing from the stable.  When I ran across an opportunity to get a Giant Seek 1, I jumped at the chance.  Since then, this bike has become my daily commuter and general go-to bike for anything that doesn’t involve single-track or mud.  While this is not directly related to mountain biking, my daily commute is a big part of how I keep myself in shape for riding on the trail.  I’d love to hit the single-track every day, but that doesn’t always fit into my life.

Features:

  • ALUXX-grade aluminum frame with eccentric bottom-bracket and stainless steel toptube protector
  • Light and strong double-wall alloy rims with wide Schwalbe Big Apple tires
  • Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub with rapid fire shifting
  •  Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes
Giant Stock photo
Giant Stock photo.  It just looks good.

Verdict:
Since getting the bike this spring, I’ve put several hundred miles on it. Most of those miles have been trekking to and from work on a daily basis.  The bike has performed admirably in pretty much every situation and has even proven to be an upgrade over my original Seek 0 from 2010.

The Seek 1 frame is very much like the earlier iteration of the Seek 0 with only some minor refinements.  The braze-ons are now much better positioned which I’ve used to mount fenders and a rear rack.  I ride in all weather, so fenders are a must-have item.

The geometry of the bike makes for a “quick” feeling ride.  The bike steers easily and quickly without ever feeling twitchy.  In spite of the quick feel, it can be comfortably guided when riding hands free.  It really just wants to go where you point it and seems like it would be perfect for zipping around erratically in traffic.  The geometry puts the rider in what I think of as a semi-aggressive position: not hunched over like an old-school XC MTB racer and not upright like a comfort bike.  I find it comfortable and fast enough for my 10 to 12 mile commute.

The Seek 1 with fenders, rack and loaded for  my morning commute.
The Seek 1 with fenders, rack and loaded for my morning commute. (Note the  wonderful pavement on Vt Rt 122)

The frame does have a very stiff feel to it.  It would probably have a bit of a harsh ride if it weren’t paired with the awesome Shwalbe Big Apple tires.  There is plenty room in the rear stays to easily accommodate these smooth treaded road monsters.  They give an almost plush feel.  I’ve half joked that the state highway I commute on is actually mountain bike terrain.  These tires seem to absorb the chatter and rattling that Vermont roads like to dish out.  The tires also perform well on gravel roads but that’s not this bike’s forte.

To me, the heart of this bike is the Shimano Alfine 8 hub.  The internal 8 speed hub provides a decent gear range which is more than adequate for most needs.  I would consider swapping the 45t chainring out for a 42t if I were doing lots of unusually long, steep climbs.  The steps between gear ratios might be a little larger than you get with some cassette/derailleur configurations, but it has never felt awkward when actually riding.  The hub allows shifting through its full range while stationary which can be very convenient if you’re in stop and go traffic.  The only situation where I’ve found it not to shift smoothly was pedaling under very high load.  Shifting on hard climbs requires the rider to back off just a little on the power for the shift to complete.  It’s a minor issue that I’ve pretty quickly learned to adjust to when climbing.

Shimano disc brakes and the Alfine hub.
Shimano disc brakes and the Alfine hub.

The internal gearing keeps things quiet and clean with an incredibly low need for maintenance.  My previous experience with the Alfine 8 confirmed the fact that this setup is perfectly suited to a bike that is going to see regular, long-term use in a transportation or utility type role.  Probably the only down side to this is that removing the wheel for a flat is a bit more complicated due to the bolt-on hub and routing for the internal shifter.  Overall, that is a minor inconvenience in view of the long service life and low maintenance these hubs provide.

 

The eccentric bottom bracket.
The eccentric bottom bracket. It works.

Since the Alfine hub does not have a derailleur, the bike uses an eccentric bottom bracket to adjust chain tension.  Having ridden a single speed for a long time, this has never been my favorite setup.  That said, it does its job well and I only had to make some adjustments to accommodate the initial chain stretch and settling in of the bike.

The bike at the other end of my commute.
The bike at the other end of my commute.

There are a number of little items, attention to detail type things, that make the bike.  Stuff like the addition of reflective stripes on the frame and fork paired with reflective sidewalls on the tires show that the bike is intended to actually be used.  Some of this I can see as I compare the current collection of components with the earlier setup from a few years prior.  The Shimano M395 disc brakes work wonderfully well. Even the stock grips and platform pedals are quite nice.

This is a really awesome utility bike.  I was actually first taken in by the appearance of the Giant Seek several years back.  The bike is still a great looking bike – so much so, that I was reluctant to mess it up by putting on the fenders, rack and bags I use on a regular basis.  The bare aluminum has an industrial feel to it, but still ends up aesthetically pleasing.  It’s a great combination of appearance paired with a very practical setup.

Rating:

  • Innovation:1/2
  • Function: 2/2
  • Aestheitcs: 2/2
  • Features: 2/2
  • Quality/Price: 2/2
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

Pros:

  • internal gear hub
  • Schwalbe Big Apple tires
  • quick geometry
  • mounts for bottles, racks and fenders
  • awesome looking raw aluminum non-finish

Cons:

  • Eccentric Bottom Bracket
  • saddle (I know, saddles are a very personal preference)

Specs:

  • Color: bare aluminum and black
  • Size: S,M,L,XL (size Large tested)
  • Seatpost: 30.9mm
  • 700c rims
  • MSRP: $1075.00

 

Another stock photo
Another stock photo

Also posted to MTBVT.com

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2 thoughts on “Giant Seek 1 Review

  1. pworm

    Hi Mark,
    I enjoyed your review very much. But unfortunately you did not mention which framesize your Seek1 was? Do you still now that? Thanks, pw

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