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

New Commuter

Another stock photo
Another stock photo

Yup, trading up… or is that over?  My old Seek 0 is one of the very few bikes I can honestly say I regret having sold.  I ran across a pretty good deal on this 2015 Giant Seek 1 and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  Now that I’ve been able to put in some serious time on the bike, I’ll have a full review posted here and probably on MTBVT very soon.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering, I haven’t given up this blog, I’ve just been busy and decided to take a minor break.

Being Efficient

All my life I’ve strove striven towards personal efficiency.  Some might be inclined to call this laziness, or the path of least resistance, but I view it as thoughtfully applying my efforts only in areas that have value.  I ran across the graphic below on Fit Recovery (great blog, BTW).  I knew bikes were cool, but now we have evidence that they’re also the most efficient form of transportation.  The only real exception is that they’re probably not efficient when you’ve spent as much as I have on bikes over the years.  We’ll ignore that issue for now.

Speaking of transportation and biking, the National Bike Challenge started this week.  Go sign up if you haven’t already.

Yard Sale – Part 1

It’s spring and it’s now time to start clearing out the basement.  First item up for grabs is my Giant Seek0.  This is still a great bike, but all it’s utility is now served by my Jamis ‘cross bike.  This bike makes an awesome commuter.  So here it is, for sale.  Pretty much everything is stock except for the grips which are now a set of white Kona lock-ons.  It is in great condition and fully functional (okay, the rear brake may need to be bled).   This is a size “Large” which is roughly a 21″ frame (23.4″ top tube).  Giant still has the specs for this model on-line.  Asking $550.

The actual bike as it is today.
The actual bike as it is today.

My original review of this bike can be found here.

Giant Seek 0
Stock Giant Seek 0

You can contact me at yaardvark@gmail.com if interested.  I’m only doing an in person sale.  I will not do escrow deals, money orders, or trade for anything other than a Surly Krampus.  I will not ship the bike anywhere.  At all.  Ever.

Jamis

It's the same cool grey color as Harold the Wonder Cat.
It’s the same cool grey color as Harold the Wonder Cat.

New bike!  While in Ludlow this past weekend, I bought a Jamis Nova Sport from my friend, Rick Trainer, at Mountain Cycology.  Not only did he sell me a bike, he also let me borrow one of his Miles Davis CDs.  How cool is that?  This bike is definitely on the low end of cyclocross bikes, but it fits my needs pretty well.   It will primarily be my commuter machine but also a gravel road diversion from my mountain bike.  I haven’t owned a road bike in over 10 years because the road biking around here isn’t all that great and I didn’t have anyone to ride with.  Fortunately, in addition to having great mountain biking, we also don’t have any shortage of dirt roads.  With all the wet weather we’ve been having lately, it’ll be good to have another option that doesn’t require ripping up the trails.  I’ll write up a review on it once I have at least a few hundred miles on it.

Just for the record, I have absolutely no intention of racing cyclocross this fall/winter.  The idea of a 45 minute race sounds like nothing but a prescription for suffering.  I don’t even feel warmed up until I’ve been out for an hour or so.  Besides, toward the end of a race, one of the major incentives for me is to ride faster to make the pain end more quickly.

Since I’ve been off the bike by doctors orders for the past week, it’s been really, really hard to look at this thing without some deep angst.  My stitches are supposed to come out today so this may get some use soon.  Nine days off the bike.  Nine. Yes, I’ve been going insane.

Sadly, this  also means that this thing is up for sale.  If you know anyone that would be interested in buying it, let me know and you can help mitigate my financial ruin.

For sale - make me an offer.
For sale – make me an offer.

Giant Seek 0 Review

[Also see my review of the 2015 Giant Seek 1]

While not about mountain biking, this post is still about bicycles so I’m going to allow it.  I spend a lot of time biking back and forth to work during the better half of the year in Vermont, so I figured I would type up a review of the bike I use for commuting.  My Trek Rig review gets a surprising number of views, so I figured a review of this bike might be useful or at least amusing to someone out there.

Giant Seek 0
Stock Giant Seek 0

I first ran across this bike last fall when I was shopping for a bike for my wife. She wanted a Breezer Uptown city bike and the closest dealer for Breezer bikes was The Bike Hub in Norwich, VT.  Since we travel down there fairly frequently, I decided to stop in to talk with them about getting one.  While I was there, I saw a 2010 Seek 0 on display.   Since I wasn’t shopping for myself, I didn’t buy it on the spot.  I tend to mull over larger purchases for a long time before acting.  I picked the bike up a few months later.

I run it pretty much as it came with the addition of some fenders, rack and handlebar bag.  Commuting in Vermont is pretty lousy without a good set of fenders since it seems to rain more often than not (including this winter).  I used to think fenders weren’t cool, but I don’t care any more.  Maybe I’ve gotten old and didn’t realize it; next thing I’ll be wearing black socks with dress shoes and shorts during the summer.

Giant Seek 0
The bike, as I use it now. The seat angle looks painful in this photo. Strange.

Possibly the best part of this bike is the internal gear hub.  It has a Shimano Alfine Nexus 8-speed.  I love this thing.  All that it requires is that I lubricate the chain periodically.  It shifts well enough that I don’t give it much thought any more.  Under heavy load, like a steep hill climb, it will have a bit of a lag when shifting; but I’ve adapted to that quirk by instinctively easing up a little when I shift.  The hub itself is quite heavy, but it is worth it.

How does it ride?  The steering is quick – almost twitchy like a criterium race bike.  It just felt fast the first time I got on the bike.  It would be great for riding around in a town or city as the handling is nearly instantaneous.  It has a Jedi steering – it reads your mind and goes in the direction that you’re thinking about.  Most of my 10 mile commute is on a state highway, so I don’t gain much from that.  Since it is a little bit on the aggressive side, it wouldn’t be as relaxing on an extended trip as a touring bike with slack angles, but it’s not uncomfortable either.

This is the part of the review where I mention that the frame is “laterally stiff but vertically compliant.”  The reality is that the frame is vertically stiff and has no compliance in any direction.  Likewise, the fork is off the charts in terms of stiffness.  The 700x32mm tires keep things from getting too harsh.  I think if you put some high pressure 25mm tires on this, you could rattle any dental work loose in short order.

The riding position on the bike is more upright, similar to a mountain bike even though the design and handling are more like a road bike.  It is actually a nice combination.  The top tube, on the large size frame, is around 23.5 inches.  Plenty of room to stretch out – especially with the longish stem that comes with the bike.  It’s not the most aerodynamic body position but very comfortable.

Other random thoughts/gripes:

  • 700×32 tires are perfect for commuting and even do well on the occasional gravel road.
  • The stock grips were some Ergon wannabe grips which seemed to rotate down every other ride.  They were replaced with a pair of Ourys.
  • The eccentric bottom bracket does creep over time, but not enough that I’ve bothered to take any steps to prevent it.  I’ve had to tighten it up twice this past year in over 1000 miles of riding.
  • Hydraulic disc brakes are way overkill on a road bike.  That said, they work very, very well.

Overall, the bike has been a great commuter.  I could put on some cyclocross tires and ride it a bit later into the winter.  It handles well when loaded down with panniers and handlebar bag.  With the internal hub and disc brakes, it has been incredibly trouble free.  This bike should be able to serve for decades with minimal maintenance which is what I’m looking for in a utility bike.  Still, I’m  jealous of my wife’s Breezer as it is an even nicer bike than mine.