After posting pictures of my new Haul in the pictures thread and getting few people wanting to know what it was, I figured it might be a helpful idea to write a review of the 'cycle from my view as a commuter and my primary mode of transport.
I purchased this bike as a replacement for my fairly low end Diamondback Edgewood, as I went car free and needed a bike that had far better options for storage, as well as being set up for commuting. The standard faire was required: Fenders, Rack mounts or a built-in solution, reliable and smooth drivetrain, and durable rolling gear.
Initially, I had set my sights on a Raleigh Alley Way, mainly to appease my inner technology geek and because of its incredibly sharp looks. When I went to the LBS to test out the Raleigh and a few other models, heeding to the knowledge of this forums' members, my choices were narrowed to a few models. 1) The Raleigh Alley Way 2) The Raleigh Sojourn 3) The Globe Haul.
Both Raleigh models were indeed beautiful pieces of engineering, and I was ready to put a huge dent in my back account for the Alley Way after a test ride, which was to be around 1700$ after racks, panniers, and assorted other things (lights, different pedals). I decided I would give the decidedly "lower-end" Globe a ride, at the insistance of the LBS guy. He brought up some very good points such as the carrying capacity benefits, the more developed chain and derailleurs system, and other things that would make maintenance and riding a little less intensive on me since I was basically replacing my car with a bicycle.
It had me on first ride. The bike is smooth, with Altus front and Alivio rear components, a Specialized Body Geometry saddle, and fully integrated rack that is sturdily TIG welded to the frame with a rated capacity of 110lbs! The rack is very well suited for commuting and utility uses, with pannier/strap rails seperated from the main Elm wood rack surface. The wood is well suited to the color of the bike, and it is a real conversation starter around town
The drivetrain is a mix between the Shimano Altus front derailleur operating the two-chainring crank. The rear is held down by a Shimano Alivio 8-speed rear derailleur. The entire system is extremely smooth. Not once have I had a missed or ghost shift, and the gearing is well suited for commuting use. I always seem to have plenty of gearing for hauling cargo, even with a 70lbs testing load I had no issues getting the bike trucking nor keeping it moving. The bike is no road racer by any stretch, but I have been able to maintain a 15MPH average speed on my route, as well as easily sustain 25+MPH speeds on flats and downhill. I am not an experienced rider by any means, so I feel this is more than adequate. The center of gravity while loaded is low, and stability was no concern. This is truly a capable cargo machine.
Wheels are 700C double-walled Alexrims-made 36-spoke rims/hubs with CNC'd brake surfaces. They seem well suited for a loaded bike, and braking is very smooth and controlled. The CNC cuts did give a bit of braking noise until the pads had worn in, but it was not screeching and totally manageable.
Tires are cream Specialized Nimbus Sports 700x35C with flat protection. They are tires, and they work. The rolling resistance is noticeable compared to a true touring tire, but it is reasonable. My one complaint about the tire choice is that they get filthy almost immediately, which is to be expected of white/off-white tires. On the plus side they clean up easily.
One of the very nice details about this particular bike is the integrated lighting system. Up front is an LED headlight with both solid and blinking settings, and slickly integrated in the rear rack is a 3-LED taillight with 2 blinking modes and a solid setting. This light is extremely bright and makes you plenty visible when you are out on the roads at night, and even during the day the "dazzling" blinking mode is attention grabbing for motorists.
The front headlight leaves a lot to be desired however, it is aimable, but the light is just not powerful enough. It does make a great supplement to your normal headlight choice as a warning blinker, while your full-time aftermarket head light handles visibility duties.
The included fender set is wide, wraps the wheel very well, and the fender length is more than adequate for even the deepest standing puddles and nastiest road grime. The silver paint compliments the rest of the bikes color scheme, and ties the entire package up for a strikingly attractive bicycle. The rear fender had developed a rattle after the first 20 miles I put on the bike, but I simply tightened up the nylock nut securing the rear of the fender and this issue went away. I think it is a safe assumption that this was a fluke and not representative to the quality of the manufacture of the fenders.
Specialized and Globe really thought of style when designing this bike, and details such as the saddle and handlebar grips show how much time was spent thinking of the design of a bike that is truly meant to be an everyday vehicle.
Specialized's Body Geometry Saddle is comfortable and is a beautiful honey color. I have put around 60 miles on the bicycle in the past 3 days, and my rear feels like I have been sitting in a leather recliner. I am sort of disappointed that the saddle is not real leather, rather it is made of "pleather". This seems to be fine though, but a leather Brooks saddle would have been a nice touch either way.
The honey-colored rubber handlebar grips are comfortable, but tend to get a bit sticky when riding with bare palms. If you use gloves this won't be an issue, but they are still fairly lackluster. I will probably end up replacing them with some cork or leather grips fairly soon.
Another nice detail is Specialized/Globe's inclusion of a front headbadge that doubles as a business card or picture holder. This is such a cool feature, and I can see this being a huge hit in urban areas, or for professionals that bike to clients or the office.
All told, this bicycle is extremely well rounded, and at a price of 500-660 for this model depending on where you order from, it is a steal of a deal. It has a seriously attractive design that anyone can appreciate, and features that were really designed and centered around someone who uses their bike daily, or as a primary vehicle. I would recommend this to any commuter, and if you pony up a few hundred more for the Haul 2 you gain an Alfine 8 speed IGH, as well as Tektro disc brakes.