I was inspired to join this forum after reading CigTech's threads on the Denali here on this forum. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to join any bike forum after reading such harsh words about this bike, but it seems that for every negative report there's a positive one too. We'll see how this one turns out.
First, a little background. Why the Denali?
Well, without going into too much detail I've gotten a bit heavy. I'm trying to lose about 40-50 pounds. Tried both running and walking for exercise, couldn't stick with it. Went on a diet about two and a half weeks ago and lost about 12 pounds in the first week, then I hit a wall and realized I needed to exercise too. So I thought about biking.
It's been a long time since I've really seriously ridden a bike. When I was a baby, I used to ride on the attached baby seat on my dad's Schwinn road bike that he got from Wal-Mart in the 80s. Later on, we both rode our Wal-Mart bought mountain bikes together until he suffered a serious stroke in 2005. I ended up getting a Micargi mountain bike and rode it for a while. (I don't know where those stand in quality but it was a lot more expensive than the Wal-Mart mountain bikes). When it worked, it was great...especially the gearing. But that was the problem, it was constantly in the shop because the shifters were horrible and never worked...finally when one completely seized I dumped it, and haven't really ridden since. So recalling past bikes, I went to Wal-Mart looking for a road bike since they'd worked well for us in the past.
Found the GMC. Was waiting for help when a guy from a local bike shop (Golden's Bike Shop I believe) told me not to buy a road bike from Wal-Mart for pretty much the reasons a lot of you guys posted in the past Denali threads I have read, but to find a good used one. Okay, cool...left the store intending to do just that.
Well somehow my dad caught word that I had been looking at the GMC Denali at Wal-Mart and he went out and bought me one. It was such a nice gesture that I wasn't about to turn it down...especially considering our past positive track record with Wally bikes.
Well, they were out of display models so the bike came to me in a box. I put it together myself nice and tight, and fully adjusted the brakes and derailleurs. No loose parts or quality issues that I can immediately tell, but I don't have a background in more expensive road bikes either. Lubed the chain and gears with some gun oil and went for a ride.
Immediately I was hooked. This thing is a LOT faster than the old mountain bikes I used to ride. Great gearing like my old Micargi too, except these worked. Solid, reliable shifting. I went out the next day and found some lights for it (since I ride daily at 5 am), a cycling computer, and a helmet. A new seat too which I'll address momentarily.
A little disclaimer. I'm no racer...in fact I don't intend to ever be one. I ride for fun and for exercise. Also I'm a bit out of shape so it's very unlikely I'll be racking up nearly the miles CigTech did...at least not as quickly. I'm hoping to work my way up and go longer distances. Again, just for the fun of it...not for competition or training. Right now I do 5 mile daily rides and I'm hoping to try maybe a 12 mile ride this weekend, but we'll see. I'm pretty worn out after my five mile rides. But it's helping, as I've lost 3 more pounds so far this week! I'm a third of the way to my weight goal.
So ultimately...yes I know this bike is no racer. I don't need for it to be. I just want something to ride for the fun of it and for exercise, and I think this bike will work great for that.
Anyway, I've noticed in past threads some people discrediting CigTech by implying that he was somehow working for Kent with his reviews. I know there's no real way to convince anyone of this but I am not working for Kent and I'm not a troll. I'm just trying to share my experiences, positive or negative. Anything that happens, any problem I notice, I will report. Some of my reported problems may not be problems at all, because I am a bit new to bike mechanics, but I'll share them anyway. Hopefully some of the information I share will be beneficial to someone.
That being said, I'm mechanically inclined (I work on my own cars a lot) so most of the bike maintenance (adjusting derailleurs, brakes) was extremely simple for me to catch onto. But if something bigger happens, I might need your help as I'm used to working on cars, not bikes!
My plan is this: ride it in stock form until something breaks, at which point I will replace the broken part with an upgraded one and report here what happens, cost, etc. If I can fix it myself great...if not...oh well. My dad gave me this bike so for better or worse I will make it my own. A year from now I may have completely replaced everything...or nothing. We'll see.
Sorry for the long winded story...I tend to ramble. Anyway, onto my findings on the bike. I've had it since...Monday or Tuesday I guess. Just a few days. I'm still doing minor adjustments to get it more comfortable. The odometer reads 4.9 miles but I've put on about 10 before that, but for the sake of simplicity I'll just report what's on the odometer from now on.
I found the ride to be really nice. Quick, and good handling. Very easy to get up to speed and keep it there. I've come directly from heavy mountain bikes so I haven't found this bike's 29 pound weight to be any huge burden. This bike has really low gears so I've not come across a hill yet that I could not ascend, even with being out of shape.
CigTech posted some stats, so here's mine so far. On the last ride I maxxed out at 24.5 mph on pretty level ground. I could have gone faster but I used the downhills to rest. My average speed was 10.7 mph. Ouch, I know. I'll get better.
I like the way the bike looks. It's very attractive and doesn't immediately look cheap.
I also like how everything on the bike is adjustable. The handlebars tilt and move up and down, the seat moves up and down, backwards and forwards, and tilts. This is new to me, but probably not to you guys.
The pedals are metal and not plastic. This could be a positive for accidental scrapes.
I've found with proper adjustment the gear changes are immediate and reliable. Curiously the gear changes aren't as smooth as they were when they weren't properly adjusted. I may need to look into that some more. Still not rough, but not completely silent either.
Things I'm neutral on:
The grip shifters. I read this is blasphemy on a road bike. It is a bit odd to switch hand positions to shift. however I come from mountain bikes so I'm used to this style of shift, very easy to become acquainted with. Location sucks, familiarity is a positive for me.
The brake levers. Initially they seemed awkward to me, but now I've gotten used to them and can handle them better. I still feel like they'd be better somewhere else.
The weight. Lighter would be nice I suppose, but I'm used to it so it doesn't bother me.
The seat it comes with SUCKS. It hurt my butt. I got a squishier seat with cutouts for man-parts and it's much better. My butt didn't hurt at all this morning. The original seat looks nice but that's about all that can be said for it.
The brakes leave something to be desired. Properly adjusted they will stop the bike but not with the force that previous bikes I've owned could. For the sake of this test I'll leave them alone and just allow extra room like I have been so far.
This isn't a strong negative but sometimes I feel like I need another gear when pushing the top speed. I think the gearset holds it back a little.
That's pretty much all I have for now. I can't report on durability because I just got it, but so far my adjustments to the derailleurs and brakes are holding, no slippage. Only about 10 miles on them, though.
As I said, I will report ANY issue I come across with this report, and here is my first, though I cannot find a mechanical cause for it. When pedaling, especially slowly, I hear/feel a light thump in my foot when the right side pedal reaches the top of it's travel. I've checked the bottom bracket for bearing play, the pedal itself and everything else connected and can find no cause. Everything is smooth and tight. Maybe it's the way I'm pedaling? I'm not worried about it if it isn't a mechanical problem, but it is somewhat annoying.
Only other issue I've had is that on my first trip out, the chain slipped off the inside of the front gears when switching to the lowest set. An adjustment to the front derailleur fixed that problem.
Anyway, there it is. My wordy report so far. We'll see how it holds up.