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CleverMoron 01-30-02 12:10 PM

Giant? Good Newbie Off-road Bike?

I'm looking into getting a good bike for a combination of on-road and off -road riding. For the price I want to pay, a Giant bike was recommended to me by my local bike shop expert. I'm sure that at this price--$159.99--it can't be the best bike out there, but that's not what I'm looking for. I just want a good bike to start getting back into the habit of riding. Any experts out there care to comment? Please?

Thanks in advance!


John E 01-30-02 12:42 PM

The Giant brand is OK (they "ghost-build" many other rebranded bikes out there), but I would move up a level or two to avoid flimsy, short-lived components.

diamondback 01-30-02 01:57 PM

I bought a $199 no suspension diamondback mountain bike for light riding and commuting but it wasn't long and I needed it to shift better and gearing that ran a little higher and lower and cranks and pedals that didn't creak or flex when you put the power to them. It wasn't long before I had an additional $300 into the bike. It's a great bike but it will never have the features or resale value of a comparable cost bike had I spent the $500 total in the first place. Think about it, parting with money up front is very hard but cheaper in the long run.

gmason 01-31-02 04:16 AM

Giant is the largest manufacturer in the world. And they do make frames (and bikes) for many other companies besides their own. Here in the Netherlands, they sell some pretty nice stuff, but it also demands a pretty nice price. They also have lower end stuff as well at appropriate prices. I don't have a clue what they sell in the U.S.

I suspect that like all of the companies that create a large range of product, they offer many choices at many prices in many styles. In the end, it probably helps to have some idea about whether you think you will be in this for the long term or not, and plan accordingly. A frame worth keeping, and the possibility to upgrade components as time progresses.

Good luck!


Richard D 01-31-02 04:51 AM

I've had a low-end Giant for about four months/1000 miles and have generally been pretty happy with it. The basic bike cost about 235 UK so I guess it's equivalant to $300 - $350 US Dollars. It was the best I could afford at the time, particularly as I wasn't sure I'd like cycling.

For that I got a fairly good aluminium frame with basic components (mixture of suntour, shimano and SRAM), the only really grotty bit was the shimano front derailleur, but upgrading it wasn't dear. The SRAM ESP rear derailleur and basic Gripshifts 3/4 work very well. The Suntour fork is adequate (accurate tracking, reasonable bump absorbtion except when below freezing) and no worse than most forks fitted to bikes below 400. The Suntour chainset isn't wonderful but works without too much flex, and will probably be upgrade soon. Wheels are a little heavy but have never needed trueing, I'll replace them at some point. The v-brakes are pretty good.

I'm aware that eventually I'll have replaced just about everything apart from the frame, and spent a little more than buying a bike with that grade of components, but I'll have the advantage of having the exact blend of components I want for my riding, had the fun of several indulgences rather than just the one, and most importantly had something to ride and enjoy rather than sitting on a train while I saved up for the extra months.

If you can't afford a dear bike then it's better to be riding an okay cheap one than not riding at all.

I looked at the most basic steel framed Giant in the UK, when I bought mine, and it's pretty much the same geometry (very comfortable for me, but arguably a little short and upright for some). It's a mixture of plain hi-ten steel and chromolly, a bit on the heavy side but not as bad as some of the cheap bikes you see. I can't remember what the exact components were, but I think they were adequate.

I'd try and stretch your budget a little higher if you can to get a better frame, but if you can't you'll probably find it okay for a while if you can persuade the bike shop to swap the tyres.


chewa 01-31-02 05:24 AM

I haven't owned a Giant, but have ridden a few and think they are pretty well made bikes.

Having read Richard's posts throughout the past few months, I can tell he's been happy with his bike, so would suggest his opinion should be very influential on your choice.

D*Alex 01-31-02 06:00 AM

For $159 new, I'd bet that it is a piece of garbage.

stumpjumper 01-31-02 07:02 AM

What alex is trying to say in his to-the-point manner is that it isnt just the brand that is important, but the model as well and that you get what you pay for.

For example, Chevrolet may be a decent manufacturer of cars, but $10k is not likely to buy you a corvette. In bicycle terms, $150 for a new bike will get you a Yugo.

Also, like cars, you can get a good used model for alot less than you would pay new. Many good shops sell used bikes, just ask around some.

If you want to know more about Giant, check out


chewa 01-31-02 07:14 AM

Well said Stumpjumper.

RainmanP 01-31-02 08:47 AM

Like Richard, I started commuting on a Giant. A year ago last November I purchased a Giant Cypress DX "comfort hybrid", a blend of road and mtb features. Exercising an excess of caution for comfort's sake, I got the model with suspension fork and seatpost. I eventually outgrew need for the suspension and could have gotten basically the same bike for just under $200.

I consider the money I spent on that bike money well spent. A year later the only thing left of the original equipment is the frame. Most of the changes were my choice. There was nothing wrong with the originals. I now have a bike that I love. I do not regret a penny I have spent on it. Riding this bike and going through the process of learning and deciding what I wanted to put on it, I have learned a LOT about bicycle mechanics. More than several people I know who bought $2000+ bikes off the shelf and still don't know how to work on them.

I am a believer in buying something inexpensive to get started. One of several things can happen. You may not fall in love with riding and the bike may sit in the garage. In that case, you didn't waste much money. A few months ago I bought a mint condition 12-14 year old road bike for $95 that the guy probably paid $400 or more for new, rode it less than 100 miles and hung it in the garage. Hopefully you will fall in love with riding. In that case you may be perfectly happy with the bike or you may decide to upgrade it, or you may get another and keep the cheap one for rainy days or sell it. The main thing is it got you started.

Some people advocate buying as much as you can afford, and that is certainly a legitimate philosophy. I tend to think that a beginner is not going to be able to feel the difference between a decent quality inexpensive bike like a Giant and a much more expensive bike. A beginner is going to be occupied with learning to ride. Inexpensive Giants have well made frames equipped with a mix of the most inexpensive but decent components. Just understand that the component will break or wear out if you ride a lot.

Just another point of view.
Good luck,

fubar5 01-31-02 08:47 AM


Originally posted by D*Alex
For $159 new, I'd bet that it is a piece of garbage.

You know who D*Alex reminds me of? That buttnut Style Man in Bicycling magazine.

a2psyklnut 01-31-02 09:53 AM

I've got to say $159 isn't much for a bike, and I'm a firm believer in, "You get what you pay for!". With that, I agree that a beginner isn't going to "know" the difference between a Deore level component and an XTR, but he will "feel" the difference between a 38 lb P.O.S. X-Mart bike and a decent equipped aluminum frame bike with Alivio or even Acera level components. (Pick your manufacturer of choice).

The price point I'd suggest aiming for is around $300 - 400. At that level, you'll be getting a decent frame, maybe even a frame made out of aluminum and decent "hard working" level components from reputable companies like Shimano and/or Sram. You'll even start to see some bikes with lower-end suspension forks. The weight will be resonable around 30 lbs and the bike should last for years with regular maintenance and care!

Also, at that price point you won't be wasting you $$$ by upgrading the bike with higher end parts as the old ones wear out!


Richard D 01-31-02 10:37 AM

Looking at the Giant US site, I assume the bike he's looking at is the entry level Boulder which whilst basic is far better than your average x-mart bike. The components aren't too bad, particularly the rear set up, the crankset is probably the weakest link. The frame is Tig welded rather than Mig welded, and is a mixture of chromoly and plain hi-ten steel. It's a bit heavy at around 32lbs for the whole bike but that's better than many. I think it's a bargain at the price, and better value than most bikes costing twice as much. I agree that spending twice as much will get a better bike but if you're budget is under $200 I don't think you'll get much better. It's certainly a better bike than one a colleague uses on a 12 mile round commute, pretty much everyday of the year. No it won't last for ever but I think it would be serviceable for a while.


stumpjumper 01-31-02 01:27 PM


I tend to think that a beginner is not going to be able to feel the difference between a decent quality inexpensive bike like a Giant and a much more expensive bike.
True, but how long will you remain a "beginner"? I tend to improve faster than my budget, and put that into consideration when I look at new bikes.;)

D*Alex 01-31-02 04:06 PM

I'm figuring that $50 is going just for the brand name. Add to that the cost of running a bike dealershiop, and what you have is basically a $79 Wal-Mart bike. That's what I would consider garbage.

Richard D 02-01-02 06:36 AM


Originally posted by D*Alex
I'm figuring that $50 is going just for the brand name. Add to that the cost of running a bike dealershiop, and what you have is basically a $79 Wal-Mart bike. That's what I would consider garbage.
I think if you actually look at the bike you'd see that it's better than Walmart bikes (although as I don't have a local walmart I can only draw comparisons with local low-end bikes in the bike shops). Unlike most bikes of under 200, it's got QR hubs, aheadset rather than cheap one piece quill stem normally found on bikes of that price. Yes the frame is a little heavy, but it's well constructed. The v-brakes are reasonable alloy units that work adequately, shifting gear is a mixture of entry level Shimano & SRAM, not stunning but good for the price. The cranks/chainset aren't up to much, but then you're paying a lot more to get to Deore level. I'm not saying it's a stunning bike but it compares favourably with bikes costing a little more, and is head and shoulders above the cheap chainstore bikes. Certainly the frame quality and spec are better than Raleigh bikes at that price and a little above. I think rather than paying $50 for the name, you're probably saving $50 in buying power of the big name.


chewa 02-01-02 07:01 AM

The important thing is buying a bike you can use.

When I started cycling seriously I bought a second hand "gas tube" catalogue BSA Tour de France "racer", with steel components. It was a 10 speed and I used it for a while as was (including "suicide" brake levers), and enjoyed many a decent day trip on it. i put a rat trap rear rack on, then as I could afford it I uprated the chainset and rear gear to Sugino (I don't think shimano were around) and Huret. the steel wheels went for some alloy rims with Campag Tipo hubs, and eventually the steel bars were changed to alloys, and brake levers replaced. pedals too.

It still weighed a ton, but I kept up with the guys on lighter bikesI used to meet up with.

Eventually I could afford a custom built frame (the black Sandy Gilchrist in my profile picture) and I stuck the old stuff back on the Tde F and put the new stuff on the SG, again upgrading as I could afford.

if my neighbours are anything to go by, many people buy reasoonably expensive bikes, ride them less than 20 miles (pon sunny days) and then never touch them again.

Giant have a good name (one of the biggest producers in the world) Go for it.

On a separate note. Is the aim of this forum to promote the joys of cycling to all, especially newbie's?. If so, D*Alex, your curt response would not encourage me to hang around.

john999 02-01-02 07:50 AM

I reckon if you're going to go above a basic, cheap bike like a $70 Huffy, you might as well get one with a decent frame i.e. all cro-moly or alloy.

The weight IS the thing, that's what makes these frames better !
It's the weight of bicycles that drives most people away from riding.
Components you can change and wheels and that.

Suspension ? Just get a seat with springs.

aerobat 02-01-02 10:54 AM

I've been using a Giant hybrid for nine or so years now, and while it wasn't the cheapest when I bought it, it wasn't the high end one either, and I've been very satisfied.

I estimate well over 15K kilometers on it, and I've only replaced the chain once, bottom bracket and overhauled wheel bearings(and still trying for that perfect saddle!).

It's basically a good bike and while using it for daily commuting in the summer, I've had longer rides such as MS runs (150kms here), and metric centuries, with no problems attributable to the bike (see comment on the saddle).

I'd say get the best you can afford, but from my experience Giant makes a good bike.

LittleBigMan 02-01-02 10:43 PM


Originally posted by D*Alex
For $159 new, I'd bet that it is a piece of garbage.
Alex, you are definitely a velosnob extraordinaire, worthy of serious consideration.

But consider that a Giant at $159 for someone who might otherwise make the fatal leap to a dept. store death-trap is "a giant leap for mankind."


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