Monday, October 25, 2010

Giant Via 1

By Joseph E

Giant Via 1 W (2011). Widely available, for about $550.

Giant has become, well, a giant among bike manufacturers. According to rumor, their Taiwanese factories also produce many frames and parts used by other brands. They got their start in the North American market making bikes on contract for Schwinn. Later, Giant decided to market it's own bikes, and has had a great deal of success in mountain, road and "hybrid" bikes.

In the last few years, Giant has also offered a few bikes more suitable for the rest of us, such as the Simple Seven and Seek 1 previously featured here. But until now Giant had not offered an upright ride with swept-back handlebars, internal hub gears, fenders and chainguard (all of which were standard on the old Schwinns, of course). Now comes the Via, which has all of these features, plus classic styling, with thin crome-moly steel tubing, curvy Mixte-style lateral stays (even on the "men's" diamond-frame model), and an elegant front basket or rear rack. 

Thanks to Taiwanese mass production, all this can be yours for under $550 with a Shimano Nexus 3-speed, or less than $500 with a SRAM derailler and 8 speed cassette. Giant has dealers in most cities, who can easily order these bikes (but good luck on finding one to test-ride).

It's a shame Giant does not offer a version of this bike with a 7-speed nexus hub, or a option to have both the front basket and rear rack installed. The chainguard may be too minimalist to fully protect your pants. But if an 8-speed derailleur or 3-speed hub, and retro steel Mixte styling are what your are looking for, this bike will be nearly as cheap as upgrading a vintage mixte, and much easier to order at your local bike shop.

Via 1 (Men's)



SizesMens: S(17), M(19), L(21), XL(23)  Womens: XS(14), S(16), M(18)
ColorMens: Steel Silver/Chrome;   Womens: White/Light Green
Frame4130 Butted CroMo Steel
Fork4130 Butted CroMo Steel


HandlebarAlloy, Mid Rise & Sweep, 25.4
StemAlloy, threadless
SeatpostAlloy, 27.2
SaddleHigh-Density Foam
PedalsAlloy/Kraton Comfort Platform (Men or Women's specific)


ShiftersShimano Revo, Twist
BrakesAlloy, Dual Pivot
Brake LeversAlloy, Full Finger
CassetteShimano 20T, 3-Speed Internal
ChainKMC Z410RB 1/2 x 1/8, Rustproof
CranksetAlloy 3-Piece, 44T
Bottom BracketSealed Cartridge


RimsAlloy, Double Wall
Hubs[F] Alloy, [R] Shimano Nexus 3-Speed Internal, 32h
SpokesStainless Steel
TiresKenda Kwest w/ K-Shield, 700x32 [With puncture protection]


"Extras" Custom Alloy Rear Rack (Men's) or Front Basket with flower stem holder (Women's), Frame Mounted U-Lock Carrier, Fenders, Chainguard, Kickstand



Via 1 W (women's step-thru)

This bike is just now available for sale, but if anyone owns one or has taken a test ride, please leave a comment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Surly Troll

The Troll as a complete bike. Credit: Surly Blog.

We already mentioned the Surly Troll in our recent discussion of "do-everything" bikes. The Troll frameset is due to arrive in November 2010, and according to Surly's blog, the MSRP will be $495. Surly has not said whether it will be offered as a complete bike in the future.

With its wide tire clearance, the Troll is designed to be an extremely versatile bike. When it was first announced on Surly's blog, they described it as "a commuter, tractor, off-roader, tourer, dethmachine."

As for the "tractor" part, it seems plain that the Troll was designed to go with Surly's new trailer. The Troll has horizontal dropouts along with a thick axle plate for installing Surly trailer-mounting nuts.

The frame has full line guides for derailleur and brake housing, fender eyelets, and disc and rim brake mounts. Both the frame and fork are equipped with mounts for front and rear racks, and the design allows the use of racks, fenders and disc brakes all at the same time.

Basically, the Troll can be whatever you need it to be, short of a carbon-lite racing bike.

Here are the specs:

Tubing: Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. TIG-welded. Main triangle double-butted

Seatpost diameter: 27.2mm

Seatpost clamp: 30.0mm Surly stainless, included

Headset/stem: 1-1/8" threadless

Bottom bracket: 73mm shell width, threaded standard English (1.37" x 24t)

Braze-ons/extras: Full-length housing line guides for derailleurs and brakes; 2 sets of water bottle cage mounts, removable post cantilever pivots; upper seatstay threaded barrels,mid-and low-blade fully threaded through-blade fork eyelets; threaded holes for racks, fenders and trailer mounting nuts; Rohloff OEM2 axle plate mounting slot

Brake compatibility: Disc and rim brake compatible. Note: rear disc brake is limited to 165mm maximum rotor diameter and requires the use of Surly caliper adapter

Tire clearance: 26 x 2.5" with rear wheel fully forward. Clearance for 2.7" tire with wheel farther back

Chainring clearance: 28/38/50t

Hub compatibility: 100mm O.L.D. front, 135mm O.L.D. rear

Fork: TIG-welded 4130 CroMoly, 100mm suspension corrected, tapered straight blade. Low- and mid-blade fully threaded through-blade rack eyelets; fender mount eyelets at dropout; 1-18" x 260mm threadless steer tube, 51mm disc mount, removable cantilever pivots, line/housing guides

Color: Agent Orange

Troll frameset. Credit: Surly

Update #1: check out Bikes to Like at Chasing Mailboxes on Pedro's Troll. 

Update #2: For 2012, Surly now offers the 29'er version of the Troll, which it calls the Ogre

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surly Trailer

New for 2011 - the Surly trailer.  Photo credit: Surly.
Surly plans to release the above-pictured trailer sometime during spring 2011.  According to the Surly blog, the MSRP will be $750 short, $775 long.  According to Surly, the trailer meets two requirements often lacking in bike trailers: (1) it can haul a heavy load and (2) it will work with any bike.

The trailer is constructed from TIG-welded CroMoly steel tubing.  The platform is 32 x 24". The wheels are 16" in diameter, and comes with 16 x 1.95" tires, although there is clearance for 16 x 2.5" tires. According to Surly, it can carry a load of up to 300 pounds (136 kg).

As for bike compatibility, Surly says the trailer hitch is designed to align the centerline of the trailer with the centerline of any bike. "It will work with bikes that have wheels as small as 20" and as large as 29" while keeping the bed level with the ground. This is especially important when you are hauling long items that hang off the back of the trailer (lumber, tubing, ladders, etc.)."

There are so many uses for a trailer like this:

- It's another option for the car-free. Rather than investing in a cargo bike, you can simply hook up the trailer to your bike of choice when you need to haul groceries or whatever. (On its blog, Surly notes the trailer + a new $1100 bike would cost as much as a Big Dummy (their cargo bike).

- It's another option for bike camping. Rather than investing in a touring bike, you can simply hook up the trailer and haul your camping stuff. (But don't make dad haul everything!)

- It's another option for day trips to the beach or picnic areas.

It's nice to have options.