I have to confess that for a few months back in the summer I had a spreadsheet going with a list of stuff I would need if I wanted to pull apart the blue giant and build up a crosscheck with the remnants. Two things happened in the meantime which completely killed that urge. First was the new brown color they came up with for their latest batch. As they mentioned on their blog, they don’t care about fashion or pay a ton of suits to do color research for them, but dang. Think you have enough neutrals in your frame lineup? Second and by far more important was the transformation the Giant made into the Blue 1×7. I knew I liked it after the first ride. Once I started riding it every day this fall I really fell in love with it for the short commute and local rides. How do I love it? Let me count the ways…
- The handling is a bit whippy, but nothing weird like the Specialized frame was – just quick compared to the Trucker, and a nice contrast.
- Even better was the pedal clearance. The one and ONLY thing I dislike about my LHT is the way I can skerf a pedal in a corner if I use anything wider than my clipless time atacs. My MKS tours have a good 1/6″ of metal missing from the right pedal after an especially harrowing turn where the back end side-hopped and I probably laid down a trail of sparks brighter than a blinky superflash. It’s not a problem for my extended trips, but on short commutes in heavy traffic sometimes I want to pedal through lights and keep my momentum up. It goes without saying that when you’re only going 5 miles, putting on riding shoes is a real pain.
- With the big loafy kenda tires at 35psi it is somehow magically still quick enough. They glide over potholes which is good ‘cuz they’re everywhere. After my self destructing Continental and Michelin tires, I figured I’d endure the knobby tread for a few 100 miles until I wore them out and then get something smoother, but I can’t kill them. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve gotten used to the humming sound of the tread.
- Looks like a generic 10 year old bike, which is sweet because I don’t have a fit leaving it outside all day. There’s only a few parts on it that I’d be really mad if they ‘walked’, and nearly all of them would take a good 5 minutes of wrenching by even the most adept professional.
- The old 7 speed drivetrain is still in great shape after all these years. I worried about it for a while after I had problems with dropped chains, but some precise measurements and cog inspection set my mind at ease. My ‘chain droppings’ were due to a combination of the 4 year old $29 crankset sending the chain left and right ever so slightly combined with the typical sloppiness inherent to friction shifting. Being careful and understanding the drivetrain’s limitations goes a long way to fix this. Eventually I’ll pick up a better BB and crankset, but for now it works just fine.
- The simplicity of going with 1 gear in the front and 7 in the back friction shifted is a nice balance between: (1) The complications of having to worry about needing a perfectly paired and adjusted set of shifters, chainrings, chain and cog… (2) The hi-cadence masochism of being a middle-aged out of shape dude riding around with one gear in quasi-hilly Baltimore. Not that I didn’t come out better for having practiced fast spinning for 2 years straight, but enough is enough. It’s nice to have a quick release in the back again so I won’t have to fiddle endlessly with an open end wrench if I get a flat.
As far as technical issues go, the headset was giving me some problems, but a little careful tweaking set it straight and I (knock wood) haven’t had a problem with it since. — The last complaint I had with it was the canti brakes which were squooshy no matter what I did with them. — I took some christmas cash and tried out a problem solvers travel agent for the front brake so I can use a linear pull with road levers. It took a few hours of concentrated scowling to get the installation right but now that it’s together, I can’t describe the improvement.
It works by routing the cable around the smaller pulley, then pulling it around the larger pulley to use the mechanical advantage of the ratio. A good design, but it looks like it would kink the brake cable if you went to make a minor adjustment later. We’ll see how it works in the long run. The front and rear brake don’t match visually, but having the linear up front and the canti in the back makes a perfect pair as far as strength ratios go. I’m even considering hooking up the LHT the same way this summer. It’s a great combination for people carrying large loads, and large people carrying regular loads.
Now this bike is a dreamboat, and I can think of very few things that would improve/replace it for it’s intended use. One or Two of them coming up.