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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, April 20, 2009
2009 Giant Seek 1 Review.
If you have read my blog at all in the past five years, you will know that I am a cyclist - commuting 20 miles per day (round trip) five days a week, rain or shine.

Having put around, I don't know, around 10,000 miles on my 2005 Giant Yukon, I had been in the market for another set of wheels. Manitoba weather is harsh in the spring and fall, and my route to work involves a lot of grit and water - things that really, really, wear down components like gears, chains, and derailleurs (and their component cables etc.) quickly. So I had been considering the merits of an internal gear hub (remember your old three speed?). I wanted to get away from derailleurs altogether, since you have to constantly babysit them if you actually use your bike daily. I do not like having eight gears at the back, but only being able to use five of them.

Another thing I truly found annoying about my Yukon, was the disk brake system. 2005 was sort of the break-out year for disk brakes, and alpha innovators were paying for it a bit in that after market items such as pannier racks and fenders did not play well with the clunky braking systems. Even changing the 'worn out too quickly" brake pads was something a minor headache, and were that not enough, the pads didn't wear evenly, so you had to swap 'em around to try and get more life out of them. I would go through two to three sets of brake pads a season (at $45 a wheel), while by buddy would spend ten dollars for a set of "old fashioned" rubber pads, once every three years. I could go on, but it is enough to say I was looking to move out of disk brakes altogether in my next purchase.

So I began a few months ago to look at the various prospects. I quickly settled on a Shimano Alfine (It is the high-end model of Shimano's Internal Gear Hub (IGH)), and considered very closely a 2009 Brodie Ocho. But it had the mechanical disk breaks, and a teensy 39t (39 tooth) crank (that's the big front sprocket that the pedals attach to), both of which were cons. The price was $1250 CDN, which isn't really all that restrictive for me, as I am buying something that replaces about $600.00/year of bus passes (i.e. it pays for itself in two years, so I think of it as an investment in my health, that eventually saves me money). Just a note, my kind of riding chews through those cheapo Wal-mart bikes about three a season, so I don't even bother.

I wanted a Brodie though, partly because I really like their frames, and the Brodie used the eccentric bottom bracket (the thing the crank connects into) rather than a drop out and derailleur style tensioners on the back (it's technical, if you don't know what I mean, don't worry about it). It was in the running, but the only shop in town that deals with Brodie bikes, didn't have one in my size.

I then came across a Giant Seek 1, and immediately thought - yuck! White?? The seat and pedals were so... so... so... positively plain, that no one in their right mind would keep them on the bike. But it had a manly 45t crank, in fact, it had the entire Alfine drive train - including hydraulic disk breaks.

Now, I am no aficionado, so I wasn't sure if I would like the second coming of disk brake technology - but the hydraulic disk brake set up had this going for it, they put the brakes in the right place - so that you could put standard pannier rack and fenders on the bike with little or no modifications, the components were higherend, and the ugly simplicity of the bike began to grow on me - especially considering it came in at $250 less than the Brodie.

So this weekend I bought one, and today I rode it to work.

First impression? Well, the brakes were ... fantastic. I was not merely surprised, I was converted. Hydraulics are the way to go. I wonder if I can ever ride a lesser bike again? The IGH can change gears at a stand still - no pedaling required, you can gear up, or down at will. Changing to a bigger gear while standing on the pedals in a sprint seemed to work fine - the gears changed quietly, and without complaining. The one thing, though I was expecting it, was that the spread between the gears was much larger than a bike with more gears. But I find all those inbetween-y gears seldom get used anyway. There was a lot of torque through the first five gears, but after that you began to feel it, and by the top gear you know you are pushing a little gear with a great big one. Still, it was nice.

The stock tires are 700x23 racing tires (presta valves) - Maxxis Columbierre, they are pretty much skinny little slicks, which don't do bumps all that well given their 100 psi. The rolling resistance is down though, and if you ride on pristine concrete all the way, you will like them a lot. They are a bit of a change from my old mountain bike tires, which had a slick bead for city streets, but knobby ridges for cornering in dirt. I am probably over compensating, but I feel I shouldn't be popping curbs while riding this bike.

I did ditch the seat, in fact I bought a new one right there in the shop where I bought the bike, and they gave me a $20 trade for the stock seat - which I thought was quite generous. I had some decent clip pedals, so I put those on, and a rack, and fenders - as well as my lights, speedometer and bell when I got it home.

All in all, a great ride so far. The back tire looks to be a hassle to change a flat on, but I can take that in stride. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

So far I have only put about 22 miles on it, so this is a preliminary review. Perhaps, if I remember, I will give it another review later on in the season.

Update: Well, here I am now at around 300 miles or so. I had my first flat on the rear tire. Changing the tube wasn't all that hard - you just have to remember to pull it out from the brake side and not the chain side - you will see why if you try it. I also oiled the chain for the first time yesterday. It was running fine, though I may need to adjust the chain tension (still have to figure out how to do it!) When I figure that out I will probably update the post again.

No complaints so far.
posted by Daniel @ 6:34 PM  
  • At 11:18 AM, April 21, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I should add, that up-shifting under a load (i.e. while accelerating) is not as quiet as up-shifting while maintaining a stable velocity.

    This morning I needed to accelerate quickly, so I pumped the pedals and shifted up three gears in the same second; unlike a derailleur system, where the tension you use to move the rear derailleur is the force that physically moves the derailleur over the new gear, and providing you with that tactile feedback as you relate the physical effort of changing the gears, with the derailler motion - you get no tactile feedback from the IGH. You simply stay in the gear you are in, until the gear you are selecting becomes available - which makes for a more "digital" feeling gear change if you change more than one gear at a time. The jump from one gear to the next feels natural and close to seamless, but a jump across three gears can be more jarring because there is no play inbetween the gears.

    Not that this is a bad thing - just a thing to note.

    I am reminded of the way my children hear the remake of a classic song on the radio, and having become familiar with that rendition, then listen to the original, and find the original lacking - when those of us who were exposed to the original first, find the replicate lacking.

    It is sort of one of those things - I am used to a derailleur system, and as such, I am not yet used to the mechanics of the IGH, so I wouldn't yet say that this is a pro or a con, it is just different, as expected.

    It will be fun to see how it plays out in the weeks to come.

  • At 12:13 PM, May 05, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How do you still like the bike? I'm in the market for a Seek 1, but can't test it out. Component wise, it seems to be the best deal out there.

  • At 1:38 PM, May 05, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have put about 250 miles on her so far, in mixed weather ranging from just above freezing, to rain, and a few sunny days.

    The bike is coated in dried on grunge from the road, I have yet to wash it. Typically this would be the time for me give it a good hosing, and start looking to see if there are any bolts and whatnot that need tightening; but I wrecked my garden hose last year and have yet to pick up a new one - which means that I can only comment on how well it rides after being out in the first few weeks of spring - which (in Manitoba), means tons of dirt on the road, being thrown into the drive train, coating my chain with a serious layer of gray-brown, clinging dust.

    So given how poorly I have taken care of it, I can say that it still runs fine.

    The brakes are still as awesome as ever.

    The shifting is just as it was, but now that I am more used to it, it quite nice. The most notable difference (going from a derailer to an IGH) is that I am used to skipping gears when I am accelerating quickly, and that doesn't work as well with an IGH. If I shift three gears, the change can be quite abrupt, and the larger a span, the more it complains if you try and do it under torque. What ends up happening, and this isn't a bad thing, is that you learn to shift, pedal a bit, shift, pedal a bit, and shift again. It takes a bit more concentration, but it isn't something I would consider a negative thing.

    Shifting can get noisy though if you shift during torque - so I tend to pause in that millisecond that I shift to avoid clunks.

    The one thing I would do differently is I would get ten-speed fenders rather than the mountain bike ones I presently have, as the stays (those rods that hook up to the forks, etc. that keep the fender from wobbling too much) for MTN bikes aren't long enough. I had to improvise a bit to make the front fender work, and again, on the back fender too. Likewise, I had to chop a bit off the back fender because of the physical limitations of the particular brand of fenders I got (Rainrunner Treek reflex + disk) - which the salesman suggested. Because the tires are 700x23 (presta), they are a little bit larger than the standard 26" mountain bike tires, etc.

    I would still recommend the bike to any serious cyclist without reservation, though I might qualify a few things and suggest a few things to avoid.

  • At 3:40 PM, May 05, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great blog and God bless you brother.

    Thanks for the quick response. I'm putting my money down on a Seek 1 tomorrow and should have it by next week.

    I did some research and the Seek 1 seems to have the best specs component wise over any IGH bike in this category - the hydraulics being the key. And the whole set up costs less - both pluses in my world. I was originally put off by the color, but it is growing on me in the photos and I hope it looks better in real life then on the net.

    Alfine thoughts aside - do you like the ride / geometry? I'm looking for an uprightish ride - not totally upright, but high enough to put a bit of the pressure on my sit bones and give me a good view around.

    My wife rides an Alfine bike so I'm familiar with its "pros and cons." As for us - we love it. Hers is the reason I decided I had to have an Alfine bike. We live in Michigan on the West Side so we get some serious lake effect snow and other junk. Its not too hilly so no worries on gear range.

    Your note on tire size is interesting. The U.S. website lists Maxxis Columbiere, 700x32. I'm not sure 10-speed fenders would work, but my shop has plenty of fender options.


  • At 4:12 PM, May 05, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Michael, thanks.

    I got the 19" frame, which suits me fine. It rides like a MTN bike more than a road bike, so if you have ever ridden a hard tail MTN bike you should expect the same feel (more or less). Depending on how long your torso is, you may want a smaller or longer stem - the stock one is about four inches. The ride is fairly stiff, given the tires that come with it are nearly slick, thin, and run at about 100 psi - there is no cushioning, so I picked up another seat right there in the show room (a "Body Geometry" - it made for a nice, comfortable ride, the stock seat looked pathetic).

    Don't get me wrong, the MTN Bike finders are fine - it is just that the length of a standard sway rod is too short by about an inch, and that is just annoying. If you have a good shop, you could have them install the fenders and they would have to deal with it, I didn't want to wait, but put on the rack and fenders myself, and in doing so found myself wanting for longer rods.

    So I don't really know how the stock seat feels, but it didn't look very comfy - and because I like to ride with my weight on the seat, I wanted something a little more ... shall we say, forgiving.

    I started off wanting something with an IGH, and after considering all that was out there, decided upon an Alfine hub. I was originally looking at a Brodie Ocho, because I wanted the frame, but the smaller crank (39t as opposed to 45t), the mechanical disk brakes, etc. just didn't seem as well thought out as the Seek 1, which (essentially) included the entirely Alfine system. The more I considered it, the more inclined I became to get the Seek 1 - since component wise, it was the best bang for the buck.

    The paint isn't all that bad. a flat white frame with black trim has a sort of subtle classic look to it in person.

    The grips, btw, are very comfy. Look at one in the shop, and your concerns about color and geometry will probably dissolve. More than likely, if you get a better seat, and make sure your stem is the right size for you, you will very much enjoy the ride.

    Grace and peace,

  • At 3:10 PM, June 03, 2009, Anonymous Dave H. said…

    Thank you for your detailed comments. They are terrific!

    I've been trying out the Seek 2 over the past week, courtesy of my local bike shop, To Wheels in London, Ontario. A great shop. (By the way, the shop owner selected this bike for her own personal commuting purposes.)

    I had reached a point of dissatisfaction with my 7 year mountain bike that was adapted for road use. I have never been comfortable on it, no matter the modifications.

    After some modifications to the Seek 2, medium 19" frame, I've got a pretty good fit using handle bar riser extender. The stock seat is quite good, but I am trying out a more 'male' friendly version with a continuous channel through the centre.

    I bike about one hour per day on a paved bike path. The feel of the bike is good and over the past seven days of riding it has become better with tweaking of the positioning. The disk breaks are very good.

    Overall, I think I'm headed towards purchasing it. I'll add fenders and the wide pedals, plus a graphite seat post perhaps for shock absorption.

    Moving up to the Seek 3 is a possibility, but an expensive one at about $300 more than the Seek 2.

    Not sure of the value of the IHG, but do agree that it lessens the maintenance factor considerably. Wondered if the 8 gears would be adequate, but your note has convinced me that it would....do you have any hills in Manitoba though?

  • At 6:39 PM, June 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Dave, there are hills in Manitoba, but not around the places where I ride. My route does take me down into a river bed, which isn't much of a "hill" - but does give me the opportunity to see how the bike handles changing gears on an uphill incline. It's ... not bad, I mean, no worse than a regular derailleur system, but I wouldn't say it was substantially better either.

    Being in the prairies though, we often get winds that don't gust - they just stay blowing all day, and riding forty five minutes against a stiff one feels like crawling up hill (and forty five minutes with one feels a lot like going down hill.. Weeeee!)

    The only think I would change is the cog on the back hub - its a 20t right now, and I may go to an 18t to get a higher top end. It isn't necessary, but I would like the option.

    One thing about the hydraulic brakes - you can't "adjust" them like you would adjust cable brakes. If they start to feel mushy, you have to add more brake fluid - also, if you have hydraulics, you shouldn't turn your bike upside down to fix flats etc. since if there is any air in the resevoir, it will go up into the line when you turn the bike upside down. Little things like that it is better to know up front than find your for yourself. ;P

  • At 3:14 PM, June 22, 2009, Blogger Unknown said…

    I'm considering buying a Seek 1 but my LBS doesn't stock it so I can't check it out in person. Love the look and components, and I've been happy with Giant in the past.

    Do you think the bike is sturdy enough for a rough city commute? Pavement, trail, curbs, etc. Can you put on tires larger than 32c? I tried commuting on a 23c and kept getting flats, don't want to repeat that.

    Thanks for the review.

  • At 4:07 PM, June 22, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Alex, the bike is certainly sturdy enough for a rough city commute (that is pretty much what I do).

    Where you are going to run into trouble is if you plan on putting on fenders, it'll be hard to get a good fit. As far as tires go, I ran with the stock tires for the first 400 km, but I had about four back tire flats in that time. The slicks 700x32 slicks that come stock are more suited to dry clean pavement, where you never have to cross a train track. I am thinking French country side or something. The final straw for me was a sidewall tear on my rear tire around the 500km mark. I was like, "No way!" So I looked about my LBS and found some 700x38c Armadillo Hemispheres that seemed to have the best sidewall for my money. I picked up some tuffy like linings too, and everything's been good since then. They run a little lower PSI (I keep them at 90). I picked up a 700x35 for the front tire, but I haven't got around to putting it on yet. The thing with thinner tires is you pretty much have to check the PSI every time you ride. They lose air over time and there is pretty much nothing you can do about it. If you're down even twenty or thirty PSI, and hit a pothole hard, you will get a snakebite pinch almost every time.

    Bottom line, if you get a seek 1, you will probably want to change the back tire right away - I would even get them to do it in the shop if they throw in the labor for free (which when they are selling the bike, is often the case), but depending on your ride, you might not care to change the front tire.

    Also get a different seat.

  • At 1:17 PM, June 23, 2009, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thanks for the response.

    I don't plan on installing fenders, so it sounds like it shouldn't be a problem. I live in Texas and we have plenty of dry, but not so much smooth, so I'd probably want to replace the stock tires with something a little tougher. I found another post where someone said they put on 40c's without a problem:


    One more question - does the bike feel heavy? I think I read somewhere (can't find it now) that it clocked in around 35lbs which sounds a bit heavy for a rigid Alu bike. Is it all in the brakes and hub?

  • At 2:41 PM, June 23, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Alex, yeah - if you're not going to go with fenders then 40s shouldn't be a problem. 38s are a little tight with the fenders.

    The hub -is- heavier than a standard sprocket/derailleur combo, but that's about the only real difference. I am probably the worst person to ask because I ride around with about 25 lbs of tools in my pannier every time - that on top of anything else I put in it. So my bike is always heavy, and when I take the panniers off, it feels light as a feather - not because it is overly light, but just comparitively so.

    I don't think it is going to be something you would notice. If you go to your LBS and take one out it should feel pretty comparable. The brakes are about the same weight I would imagine, and the extra brake fluid you carry wouldn't really add to it all that much - you might have four or five pounds more because of the whole set up, but the frame carries it well.

  • At 5:11 PM, June 23, 2009, Blogger Unknown said…

    Unfortunately nobody in Austin stocks the bike and they won't order it without a deposit. Sounds like the weight isn't a problem though.

    Not sure what I'm going to do at this point, but I appreciate your feedback!

  • At 1:18 PM, September 06, 2009, Blogger BJ said…

    My review for those interested in more info on the Seek 2:


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