So like my previous bike review I’ve ridden this bike for well over 6 months daily, it was my commuter bike and sole form of transport. At this point I feel like I know its good and bad points pretty well.
To start with the Giant is, like my previous bike a single speed, aluminum framed bike. I ride it freewheel (not fixed). it does come with a flip-flop hub and toe cages so fixed riding is definitely possible and easily accomplished. The non mashup Giant Bowery is typically a black color scheme with drop handlebars. and it looks like this
While the Bowery Mashup (that I’m reviewing here) looks like this.
Obviously the biggest difference is the Color scheme and the fact that it has straight bars. And I do mean STRAIGHT. unlike most “straight” bars which still have a little curve or rise to them, these are ruler straight across. Also the brake levers are not attached inward toward the center of the bars but actually plug into the bar ends with the brake handles facing inward as opposed to outwards. like so:
I have read on several review sites that this was a problem for some folks, if you are used to using your forefinger and middle finger more to squeeze than your ring and pinky this may be an issue. Personally I got used to it within a couple of rides and have had no issues with it at all. I have also read some riders have pinched their fingers with the brake lever because of this backwards mounting. I’m sure this is possible, however I feel that if you need to pull your brake lever til it’s contacting your fingers that you really need to adjust them anyway to have less of a throw range. When it comes to brakes I do believe that an inch is more than enough to go from the start of a brake pad touching the rim to full pressure. Thus far I have not had any finger pinching issues with the Bowery/Mashup.
Unlike the Trek Soho S, I have found the Bowery to have a bit more of an aggressive positioning, even with the stem in the “up” position you are assuming a much more flattened out posture on the Giant, with the very straight bars this can be a little hard on the back for very long rides, this also puts pressure on your hands more than a shorter stem or handlebar with some rise would give some finger numbness on long rides. Lastly, the handlebars are, per usual for stock bars, pretty damn long. They could certainly lose a couple of inches per side and still be shoulder width, the brake positioning makes this a slightly more annoying job to do than if the brakes were mounted inboard.
The supplied Alex DA 22 rims have some V to them and have remained impressively true through what is probably the worst pothole season I have lived through in Pittsburgh. The 700×25 Kenda Kriterium tires have also stood up really well under some pretty harsh conditions and my 190 pound ass. So far there are zero flats to report. The Presta valve have made a convert out of me, I find myself having to top off the tire about half as often as I did with the Treks Schrader valve tubes, for 50 cents I picked up a brass adapter to throw in my bag in case I need to fill up at a gas station using their Schrader hoses, so it’s no hassle at all to deal with the presta valves.
The supplied seat is comfortable enough and its racing style swoop give you a couple of ways to position your ass should it get annoying. it took some time to get used to but I can’t see myself going back to a saddle with a straight profile again. Between the saddle position and the way the bike lays you out over it it’s almost impossible not to push yourself every time you get on. this bike likes to go fast and its aluminum frame lets you do just that. it is very controlled in sharp cornering and standing on the cranks even up steep inclines the bike feels really solid and stiff, even compared with other aluminum frames I’ve ridden.
The Giant tackles several specific complaints i had about the similarly priced Soho S. For one the components are simply of better quality. From brakes to chain its clear that Giant didn’t skimp the way Trek did. The horizontal drop outs also come with a rear wheel tensioner that has completely eliminated the very dangerous tendency the trek had to pop off the chain. I don’t ride with toe clips so the stock pedals were a bit flat, once replaced with some spiky-er platforms I have had no problems at all. the brakes work far better than the Soho S supplied ones.
There are 2 sets of bosses. One on the seat tube and one on the downtube for bottle cages etc. If fenders are your thing you will most likely be buying some form of clip ons since there are no rack or fender eyelets.
With over 500 miles on this bike I have found it to be extremely reliable, fun, and light. I have a lot of confidence riding that I didn’t have with the trek due to its cheap equipage and general poor engineering. I ride it everyday and have never felt like the bike was holding me back, instead it definitely feels like it has pushed me to ride harder, faster, and up more challenging terrain than I even took on with a geared bike. When my Trek was stolen last year I began looking for another bike to replace the things I liked about it but that handled the issues I didn’t, if (heaven forbid) my Giant was stolen tomorrow I would only be looking for one bike to replace it, another Bowery mashup.