This is the now most viewed post on my blog, surpassing my post On Being a Failed Writer (which got “Freshly Pressed” on the WordPress front page), my use of the John List murders to frame my review of The Omen (which got linked by the biggest newspaper in New Jersey) and my review of Saturday Night Fever (which was one of the first things I wrote for this blog, way back when it was called “Pair of Outsiders,” and which consistently gets hits on Google).
I suppose what it proves is that the Internet is still a practical place. The Giant Escape City is a useful, cheap hybrid with a good drive train and an already installed rack. You can find it on the Giant Bikes website, but there aren’t many reviews. In fact, it’s difficult to find a good review of almost any bike that costs under $2000 dollars. Cycling magazines tend to prefer the exotic, custom titanium bikes with breakaway frames, $10,000 dollar carbon road bikes that weight less than my foot (I was going to say “less than my dick” but carbon fiber engineering still hasn’t gotten to that advanced state), touring bikes from obscure, earthy crunchy hippie manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest. A good cheap, Taiwanese hybrid? Forget about it.
Local bike stores are often high-end local bike stores, at least in New Jersey. I suppose it’s different in Seattle or NYC. Trying to buy a good $1000 dollar road bike or a decent $1200 dollar touring bike is a bit like walking into your local Ferrari dealer and trying to buy a Honda. Part of the reason I bought the Giant Escape City was that it already had the rack. That doesn’t sound like much, but add the cost of labor to the cost of buying a third party rack and you’re looking at spending about another $100 dollars. What’s more, bike mechanics hate little jobs like that. People who ride touring bicycles often tend to be bike mechanics, and usually just order a rack from the Internet and install it themselves. Getting a Topeak Explorer rack put on my late, totaled Raleigh Clubman (I survived a catastrophic crash. it did not.) took what seemed to be forever. It was a great deal at REI back in 2011. The rack ate up all the savings.
On the whole, the Giant Escape City has served me well. I broke one of the fenders changing a tire and decided just to take the other one off. The gearing can be complex and the chain used to slip a bit before I got the most recent tuneup. But if you want a hybrid with a rack, touring bike gearing, and nice clean looks, I’d recommend it over something like a Trek FX. In any event, I’m planning to do a lot of long distance riding over the Summer and will report back extensively.