Tag Archives: Biking

Giant Defy Advanced 2 – 1000 km later

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review (more of an impression) of the Giant Defy Advanced 2 (DA2) having put just a handful of rides on it. Since then, I’ve racked up some miles and wanted to give a longer-term review of Giant’s endurance bike.

When the weather has been nice this spring, I’ve had a hard time deciding whether to hit the road or take the mountain bike out.  I love mountain biking, and also have a new mountain bike, but the Defy is such a joy to ride that there are days that opted to go climb hills just so I could fly down them again.  I’d leave the house, tell my wife I’d be home in a few hours, and give the bike its nose, exploring roads and paths I’d never been up before.

I took the Defy on chip sealed roads, bike paths, fresh pavement, into headwinds, out of tailwinds, and up a ridiculous number of hills.  I’ve done 50+ mile rides, and I’ve commuted to work, all 6 miles of it.  I stand by my original review that said it’s all about control.  At no point do I feel out of control on the Defy.  It handles predictably, it lends confidence when getting up out of the saddle to climb or sprint, and the disc brakes make stopping stress-free.  The carbon frame damps all but the roughest road, and I never got home with a sore butt from harsh miles over poorly-maintained county roads.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (just mostly).  The disc brakes seem to be the cheapest component on the bike, and have already developed a chatter.  The chatter is especially bad in the front brake.  It’s something I’ve experienced in low end mechanical disc brakes before, so it’s not surprising.  I think the bike needs a good set of BB7 Road brakes to elevate the braking experience to the rest of the bike.

I’m also not wild about the wheels.  I understand that for the price point, Giant had to make some compromises on components.  But, they are heavy!  I haven’t geeked out to put them on the scale yet, but I am certain that the rear is heavier than my race MTB wheel.

Of course the racer in me wants to buy new elite wheels, get the BB7 mechanical disc brakes (or even splurge for hydro!!), and go all carbon all the things.  But… then I think about what this bike is designed to do.  It’s designed to be a comfortable bike for long rides over all sorts of roads.  It’s not a race bike.  It’s not a time trial bike.  It’s not even a cyclocross bike.  It’s an endurance bike.

As an endurance bike, I couldn’t ask for anything more.  A 30 mile ride is just a warm up on the Defy.  It is wonderful to ride over any road surface.  It handles predictably.  It is stiff enough that when I get out of the saddle to power over the rise, I can feel the bike leaping forward with each pedal stroke.  In short, it’s the perfect bike for long, meandering spring rides through the hills, summer centuries, fall Gran Fondos, and winter shake-out-the-cobwebs rides.

Tagged , , , ,

Review: Crank Brothers 5050 Pedals

I have used Crank Brothers pedals for several years, after giving up on my Shimano SPDs after they clogged with mud one too many times.  I started using the basic Candy 1’s for my mountain bike, then moved on to the eggbeaters for the muddier cyclocross courses.

It was only natural that when I wanted to use flat pedals that I would try out Crank Brothers’ offering: the 50/50.  (Full disclosure: I received these pedals at a discount.)  The 50/50s come in two quality levels, the 2 and the 3.  The 3 is slightly lighter and uses higher performance bearings.  However, the savings of 19g didn’t mean much to me, so I opted for the 50/50 2 since both carry the same 5 year warranty.

I’ve been using these pedals for about 6 months now on my Rumblefish for all of my riding.  I initially had a lot of trouble keeping my feet on the flat pedals, even though the spikes were extended out a good distance.  There were two problems, one of equipment and one of technique.  The first was easy to fix with buying the right kind of riding shoes.  I traded in my running shoes for a pair of flat cycling-specific shoes.5050

The second fix took longer, as I had to reteach myself where to place my feet and how to distribute my weight.  I had the best success when my feet were further forward on my pedals, putting the spindles close to midfoot.  I also learned to drop my heels so as I was going over bumps the pedals would push up into my feet instead of trying to slide backwards beneath them.

After a couple of weeks adjustment period, I felt comfortable on the pedals and was ripping around all my regular trails just as quickly as when I was on the Candy pedals.  In fact, I was taking some of the sections faster, especially bermy stuff and drops.  I had more confidence since I could bail off whenever I wanted to.

However, I have some complaints, more to do with flat pedals in general than with the 50/50s specifically.  It’s harder to start going up hills because I can’t pull up or pedal a full circle.  It’s harder for me to get through slow techy sections for the same reason.

One complaint about the 50/50s is that they seem very thick.  I have way more pedal strikes using the 50/50s than with my Candy pedals.  I also seem to hit my feet more on trail obstacles.  I think I hit my feet more because I’m wearing bigger shoes.

Aside from the pedal strikes, I have really enjoyed the 50/50s.  The adjustable pins are great and provide a very secure grip on my shoes.  The platforms are large enough for even my wide clown feet to feel secure, and they have held up great over the months.  I’ll be swapping them back out for my Candy pedals for race season in a couple of weeks, but I look forward to putting them back on this fall.

Tagged , , , , ,