Bicycles I have loved

September 28, 2018 § 8 Comments

I’ve never had a bad bike. Some have been better than others, some more faithful, some more temperamental, and of course there have been those that you want to curl your legs around and stay with forever. Nothing lasts forever, though, except nothing.

This is my list.

  1. First bike. Gold and white, 5th birthday gift. I will never forget learning to ride that bike. It took forever and a lot of falling and terror and crying and training wheels. But that feeling of finally taking off the training wheels and riding free is something that will stay with me as long as I live.
  2. Cool kid’s bike. Purple with a banana seat. I will never forget when banana seats became uncool and you didn’t exist if you didn’t own or convert your bike into a BMX. My deep-seated fear and loathing of dirt and jumps began with that conversion.
  3. Man’s bike. Gray Murray 10-speed, department store birthday gift. I was about ten or eleven and “Welcome to the world of gears.” Rode that thing to school every day until I got a driver license, many years later.
  4. Nishiki International. First sport bike, $375 at Freewheeling in Austin, sold to me by Uncle Phil Tomlin. All I had to do was become a sportler. Incredible precision shifting. Suntour, Dia-Compe, Sugino, brown cloth tape, cages and clips and downtube shifters. I saw the identical bike on the campus at UCSD, all original, hard-worn components, in the summer of 2007.
  5. Picchio Rigida. Can you say Campy Super Record? Can you say drool? $1,200 from Frewheeling. Initiated into the secret society. One of the most beautiful bikes ever, shiny dark purple with glittery stuff in the paint. Cracked the rear drop-out and Skip Hujsak fixed it.
  6. Tommasini SL. $800 for the frame only, Freewheeling. The infamous Pink Shadow, pink with black shadowing, conquered the Blue Goose race course over by Cele. My mom mailed it to me when I moved to Japan. Fields cleaned and resold it for me for $900 with the hilarious tag, “Lightly used.”
  7. Eddy Merckx SLX. $900, frame only, Freewheeling. Squarest, most masculine chrome fork crowns ever. Dark blue, smooth, it wasn’t better than the Picchio, but it was way more Belgian, for sure.
  8. Bridgestone Commuter. $30,000 yen, the biggest bike they had at the bike shop in Utsunomiya, and it was a 54cm. Heavy, fenders, rack, 36mm tires, triple chain ring and a baby seat on back. I loved that bike even with my knees under my chin.
  9. Masi Criterium. $900, frame and NOS Shimano Dura-Ace 7-speed that no one wanted because, 8-speed. Freewheeling. My most favorite bike ever because I rode it the longest and even had it repainted in Carlsbad when the thousands and thousands of miles had stripped away its beauty.
  10. Specialized Stumpjumer, $575, Freewheeling. Reaffirmed my childhood allergies to soft surfaces on Austin’s Greenbelt.
  11. Eddy Merckx Leader. $700, frame only, from some guy in Oswego, Oregon. This was the 7-11 Team colors. It was a sweet bike too, but by now carbon was calling and no one could believe that anyone did the Donut on a steel bike with downtube shifters.
  12. Felt Frankenbike. $2,400, my first bike with handlebar shifters, ca 2007 at Revo Cycles in Dana Point. Front end aluminum, rear triangle carbon. As you can imagine, our relationship was brief. First time I’d ever bought from a bike shop in the U.S. not named Freewheeling. It was weird to buy a bike from people who didn’t know almost every bike you’d ever ridden for 25 years.
  13. Specialized Tarmac. Carbon with Zipp 404’s from PV Bicycle Center. Steve Bowen gave me a generous deal on it, $3,300 or something like that. Yeah, carbon is better than steel. White with blue lettering.
  14. Specialized Venge, I’ve blotted out the price, PV Bicycle Center. First day riding it I fell coming home from the NPR, hopping a curb on Beryl, and got a nasty concussion. Black with white lettering.
  15. Giant TCR, about $5,000, from RIDE Cyclery in Encinitas, part of the great deals we got from SPY-Giant. Amazingly nice bike except for the seat tube that I may have cracked in the Great NPR Bicycle Falling Off Incident of October, 2013. Giant warrantied it anyway and gave me a new frame. I put FastForward wheels on it and have stuck with the wheel brand ever since.
  16. Giant TCX, about $2,800, also from RIDE. I began my ‘cross “career” on this beauty, one of the few times I’ve actually gotten worse at something the longer I did it. Four seasons of CX nonsense and I was done. But it was an awesome commuting bike and you can still see it in the South Bay when Major Bob is pedaling a ‘cross bike. But he cut the seat tube too short …
  17. Cannondale EVO Super Six, about $5,000, Helen’s in Santa Monica. More impersonal, high-performing carbon. Intro to wireless shifting. More better, more tech, more cheating.
  18. Giant TCX, under $3k, Smith Cycle. Crazy comfortable and nice bike for cruising around and doing the Baby BWR on. Hasn’t dissipated my dirt allergies, but Giant is hard to beat.
  19. Fuji F1, frame only, from Veloworkx in Santa Monica. Crazy nice, stiff but comfortable, light as television news, but I won’t miss it when it’s gone as it will be replaced by another faceless plastic piece of amazing road weaponry, disposable, interchangeable, made by machines for machines.

END

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Cannondale Evo Super Six v. Giant TCR

February 17, 2016 § 42 Comments

The last time I got a new bike was July 2014 after the great bicycle falling off incident of October 2013 when many of us on the NPR jumped off our bicycles together in a big heap and broke each other and things. My Giant TCR had a cracked seat tube but I continued riding on it until Brent Garrigus at RIDE Cyclerly in Encinitas was working on it and noticed the crack.

Fortunately Giant warrantied this obviously defective frame that couldn’t withstand the normal wear and tear of bouncing along the asphalt at 40 mph on its seatpost. However, the replacement frame was identical to the 2012 model I’d been riding, so technically I’ve been riding the same frame for four years, which is a billion years in bicycle coffee shop smack talk time.

Yesterday I picked up my new Cannondale Evo Super Six, courtesy of Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica, after having my trusty mechanic Boozy P. fine tune it. This morning on its inaugural ride it was humming along even with the fine-tuned rear brake pad dragging against the rim, which was easily adjusted but not by me.

So after 180 minutes on the Cannondale I’m thoroughly prepared to compare it in detail with the Giant TCR which I rode for four years and 40,000 miles.

WANKY’S BICYCLE COMPARISON CHART

  • Wife Handling

TCR: The TCR handled wife quite well. Offered at not much of a discount, it nonetheless escaped spousal ire by being associated with new team and a cash stash I had in an old sock.

Super Six: Terrible spousal handling characteristics. Delivery clumsily planned on Valentines Day, in tandem with thoughtlessly forgetting a spousal gift and trying to make up for it with leftovers from Rite-Aid’s card rack (“Dear Jesus Thank You for Our Heavenly Love,  To My Wife”), and a $25 Starbucks card. Came close to catastrophic failure; needs major redesign.

  • Bank Account Weight

TCR: Weighed in way over budget, but camouflaged with savings stuffed in old sock and timely purchase of a new Italian leather couch for Mrs. WM in lieu of son’s college tuition.

Super Six: Extremely light, so light that it was hardly noticed except for the aforementioned Valentines Day issue, which ended up in a nasty spat along the lines of “Happy Valentines Day for you onna new bike and I’m onna cheap coffee and ugly Jesus card.”

  • Wheelset Sleight of Hand

TCR: Superior wheelset swap-out while Ms. WM was out of the country, allowing replacement of shitty wheels with full carbon FastForward F-4 100% carbon clincher wheels and carbon FastForward tubular climbing wheels that are 100% carbon and full carbon. Unbeatable wheel swappiness.

Super Six: Requires lots of careful, technical work not found in the manual, for example, when planning to replace the perfectly good F-4’s, it is necessary to buy the new ones with behind-the-couch-cushion savings, then stick the old wheels in Boozy P.’s shop while waiting for them to sell, and being sure to never, ever, ever come home with an extra set of wheels. Tricky, can result in complete incompatibility and spousal relational failure.

  • PayPal Slush Fund Upgrades

TCR: Pretty good for saving a few blog subscription bucks and then secretly buying Ceramic Speed BB and jockey wheels without being caught or having to do “equivalent purchase” restitution in the form of nice restaurants or new granny underwear.

Super Six: Very poor PayPal application due to generally low balance in account. Unable to effectively hide major wheel purchases, resulting in borrowing from friends and promises to pay Jon D. for the new wheels next October.

  • 100% Carbon Full Carbon Composition

TCR: Drop-outs were not full carbon, so completely worthless POS frame and I’d never own another one. Thinking about class action.

Super Six: Full carbon 100% carbon everywhere, including full carbon drop-outs, carbon bolts, and carbon bar tape that is 100% carbon. Buy the bike for this reason alone.

  • Peloton Envy

TCR: No longer the shit because, fad.

Super Six: The new hot chick/sexy guy everyone wants to be around.

  • Shoe Rack Leanbility

TCR: Leaned pretty solidly against the shoe rack in our apartment without upsetting the clogs and ratty sneakers.

Super Six: Seems to take up less space, probably due to higher carbon content.

shoe_rack

  • Performance Tool Requirements

TCR: Could pretty much fix anything with Old No. 72.

old_no_72

Super Six: Requires torque wrench and a new set of tools that I won’t be able to use, to go with the other ones I used to use until Smasher made them all pretty and put them in a box where they’ve been for the last fucking month because when I was younger I didn’t care if they were trashed but now I’m older and know the value of money and a clean tool (you read that right) and I’m afraid to touch them. However, Smasher did send me some purchase options, a $350 Snap-Off torque wrench set or a $40 Spin Doctor torque wrench set that was just as good, so I went with the more expensive one that I’d never use. “I like your style,” he said.

  • Wind Chatter Aerodynamics

TCR: Did a good job of muting unwanted spousal criticism because it came with Team SPY and she was distracted by the awesome kits.

Super Six: Terrible at breaking the wind resistance of angry Mrs. WM, whose tirades about that $25 Starbucks card and the Holy Jesus Loving Wife card are going to be a feature of the family landscape for a while.

  • Climbing

TCR: Too heavy to effectively scamper away up hills avoiding family troubles, life problems, and penury.

Super Six: Spry, quick as a gazelle, offers endless hours of escapism.

  • Kit Integration

TCR: Went pretty well with the SPY-Giant-Ride color scheme, which improved yearly.

Super Six: Same black-and-white pattern as TCR, but glossy black and goes great with Team Lizard Collector’s 2015 classic black kit. May not work as well with the 2015 Calvin and Hobbes design, but the jury hasn’t hung itself yet.

  • Conclusion

TCR: Best bike I’d ever ridden.

Super Six: Best bike I’ve ever ridden.

END

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Take a bite

October 12, 2014 § 10 Comments

Every city in America has a Saturday morning Donut Ride, where a handful of riders beats up on everyone else, and everyone else marks “success” in terms of how far they got before getting kicked out the back.

Jack from Illinois (not his real name), always despised the Donut Ride for being a “preenfest.” He wasn’t wrong. Local racers who get “coached” and who are on a “program,” tend to avoid the ‘Nut because it adds little to your fitness but can subtract lots. And of course there is a huge contingent of riders, thousands actually, who wouldn’t be caught dead on the DR because they hate group rides, they don’t like aggressive pelotons, they are in it for relaxation, or [ fill in your reason here ].

To those folks, I say, “No problem. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.”

But there is another group of riders out there who really should be on the Donut Ride. I was dropping down the hill this morning to the start of the ride, and I passed a guy riding a very nice bike, wearing a very nice kit, and looking pretty darned fit. “On your way to the Donut?” I asked.

“Ha,” he answered. “I wish.”

“What do you mean?”

“That ride is too fast for me.”

“Come on, man, give it a try. You look like you could handle it. It’s not hard anyway, especially if you sit in.”

“I’ve seen that pack come by,” he said enviously. “Too fast for me.”

“Okay,” I shrugged, and went on, but I could tell how badly he wanted to give it a try and I felt sorry for him because he was going to spend the rest of his riding days wondering about something that really wasn’t worth wondering about.

If you’re one of those people who wonders what the local Saturday beatdown ride is like, you owe it to yourself to give it a chance. Even if you hate it, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of having tried. More likely, especially if you’re a fairly hopeless wanker, you’ll get your head staved in sometime around the first or second acceleration, and the thrill you get from first riding with, and then getting ejected from, the middle of the surging, bucking pack will leave you happier and more elated than you’ve been since you first lied to your wife about the cost of your Giant TCR with electronic drivetrain.

Here, then, is a compendium of what you’ll find out if you take the plunge, swallow your pounding heart, gird your quivering loins, and toe the Saturday group ride starting line:

  1. You will get faster every week.
  2. The wankers you used to struggle to keep up with in your normal group will no longer be able to hold your wheel.
  3. Racer-type hammerheads aren’t all assholes.
  4. Some of the things that differentiate great riders from hackers can be learned through observation.
  5. Competition makes you better.
  6. Cars steer clear of big groups.
  7. There’s no dishonor in trying.
  8. Your wife will mostly believe whatever version of the ride you tell her.
  9. You won’t be the slowest rider the group.
  10. If you’re the slowest rider in the group, one day you won’t be.
  11. The ride’s not as hard as you thought it would be.
  12. You’ll surprise yourself — in a good way.

See you next week!

END

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Take a bite

October 12, 2014 § 10 Comments

Every city in America has a Saturday morning Donut Ride, where a handful of riders beats up on everyone else, and everyone else marks “success” in terms of how far they got before getting kicked out the back.

Jack from Illinois (not his real name), always despised the Donut Ride for being a “preenfest.” He wasn’t wrong. Local racers who get “coached” and who are on a “program,” tend to avoid the ‘Nut because it adds little to your fitness but can subtract lots. And of course there is a huge contingent of riders, thousands actually, who wouldn’t be caught dead on the DR because they hate group rides, they don’t like aggressive pelotons, they are in it for relaxation, or [ fill in your reason here ].

To those folks, I say, “No problem. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.”

But there is another group of riders out there who really should be on the Donut Ride. I was dropping down the hill this morning to the start of the ride, and I passed a guy riding a very nice bike, wearing a very nice kit, and looking pretty darned fit. “On your way to the Donut?” I asked.

“Ha,” he answered. “I wish.”

“What do you mean?”

“That ride is too fast for me.”

“Come on, man, give it a try. You look like you could handle it. It’s not hard anyway, especially if you sit in.”

“I’ve seen that pack come by,” he said enviously. “Too fast for me.”

“Okay,” I shrugged, and went on, but I could tell how badly he wanted to give it a try and I felt sorry for him because he was going to spend the rest of his riding days wondering about something that really wasn’t worth wondering about.

If you’re one of those people who wonders what the local Saturday beatdown ride is like, you owe it to yourself to give it a chance. Even if you hate it, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of having tried. More likely, especially if you’re a fairly hopeless wanker, you’ll get your head staved in sometime around the first or second acceleration, and the thrill you get from first riding with, and then getting ejected from, the middle of the surging, bucking pack will leave you happier and more elated than you’ve been since you first lied to your wife about the cost of your Giant TCR with electronic drivetrain.

Here, then, is a compendium of what you’ll find out if you take the plunge, swallow your pounding heart, gird your quivering loins, and toe the Saturday group ride starting line:

  1. You will get faster every week.
  2. The wankers you used to struggle to keep up with in your normal group will no longer be able to hold your wheel.
  3. Racer-type hammerheads aren’t all assholes.
  4. Some of the things that differentiate great riders from hackers can be learned through observation.
  5. Competition makes you better.
  6. Cars steer clear of big groups.
  7. There’s no dishonor in trying.
  8. Your wife will mostly believe whatever version of the ride you tell her.
  9. You won’t be the slowest rider the group.
  10. If you’re the slowest rider in the group, one day you won’t be.
  11. The ride’s not as hard as you thought it would be.
  12. You’ll surprise yourself — in a good way.

See you next week!

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

My first strip club

January 21, 2014 § 12 Comments

I had never been to a strip club before this year. You can laugh, or disbelieve, or whatever, but it’s still true. In fact, after hearing some friends talk about their most recent visit to a strip club, I went home and looked up the word “lap dance.” It’s not that I’m a prude, or a Puritan, or averse to naked women. The one time I came closest to going to a strip club was when a former employer, after getting terribly drunk, drove me all over Long Beach looking for one. He couldn’t find it, and I went home as unexperienced as when the day had begun.

All that changed a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Palm Desert with my bike racing team. I finally got to go to a strip club with the guys, even though my wife was back in the hotel room.

It was awesome.

This gal was gorgeous

The stripper was performing in our own reserved room. What was even more awesome was that she was so freaking gorgeous she had a handler. They wouldn’t even let this gal out by herself, she was so smoking hot. I suppose they assumed, correctly, that anyone this drop-dead sexy would drive a roomful of testosterone-crazed men into a frenzy.

I was mesmerized when the handler introduced her, even though her name was kind of weird. “Okay, folks,” he said. “Here she is — feast your eyes on — Miss Propel.” He gently removed her clothing, which was kind of this big black sheet thing. It was incredible.

Her curves were so firm that every guy in the room could imagine himself pushing her as hard as he could without fear of doing any damage at all. Her handler confirmed it. “You can ride this baby all day long … if you’ve got it in you!”

Her proportions were perfect. Not too long, not too short, not too heavy, not too light, firm but responsive, able to lead you when necessary yet also willing to go where you wanted to take her with just the slightest and most subtle of touches.

The heavy disco beat in the background, the dimmed lights, the spotlight shining on her gorgeous front end, and the roomful of excited guys brought the whole thing to a fever pitch. Suddenly one guy stood up, intoxicated from one drink too many, and staggered to the front with a five-dollar-bill. He madly tried to stuff it into her seat, but the handler pushed him away.

Another guy dropped to his knees and begged for a lap dance, waving a fresh Ben Franklin. He fell back into his chair and the handler brought Miss Propel over, placing her gently on his thighs. She was light as a feather, and he groaned. “I gotta have her between my legs,” he pleaded. The handler snatched her away.

“She’s not for sale today. You’ll have to put in an order and get in line.”

I was so overcome with the moment that I reached out and tried to stroke her cups. “Get your nasty hands off her bottom,” shouted the handler, who led her back up to the front.

“She’s your dream girl,” he said with a sly grin. “Light, quick, responsive, strong, willing, sleek, and so much better than any you’ve ridden before.”

His words froze me. Wordlessly, I got up and went back to my hotel room.

Atonement

She was waiting for me when I got back, and she knew something had happened. I looked at her critically. She hadn’t changed at all. She still had the same perfect proportions that had made me fall in love in the first place. Sure, she wasn’t as young as the new girl, but since when does any man who knows anything judge a woman solely by her age? I touched her and felt her, just as firm and strong as ever.

Why had I been so tempted by Miss Propel, when I had this beauty waiting for me back in my very own room? I thought about the times we’d spent together. Some of it had been rough sledding, more than a few rocky roads when I thought about some of our trips to North County San Diego in April. But most of the time it had been magical, climbing on her back and gliding down or flying up — even the times when she’d wound up on top I’d never been much the worse for wear.

And I was going to trade her in for someone new with a fancier set of wheels and a racier lifestyle? Was I that much of a cad? Willing to consign this elegant lady who’d stood by me through thick and through thin just because some handler got me all hot and bothered with promises of excitement?

I stroked her seat and smiled. Our love was old, perhaps, but it was part of me. I ran a cloth over her chain and sprinkled her links with a few dabs of lube. I could feel her wanting me, begging me to throw a leg over. “I’m too tipsy now,” I said. “Just wait ’til tomorrow morning, okay?”

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Big words on a badass bike

February 14, 2013 § 13 Comments

Team SPY-Giant-RIDE has spent the ‘cross season and now part of the road season (for some) on their new Giant frames. What better time to give feedback and encourage everyone to go buy a dozen or so?

Of course, if people don’t like them, they can kiss off. Negative reviews won’t be posted here, which is no problem because there haven’t been any. However, if you’re looking for an objective report, you’ve got the wrong guy, the wrong blog and, sad to say, the wrong industry. As in all things, follow the money!

In my case, it’s a short trail. I paid hard cash for my ‘cross frame, and if it sucked I’d just keep quiet, being a polite “team player” type dude who likes to keep his opinions to himself. Bottom line: Nobody gave me squat to ride my ‘cross frame, and in fact I had to forgo the youngest child’s last payment on braces to build it up.

The braces were supposed to have come off in September of last year, but it was ‘cross season and I do have priorities. I got the lower ones off with a pair of wire cutters and a chisel, but apparently didn’t do such a great job as he’s now implored me to wait until we can afford another visit to the orthodontist, which is now looking like May or June of ’15.

What the team has said

First off, I’d be crazy to let a bunch of bike racers say anything in their own words, mostly because the typical lexicon is more filled with “fucks” than a letter to Penthouse (youngsters, ask your grandpa what those were). So I’ve edited the hell out of these quotes, in some cases making them up entirely to paper over the garbled, unintelligible prose. After the fourth “Fuckin’ A stiff as shit, dude” I kind of got the gist that they liked it and it was stiff.

Second, with regard to the road frames we’ve only had a few races to test them out, so despite the fact that these wankers are threatened on pain of death not to say anything even remotely uncomplimentary, the guys have been reticent to provide extensive comments other than what they’ve gleaned from a thousand miles of riding or less.

A few wankers have even refused to comment at all on the lame grounds that their frame hasn’t been built up yet and they’ve never ridden one before. We’ll address internally this unwillingness to lie and prattle, and can promise you five-star encomiums in the next round of reviews.

Greg M.: This machine is second to no other bike in the world for weight agility and style!!! I love it so much I’ve added two exclamation points to the one that I normally put at the end of everything, including sympathy and condolence letters (Sorry to hear about the massacre of your entire family! Condolences!). I love it so much I’ve leaned it up against the SPY truck and taken 458 photos on Instagram, annotated them, flooded your wall, clogged your inbox, and gummed up the Internet. Took like freakin’ days to do. However, I hope this twelve-word review suffices!!! Giant rocks!!!

John H.: I am the worst at this shit, dude, I’m a bike racer which means I race bikes not some pinhead blogger. You would know this except I drop you every time we race together. Anyway,  I have been racing Specialized’s top ‘cross bike for the last three years and was very happy with it until I got on the TCX. Kind of like how you think go-karts are totally badass until somebody sticks you behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Or how you think magazines are awesome ’til you get your first hot date. Not only is it super light and stiff but the thing goes wherever you point it. I’m glad I’ve never pointed it at a hot chick. I’m talking about the bike. The acceleration is amazing and handling is second to none (still talking bike, you wanker). I don’t have my  road bike yet so I’ve been riding 4-5 days a week using the TCX ‘cross bike on the road and I have to say it is as good if not better than any road bike I have ever been on. The Giant TCX gave our team a huge advantage in our success in ‘cross this season. The wankers from other teams were flailing around in the mud on their 75-lb. wankmobiles while we sliced and diced our way to a couple of state championships and numerous event wins. TCX stands for “Total ‘Cross eXecutioner,” or something like that.

Aron G.: The Giant TCR is stiff, responsive and a beautiful piece of handcrafted technology that is second to none! So happy I’m riding a Giant this year, and all the wankers on other teams are flailing on Pudknocker Specials. Jam on the pedals and this bad boy takes off like a lump of snot getting shot from an elephant’s trunk. In a fast sprint finish your kick goes straight from the pedal to the wheel. Well, there’s a chain and some gears and a bottom bracket in there somewhere, but with this bad boy you’d never know it.

Jim M.: While I eagerly await the arrival of my TCR road frame, I can say that I was happier than a bacteria in a public restroom with my ‘cross TCX, which I was able to ride and race on several times this fall. In past ‘cross races the spectators often screamed “Wanker!” and showered me with beer (warm beer, I think, at any rate with warm yellow stuff). Not on my Giant. They frickin’ showered me with awe. While I didn’t think a ‘cross bike should, or could, be as light as a road bike, damned if it wasn’t LIGHTER than any road bike I’d ever had. I was floating through the mud pits and tar pits and tiger pits and slag heaps and sand dunes like debris from a tsunami.  From a riding and racing standpoint, it seemed unfair that a bike that good should belong to me, but I knew right out of the gate it would make me a better rider, which it did, as in my first race I only got lapped twelve times instead of the usual eleven. After that, it was Katie bar the door. I got some great results, and from the nimble handling, the quick acceleration and the screaming good looks, the bike just performed like all get out. My girlfriend was jealous, right?  It won’t gather dust this road season, either, as it has replaced my mountain bike for anything off road and will get lots of use in the coming months.  Can’t wait to race on it again in the fall!

DMac: The Giant TCX is an awesome ‘cross bike and played a key role in my 35+ state ‘cross championship campaign. The frame is very stiff for climbing and super stable in corners, it handles smooth over rough terrain with great power transfer for sprinting and has a superior ride quality off-road and on-road. Plus, if you turn it upside down and put flowers in the chain ring it makes a bitchin’ objet d’art. That’s French for “coffee table.” Best of all, when I went back to Alabama, where I’m from, all the folks there (who are all related, weird, I know), just drooled even though they didn’t know what it was or what it was for. I told ’em that it was a football training device that the Tide was gonna use in ’14 and I got taken out to more free fried catfish dinners and fed more deep-fried Coca-cola than you can imagine.

Joe C.: My new Giant corners like it is on rails, BIG difference from my Parlee, which suffered from having a really stupid name. Dudes were like, “What kind of bike do you ride?” and I’d be like “Parlee,” and they’d be like “Parlee what? Francais?” and then everyone would guffaw and it got to pissing me off so I took to busting out their teeth and pretty soon it was ten of them and one of me and although I was good for wiping the floor with nine, the tenth was always some goon with a two-by-four and to make a long story short I spent a lot of freaking time in the hospital no thanks to that dogdamned Parlee. So now they’re like “What do you ride?” and I’m like “Giant” and they like back off and buy me free beer. So there’s that.

Erik: I’m two rides in on the Giant, but small sample sizes don’t mean squat to me, hell, I’d judge a person’s character based on the way he wiped his nose. The Giant and I, we’re like a dude and the perfect chick, it’s really amazing how connected I feel to the road. We talk to each other sometimes but don’t tell my wife that. I’ll go out in the garage and say “Hey, baby, how bout a little chain lube?” and darned if she doesn’t purr. I’m not kidding. Between the stiff, responsive frame and the Zipps, I really do feel in control and that there is not a wasted bit of power. Pretty awesome. Can’t wait to race it. After a few more months I’m going to see if the wife is cool with bringing it into the bedroom just for safekeeping and stuff.

Ryan D.: Racing crits is much less hectic, the turn in is so gradual and predictable leaving me more confident instead of clipping the curb and busting my forehead open on some fire hydrant. You do that seven or eight times in a season and you start forgetting little things, you know, like your name and stuff. The seat mast soaks up tons of harsh bumps which makes it easier to flip over the guardrails, bomb down the side of the mountain out of control, whacking the huge boulders, and still get to the bottom without feeling like you’ve flipped over the guardrail, bombed down the side of the mountain out of control, and whacked every huge boulder in sight, even though you pretty much just did. It’s stiffer than anything I’ve ever ridden. It has sexy lines, which is actually a big deal when you spend a lot of time by yourself, as I do. The sloping top tube and massive seat mast lets guys run smaller looking frames, because no one likes a massive triangle and tiny seat post except some wanker named Merckx. What the hell did he know, eh?

Mongo from Bakersfield: What I like most about the TCX is its responsiveness to my pedal input and the fact that it gives me a great excuse to leave Bakersfield, which is one of the ten top places in America to be from, preferably permanently. When I push the pedals, the bike goes. Coming from a steel ‘cross frame I was expecting the carbon ride to be harsh, but I’ve found that the integrated seat post and rear triangle absorb a lot of the shock on demanding ‘cross courses and even normal roads in Bakersfield, where the roads are paved with large chunks of glass, nails, gravel, and human bones. The shaped downtube is really easy to grab and throw the bike on my shoulder or at the gangs who try to shake you down when you’re training in Bako. The low frame weight makes it easy to traverse barriers and barbed wire fences no matter if you’re a Brent Prenzlow minimalist or a Bart Wellens dive bomber or a Jim P. Bakersfield refugee running for his life. I’ve raced the TCX in road races where it handles and climbs like a dream. Its higher bottom bracket makes it a great crit racer as well, and I use it to position myself at the back of the field to make sure no one quits.

King Harold: All these peachfuzz wankers are crowing and yammering about Giant like a teenager who just discovered puberty, but listen, I been riding Giant since these punks had a tail and were swimming around in a warm hairy bag, and I know from past Giant frames it’s the best bike you’ll ever ride. They corner, climb and sprint like nothing you’ve ever ridden before, including that $150 hooker you got in Vegas for your 18th birthday. I can only imagine the new bike will ride even better because I don’t have it yet. But I almost don’t need to. It will kick ass.

Chris W.: The bike is incredible. I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they had told me it was this solid. I would have been like, “Oh, bullshit. You’ve been reading too much Bicycling Magazine.” ‘Cause you know, bikers are so full of crap and suckers to boot, and think the latest thing is like the reinvention of the wheel. But my Giant TCR, man, it is the bomb. It doesn’t flex yet it doesn’t beat you to death. Giant knows what they’re doing. Love this bike.

Bull: I love my Giant TCX; it allows me to ride anywhere I want to go with speed and amazing handling, like last week when I was at the liquor store picking up a case of MD 20/20 for the wife and kids and the cops show up, in fact I’d paid for it but there was a misunderstanding about the credit card because I do sometimes go by the name “Susan Smith” and I have lived in Philly before, anyway, there I was and I didn’t have time to explain to the guy with the gun and the radio and mace and the handcuffs and the squadcar so boom, I hopped on the TCX, swung the MD over my shoulder, and hit the gutter going the wrong way down the 405. Lost ’em. Love my Giant.

MMX: This year I got the new TCX toward the end of the season and made up my mind that beginning in March I would start properly capitalizing the pronoun “I” and other proper nouns and win some ‘cross races. For the two years prior to this ‘cross season i had been riding my Blue top of the line Norcross (jonathan Page signature bike, our mutual team rider), which i felt to be an incredible bike. In fact, one of the main reasons for the SPY and BLUE relationship had to do with their initial sponsorship of me and our joint sponsorship of JP. When i got the TCX, with its ISP (which stands for Internet Service Provider), and the SRAM components (which stands for Super Rad And Mombasa) and ZIPP wheels (which stands for Zowie I’m Pedaling Perfectly), it weighed 15 pounds and a couple of ounces. It was light. But, what was so impressive about it was the stiffness of the bike and how this enabled me to slice through sand, power on grassy sections, and get power out of the bike with my low cadence. It was fun watching the wankers on my wheel at that beach invasion ‘cross race on Pendleton melt and collapse and fade and crumble in the bitter headwind followed by the sandy wall climb and the sand pits at the bottom of the 40 mph descent over ruts and rocks and land mines. I really wish i had had the bike for the whole season and can’t wait to race on it next year. I can easily see myself racing this bike on the road, as it is as light as my road bike and as responsive and comfortable. Plus it’s light enough to pick up and smack somebody over the head with when they show up wearing Oakleys or Smith or some other Italian effete multicorp dork pair of eyeglasses.

i was riding the 2012 GIANT TCR ISP bike this year and really enjoyed all the capital letters. I again wondered how getting the new bike would even be anything but a waste of money because my current GIANT was so good and how many more capital letters can you cram onto a downtube, right? Right. Being the leader of the team and the dude who’s going to stomp some heads for the wankers who didn’t get around to writing reviews after all the swag I’ve showered them with, the ingrates, i had to get the team bike, right?! So, i did, with the SRAM red stuff and the ZIPP 303’s. From the minute i got on this new 2013 version i was startled at how much faster it felt, and not just because I got 300 new KOM’s on Strava that day. I felt as though my 11 was a 12, as though i had a tailwind and even though I’ve occasionally had problems counting correctly. I got the perfect fitting bike, thanks to the fit
from Studio DNA and our team mate Nes Rodriquez. The bike rides better
with the new SRAM and it feels stiffer and more comfortable, which is hard to believe. In fact, I don’t have to believe. I rode the dang thing across a 2 mile crosswind gap at Poor College Kids to bridge to the leaders. On another bike I’d have needed a stoker or an engine.

The first time i rode the new GIANT TCR ISP 2013 i was tired from a heavy block of training, even though it was only 250 miles that particular day with 11,000 feet of climbing. But i took it out on a saturday and did the Swami’s ride with you, Wankmeister. Remember how I dropped you immediately, then towed your sorry ass around all day while you begged me not to drop you in exchange for some free blogging? Yeah, that day, you wanker.

Instead of dragging myself, i was ripping despite being tired, driving the front, going off the front, and watching you cry and beg and suck your thumb like a swaddling infant. Afterwards, you and i did a big loop for 80 plus miles and i got 10 KOMs over the last 20 or 30 miles. You were nowhere to be seen when the hard work came about. It was unbelievable. The bike i mean. Not you. Now, two months later, i still have the same feelings about the bike. is my 11 a 12? Are there counting classes for people like me?

Overall, for me, the new GIANT team bike is the best looking bike i have
ever owned, the most comfortable and the most powerful in terms of stiffness and translation of wattage. I couldn’t be happier i got the new bike. It is simply amazing. I’ll be riding it this saturday at the RR, and once we get into march I’m going to take no prisoners on the capitalization thing. You watch.

Alan F.: The Giant I currently ride is a 2012 TRC Advanced, no ISP or SL. You might think I feel slighted to be riding around on something less than the others, but I don’t. I’ve been doing this for decades and could race on a Huffy with cement wheels and still keep up with you wankers. Plus, I’m not emotional about my bike. It’s a bike. A tool to inflict pain and devastation on those who have not prepared properly. I have no idea when I will get a team bike, but when I get it, rest assured I will push down hard on the pedals. What I can say about my 2012 Giant is that it kicks ass. It is a very balanced bike, the massive proprietary carbon stem with 1 and 1/4″ steering tube makes the front end as stiff and stable as the rear. Giddy up!

DJ: The early Giant composites sucked big donkey balls. Sorry, they did. You want PR bullshit? You got the wrong guy. The fork/headset were flimsy noodles. I had one, and I disliked it big time. It wobbled like heck, drifted like sh*t. Don’t ask why I used an asterisk. And I was coming off a Trek (model lost to memory, but it was a high end one). I seriously questioned Giant and their funny compact frame. To their credit, Giant heard that feedback (the rep told me I was not alone in my opinion) and immediately remedied it with a significant redesign. More carbon, bigger diameter steering tube, etc. So I like to think that Giant is me. Also, if you get a minute, I’ll tell you about the time I designed the space shuttle. I rode Giants for 10 succeeding years, and loved all of them. Their current frames with the square downtube are the bomb. They corner like they’re on rails, track true at speed, they’re stiff and light, and they still feel great on a long ride. You could ask for a better frame; you could pay more for a frame; you could start your own frame company…but you’d never get close to a Giant. They are more than functional: They follow input from the riders, hacker/wankers like me and pro/am world class studs and studettes from Rabobank to continually improve. If you think you’re getting some mass-produced item made from slave labor, you’re wrong. You’re getting a handcrafted precision frame made by expert, expert, expert craftspeople. That extra “expert” makes them even better, by the way. Even though we got a deal I was bummed to switch to Blue last year. It was like switching from titanium to overdone linguini. To put it all in perspective, when I heard SPY was going to Giant in 2013, it was full wood! And when my trailer house is rockin’…!

Lars the Norseman: The Giant TCX is so insanely light I contemplated using it as my road bike of choice in 2013! Then I saw Wankmeister doing that very thing, along with Mongo from Bakersfield and I was like, “Whoa, don’t want to be associated with those wankers, no matter how awesome the bike!” The Giant TCR is easily adjustable and gives me the confidence to dive in and out of corners in crits, and it’s stiff enough to withstand my 180-pound frame wrenching it from side to side when attacking or climbing. These are two phenomenal machines, well made for invading smaller countries and plundering them.

Brent G.: As a guy who gets to RIDE a ton of bikes I have a pretty good feel for what is available out there. I have this test I do on all bikes. I just ride loosely sitting in the saddle with my hands on the hoods and attempt to create speed wobble by shimmying my hands forward and back. Yeah, I crash a lot doing that. But I wear a helmet and have good health insurance. Many bikes are like wet noodles, although very few wet noodles are as serviceable as a crappy bike. The Giant TCR is far and away the stiffest! That is the reason this is the only bike I can sit on the top tube and descend at 60mph and feel like it’s 40. Until I crash and hit my head again. Then it doesn’t even feel like 60. More like 100. That “hands-off” test also relates to how stiff the front triangle is in relation to what the bike is going to do when you lean in into a serious turn. With the 11/2 to 11/14 bearing and massive head tube, this bike has zero hesitation once you give it some input. It just does exactly what you tell it to do, and one of these days I’m gonna tell it to do the laundry. With all the rigidity, you might be one of those “my jockstrap is half-empty” types who might worry about ride quality, and that is where this bike with the ISP seatpost stands on a platform that only few bikes I have ever ridden do. The ISP post is a dream and makes for the most comfortable ride you can get. 100 mile days just click off on this bike with less discomfort once you’re off the bike than many others that end up breaking your spine after a 60-mile ride. The Giant TCR ADV SL ISP is in my top 2 bikes ever ridden for quality and capital letterization and additonal exclamation marks!!! It ROCKS!!!

David A.: I have never loved and respected a bike like I do the Giant TCX ‘cross bike. Please don’t tell my wife or children. The confidence this bike gave me throughout the 2012 ‘cross season was second to none. The lack of confidence it inspired in the wankers who fell off the pace and got dropped was inversely proportionate. I knew that I only had to point it in the right direction to get to the finish line and it would do the rest. Halfway through most races I stopped even pedaling. Just a few whispers and a pat on its fanny and it would take me to the line, usually in first place. I treasured the way it would track through stutter bumps and it would make a very  challenging section a breeze and look great in pumps or in tennis shoes. Thank you Giant for creating such a noble steed!

Steven D.: It would be a lie to say “good or bad” because I don’t have it yet. However, bike racers are notorious liars, so why wait? I know this bike is going to be awesome beyond belief, and when I get a chance to throw a leg over I will unleash my literary penmanship, and give Giant the review it deserves.

G$: The most perfect thing I’ve ever touched. I’m totally in love. Fast, tight, gorgeous, goes forever, always gets you to the finish with a massive rush. I feel like I’m in heaven with this baby. Solid when you’re going fast, steady when you’re grinding it out, pounding on the front, easing on the back…technical or straight line!…At 50+ mph you appreciate when your baby has your back!! I would groove 24/7 if I had the stamina! Oh, this is supposed to be about my new bike? Oops! I love my Giant, too. Same as I just said earlier about my, oh never mind.

Wankmeister: I ride and race  my GIANT TCX ‘cross bike on the road and had my best result in like a hundred years in a hard hilly race a couple of weeks ago. It scares the crap out of the competition. They think it weighs 300 pounds and you’re there with them on the climb and they’re like, “Whoa, dude’s a beast!” but actually the thing is lighter than their rig and their girlfriend. It’s stiff, pretty, handles well, blah, blah, blah. You get that by now after reading all these reviews, or you are a congenital idiot who wouldn’t know a good thing if it came with free hookers and a suitcase full of unmarked $100 bills. In truth, though, the GIANT TCX is most rad for its Leg Throwoverabilityness. This is the quality of a bike that allows you to pull up at a light and casually throw your leg over the top tube and rest comfortably there. Frankly, I spend almost all my time posing at intersections and this bike is Pose Nirvana. It’s how I met my wife. I fucking look like a pro, all loungy and relaxed and cool with my SPY shades and stuff. Plus, the shape of the TCX top tube is flatty instead of roundy, which lets your lower thigh rest comfortably on it. The roundy ones make you slip and pretty soon that tube is wedged up where the sun don’t ever shine. Well, not often, anyways. So, for mega plus pose leg throwoverabilityness, this is the best bike ever.

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