New job means new commute. No company car these days, so I had to find something more suitable (ie; less costly) than the Cruiser. I had considered trading it in on a new Hilux, and building up a new overland truck. Going to something diesel, newer and lighter duty than the Cruiser made a lot of sense now our big trip is done, we probably don’t need the capabilities of the 105.
However, this current Hilux is not without its problems...
I thought these issues might have been fixed with the recent updated version, but word back from friends in the trade is the DPF (diesel particulate filter) issue is very much still a problem. DPF’s aren’t well regarded as being reliable over here generally, irrespective of manufacturer. Cheap to replace, they are not.
So, I wasn’t about to blow $50k on something that has these potential problems. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of Hilux’s out there working just fine, but still. Plus since getting back I’ve been enjoying the variety of outdoor pursuits, that maybe fell a bit off the radar the last few years, being so focused on the big trip.
I looked at older Subaru Forestor’s. I like the older squarer shape. Which then became looking at Forester Turbo’s (of course), but really I didn’t want another car, and I wasn’t quite ready to let the Cruiser go yet. I’ve got a lot invested in that vehicle, and not just dollars.
Once I started at the new job one of my first questions was “is there a shower here?” Thankfully there was, so a bike commute was on.
Now, it has been a while since I’ve ridden properly or regularly, but almost no running costs (compared to a car), regular exercise and environmental goodness are compelling reasons to make it work. So, I did some man maths and spent as much on cycling gear as I was going to spend on a car. No going back now and nothing motivates you to ride more than a shiny new bike!
Of course nearly everything has changed in the world of bikes since I last bought one. Being a (very) ex-mountain biker I couldn’t bring myself to buy a dedicated road bike. Luckily whilst I’ve been away they’ve created a whole new category of bikes that suit my needs perfectly, the Gravel Bike. Designed to be able to be ridden fast on the road, but also on easy dirt roads and tracks, meant I can use it for the commute and then swap the knobbly tyres on for some adventure at the weekend.
So I went with a Giant Revolt 1. My first carbon fibre framed bike. Also my first drop bar bike. Whilst we are at it the 1x transmission, single action gear selector, bolt through wheels, and carbon wheels (for the road tyres) are all new to me too.
So what’s it like? So far, so mega. On the road it feels like a slightly less nervous road bike, the acceleration and lack of rolling resistance are exactly what I wanted. My 20km commute takes me 10 minutes more than it does driving.
I honestly thought I was going to struggle with it off road. I’m not an especially skilful, or well balanced rider. So I was expecting it to be a bit awkward and intimidating on the dirt, but not at all. The wonders of frame geometry I guess. I also thought the inability to easily change the saddle height would be a problem, but nope. With no suspension there is no pitching forwards going down slopes. Let’s be clear these are easy trails. Dirt roads and fire tracks so far, but’s that’s where I’m at, and it’s good.
I’m old enough that my first two mountain bikes were fully rigid, suspension was still in its infancy back then (my first suspension forks were Manitou 2’s, with a whopping 2 inches of travel - claimed, and I think that was optimistic - bloody work of art though). So that doesn’t bother me, you just have to concentrate more. Obviously it is choppier than a suspension bike, but it’s not a mountain bike so you don’t ride it like one, and boy can you tell when it comes to powering up a short climb. Even more noticeable than on the road this thing just goes. Transferring your effort into forward motion unlike any bike I’ve ever ridden. Carbon frame, light wheels, bolt through axles probably all play a part, and as ever with bikes it’s all about making the most of the (meagre) power available.
Still early days, but hopefully plenty of adventures to come.
The colour reminds of a certain somewhat infamous McLaren. I always liked that colour on that car, so I’m happy to have it on the carbon chassis I can afford.
If anyone is interested in how Giant make their carbon bikes, I enjoyed this article.
Taiwan, that’s an interesting place I knew very little about.
This dude’s videos were useful when researching this bike and other stuff bike related.
A couple of detail shots.