Review: Giant Seek City Bicycle, and Maybe the Clip Folding Bike

A little while back, we borrowed a Giant Seek and Clip for a few weeks to ride around town.

The Seek, shown above at left, is Giant’s mountain bike based alloy commuter/city bike that’s made to tackle pretty much any urban environment. The Clip is (or possibly was) their entry into the folding bike market for the U.S. I say “possibly was” because it no longer appears directly on their U.S. website unless you Google it first.  We’re checking into whether it’s still available, or if it’s gone Dodo on us and been replaced by the much less cool looking ExpressWay folder. Please Giant, keep the Clip.

For now, we’ll provide our review of the Seek, and if we hear back from the Big G that the sweet, sweet Clip still exists, we’ll post that review.  If you’re looking for a bullet of a pavement pounder, jump past the break and let’s get rollin’…

BIKE DETAILS

The Seek has an aluminum frame made of Giant’s ALUXX-SL aluminum with a cromoly fork w/ alloy steerer. It’s a disc-brake only design with full fender and rack mounts across the frame and fork, which adds a lot of potential functionality to the bike. The wheels are standard 700c road wheels with fatter 700×32 tires for better bump absorption. Weight is around 25lbs.

We tested a size Large Seek 0, their top of the line model that retails for $1,175. There’s also a Seek 1 ($870) and Seek 2 ($600) with lesser spec but the same fork and an ALUXX (non-SL) alloy frame. There are a few differences in the Seek 0′s frame that we’ll touch on later.

If I were buying the Seek for myself, I’d go with the XL. The Large (shown) was just a bit small for my 6’2″ frame. It was entirely rideable, but I’d want something a bit bigger for regular use. The plus was that my 5’7″ wife could also ride this one fairly comfortably.  We rode a round trip of about 30 miles on it and the Clip, taking turns on each bike half way, from my parent’s house in FL to A1A Burrito Works pictured at the start of this post. Here’s a map, and here’s why I highly recommend it:

Starting at the front, one of the biggest standouts is the fork. The height of the crown (along with conversations with local Giant rep MD) that you could put a suspension fork on here if you want. Of course, it’d kill the aesthetics, but it wouldn’t affect the geometry much with an 80mm travel 29er fork.

The rear of the fork has a fender mount. The cockpit is fairly straightforward. The front is a single chainring, so there’s no front shifter on the Seek 0 (The 1 and 2 have triples). Handlebar, stem and post are nameless black alloy components topped with a Giant “Sport Comfort” saddle. It wasn’t bad.

The grips are an attempt at Ergons, but they don’t compare. There’s no locking end, so they kept rotating down under the weight of my palm. I’ve experienced this with several “comfort grips” on other bikes as well. If there’s no locking end, they’re gonna spin.  These tended to rotate fairly quickly, about every 20 minutes or so I’d have to yank them back into position.

The frame is stout throughout. Rear rack and fender mounts complete the utilitarian functionality, now it’s time for fun and fashion:

Our model had bronze anodized cable containers and matching water bottle cage bolts. Unfortunately, it looks like the current Seek 0 has a new color scheme with black bits and a matching black fork.  It still has the clear coat raw aluminum finish on the frame, though. Down below, the Seek 0 has an eccentric bottom bracket, the first main difference between it and it’s little sisters.

The EBB is necessary because this model comes with a full Shimano Alfine 8-speed drivetrain. It gets the Alfine rapid fire shifters, Alfine cranks and Alfine rear hubs, and that’s why it’s over a grand.  Sure, there’s a new 11-speed Alfine hub available, but the 8-speed gear cluster gives a great range for city riding. I could drop it down and spin up the hills easily. Or, like highway cruising in a Porsche, it was all too easy to hammer along well over 20mph.

Another highlight on the “0″ is the KMC Z51 Rustproof chain, an upgrade from the lower models. The other models have standard bottom brackets and normal derailleur and cassette transmissions.

The brakes are Giant’s ROOT hydraulic brakes, and they worked pretty well. There was a bit of noise from them on occasion. Note the replaceable rear dropouts; it doesn’t come with parts for putting a standard hub and derailleur on it, but it adds some flexibility in the future if you want it (presumably, parts kits are available from Giant, but they’re not listed on the website). The dropouts, calipers and brake levers were all bronze color-matched to the other bits and pieces on the bike.

The top tube has a frame guard that’s slightly recessed into the tube and should help keep dings and scratches at bay if you routinely lean it against a lightpost to lock it up.

RIDE REVIEW

The Seek 0 is a great bike for getting around town quickly and comfortably. I’d put the max distance I’d want to ride it at around 20 miles, but that’s likely well beyond most people’s bike commute and errand running distance anyway.  Change out a few parts (grips, saddle, add clipless pedals), and that range could increased significantly for some light touring. There are a lot of perfectly fine, brandless parts on here, and that means you could upgrade this thing to drop some pounds if you’re serious about your commute.

Fantasizing aside, the Seek handles sharply when necessary but rides smoothly and predictably even on rough roads. The frame is plenty stiff for hard pedaling without beating you up over cracks in the road (the cromo fork and thick saddle help with this, I’m sure). It delivers the road manners you’d expect from a purpose built city bike, and it’ll surprise you with just how fast you can get it to go.

Like many folks my age (mid-thirties), we often consider how the bike will fit into a growing family. The good news is it has lots of reflective bits on the frame and rims to help keep you safe. If you have a trailer or tow-behind tandem that mounts to the seatpost, you can ignore this, but here’s the bad news: If you have a trailer like mine that mounts to the chainstay, you might want to look for a different bike or go with the Seek 1 or 2. Here’s why:

The design pushes the clamp pretty far forward, and as a result, my heel kept kicking it and one time actually knocked it loose (thank goodness for the backup strap). I could mount it to the seatstay, but that puts the spring on the clamp at a pretty severe angle. Yes, using this on any bike with disc brakes pushes the clamp further forward than the ideal, but the Seek 0′s design exacerbates the problem. (FYI, that plastic wrap is there to keep the frame from getting scratched. Giant, you’re welcome.)

BIKERUMOR RATING:

Overall, the Giant Seek 0 is a great commuter and city bike that can easily be accessorized to fit your particular needs. With a few upgrades it could be a great little half-day touring bike.  It handles well, goes fast and slow with equal aplomb and is fun to ride. I really liked the simplicity of the Alfine drivetrain and single gear crankset, and it made the bike look much cleaner than the 1 or 2. If you’re the type of person that likes to commute quickly and easily (whether it’s for fitness or because you’re always running late like me), the Seek’s a great option.

Comments

KT - 11/20/10 - 12:12am

The Clip is not in the 2011 line up. The replacement is the Expressway which is pretty nice and at a lot lower price point for the same component spec

Kristibee - 11/20/10 - 10:37am

…but it lacks the charm and style of the Clip.

Uri - 11/20/10 - 10:44am

I say this with no sarcasm, I really do appreciate the presence of this kind of review here. There are often bikes outside the purview or road/mt/cx..etc that bear interest but sadly tend to lack real reviews (barring Bicycling Magazine type positive-prose puff pieces).

The top of the more pedestrian lines are often cool bikes with bike people appeal (and potential), and I’m glad to see them represented here.

Larry Lagarde - 11/20/10 - 6:00pm

Anyone know more about why the Clip has been dropped?

Were there issues with the folding system?

Though not as iconic looking as a Strida, the Clip definitely stood out as being different.

KT - 11/21/10 - 11:21pm

Well I dont know the exact reason for axing the clip, but it was considerably more expensive than the Halfway it replaced, and the sucessor Expressway.

You can still get one as Giant has a few left in stock.

[...] Review: Giant Seek City Bicycle, and Maybe the Clip Folding Bike [...]

Ben - 12/01/10 - 2:46pm

I own a 2009 Seek 1 (equivalent to current Seek 0) with hydraulic discs. Looks identical to this bike save the rear disc frame reinforcement. I commute 8 miles each way in Seattle so discs are a big advantage. While I like the bike, I’m luke-warm on the Alfine shifting hub. It has a distinct amount of friction to it which make the riding noticeably slower. It’s gone a year plus now through 4 seasons with only an occasional crunch of the gears but I do get passed by anyone and everyone not riding an Alfine setup.

The bike is also quite heavy. Not sure how much of that is the Alfine wheel but you’ve got to brace yourself to throw it up on a wall hook.

I’m glad they chose the raw aluminum look. Mine is painted white and has long since been colored “dirt”. Not sure it’ll ever look white again.

Only other thing worth mentioning is changing a rear flat (the stock Columbia tires are nearly worthless) is more time consuming with no rear QR. After changing tires to Vittoria, I haven’t had to deal with any flat changing.

mark - 01/24/11 - 6:43am

I bought one of these seek 0′s last year and have to say I absolutely love it!

Incredibly well made, solid and feels extremely confident to ride. I’ve come from a downhill bike background and so wanted a road bike that was’t made so lite and thin it looked like it would snap popping off a curb.

I’ve added some stubby riser bars, shorter stem and 36 vitorria tyres. Makes for a very quick, nimble and great street bike. Fitting slightly fatter tyres really opens up what you can do with it, and even withough a suspension fork it can happily take on potholes, curb drops and small jumps, plus even handles off road pretty well considering it’s all rigid. The shimano hub is also amazingly good. Changing gear while stationery is amazing, and it runs almost silently. I’d highly recommend this to anyone.

Wilson - 05/08/11 - 5:24am

Nice, detailed, honest and straightforward review. It’s good to see reviews about these kind of bikes from people who actually use them in the way they’re intended.

This is the first time I’ve seen this site – I was drawn here googling for a review of this bike, as I was looking into getting one for my wife. I’m sure I’ll be back for a general nose around, now I’ve found you.

Tom - 08/26/11 - 9:48am

Hi seekers

I bought the 2010 version one year ago and have used it all seasons (in Germany we have lots of rain in wintertime) nearly daily to get to work and back – 16 km which I like to drive fast – and a lot of additional trips dragging my little son in a trailor all around. Though I have no real comaprison to an alternative one I can say that this bike is great for commuting and sportive urban tours.

Since I really use this bike all-weather day by day not just on a sunny days to get to the “Biergarten” I added and changed some parts
- fenders
- pedals (seemed to be in comparison to the other parts of minor quality), now: click pedals (Shimano PD-M324)
- hub dynamo (alfine) + fixed front and back light (for fixing the front one we drilled a threaded hole in the front fork)
- tyres with special protection (Schwalbe Marathon Plus)
- carrier

Of course, now it is heavier than bevor. But I really needed a save, solid and reliable bike and I wanted something more sportive than a touring bike. And thats what the seek 0 is all about.

The inner hub shifting system functions very good and keeps the outer parts of the driving system very simple with just 2 gears and one chain. Very low maintenance is needed also for the disc brakes which are functions great even on rainy trips.

Phill - 02/25/12 - 8:07pm

I just bought the SEEK 1 2012 which is top of the model. I upgraded from a 7 year old Mongoose Tyax, what I huge difference !!!. This bike is light and super fast and am no longer getting passed by the roadies and knocking a few over at the same time :). I changed the standard Maxxis Detonator tyres 700 x 32c over to Shwalbe Marathon plus. The standard tyres will puncture to much for my liking and are noisey. The Detonators are very light against the Shwalbe tyres but I prefer puncture resistance to wight any day.

The 9Spd Shimano cassettes give plenty of range for all kinds of riding and I dont really need the others at this stage.

I give this bike a 9 out of 10

John Holloway - 04/12/12 - 2:58pm

The Seek is an excellent commuter bike that needs minimal maintenance. I’ve been commuting daily on a Seek 0 for three years and the only maintenance I’ve had to do other than typical cleaning and lubing is to replace the chain about every thousand miles. The Alfine hub is heavy, but not having an exposed casette and derailleur is worth it. I installed Planet Bike fenders and I replaced the handlebar with an OnOne Fleegle bar just because I liked it on my hardtail 29er mountain bike. Since this is a real commuter bike and I use it to get to meetings and project sites, it needs to be reliable, so I replaced the tires with 28mm puncture-resistant Specialized Gatorskins. Finally, I use a Delta locking skewer on the front wheel because it makes locking up the bike a lot quicker when you don’t have to worry about the wheels. You have to know what you’re doing to get the back wheel off and would need the special shifter to operate the Alfine 8 hub, so I don’t worry about it locking it.

Gil - 04/29/13 - 11:06pm

I rent a Seek 3 2012 for 2 days in San Francisco , the perfect position in the traffic, confortable on all type of road paved or dust , great to climb ( no hill resist in SF ) and the mechanic disk brake are fantastik . I already own a Defy advanced and a mountain bike , but the seek 3 is great in the city , so I buy one to get around in the town after my trip in SF .

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