Cart…Horse: Giant Promotes Bicycle Touring Without Touring Bikes

Giant Global has just formally launched a new division dedicated to promoting bicycle tourism in Taiwan and around the globe. According to the press release:

Giant Global has formally launched its bike touring division, called Giant Adventure. The Taiwan-based travel agency will help individuals and groups plan bicycle tours in Taiwan and overseas, according to a newsletter circulated by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the same group that organizes Taipei Cycle.

Giant expects the new business to enhance brand image and grow its customer base. Its target revenue for 2012 is $3.3 million, the report said.

Giant has had plans to be a player in tourism for several years; in 2009, the company told the Taipei Times it would launch a travel agency to promote bike tourism in the island nation among residents and foreigners. Plans were to start trips to some of Taiwan’s most picturesque mountainous and eastern cycling routes including Hualien sto Sincheng and Alishan to Sun Moon Lake, as well as Kenting—the southernmost tip of the island—Yilan and Kinmen, a Taiwan-held islet off China’s southeast coast.

One of my major peeves with Giant is the lack of any true touring bike in their line. Giant is very keen to promote leisure cycling with very little interest in bikes for touring or commuting–bikes with typically lower margins. Instead, the company seems intent on making tourers make an unnecessary choice between road racing bikes, flat-bar mountain bikes/XC bikes, or city hybrids. None of these bikes are optimal for touring. So when I first saw this headline for Giant Adventure, I was interested. I thought they had discovered what I had been seeing all along. (I’ll never forget the frustration in asking a Giant retailer to show me a touring bike… priceless)

Now, let me just clarify my thoughts. I know many readers tour on all kinds of bikes. A purpose-built tourer should be a drop-bar road frame (preferably steel) with rack and fender mounts. It should have a longer wheelbase for stability, long chainstays for comfort and foot clearance, and be more upright for comfort over long distance in the saddle. These features are optimized for touring… not forcing the rider to make sacrifices. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is an excellent example of this type of bike– a bike that is completely missing from the Giant road catalogue.
How can they hope to properly promote touring, when they don’t offer a touring bike…WTF?

OzSoapbox Reviews The Surly Long Haul Trucker

It seems bike and equipment reviews are all the rage here at Taiwan in Cycles. So, I guess I’ll piggyback on top of OzSoapbox and link to his extensive review of his Surly Long Haul Trucker.

The Long Haul Trucker is a stablemate of the Surly Cross Check reviewed a couple weeks ago. Both are excellent bikes, but the LHT is really ideal if you have long, unsupported touring and camping on your mind.

Taiwan is pretty small and therefore, in most cases, I would recommend the Cross Check over the LHT.Still, the LHT has developed a bit of a cult following.

Here’s Oz with his opinion:

Looking forward I have no plans to get rid of my Long Haul Trucker so I’ll do another review like this after the next 15,000 kms rolls around. I’m looking forward to seeing which parts are still original and which have been swapped out. And also if any of the swapped out parts have failed too.

Either way, unless you find tediously selecting each and every component for your bicycle I can highly recommend Surly’s choice of components in their Long Haul Trucker Complete build as a great starting point. And value for money wise, even building one up yourself you’re not going to do much better than the complete model anyway.

Blog Posts and Travel Notes

Here are a few interesting travel posts:

Personally, I love the highways in the interior: the northern cross-island highway, the central cross-island highway, and the southern cross-island highway (they’re more roads than highways). The scenery along these roads is wonderful, and you can check out places like the Alishan region. The mountains of Taiwan are, in fact, riddled with narrow and fascinating roads that seem to go everywhere and nowhere. My favorite thing by far in Taiwan is just to hop on my scooter and go driving around the mountains. Most of the roads aren’t even on any maps, and you can just pick a road and see where it goes. You end up having all kinds of adventures.

  • Ronin on a Bike recently visited from Japan and blogged a bit about the experience.

Dropped off my hardhat then started on my journey south. Could quickly get on to Route 193 towards Hualien. Nice empty coastal road, including through a graveyard the size of a small town, with a strong tailwind and speeds up to nearly 60 kph. Just a couple of busy kilometers through Hualien centre, then a couple of punctures before getting back onto Route 193 alongside the River Siouguluan. Almost no cars on this route on this Sunday, but fairly good road quality and frequent “cycle rest stops” where you can fill up with water and use the bike pumps.

  • I never had a chance to link to OzSoapbox and his write-up of the Old Caoling Bikeway near Fulong.

Fulong Station marks the start of the Old Caoling Bikeway and as you can see is quite busy.

On the right there you’ve got lunchbox places to eat at and there are numerous bike rental places scattered throughout the immediate vicinity of the station.

If you are riding down to Fulong Station or come by car down Route number 2 along the coast, this is the intersection you want to stop at to turn right;


Other Links:
  • Red Kite Prayer on accumulating equipment.
  • VeloNews with a look at the impact Highroad had on cycling. Without Taiwanese sponsor HTC, the team folded at the close of the 2011 season.