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Monday, December 19, 2011

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?


  1. I'm assuming 'bicycle touring' to Giant is what it is to most Taiwanese tourers I see on the roads...

    Touring on a flatbar heavy mountain bike...

  2. Yep! Something with those "exercise bike" sponge handlebars.

  3. ...and I guess what I am trying to say is that this is a mega-bike baker showing us a half-assed commitment.

  4. Andrew: It was good talking with you Christmas evening! As to your "complaint" about Giant's Touring Division: I see your point, but would still say "Hurray" for Giant or any Taiwanese name brand that tries to promote any kind of tourism here. Taiwan could be a major tourist destination if it were promoted properly. We have beautiful mountain with great hiking and biking, a world class museum of Chinese cultural art, some incredible nature sights (Tokoro to name but one) and a climate that would appeal to a lot of Northern Hemisphere folks. Add all of that to the Taiwanese friendliness and what's not to like. Go Giant! Go anyone who promotes Taiwan as a tourist destination.

  5. I agree! though some of the best touring bikes dont have drop bars. butterfly bars or modified extenders work just as good, if not better

  6. I'd say the biggest advantage of a true touring frame would be a longer wheelbase for stability under load and heel clearance. The elasticity of steel would be the best option to repeatedly handle heavy loads.

  7. My partner would agree that a touring bike is best since he does alot of solo loaded bike touring.

    However I will affirm I have joined him on several self-loaded bike trips ourselves and I ride.....a hybrid. I just haven't gotten around to ride dropped down handlebars. Maybe one day..after cycling regularily for past 20 yrs. :)

  8. The bars are a personal choice, but more hand positions with drops are really nice. When I am doing a lot of distance, I'll ride with my pinkies, my fists, my palms, in the drops, hoods, thumbs... I'm all over the place. It is nice to have the options.

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