Monday, October 25, 2010

Giant Via 1

By Joseph E

Giant Via 1 W (2011). Widely available, for about $550.

Giant has become, well, a giant among bike manufacturers. According to rumor, their Taiwanese factories also produce many frames and parts used by other brands. They got their start in the North American market making bikes on contract for Schwinn. Later, Giant decided to market it's own bikes, and has had a great deal of success in mountain, road and "hybrid" bikes.

In the last few years, Giant has also offered a few bikes more suitable for the rest of us, such as the Simple Seven and Seek 1 previously featured here. But until now Giant had not offered an upright ride with swept-back handlebars, internal hub gears, fenders and chainguard (all of which were standard on the old Schwinns, of course). Now comes the Via, which has all of these features, plus classic styling, with thin crome-moly steel tubing, curvy Mixte-style lateral stays (even on the "men's" diamond-frame model), and an elegant front basket or rear rack. 

Thanks to Taiwanese mass production, all this can be yours for under $550 with a Shimano Nexus 3-speed, or less than $500 with a SRAM derailler and 8 speed cassette. Giant has dealers in most cities, who can easily order these bikes (but good luck on finding one to test-ride).

It's a shame Giant does not offer a version of this bike with a 7-speed nexus hub, or a option to have both the front basket and rear rack installed. The chainguard may be too minimalist to fully protect your pants. But if an 8-speed derailleur or 3-speed hub, and retro steel Mixte styling are what your are looking for, this bike will be nearly as cheap as upgrading a vintage mixte, and much easier to order at your local bike shop.

Via 1 (Men's)



SizesMens: S(17), M(19), L(21), XL(23)  Womens: XS(14), S(16), M(18)
ColorMens: Steel Silver/Chrome;   Womens: White/Light Green
Frame4130 Butted CroMo Steel
Fork4130 Butted CroMo Steel


HandlebarAlloy, Mid Rise & Sweep, 25.4
StemAlloy, threadless
SeatpostAlloy, 27.2
SaddleHigh-Density Foam
PedalsAlloy/Kraton Comfort Platform (Men or Women's specific)


ShiftersShimano Revo, Twist
BrakesAlloy, Dual Pivot
Brake LeversAlloy, Full Finger
CassetteShimano 20T, 3-Speed Internal
ChainKMC Z410RB 1/2 x 1/8, Rustproof
CranksetAlloy 3-Piece, 44T
Bottom BracketSealed Cartridge


RimsAlloy, Double Wall
Hubs[F] Alloy, [R] Shimano Nexus 3-Speed Internal, 32h
SpokesStainless Steel
TiresKenda Kwest w/ K-Shield, 700x32 [With puncture protection]


"Extras" Custom Alloy Rear Rack (Men's) or Front Basket with flower stem holder (Women's), Frame Mounted U-Lock Carrier, Fenders, Chainguard, Kickstand



Via 1 W (women's step-thru)

This bike is just now available for sale, but if anyone owns one or has taken a test ride, please leave a comment.


MB said...

Heh, no rumour about Giant making other brand's bikes at all - I've seen it with my own eyes. Just back from visiting one of their factories in Taiwan, and I saw Treks on their production line. I'll post something at about it later this week.

Philly L said...

They are just getting them in at my local Giant dealer. I got to briefly ride the Via 3 step-thru. What a nice looking bike. It's single speed and I rode through a flat area but it handles well. The brake handles are a lot smaller than the ones I use now so that felt a bit odd. The handle bars curve in towards the rider (my current bike handle bars are more flat and out). I am interested in the Giant Via 1 but still might consider the 3. Other bikes I'm looking at are the Linus Dutchi and Globe Live.

Joseph E said...

@MB, it would be interesting to see how many brands are made at Giant's factory.

@Philly L, thanks for the review. My wife just bought a Globe Live 2 Mixte; it's a great deal right now, available for under $700. It has nice touches like an eccentric bottom bracket, disk break mounts, and a very impressive, strong front rack with a nicely finished wood bottom. And it handles well with a front load due to the low trail geometry.

Joseph E said...

Jone's Cycles (in Long Beach, my town) had a pair of Via's in stock when we went by last month, just after I wrote this post. I had a chance to ride the 7-speed (derailler) step-thru version. It looks even better in person (though the threadless stem and oversided headtube are rather out of place with the rest of the frame). If they get a 3-speed "Via 1" in stock I will go back to try that one, too. I also saw a 7-speed men's frame at Beach Cities Cycle, yesterday; the split-tube frame is an interesting look, though I prefer the mixte. It was going for less than $400 in the derailer version.

Velouria said...

I have seen the female version of this one in person at my local bike shop, Harris Cyclery. The front basket is impressive, the rest is meh-ish. But it's nice to see the effort being made.

ikenbikeit said...

As a Brit I first had to get used to the back pedal brake - this took me a couple of days and I now like this way of braking.

It was bought as a town bike and it has exceeded my expectations. It is much more versatile. Steel three speeds of this kind are usually 40lb + monsters. The Via1 is nearer 30lb in weight. This means it accelerates quickly, handles wonderfully and the combination of the frame, forks and tyres means that the ride is smooth and bumps are ironed out.
The relative light weight means most hills can be taken in 1st gear. The lighter weight of the bike and wheels and the good high pressure tyres means the large difference in gear ratios are easily overcome.

The ride is fairly upright but you can stand up and pedal because of the long top tube. The angles of the seat tube and fork are not too relaxed either, which makes you want to go faster. You can also glide along with a zen like action and take in the view if you wish.

I have found that I can ride a long way on this beauty. I love it and other my bikes don't get a look in if I'm going local. To me it looks stylish and is far too good looking for me!

This is genuine evolution of the 3 speed utility bike. The fast (or slow if you want) town bike. Well done Giant.

Two gripes. One is the price compared with the USA, where I could have bought one for £160 cheaper and the US version has a rack, another £30 . Surely we don't pay that much more tax on our goods in the UK?

Simon said...

I recently bought the mens 8 speed after my usual bike died- I saw the Via at my LBS and was taken with the split top-tube and understated design- charcoal matt grey and fairly low-key decals, I was surprised by the price; it seemed better value than many of the other new bikes in that bracket- $500 being about the minimum I would pay for a bike that shouldn't fall apart immediately. I made some adjustments to get the riding position and look I was after; velo orange left bank bars and a shorter 35º headset. I have been enjoying it so far, covering about 7km each way to and from work. the steel frame is a bit more flexy than I am used to; probably the split top tube, but that is fine for my upright riding style and the ride is not harsh, but still feels lively enough.

here are some pics of my bike

Liz said...

I have the Via 1. Its a fun, comfortable, ride with a tall geometry. I do wish Giant offered it in 7 or 8 speed. I replaced the 20T rear cog with a 22T and that helps with the hills. I also replaced the heavy front basket with a vintage look headlight and added a rear silver rack. Finding a rack to clear the wide tires and fenders wasn't easy.

Anonymous said...

I just upgraded my beater bike to the SS Giant Via 3. No major upgrades, except to the pedals to clipless, and the grips to a pair of Oury ones.

Pros: Its a beater bike. Its a SS. It does whats its suppose to do. Takes me to A to B all in one piece. The uLOCK holder on the top tube kicks butt. No complaints. Can't wait to ride it again

Cons: Yes, I know its steel, but its a tad bit heavy

And I do ride a lot of bikes, my baby is a Gary Fisher x-Cal and I mountain about 80 miles a week.. Great beater / relax bike