Real life bike and gear tests
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Where bought and price
Cyclingdeal.com.au for $989.00, plus about $60 shipping from Melbourne to Canberra.
How it is used
Cross country riding around Canberra (Mt Stromlo etc) - an average of one ride a week to break up the otherwise roadie focused tempo (I suppose that makes me a MTB weekend warrior). It also does the occasional low speed spin around the local bike paths with the kids.
I am a roadie (since the early â€˜90s â€“ my racing glory days) and this is my first MTB. I reckon I know my way around road bikes, but this is the first MTB I have ridden for any amount of time and the first I have ridden off road. I have no MTB experience to compare this bike against, so you might want to keep that in mind.
The heart of this bike is a 7005 Aluminium hard tail frame. The frame is welded (of course) and has a CNC cut-out in the head tube with a carbon fibre sleeve insert in its place. This sleeve might shave a gram or two (though I doubt it), but has no practical use as far as I can see. It appears to be a glorified way to present the head badge, which seems a bit of overkill, but there is nothing really wrong with it I suppose.
The frame, despite its low cost, seems to have a competition heritage. There are no bosses for panniers and what not, and generally the way it handles suggests to me (a MTB noob remember) that it would not be out of place on a XC start line, though Iâ€™m not sure of its weight.
Otherwise the equipment highlights are:
- Rockshox Tora SL fork.
- Shimano SLX transmission (except for a Deore FD), the cassette and chain are Shimano too; the crankset is a Truvativ â€˜fivedâ€™.
- Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brakes.
- Mavic 317 Disc rims laced to Hasa branded hubs with black anodised SS spokes (28-spoke 2-cross at both ends)
- Continental Explorer 26" x 2.1" tyres
- Hasa branded aluminium bars, stem and seatpost.
- San Marco Ponza (made in Taiwan) saddle.
- Comes with Wellgo flat pedals which, according to someone I spoke to, are copies of the old Shimano XT pedals. They seem quite good for what they are, but I have replaced them with Shimano clipless MTB pedals.
It is available with 16", 18" and 20" frames.
This bike has a high standard of specifications for its price. There is not, as far as I could find, any other c.$1000 MTB available with a Tora fork and hydraulic brakes. You might find a model run out deal to match it, but I think you would be doing pretty well.
The frame is well finished with neat, sturdy looking welds and the quality of the paint job, though not flawless, is high. On the trails the bike handles well, going where you want it to go and it feels sure footed. The frame, though still fairly new of course, is well made and feels like it will stand the punishment well. The guy I ride with is a downhiller and even on his XC bike goes downwards pretty aggressively. Trying to keep up with him gives my bike a vigourous workout and thereâ€™s been no problem, and I have no reason to expect one.
The mostly SLX drive train works well at all times and there are no complaints about that. Similarly the Avid Juicy 3 brakes pull you up nicely and offer pretty good modulation. There are, no doubt, better brake systems around, but these offer good bang for the buck.
The dealer offers a very good warranty: 5 years on the frame and 1â€“2 years on the parts.
There are no real negatives, just a few quibbles:
- The Truvativ cranks are not very pretty, but do the job well enough for my needs. If I ever get MTB upgraditis (so far I only have the road strain) these will probably be the first thing to go.
- The stock seatpost was a 300mm job, which was too short for my needs. I bought a $17 replacement post from Velogear.com.au, which I have to say is an excellent basic post and maybe the best value piece of kit I have ever bought.
- The wheels are a bit of an unknown quantity. The Mavic rims are good (as you would expect) but the hubs are Taiwan generic, which could be good or bad in the long term. The wheels needed some tweaking when I got the bike (see below), but so far they are doing well and in all likelihood will last for ages. They are also cone and race bearing hubs, which I do not think is a negative, but for some people anything without cartridge bearings is a throwback to steam trains and whale oil lanterns â€“ depends on your point of view.
- The QR seatpost clamp has been troublesome in that I have had difficulty adjusting it correctly to be releasable and also clamp properly. Maybe I just have not found the sweet spot yet, but in the meantime I have just cranked the bolt up and I am using it as a non-QR clamp.
- The stock saddle is a bit on the minimal side and may not suit everyone, though I have found it fine.
- You can have a white one, or a white one! The whiteâ€™s nice, but the black ones on the Hasa website look better I must say.
Buying a Hasa was a bit of a punt. It is not a known brand here and I did a fair amount of internet searching to try to find out more. There was not a lot of info, but the upshot of my searching was that Hasa is in fact a real bike company located in Taiwan. Their bikes are not uncommon in parts of Asia and, if the photos are to be believed, their MTBs at least are ridden in races there. There are some suggestions on the intertubes that they also make stuff for other well-known major bike makers (Doesnâ€™t everyone in Taiwan?).
To buy one in Australia requires you, as far as I know, to make an internet purchase from Cyclingdeal.com.au. This means you cannot try before you buy (though they are amenable to lay-by, and you can visit them if you are in Melbourne) and once you have it you need to get it road (trail?) worthy. The bike is advertised as 95 per cent assembled, and that is true, but that assembly is as it left the factory in Taiwan. You need to arrange the other 5 percent. Putting on the bars and stem is easy enough, but you also need to check everything is tight, tune the gears, set up the suspension and make sure the brakes work. In short do all the things a LBS does pre-delivery (or at least should do). I assembled it myself, but being a MTB noob I took it to my mechanic (who is not in a LBS) to check out. He found a few things that needed attention, mostly in the wheels where the hubs needed some grease, the cones were not as well adjusted as they should be, and where the rims needed a few tweaks in the truing stand. Depending on your skills you may need to factor in paying a mechanic to give it a good once over.
Internet buying also means you cannot modify the setup before delivery. As I said I have been up for a new seatpost and will probably go for a longer stem soon too.
I found Cyclingdeal good to deal with and responsive to my queries.
I would be lying if I said I was not a touch apprehensive about buying this bike, but now that I have it there was no reason to be. It is a good machine and excellent value for money. I am enjoying the XC riding I am doing on it and the general impression is that it is a well built bike which should last as long and perform as well as many more expensive and/or better known bikes. If you are new to MTB you could do a lot worse than buying one of these, and if you are an old hand on a budget I reckon you would probably be pretty happy too.
Value for money
I note that on Cyclingdeal.com.au this bike (the 2009 model) is presently (mid-December 2009) selling for $900 plus shipping. The 2010 model is now available for $990. The new model seems to be basically the same bike with a new paint job and a remote lock out for the fork.
A few extra photos and points:
As it comes out of the box - fresh from Taiwan.
About 10 minutes later - not ready to ride yet though.
The carbon sleeve head tube setup - just for the head badge as far as I can see.
Aww man, does my bike really say 'wing to the tiger'? Must have seemed like a good idea in Taipei, but some things don't transport well. Headset does its job though.
The Hasa bottom bracket setup. I suppose there's some Hasa engineer who thinks its great, but it seems a bit gimmicky to me. This is the bicycle industry, however, and where would GT be without the 'triple triangle', or Cannondale without the 'headshock' or 'leftie'? On the Hasa the holes you see are plugged with foam rubber bungs, which stay in place (so far) unless someone pokes them saying, 'what are these?' Which has happened several times.
Full final setup atop Mt Stromlo mid-December '09. Took me ages to walk it up there and throw all that dust on
Just a final note as to how the bike has been going.
I have to say that I'm very impressed with this bike. I took delivery about last September and have been using it off road once a week, most weeks, since. On Saturday I did my first XC race on it at Mt Stromlo in Canberra. So from that use I think I can say I know it as well as I'm going to and I've put it through most of the situations it is ever going to face. So far it has handled everything I have asked it to do. The frame is sound, well made and goes where you tell it to. The fork is not the best fork available by any means, but for weekend warrior and entry level XC racing work is quite adequate. If you were so inclined a fork upgrade would not be outlandish in my opinion. The mostly SLX drive train and Juicy 3 brakes still work well.
Some general points:
1. In an over the bars crash a few weeks back I smashed the shift indicator on one of the SLX shifter pods. These shifters can be used with or without the indicators and the swap over is easy. I'm not bothering with indicators now and the shifters work very well. Everything you need for the changeover is in the shifters as they come from Shimano, so no extra outlay, which is nice.
2. As I perhaps predicted above, I have changed over the cranks. The Truvativ Fives were OK, but not very flash and pretty ugly. The cheapo BB they were attached to was not very flash at all. I got some SLX Hollowtech II cranks (and SLX BB) from Ribble and put them on. They feel stiffer (but having paid money maybe I just think that), but regardless they are certainly nice cranks which look much better. They bike looks more 'serious' now.
3. I've made few minor upgrades/customisations: lock on grips; Cateye Micro Wireless computer; Hope aluminium bar ends (for some bling). That's it.
3. The wheels, specifically the hubs, remain the only unknown quantity. The Mavic rims are fine (though the anodising is getting a bit of superficial crazing between the spoke holes - which is new for me. I'm not worrying about it at this point). After some internet detective work I'm almost certain the hubs are made by Joytech in Taiwan. On the internet there is lots of negative vibes about Joytech hubs, but it seems that Joytech make a wide range of stuff, some of which is good quality, some of which is cheap mass produced junk for those sorts of bikes. The internet vibe comes, not surprisingly, from people who have had bad experiences, not good ones.
I've had a bit of trouble getting the adjustment of the hubs just right and I'm wondering whether I should try some different brand cones to see if I get a better result - don't know yet. Freehub longevity is probably the big unknown, but there is no way to predict that so there's no real point worrying about it. All that said though, the wheels are still going round and round and are in good shape. They've handled the singletrack without compliant and are still round and true, so I will keep using them until they die, or the bike is retired, whichever comes first. If they break I'll just build myself some new ones with some XT hubs and probably the same (though new) Mavic 317 rims.
All up I couldn't be happier and cannot think of a reason to be upset about this purchase. I reckon it's a good MTB and if I was looking at buying another MTB tomorrow, Hasa would definitely be on the list and, given the prices, would have to be a hot chance.
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