Giant Escape 1 2014 £499

Versatile flat bar road bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Escape 1 is a flat bar road bike with commuter spirit. The Escape is lighter and faster than a full-blown commuter bike, but doesn't quite have the edge of a road race bike. 

It does both tasks really well and would serve you well if you're looking to get into general cycle path or recreational road riding with the possibility of a bit of commuting too.

Ride and handling: upright and confident

Heavily shaped aluminium tubing creates a flex-free frame structure that is stiff under heavy pedalling. This stiffness did transfer the rumble of rough roads, but much of this was soothed by the decently wide 32c tyres. The frame and fork offer plenty of clearance for a wider tyre, which would add further comfort.

A carbon fibre fork saves weight and improves ride comfort over the more commonly used chromoly fork of this price point. The fork helped to take the sting off rough roads and paths and kept us in control.

Plenty of handlebar height adjustment – although at first, it was a little high for our liking

The stock position is upright and will likely suit many beginner cyclists and those looking for a more casual ride. Plenty of handlebar height adjustment is provided in an angled stem, riser handlebar and headset spacers.

For us, the stock position and short 80mm stem on our medium made for a too-upright position. This compromised the handling of the bike and made out-of-the-saddle climbing and hard cornering feel awkward. Lowering the handlebar height remedied these issues, but the lower position won’t be for everyone.

Once we had the bar height adjusted to our liking, the Escape was confident on uneven surfaces and at speed. Climbing on the Escape is a sit and spin affair, yet it’s perfectly efficient even at its near-12kg weight.

Frame and equipment: reliable build at a value price

The Escape is a versatile bike and could also serve as a light touring bike, commuting bike or general town bike. To help with this, there are fender mounts, which could be used for light pannier use.

A mix of Alivio, Acera and Altus 27-speed Shimano parts shifted well and with better than expected speed. With hybrid-based gearing, there was easily enough range for steep hills and fast open road sections. Full-length gear cable housing sealed out the elements and ensured greater reliability and shift quality between servicing. 

A mix of Shimano hybrid and mountain bike parts didn't disappoint

The grips and saddle are both sensible choices. Neither are heavily padded, yet thoughtful shape goes a long way to providing comfort for long periods of time. The lock-on ergonomic grips are a nice touch and don't shift and swivel on the bar – a common complaint with ergonomic shaped grips.  

The 700 x 32c Giant S-X2 tyres proved puncture resistant and fast. In the wet, the tread pattern cleared wet roads and gave more traction than a simple slick tyre. Wide rimmed Giant branded wheels were stiff and offered a reliable braking surface.

Giant's own S-X2 tyres had plenty of grip and we didn't experience any punctures

The Tektro brake levers were comfortable and confidence inspiring to grab, with rubber grippers integrated into the blade. Giant have stuck with lightweight mini V-brakes to handle the stopping and they worked just fine.

Without mounting provisions, making a change to disc brakes won’t be possible with this model. If you want the wet weather performance of disc brakes, Giant have other models on offer that are more suited to all-weather commuting.

Note: We tested this model in Australia where it is sold as the Cross City 1. Component spec and background view may vary based on location.

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