Giant Bowery Mashup £450

Messenger bike

BikeRadar score 2.5/5

The Mashup, one of four Bowery fixed bikes from Giant, differs from the rest of the range with its straight bar setup, instead of a more traditional drop. We’ve loved the other models in the range, so it’s such a shame that this one misses the mark.

The frame and fork are Giant’s own Aluxx Aluminium, and the bike is finished with an FSA Vero chainset, a neat-looking red chain and high flange hub wheels with Alex DA22 rims (it also comes with a chainguard but we took this off for our photo session). This adds up to a bike with an impressive 19.9lb weight for the XL model we tested.

Riding the Mashup is a mixed bag: its light weight is welcome, yet the combination of a super-rigid frameset and straight bladed aluminium fork makes it a teeth-rattling ride over rougher surfaces. This is fine for smooth roads, but as a lot of our streets are rough and potholed this can soon become wearing.

The 46-tooth chainring and 17-tooth sprocket result in a usable 71in gear, but we’d have preferred a 16T sprocket and resulting 75in gear.

The Bowery’s handling feels sharp and the straight bar with no sweep helps. This all sounds promising then – it’s light and, typically of Giant, it’s very reasonably priced.

Unfortunately, the Mashup’s flaw is a big one. The brake levers are the type you’d usually find on the ends of low-profile time-trial bars, and when they’re fitted to a flat bar they lever from the outside. It looks cool and when you first grip them it feels like the bars have built-in knuckle-dusters. The problem comes when you want to brake.

If you put two fingers on either lever, mountain bike-style, or even single finger, BMX-style, and pull, so much travel is required to stop that you crush your fingers against the bar – so you let go of the brake. Not ideal.

To get around this you end up riding with all four fingers wrapped around the brake lever, leaving just the heel of your hand and thumb in contact with the bar, which just doesn’t feel safe. And then whenever you brake with all four fingers it comes across as, well, a little ham-fisted.

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