There are many sub-niches of city bike, but what if you’re a trendy sort, living a couple of miles from work, with a millpond-ﬂat cycle path to get you there and the very real possibility of encountering a member of the next rung on the social ladder at a fashionable breakfast boutique on the way?
Fear not, for Specialized have the answer in the Globe, a range originally created in the early 1990s and relaunched last summer precisely for such near-impossible questions as this. Okay, we’re poking a bit of fun, but the new Globe brand really is intended to be cool, and while this Haul 01 may not be the most obvious example, check out the Roll and tell us you don’t want one.
- Frame: That it’s heavy, uncomfortable and slow won’t matter if you love the looks enough (5/10)
- Handling: It’s stable and reasonably agile, but if you’re pushing it you’re missing the point (6/10)
- Equipment: Eclectic drivetrain has some big gaps and the brakes are modest. Attractive ﬁnishing kit (6/10)
- Wheels: Stayed true but felt heavy, slow and ﬂexy. Should prove robust (5/10)
It's this emphasis on looks that’s the ﬁrst of the Haul’s issues. It’s overshadowed in the range for image and has to rely on function. It’s a load-carrying cruiser that might be apt, if not attention-grabbing, in California, but no one really gets it elsewhere. A 14-year-old on a BMX laughed out loud at it, lots of people looked bemused, and one tester’s other half couldn’t believe he rode it in daylight.
We could overlook all of that if it was a great bike, but the Haul wilfully compromises ride quality in pursuit of quaintness and load capacity. The frame is very strong so that the welded rack can take 50kg but it’s at the cost of all comfort and performance. This is a heavy bike at 14.5kg and it rides like it’s even heavier.
It’s slow everywhere, especially uphill, and the bolt upright seating position ensures you’ll never build up any momentum because you have the aerodynamic properties of St Paul’s Cathedral. A Thorn rack with a 60kg capacity can be bolted to a much faster bike so this seems like too many compromises.
The Haul obviously wasn’t meant to be ridden quickly. It’s for cruising, wearing normal clothes not Lycra, and chatting not gasping. That’s why we expected it to be more comfortable. The big 35mm tyres absorb small vibrations but the frame seems to have no compliance at all. Sharper bumps jar through the bike and big hits sound and feel shocking.
The grips and saddle are hard too, offering little cushioning, and because you sit so upright most of your weight is on your backside. What feels like a comfortable position to roll around gently for ﬁve minutes becomes tiresome before you’ve been out for an hour.
The drivetrain combines an FSA 38/28 chainset with a gappy SRAM 11-32 eight-speed cassette and Shimano shifters and mechs, Alivio at the rear, for adequate shifting and a charitable range of gearing to cater for any legs and any hill. Sweating isn’t a trendy look in the city.
The thoughtful detailing is some consolation. There are eyelets for a front rack to go with the Herculean rear, a bell, neatly incorporated lights, a stand, and a set of good looking and very effective mudguards. The crux of this bike, of course, is that none of our criticisms will matter if you fell in love with it at ﬁrst sight.
The Globe Haul 01 is unlikely to be the perfect machine for anyone. Nevertheless, some people will love the looks and want one regardless of its dynamic shortcomings. It may be dressed up as a load-carrier but this is a style bike. It's cheap enough for some to buy on a whim and only bring out for special days.