Giant CRX City Pro: not happy!

Letter I just sent to Giant Bicycles, who make excellent bikes, apart from this one. Anyone wanna buy a bike that could easily be converted into an excellent single-speed or fixie?

In April 2007 I bought the Giant CRX City Pro from Wooly's Wheels in Sydney. I was quite excited about it. I'd been looking at hub gear bikes for years, enchanted by the elegance of the design. I now realise it was a big mistake and there are good reasons for derailleurs continuing to be popular.

Everything apart from the hub gear on the CRX is excellent. The frame is agressive, really wanting to zip along. It's a brilliant commuting bike, with fast wheels and tyres, ready to go.

Unfortunately, the moment you get a flat tyre you realise how bad the hub gear is. Getting the wheel off requires a spanner and getting your hands covered in grease. Getting it back on requires that you understand exactly how it all fits together, and get the tension on the chain just right or you'll have big problems. I ended up having to constantly take the bike back to the shop to get the rear wheel back on properly.

Next up one of the anti-rotation washers on the hub gear broke, causing the hub gear to rotate when it shouldn't. This was less than a year old, with the bike doing much less than 50km a week.

Then the hub gear completely crapped itself. All the internals seized up. The shop sent it back to Shimano who recommended it be serviced every three months. This is a bike that is pitched as a low-maintenance commuter machine!

Now, a few months but less than 100km later (it's been Winter and I've had some injuries) the hub gear has crapped itself again. Previous times I thought it might have been the way I put the components back together after repairing a flat. This time I haven't had a flat, so it's managed to destroy itself on its own!

In conclusion, the Nexus hub isn't ready. The mechanism of its attachment is vastly overcomplicated, and it isn't durable enough for light use, let alone heavy use. Selling this bike as a commuter machine is a terrible mistake.

The thing about it is I like your bikes. I own a Giant mountain bike that is a spectacular achievment in quality for a reasonable price. I've recommended the non-Nexus CRX to friends looking for commuter bikes, and they're really happy with them. The rest of the CRX is brilliant! I'm tempted to sell the CRX City Pro and buy an ordinary derailleur CRX.

I recommend you stop selling the CRX Nexus variant. It's only going to give your company a bad name and turn people off cycling.

Very disappointed with this bike.

Scott's bucks night

Geo: -43.105311,147.72546

Scott and pig, together at last

On the weekend I flew down to Hobart for Scott's bucks night. It was held in a beautiful spot down on the Tasman Peninsula. About 20 of us camped out, drank a lot of beer and cooked up a whole pig on a spit. Great time had by all!

Ben and pig

The pig itself was spectacular. It took a long time to cook, and we had some technical issues with the spit method (the motor wasn't strong enough) but we made it through. Succulent, tender meat and absolutely perfect crackling. There's a lot of meat on a single pig. There must have been quite a few in Hobart who had pork fried rice for dinner last night!

Flight back was a bit messed up. They ended up diverting to Melbourne to refuel after there were delays in Sydney, so we didn't get home until 22:30 when we should have been home by 19:30.

Ten years!

Simon and Holly on thrones

Ten years ago I snogged a lovely young woman at The Globe nightclub in Newtown (now a backpackers hostel and pizza joint). Ten years on and we've travelled the world, cycled thousands of kilometres together (including across a country), lived in another country, had the odd argument, moved back to Australia, bought a house and settled into life together. Life is good!

Happy anniversary Holly. Let's make it another 100 years eh?

How to be popular

Break SHMBO's hair dryer while shrinking tubing for your new LED bike light system. Fortunately she has another, travel, one. Not as good, but it shrunk the tubing eventually.

Liam Colm Askins

Kaz, Liam, Ben, Chris

On Friday afternoon, Liam Colm Askins came into the world a bit early. The birth was straightforward and both mother and baby are doing well. Being a bit early, Liam will have to spend a few weeks in the hospital, but he's doing well and is otherwise fine. Congratulations Ben and Karen!

Update: I spelt it wrong. It's Liam Colm Askins.

Loads of photos

quiz at The Duke

The trouble with the cheap, mega capacity memory cards you get these days is that I have less incentive to process them all. I've got a gig in my little pocket camera, and 2 gigs in the big one. This one is the pub quiz we sometimes do, and Simon Stewart dropped in.

Scott and Katie visit

Scott and Katie just visited for a quick weekend.

and Pete anniversary

Todd and Pete just celebrated their five years together, so we had lunch at The Warren View with them and a few mates. Congratulations!

Holly at Surry Hills Festival

We went to the Surry Hills Festival a while back, then got sick of paying $6 for Tooheys New (ugh!) and retired to Mr Mary's in Redfern for a boozy afternoon.

Emma, Horst and Simon at Reunion Rave

I went to the Reunion Rave on Saturday night. It was fun catching up with all the old rave buddies, listening to old classics. Main observation of the evening: my hasn't everyone's skin improved?

Holly's pear turnover tart

Finally, Holly's been cooking up a storm!

Giant CRX City Pro: a year on

About a year ago, I blogged about my shiny new bike, a Giant CRX City Pro. I was very excited about the hub gears on it. A Mark Jones found my post and asked me about it, so I figure I should share my response for anyone else considering buying it.

Glad you asked because I wouldn't recommend it!

The bike itself, frame, wheels, everything but the gearing is brilliant. A mate bought the (somewhat cheaper) deraileur version and is wildly happy with it. It's a really zippy geometry, really wants to go.

The big problem is the Nexus internal hub. It's a real pain in the arse. I was won over by the idea of zero maintenance gearing, but that just hasn't panned out.

To fix a puncture, you need a spanner and end up covered with grease getting the wheel off and on. It takes ages, and you'll get it wrong the first three or four times you do it, causing further problems. Chain tensioning isn't exactly easy, either.

What's more, a couple of weeks ago one of the anti-rotation washers (the yellow one in this picture as described here by the late, great Sheldon Brown) had one of the lugs break off, which meant the axle rotates. Taking it into the shop tomorrow.

So while I was after a much reduced maintenance bike, it really hasn't turned out that way. I managed to seriously screw things up the first few times I had punctures, requiring shop visits to sort it out and show me the right way. What's more, you need to carry a spanner and end up covered in grease.

Longest ride I've been on? Dunno, not that far, maybe 50kms. It's my commuter bike, so it normally only does 10km a day. If you're thinking of touring with it, be aware that the lowest gear isn't all that low, so loaded up and going up mountains wouldn't be good.

If I were buying again, I'd buy the derailleur version of the bike. For the price and the quality of the bike, it's an amazing deal. I might spend the difference in price on a hub dynamo and light set.

Socceroos calendar

Since the FFA seems too clueless to provide this, I've created a Google Calendar with all upcoming Socceroos matches. I watch the football news about our team pretty closely, so I should be able to keep it updated. Times are in Sydney time, though your calendar app should be able to translate that for you.

Google calendars can also be imported into other apps. XML, ICAL HTML.

Doctor reviews?

My GP has moved practices and is now based in Drummoyne, which is too difficult travel-wise for my tastes. So after being very happy with her, I'll have to change doctors. I'm sure the only industry whose union is also its regulatory body wouldn't allow league tables with qualitative measurements, so I'll have to rely on recommendations.

RateMDs has some reviews, but they're anonymous, don't have many ratings and aren't particularly authoritative. I'd rather solicit reviews where I can at least find out who's giving the review.

So can anyone recommend a GP in the Inner West of Sydney? I want one who gives good advice, is thorough and conveniently located. Not charging the earth would be nice, but I guess if they're particularly good I can afford it.

Rainbow lorikeets in the garden

rainbow lorikeets


This afternoon we got visited by a flock of rainbow lorikeets, munching on the seeds from the tree in our neighbour's yard. They're such beautiful, colourful birds. Our garden really is a hive of wildlife, which is amazing for somewhere so close to the city.

Last week with all the rain, the native plant nursery over the fence was just packed with frogs, evidently breeding while it was so wet. They made quite a lovely racket.