Review: 2016 Masi Speciale Giramondo:
I love my vintage 1988 Cannondale ST1000. It is a sweet ride that commands a lot of attention, but it is not the best ride for commuting. The riding position is uncomfortable, the aluminum frame is harsh and the brakes are horrible. Even so I managed to put about 3,500 miles on her over the year or so. The final straw came when I broke the rear axle for the 4th time. The old design places a lot of stress on the axle. I was also breaking spokes with increasing regularity. Being old school there were not a lot of options for replacement parts. I also decided that this elegant lady was not meant to take the abuse of a daily commute on Seattle’s crap roads. The ST100 would be better off being an occasional bike. So it was time to get a new bike.
Getting a new bike is a major purchase. In the past I would read reviews, compare components and test ride a dozen or more bikes before settling on my new pride and joy. I typically agonize for weeks over a bike purchase. This was not the case when I purchased the 2016 Masi Giramondo. I had noticed it at Velo Bike Shop in Seattle. After a minimal amount of research and a couple test rides I took the Giramondo home two days later. That was on March 17. Now after a 3 month, 1,100-mile test ride, it is time to give my impression of the 2016 Masi Speciale Giramondo.
Look at the Giramondo and it is obvious that this ride is made for touring. It a heavy duty steel frame with disc brakes, wide rims with fat tires a 3×10 mountain bike drivetrain and a relaxed riding position. It also has mounting holes for fenders and every type of rack and pannier imaginable. My Giramodo came equipped with the following:
- Brakes: Promax DSK-300R
- Wheels: Weimann XC 32h rims with 32h disc cassette hubs.
- Cassette: Shimano HG-500 11-32t, 10 Speed cassette
- Cranks: Shimano Deore 44/32/24 with Shimano sealed bottom bracket
- Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore
- Shifters: Shimano Microshift barend shifters.
- Bars: Brev. M flared alloy drop bar
- Stem: Brev. M 3d forged stem
- Seat Post: Brev. M
- Seat: Masi
- Headset: FSA
- Tires: Clement X’Plor MSO 700X40c
The first thing you notice when you hop on the Giromondo is the tires. It comes with 700×40 tires with small knobbies! Max pressure is listed at 80 psi. To be honest they do suck a few watts, but if aired up to 80psi they don’t scrub off too much speed. What the tires do well is soften the cracked, split and rough Seattle roads on my commute. The Clement X’plor tires inspire confidence on most surfaces, but they are a bit prone to puncture. I had 3 in the first 500 miles. After riding the ’88 Cannondale ST100 for the last year, the riding position was a big change too. Both bikes are technically tourers, but the Masi is far more upright and comfortable for long days in the saddle. My Giramondo came stock with nearly 30 mm of spacers under the stem. Initially I found the position uncomfortable. Who would have thought a riding position could be too upright? Once the stem was slammed, the riding position was perfect for commutes, gravel rides and some mellow single track. I have looked forward to having a bike equipped with discs, and they have not disappointed. I expected to hate the bar end shifters, but found them to be quite convenient and rarely in the way.
- Disc brakes have plenty of power and good control.
- Shifting the bar end shifters is very deliberate and satisfying.
- Comfortable. The Masi’s steel frame really eats up the road noise and the riding position is as comfortable as any bike I have ridden.
- I love the Brev. M flared alloy drop bars. Their width might not be the best for tight quarters, but they are great for people with wide shoulders.
- The Clement X’Plor MSO 700X40c tires were a great for a variety of terrains.
- The Avacado green color is sexy in a way your mom’s old appliances could only dream of. She gets a lot of compliments.
- There are mounting locations a plenty for bottle cages, racks, panniers etc.
- After some adjustment, the wheels are proving themselves to be quite durable.
- The 3X10 drivetrain has enough range to spin up to 30+ mph and low enough to climb a tree while towing a semi-trailer.
- I have enjoyed the bar end shifters. The location encourages me to ride in the drops.
- The bike can comfortably tackle a wide variety of terrain. I have ridden pavement, gravel and even some smooth single track with confidence. I enjoy hitting the gravel with the Giramondo.
- The Giramondo comes in at under $1,100. That is a lot of bike for the money!
- If you want a light weight bike buy something other than the Masi Giramondo. This thing is an absolute tank. It’s made to be a heavy duty tourer.
- The Giramondo’s geometry makes for comfortable ride, but the small diameter top and down tube along with a long head tube make the bike look gangly and out of proportion.
- I love having disc brakes, but they do not have the best feel. The pads can be a bit grindy. I am considering upgrading to Paul Component’s Klampers.
- I like the bar end shifter location. I like the feel of the shifts, but these shifters are not accurate. The front pure friction works fine, but the rear indexed shifters are highly inaccurate. Once a shift has been made, you often find that further trim adjustments are necessary. I have thought of upgrading to non-indexed friction shifters, but worry that the adjustment on a 10 speed drivetrain might be to finicky.
- The mountain drivetrain works great and keeps cost down, but I have no use for the smallest chain ring. I am convinced it only exists for pulling a trailer up a tree. I can manage 20% grades in the second chainring.
So what is the verdict?
I bought the Giramondo with minimal research on a whim. This is very much unlike me, but I am still elated with my decision. This bike makes me happy whenever I ride it. Swapping out a couple components will make it even better! It is a big heavy tank and I like it that way. In my opinion the extra effort pushing around the Giramondo will pay dividends on weekend fast rides on the road bike. If you want a steady, affordable, comfortable commuter/tourer which can manage most any terrain buy the Giramondo. If you want a fancy lightweight racer, don’t even think about purchasing the Giramondo.
I had some questions about tire clearance, so I have added the photos below. After 2,000 miles of use, I had to replace the rear tire with a 42mm Continental SpeedRIDE. I was surprised that the Clements held up to 2,000 miles of mostly pavement riding. However, there were quite a few flats so the puncture resistance could be better! After nearly 2,400 miles, I have replaced a tire, chain, brake pads and trued the rear wheel twice. Otherwise all I do is air up the tires and regularly lube and clean the drivetrain and ride. The shifters continue to be a major source of frustration. It may soon be time for an upgrade. I will let you know when I do!
A couple weeks ago I had what was supposed to be a nice weekend ride. However, within a mile of starting I hit a wood screw with my rear tire. So I swapped out the tube and was on my way. I finished my ride and when I pulled the bike out of my truck, I noticed that once again my tire was flat. Sigh. While replacing my second tube, my heard sank. I found hairline rim cracks at the majority of drive side spoke nipples. Oh No! It seems that the Weimann XC 32h rims with 32h disc cassette hubs are only capable of carrying my heavy ass for about 2,900 miles. I am going with a DT Swiss mountain bike wheel as a replacement.