Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where's the "Pro" in Giant Nerd's "Pro Build?"

I recently got my brand new Airborne Zeppelin Elite straight from Giant Nerd, the company that is currently distributing Airborne Bicycles. They emailed all of the Flight Crew to tell us that we would be receiving our bicycles complete with a complementary "pro build."  Here is the description of Giant Nerd's "pro build," straight from their website:

I got my bike box in, and thought to myself, "Sweet, let's throw the wheels on and ride! I've got a brand new bike, it should be at least a couple of weeks before I have to worry about anything breaking!"  That was not the case.  I've ridden this bicycle less than 30 miles, which have all been paved roads or gravel mountain roads. Mechanical problems are cropping up like kudzu after a thunderstorm. I have not even ridden it on any serious singletrack yet!

Here are the issues I've already encountered:
  • Fresh out of the box, without even having ridden it, there is a big "clunk" in the rear end.  Something is messed up at the linkage point where the rear shock intersects the downtube. This is a big no-no in any bike, even one that has been ridden several thousand miles.
  • After one short 5 mile paved ride, it developed a very loud creak in the headset. I've never had headset issues on a bicycle before, and I've put thousands of miles on my mountain bikes.  As any serious cyclist knows, a headset issue can be a pretty big deal, and should not ever really happen.... unless you've just put that much wear and tear on a bike. Ex.: 10,000 miles of Pisgah-grade singletrack. Not 5 miles of paved roads, which is all I had ridden. It's a mountain bike after all.
  • While climbing a gravel road hill, my rear shifting went all out of alignment. The Zeppelin Elite comes stock with X-9 shifters and an X-9 rear derailleur.  These are tried-and-true components, which I have run on my old bike for a long time.  I've put over 2,000 miles of singletrack on my old X-9 rear derailleur, and over 3,000 miles of singletrack on my old X-9 shifters. Also please note: I have not crashed this new bicycle at all. I have not done anything to merit any sort of shifting problems. Again, just gravel road rides because of my messed up back.
If you can't remember what GiantNerd's pro build description was, please scroll back up and read it.  Now, if their master mechanic had assembled this bicycle using their "25 point checklist," should any of these things have happened? No, they should not.  Unless their "master" mechanic was really a "mediocre" mechanic or a "methhead" mechanic, this bike should have been in fine operating condition if all of the above criteria had been met.  Yes the GiantNerd website is full of frivolous hyperbole.  "Powered by love" indeed.  But if you say "pro build" and "master mechanic" you had better mean "pro" and "master!"

The above problems were enough for me to take it into my LBS and get it torn down and tuned up properly. I didn't want to deal with any more stupid issues on a brand new bicycle.

"That's Harsh"
I know that the way I'm writing and the language I'm using may seem very harsh compared to what I normally post on here.  So let me explain.

At first, I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe the bike I received was just a lemon. I was just going to keep my mouth shut, that is until I checked the private Flight Crew discussion board and saw there was a thread started specifically about the GiantNerd pro build. Here are some of the issues the other Flight Crew members were having with their brand new bikes (I'll keep these comments anonymous):
  • "I had to tighten almost every single bolt on the bike including the shock and the crown bolts."
  •  "I put grease on every bolt thread unless it has another compound like locktite."
  • "my cranks were not tight,"
  • "I did not see anything pre lubed."
  • "The crank arm fell off on my first ride."
  • "found lots of other loose bolts."
  • "My rear rotor was bent"
  • "derailleur needed tuning badly."
  • "The frame came with lots of wear on the paint from rubbing something."
  • "none of my cables were tightened,"
  • "had to reallign my stem it wasnt even tight,"
  •  "bottom bracket has some serious creeking," 
  • "both rotors were bent"
  •  "crank arm not tight," 
  • "rear derailleur wasn't adjusted/no cable attached,"
  • "front brake caliper bolts were only on with a few threads."
  • "I still have a clunk in the rear end of mine when I pick the bike up off the ground."
I value honesty and integrity in everything, and as such I want to be absolutely honest and open with you my readers.  I was selected to test and review Airborne's products.  To this point, Airborne's bicycles have performed admirably (more on this below).  But as a part of this whole process, the bikes were sent to us through GiantNerd, as they would be to any normal customer.  In order to be honest and to uphold my own personal integrity, I felt that it was necessary to inform any potential Airborne and GiantNerd customers that this so-called "pro build" is a sham. 

The Good
I am not saying that you shouldn't buy through I think the concept that they are using of "social shopping" has merit, and I want them to succeed.  What I am saying is that I highly recommend that any customer purchasing a bike NOT purchase the so-called "pro build." I am also saying that if they want to succeed in this tough market, they need to build some credibility! Sending bikes with an incomplete build does not build your credibility, it destroys it.

I still love Airborne's products, and look forward to putting the bike through its paces to see if it stands the test that only time can give. I would still recommend buying an Airborne. But that $59.95 for a "pro build" would be better spent at your local bike shop. As a fellow Flight Crew member (who I'll keep anonymous) stated:

I would be pissed if I paid RS for this and I got what I got. I do love the bike as well, it just needed lots [of] adjusting to get there.
Your turn: Feel free to share your comments and reactions below.


Daniel June 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

Dude that all blows!
Sounds like the company is just a poser, nobody there even rides(they are getting the 'flight crew' to do it). Obviously the minimum wage employees in the assembly line dont do any riding. These people seem to fit into that catagory of ignorant arogance - "what? Its just a bicycle, who cares?"

Anonymous,  June 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

Greg, for any company that cares for its members feedback (even negative is great). While we have sent out hundreds of bikes with pro builds to satisfied nerds without any issues, there is always room for improvement. We will meet with the team go over line by line of your post and make the adjustment and changes to make everything right, its that simple! As we like to say even geniuses sometimes makes mistakes. Its how we react to them that allows us to stand out from our competition as a service company powered by Love.

With Love,


Anonymous,  June 19, 2010 at 12:08 PM  

What's the story behind Giant Nerd? Are they tied to the former Iron Horse owners (who ruined a good thing) or just a new outfit passing themselves of as more professional than they are.

Greg Heil June 19, 2010 at 1:23 PM  

@ Daniel, I can't really speak for what the guys at Giant Nerd are like in relation to cycling as I don't know them that well. I do know that the top Airborne guys are legit and have been riding bikes and been in the cycling industry for decades. But the top dogs aren't the ones doing the grunt labor teching every bike thats sold.

@ Giant Nerd, I hope there was mostly constructive criticism in the above post.

@ Anonymous, From what I've learned from discussions on MTBR, Randall Scott is the guy behind, and there was some sort of issue/scandal involving them and Iron Horse... something along the lines of him part owning iron horse and the only place distributing them. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. What I DO know is that Randall Scott, his son, and a few others are behind as it is basically a new-and-improved version of with a new sales scheme/strategy.

Airborne is not a part of iron horse in any way, except that they may have purchased some of the old iron horse designs, reworked them, and turned them into the current Airborne line. (Airborne currently has more innovative designs in the works.) GiantNerd is a separate company owned by separate people, but they have the exclusive distribution rights for at least the first year.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM  

The new bike company BAMF is owned by Randall Scott. His father is the one that brought down Iron Horse. RS Cycle owns GiantNerd which is owned by Randall Scott. So, Randall Scott owns RS Cycle, GiantNerd, and BAMF. Makes me wonder if he trying to see if GN takes off and RS Cycle is dropped. The funny thing is when I contact GN about this, they gave me a BS answer and said all three companies are separate. Also, when I talked to a live person at GN, he told me the same thing. But, all three addresses are all the same. This is opposite of what GN stands for. I did order a bike from them and did not order the pro-build because I have a friend who works at a shop.

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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