First introduced in 2015, the Masi Giramondo is the Vista, California-based bicycle manufacturer’s flagship “adventure” machine. Intended to serve as a go-anywhere, do-anything bike for long days in the saddle, can this bike really do it all?
One Bike, Two Varieties
The Giramondo is available in two varieties — one with 700c wheels and Clement MSO 40mm tires, and one with 27.5″ wheels shod in larger 2.1″ WTB Nano mountain tires. If those sizes aren’t familiar to you, the two sizes essentially give you the option of smaller or larger wheels, with roughly the same tire diameter. The first option, larger wheels and smaller tires, is best suited for a mix of road, gravel and dirt, while the 27.5″ option is more at home offroad. But both are suitable for many of the same things — read on.
Aside from wheel and tire size, the two models are more or less identical, aside from a couple component differences. The recently-released 2018 models share different colors and the 27.5″ variety now features a different fork (one with a segmented crown, as opposed to a unicrown fork). Long story short, regardless which one you pick, it’s possible to use the larger-diameter, smaller-tire 700c/29er wheels with the smaller-diameter, larger-tire 27.5″/650b variety, and vice versa, adding to the versatility of the bike regardless of which option you pick.
The Giramondo is not a particularly lightweight bike. My medium-size model weighs in around 27 lbs, which is about where other similarly-equipped, similarly-purposed bikes from different manufacturers sit. It sounds heavy, but there’s a difference between “heavy” and “unwieldy,” and while this bike will, naturally, feel different from a pure road bike or a lightweight cyclocross bike in some scenarios, by and large the difference is not noticeable and the weight isn’t really a factor. This isn’t a go-fast race machine; it’s a jack of all trades. It’s the bike you can ride on pavement from home, up a gravel road, down twisty singletrack, and back home again without ever feeling like you’re excessively hampered or imperiled by anything you just rode.
I received my 2017 Giramondo in December 2016 and have been riding it steadily since. I started with the 700c variety and, not too long after, added a pair of 27.5″ Vern Built wheels (Velocity Blunt SS rims with Shimano hubs) with WTB Slant Six tires. While I’ve switched back and forth between both wheel sizes, I’ve done most of my riding on the wider 27.5″ wheelset. I also had a set of SKS fenders on it in the winter and early spring, which mounted up with no problems.
The Giramondo is built for long days on a variety of terrains. The geometry is somewhat relaxed and lands on the spectrum between a cyclocross bike and a mountain bike. The smaller-diameter 4130 steel frame features double- and triple-butted tubing, and sports three bottle cage mounts, various attachment points for racks and fenders, and even a spare spoke carrier.
The Shimano Deore 3×10 drivetrain is simple, effective, and provides a large gear range similar to that of similarly-configured mountain bikes. The gearing is tall enough to provide a reasonable set of options for sustained road pedaling, and low enough to be able to crawl a wagon of bricks up a 30% incline at a 60-rpm cadence. (Not quite, but you get the picture.)
The shifters are Microshift bar-ends, and work surprisingly well. The rear shifter indexes smoothly and is very predictable. If bar-ends aren’t your thing, you could swap them for a set of Shimano integrated levers, or even a flat-bar configuration with trigger or thumb shifters — but try the bar-ends first; you might be surprised.
Brakes are entry-level Promax mechanical disc. They work fine, but require some occasional pad adjustment, which amounts to giving a hex adjuster a 45-degree twist every couple of rides. I will probably end up upgrading the brakes to cable-actuated units such as the TRP Hy/Rd or Juin Tech F1s for more stopping power at some point in the bike’s future. That being said, I have yet to find myself in a situation where I felt like I was going to run out of braking power. The Promax brake levers feel really nice and have a hood shape that is, in my opinion, superior to similar non-integrated levers.
I’ve ridden the Giramondo on everything from pavement to rough singletrack and everything in between. Its versatility is really where it excels. Recently, I installed a pair of Panaracer Gravelking 650×48 tires, which have a smooth tread and are basically a large, thick road tire. I’ve been surprised at what this has done for the bike — it now rolls very quickly on pavement and, once the tires are aired down a bit, grips up and down gravel and singletrack with no issues. (Pressure is everything with this configuration: I’ve found that around 45psi front, 50psi rear is ideal for the road, while loose gravel and singletrack are better fared with around 22psi/28psi.)
A few weeks back, I left my house in the morning on the Giramondo and met up with some friends in Jacksonville (about 11 miles away on pavement). We rode another six miles of hilly pavement up to the turnoff to the trailhead. I aired the tires down a bit, and rode the mile of steep, loose gravel up to the trailhead of the East Applegate Ridge Trail, a new 5.6-mile trail that winds its way across the slopes surrounding the lower Applegate valley before emerging on Highway 238 near Ruch. From there, we pedaled back up over the highway to Jacksonville. I aired the tires back up and wrapped up with a 30-mile jaunt to Ashland. All in all, it was a great day on the bike, and the Giramondo handled everything with relative ease.
Most importantly, the Giramondo is just a fun bike to ride. If my road bike or mountain bike is in the shop or down for repairs, I’ll just grab the Giramondo and make it happen. For the price, it’s an incredible package.