Masi Giramondo: Long-Term Review

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.

Ascending some coastal gravel.

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.

The Equipment

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.

Sporting a rack, panniers, and Panaracer Gravelking 650x48s on the brand-spanking-new East Applegate Ridge Trail outside of Ruch.

The Ride

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.

This bike can take you to sweet views like this one, and won’t leave you hating the miles of pavement that get you there and back.

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.

It even handles sweet jumps.

Jacob Hammond

Cycle Analysis's resident weirdo and web person, Jacob is known first and foremost for planning difficult rides and attempting to manipulate others into trying them first. He enjoys all kinds of cycling, long walks on the beach, and thick, zesty gravel.

19 thoughts on “Masi Giramondo: Long-Term Review

  1. Your review reflects my experiences. This is a supremely versatile bike, and it’s become my go to for almost all riding.

  2. Nice photos! I have the same bike, and it’s great. I’m currently shopping for fenders. Which SKS fenders did you get?

  3. I want a touring bike that can also do Ride the Divide without dropping a ton of money. Is this it? I did a lot of touring back in the 80s on woefully under capable bikes and made it and had a blast (with large dollops of drudgery thrown in). I’m looking at the Masi Giramondo, Kona Sutra LTD and Trek 920. I know, everybody is riding Salsa and Surly but just too hard to get ahold of in Northern Ontario. And for the price I could get a Masi and a Jamis Dragonslayer 27.5. Well, almost. So, is Giramondo tough enough to do something like the divide. Thanks for any answers.

    1. Hey Ken. I’d say the Giramondo is a capable bike for that kind of excursion. As I mentioned in the review, the brakes are probably the one weak point in the otherwise respectable stock component configuration. It’s not that they’re bad; just that in my experience, they required more frequent readjustment than I would have liked… but if you don’t mind occasionally giving the pad adjustment a twist, they are fine. Aside from making sure everything on the bike was tuned up beforehand, and taking racks and whatnot into account (depending on your touring style), I think you’d be pretty well-served on this bike.

  4. I’ve read quite a bit about these two Masi Giramondos and understand the differences between the two, but since you’ve ridden one for quite some time I wanted your take on these two bikes. If you were wanting to do some road touring with about 50 pounds of gear with perhaps some gravel and dirt roads thrown in, which of the two Giramondos would you recommend? Do both have provision for bottle cage mounts on the fork? Odd question, would the wheels that come with the Masi 700c Giramondo fit on the Masi 27.5 Giramondo without any weird adaptations? AND if so, do you think that Masi would sell a pair of those 700c wheels to a Masi owner (so I could swap between wheels/tires when needed)? Or just forget the 27.5 and make it simple and go with the 700c for my purposes? The new 2019 Masi Giramondo bikes both come with the TRP brakes you mentioned now!

    1. Hey Frank, thanks for the comment. I took a glance at the 2019 models and I think the only real difference, aside from the obvious wheel size and color differences, is the handlebar type. The frame and fork are likely still identical as they were when I picked mine up. Personally, for what you’re describing I’d run a 27.5″ wheel with either Donnelly’s X’Plor MSO 650×50 or Strada USH 650×50, or maybe a Panaracer Gravelking 650×48 (which is what I’m still running on the bike).

      Since wheels will just swap right over across both models regardless of size, and the stock wheelset is on the heavy side, one of the best things you can do for the bike is to get a custom wheelset built up for it. The Velocity Blunt SS-based wheelset that Vern built up for me has been perfect.

  5. I just got the Giramondo 700c from Cycle Analysis yesterday! This is the first expensive bike I have ever owned and I am stoked to get to use it around Jacksonville and to Ashland and back (Medford) where I live.

  6. I’m looking to purchase the XS 2020 Giramondo 700c bike. I’m new to cycling, but is it possible to put 650b’s on the 700c model? I just prefer the 700c aesthetically and that it comes with racks. Thanks!

    1. Well I bought the Giramondo 700c, and well…I LOVE IT!

      There is one minor quips though, I did write a email to customer service about the situation but they probably thought I was being weird.

      The problem is the tires are Kenda Drumlin 700x45c that just barely fit under the widest fender that would fit the frame, all the space left is just enough to slide a butter knife under, in other words if they made a size 46 it wouldn’t fit under any fender. And since this bike is advertised as a road touring bike a 38c or a 40c is more than wide enough, and why does Masi need the Giramondo to have such wide tires when they already have a off road touring bike called the Giramondo 27.5 that has wide tires?

      The other issue with the tires is that their freaking HEAVY, 1,600 grams each, that’s 7 pounds total rotational weight that could be dramatically reduced with the same price Schwalbe Marathon HS 420 (formerly known as the Greenguard), or the bit cheaper Marathon Energizer Plus HS 492, while these tires are not lightweight themselves they are however half the weight of the Kenda’s at the same price point as the Kenda’s which means Masi wouldn’t have to increase the cost of the bike to put those tires on; additionally both of those Marathon tires are a superior tire over the Kenda Drumlin; plus they come in a 38 which means the tires would have far better fender clearance. This is suppose to be a road touring bike, the last thing a touring person wants when carrying a heavy load is heavy tires boggin them down climbing grades, not to mention wearing you out faster on level roads.

      I understand that Masi probably thinks, well you don’t like our tires put your own on, and that’s fine, but there is no need to swap tires out shortly after you get the bike if the stock tires are adequate enough. So yes, I will have to swap the tires out, and I’ll probably get Schwalbe Marathon Almotion tires, these weigh 500 grams, and have the least rolling resistance of any touring tire on the market, I was hoping to wear out the Kenda Drumlins first, but those dang tires are just a nuisance.
      .
      Really that’s the only complaint I have about the bike, the rest of the bike is very well thought out. Even though the bike is a bit heavy coming in at 33 pounds, but once I put on the other tires that will knock off almost 5 pounds which would bring the weight to 28 pounds, plus that’s 5 pounds of rotational weight coming off! doing that would put the bike around the same weight as the other top 8 touring bikes in the price range of the Masi. Keep in mind though that the Masi weight is including the heavier steel racks front and rear, but those Tubus are the best ones made, other bikes use lighter, and inferior I might add, aluminum racks, and only on the rear, and all the other touring bikes I looked at all used lighter tires, all of which will affect the advertised weight. At around the price range of the Masi the other touring bikes range from 28 pounds to 35 pounds

      The brass color paint with black graphics and components is actually better looking in real life then what I thought it might look like from the internet picture. The brass color is a quite a bit darker giving it an almost gold colored look, I’ve had people comment about how the bike looks. A lot of people don’t notice the small stuff when looking at bike, one of things I notice was that this was the only touring bike that uses a 180mm front rotor instead of the industry standard 160mm rotor, a larger rotor means more cooling potential and thus better stopping as things heat up vs the smaller 160. Also the brakes are mechanical disk and not hydraulic like most of the ones I saw used, a couple still were using rim brakes, the last thing I want to do is fool around with hydraulic fluid, bleeding the system, carrying brake fluid while touring. Also the TRP brakes they used are DUAL piston brakes vs single piston brakes of the other touring bikes I saw used, dual is a better system. The gears Masi chose to put on are the best of all the gears I saw used on other bikes for climbing steep grades with a heavy load, all the other bikes I would have to change the gearing to get what Masi has.

      So if I had to do it over again would I choose the Masi instead of my second choice? Well if I had another $1,000 to spend on a touring bike I could have gotten a touring bike at around 22 pounds, but I didn’t want to spend that much more, so yes, I would still opt for the Masi.

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