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2010 Giant Rapid Bicycle Review
The Base Model Giant Rapid 3
Potential Commuter Bike of the Year
Giant Bicycles decided to ditch their FCR line in favor of the new Rapid line of hybrid commuter bikes in 2010. As someone who owns one of the new Rapids and works in a bike shop that sells them, I think they made a terrific call. The entire series of 2010 Giant Rapid bikes is not only a significant improvement over the old FCRs, but they can easily hold their own with any other commuter on the market.
The 2010 Giant Rapid Series
As with most of their models, Giant numbers each bike in the Rapid line. The smaller the number, the higher the quality of the bike.
The Giant Rapid 3
I own the Giant Rapid 3 - the base model - which retails for $600. I got the bike when it first came out, weeks after we received it at the bike shop where I work. It looks better than the FCR and the new frame geometry makes it a faster bike. I cannot pinpoint why, though I am sure Giant's engineers can. Although the drivetrain is not all that different from the FCR, it is an amazingly smooth shifting bike. I was concerned that the Giant branded wheelset could not handle the punishment I give a commuter (rides over 20 miles almost every time out, speeds consistently in the 20s, bad Los Angeles roads), but it has held up. I just had the wheel tensioned and re-trued before I took my initial rides, and it's given me zero problems. I am not an upright, commuter bike kind of guy, but I like this bike. This might be because the frame is almost identical to the Defy road bike frame.
Cons: No matter how hard I tried, the wheelset will not take 700 X 23 tires to replace the 700 X 28s that are stock. And after about 500 miles, the bottom bracket started knocking on the downstroke. No problem, though. I just disassembled the crank and BB, regreased, and it is all good.
The 2010 Giant Rapid 2
The Giant Rapid 2
I do not own the upper end models in the Rapid series, but I do sell the Rapid 2. (Speaking of that, I have sold about ten Rapid 3s in the last six months; I believe in the product!). The biggest upgrades from the Rapid 3 to the Rapid 2 are the move from a 8 to a 9-speed drivetrain, a lighter FSA crankset, and a carbon fork. You save a pound or two, but is it worth the steep $325 jump in price? I am not so sure.
The Giant Rapid 1
If you are going to spend more on a Rapid, you might as well skip the Rapid 2 and go straight for the Rapid 1 at $1100. The upgrades are much more substantial. For the extra money, you get a Mavic CXP22 wheelset, a Shimno Tiagra crank, and clipless Shimano M505 pedals.
The Giant Rapid 0
If you are willing to spend $1100 then why not drop an extra $250 on the Rapid 0 with a Shimano 105, 10-speed drivetrain and a bombproof (though I have seen otherwise) Mavic Axium wheelset. I have seen this bike on a special order, and it is a solid bike. My only concern is that for a few hundred more you can get a Giant road bike equipped with Shimano 105. Really the only reason to opt for the Rapid 0 over a road bike is if you have a desire for the upright position the Rapid offers.
I did not have plans to get a commuter bike until I saw and rode the Rapid 3. The improved design over the FCR series initially caught my eye. When I rode it I was sold. In fact, I echo one of the early online reviews I read about the Rapid 3. Another early Rapid owner contends that his Rapid 3 rides like other commuters that cost $1,000. I agree. Giant seems to have hit it big with this new line.