By Vernon Felton
The bike industry is a fairly pleasant place to work in. Not a ton of vitriol. Not a lot of overtly, aggressive marketing. Not much in the way of water boarding. Maybe it's because most of us have ridden together at some point in time and once you've shared a trail and a beer with someone, it's kind of hard to publicly skewer them.
If any company plays the nice guy—to almost ridiculous levels—it's probably Giant Bicycles, which has historically produced some groundbreaking bikes on both the dirt and pavement, and yet rarely beats its chest and bellows about it.
All of which is why I found this video interesting. In this clip Jon Swanson, Giant's Global Category Manager for road bikes, takes off the gloves and comes out swinging hard at the competition.
You know something interesting is afoot when the video description begins, "We're not going to be silent anymore…"
The point of the video is to debunk the way the bike industry reports testing data as it relates to road bike performance.
Swanson sums up the rationale for the seven-minute video thus, "I'm going to show you something we've never shown anyone before. I'm going to show you all the (test) results—in detail—and it's going to show you how we stack up against our competitors…in everyone else's testing numbers, we are not included. Giant bikes are not there. The reason why is that Giant bikes are superior…and the other guys' marketing departments can't figure a way around that superiority, so they don't include us at all.
That is one ballsy statement. Let's be clear, Swanson just asserted that the reason Giant isn't shown in some companies' test results and marketing literature is that the Giant bikes wipe the floor with the competition and would, in essence, embarrass other brands.
Strong stuff. Is it true?
Swanson goes on to show Giant's own testing data (weight, torsional and bottom bracket stiffness), in which, not surprisingly, Giant fares quite well. I'm not an engineer and I haven't tested a couple dozen of the latest road bikes in a laboratory setting, so I can't say boo about the validity of Giant's claims. One of the noteworthy aspects of the video, however, is that Giant actually explains their testing protocols and invites you to visit their site to download the test results yourself. Transparency is always a good thing.
Check out the video for yourself.