First look: Giant Escape Mini Zero

Giant's street tough Mini Zero gets the once over

by Tony Farrelly   December 12, 2008  

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So you thought only Pashley Moulton and Cannondale could do small-wheeled folding-type bikes that don't fold… Ha! Think again.

Meet the Giant Mini Zero another small wheeler ready to ooze style and attitude all over a city street near you given half the chance. Actually the Mini Zero has been doing that for a year or so now, but we've got the new 2009 version…

A full test is on the way, but in the meantime we've got a whole gallery of pics and informative captions plus a some choice observations based on a few days of living with it in the road.cc office… and outside on the street too.

What we have here is a bike that seems to be pitched somewhere between Cannondale's burly Hooligan and the more genteel Pashley Moulton TSR 8, in fact it looks a bit like a beefed up Moulton… So, more of a lout, or maybe a lovable, but misunderstood, scamp. 

It may not look as tough as the Cannondale, but it's a pretty safe bet that at 9.4Kg (20.8lb) it's lighter than the Hooligan 1*, even with 19 more gears, which makes the Mini Zero a lot of fun to ride. So possibly it's closer to a Pashley Moulton TSR 8 (at £875 it's certainly a lot closer in price, well exactly the same actually, a Hooligan 1 will set you back around £750),but look at all those chunky welds and all that cross-bracing this is bike that's been built to cope with the rough as well as the smooth and there's plenty of that in urban Britain. Thing is, so is the Pashley and we haven't heard of and of them breaking. Ironically though for all it's apparent chunkiness compared to the Pashley the Mini Zero is almost 7lb lighter.

Even so, we've got some questions about the design: the point where the down tube is interrupted by the top tube looks, to us at least, to be one a big stress point – not sure you'd want to be jumping this around in the way that you might a Hooligan, certainly not if you're Big Dave anyway. Indeed, don't think we'll let him even pop a kerb on it. Probably.

Those doubts aside this is a little ripper of a bike really good fun to shoot around town on, in fact [WARNING PREPARING TO DEPLOY BIKE JOURNO CLICHE!] what we have here is yer classic 'pocket rocket'. It's probably comfortable enough for longer rides too. Those small 20in wheels make for rapid acceleration and it is nimble throught the twists and turns too. Oh, and it's small.

If storage space is an issue, but not to the extent that your bike needs to fold, then this could be the bike for you. It'll stow in a hallway or the back of your car easily enough and we had no problems getting it up to our third floor office. So, it has some of the benefits of a folder but is potentially much more of a long range machine – one for the dedicated cycle-commuter rather than the multi-modal type someone who is going to do the whole trip by bike rather than hopping from bike to train to bus.

Kit highlights are the Shimano 105 front and rear mech, and 10 speed 11-23 cassette, chain, and Sti levers, oh, and not forgetting the 52-39 Shimano105 Hollowtech chainset and and those wtf low profile stoker bars which may look odd but don't feel odd to use, they are extremely comfortable too. We set ours up for a more heads up riding position but the beauty of these babies is that you can rotate them to give a variety of different set ups, we'll be trying it in a more heads down stylee too. There is also a vast stack of spacers giving you the option to really play about with different positions on the bike. Comfort is taken care of by a very long carbon seatpost and some 20x1.25in Kenda tyres. Look at the pics and you'l notice that the saddle is slightly nose up – we literally got the bike out of the box tightened the 'bars and hit the road. I wouldn't be able to ride a bike with a saddle in that position usually, but it was only when I looked at the pics afterwards that I noticed - that's how comfortable the more upright position can be. Mind you, I've straightened it now.

If £875 seems a little salty you might consider the Mini Zero 1 which looks essentially to have the same frame and 'bars but with down-specced componentry you can easily pick one up for £450.

As ever, look out for the full Mini Zero review coming soon on road.cc

* According to  Cannondale's website the weight for the Hooligan is: n/a… be simpler just to put down 'heavy' if they aren't going to trouble the scales with it.