Review: Gitane Rocks 1.1

One of the brands that has gained recent popularity in the Egyptian bike market is Gitane. We’ve owned the Gitane Rocks 1.1 (2007) for about a year and a half now, and we decided to review it for the benefit of riders looking to purchase a new entry-level bike in Egypt.

A little about the Gitane brand:

Back in the 1950’s and 60s, the name Gitane was synonymous with quality road bikes. The bikes were handmade in France and cycling legends like Greg LeMond raced on them. Gitane has since been sold to the Cycle Europe group, and the bikes are made/assembled in China. The Gitane brand of today is nowhere near its weight in the cycling world back in the day.

The Gitane Rocks 1.1:

The Rocks 1.1 is an entry-level hardtail mountain bike meant for light trail riding.

How we used this bike:

We rode the Rocks 1.1 on and off-road (mostly in the Wadi Degla trails) regularly for about 18 months.

What we liked:

  • The frame is decent for an entry level hardtail. Double butted  Aluminum and light enough (but we have worried about its long-term durability)
  • The fork has a lockout.
  • We were surprised that the wheelset held-up to some off-road abuse, considering the relatively unknown brand (Spectra)
  • The saddle is not bad for longer rides.

What we disliked:

  • It is severely overpriced! For the same price we can easily get an entry level Specialized or Trek hardtail with disc brakes.
  • The stock tires are absolutely horrible. They’re probably the lowest quality MTB tires we’ve ever seen. The tread was gone in about two weeks of light riding. They were replaced witha pair of IRC Trail Bears.
  • The SRAM SX4 derailleur gave us a hard time. Even after multiple adjustments, mis- shifts were frequent (a problem that others who purchased the same bike echoed)
  • Very short fork travel (75mm)
  • The stem (generic 2-bolt) , handlebar and seatpost are generic. The handlebar is too small for good control and handling on rough trails. We replaced them with a wide, low rise handlebar and a Specialized 90mm four-bolt stem.

Final thoughts:

If it wasn’t for the price, the Gitane Rocks 1.1 would be an OK entry level bike. Bear in mind that many of the stock components are of low quality and will need replacement if you ride regularly, especially off-road. Be ready to change the tires as soon as/if you make the purchase.

The drive train components on the Rocks 1.1 are the lowest tier available from SRAM and Shimano. If you mostly do city/urban cycling and need a heavy duty bike, this bike would not be a bad choice (at a cheaper price, though). If you are serious about trail riding, your money will be better spent elsewhere.

MTB Egypt rating: 2.5/5

How to buy a used mountain bike

Buying a second hand bike is usually a great option if you cannot afford to buy a brand new one. But before you buy a used bike, you need to know what to look for in order to be able to judge if the price is right for the condition of the bike.

1) The frame: Visually inspect the frame and look for dents and cracks. Look closely at the weld points where the tubes are joined together and see if there is any visible damage or signs of repair. Take the bike for a short test ride and check if the frame creaks or rattles. A cracked frame is a sign that the bike has probably been abused, and that your money is better spent elsewhere.

2) The suspension:

  • If it is a fully rigid bike then inspect the front forkfor crash damage or bent legs.
  • Front/full suspension: Check if the fork legs are bent or dented. inspect the drop-outs (where the wheel axel fits at the bottom of the fork legs) for damage. Check the oil seals and the damper controls (look for oil leakage at the bottom rebound damper seals and the top adjustment seals). Compress the fork several times and test the rebound and responsiveness of the fork. Do the same for the rear shock.

3) The wheels:

  • Check if the wheels are out of true (lift the wheels and spin them)
  • Check the rims for dents or cracks
  • Look for broken spokes

4) The drivetrain:

  • Check the gears for worn out teeth.
  • Accelerate hard from a standstill and see if the chain skips (chains links stretch over time).
  • Check the shifting mechanism for smooth shifting across the gear range.

5) The steering:

  • Turn the handlebar side to side several times. Is the headset movement smooth?
  • Apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. See if there is any rattling or loud creaking.

6) Other components:

  • Visually inspect the saddle rails and seatpost for bends or damage.
  • Check the brake cables and pads/calipers/disks
  • Check for excessively worn tires
  • Check the rotation of the pedals and inspect the crank arms.