Giant’s entry into the world of twenty-nine inch wheeled bikes comes in the form of an aluminum hardtail. The XTC 29er begins with a stiff looking hydro-formed ALUXX SL tubeset with rectangular seat and chainstays, a rectangular tapered top tube, oversized tapered head tube, and hexagon-shaped down tube. It’s finished off with two 9-speed build kits resulting in two modelsâ€” the top spot XTC 29er 1 ($2125) and the base model 29er 2 ($1350), which I’m testing.
Giant uses their new line of house brand components for the saddle, seatpost, stem, and handlebar, Most impressive are the deep-V Giant P-29 rims laced with 32-spokes in a 3-cross pattern to a Formula rear hub and a Giant Tracker 15mm thru axle front hub. I’m excited to put some trail miles on the wheels to see how the rims hold up and perform. A Marzocchi Forty-Four TST2 29″ fork with a tapered steerer supplies 100mm of forgiveness up front. The fork has a nice big lockout switch on the right upper and a plastic rebound adjustment on the lower left. The fork feels a little sticky but I’m hoping it becomes smoother with more use.
I’ve ridden the bike a few times, but am still dialing in the roll of the handlebar and placement of the Shimano Deore shifters and Alivio brake levers. I’ll also need to swap the Kenda Karma 29×2.0 tires soon for something more aggressive, because the trails in this part of the country are already covered with leaves and the mud is sure to follow. Both wheels have Alivio hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors that are breaking in nicely after my initial brush against a tree on the first downhill I encountered.
This size large XTC 29er 2 has a 71.5Â° head tube and 72.5Â° seat tube angle with a 24.2″ top tube and fits me well. So far the bike feels flex-free and stiff while climbing and heading downhill. It takes corners well and the 17.3″ chainstays brings the rear around quickly. This Giant registered 28.9-pounds with pedals on our scale, which is on par for an entry level 29er. It’s available in two colorsâ€” brushed smoke (pictured) or black and seems like a decent bike for the price. The full review will be in one of the early 2010 issues of Dirt Rag, so keep an eye out. Giant is online at www.giant-bicycles.com.