Flow has just finished two days of riding the brand new 2014 27.5″ Giant bikes at the official global launch in Deer Valley, Utah.
The wheel wars continue and Giant have released a whole swath of 27.5″ bikes to the market. The biggest take-away from the launch is the news that Giant is 100% focused on 27.5″ as their priority platform into the future, with 26″ pretty much declared dead and 29″ bikes slowly moving to the background with less focus and development. Make no mistake, Giant’s eggs are in the 27.5″ basket. This is a big, big call from the world’s largest bike manufacturer.
The launch of 27.5″ by Giant is not a mere insertion into their product line, it’s a 100% commitment to it being the number one wheel size for the company. Hedging their bets that the wheels will also be adopted by the XC and Endurance crowd the new range sees loads of 27.5″ bikes in the categories that we’d usually consider the domain of the 29ers. This fact will leave many confused, given the marketing of 29ers (from every manufacturer) as the right tool for XC/Endurance, and is an interesting point of difference that Giant have adopted.
Giant have made this commitment to 27.5″ after beginning development in 2011 and heavily analysing the positives and negatives of all wheel sizes. From their perspective the 27.5″ is the perfect platform for three main reasons (when compared to 29ers): It saves weight, is more efficient and has better control characteristics. Giant presented slides of information to support their argument and in summary, according to Giant, the 27.5″ does not actually sit in the middle of 26″ and 29″ when looking at testing data from rollover, acceleration, traction, frame stiffness and geometry benefits. Giant argue that the 27.5″ is closer to a 29er wheel in terms roll-over and traction, but is more similar to a 26″ in terms if acceleration, stiffness and geometry. According to Giant’s analysis, 27.5″ never sat neatly in the middle.
As mentioned above, the development of the 27.5″ for Giant began in 2011 and these new bikes, whilst looking very similar from a distance, have been completely redesigned from the ground up. Not one single part, bolt, or nut has carried over from the previous models. Giant stated that the development of 27.5″ was the biggest and most focused effort they have ever placed on their off-road product line.
It’s an interesting move from Giant and only time will tell if the move to 27.5″ in such a comprehensive fashion is a gamble or a display of leadership. We did ask that question directly and they’re pretty confident (obviously) that the platform and the ride experience will see the history books record Giant as a leader in establishing 27.5″.
Below is the official press release from Giant and in a few days we’ll have a full report with our thoughts on the new platform including how they perform on the trails. Our first impressions of the Trance Advanced 0 Team are extremely positive; when compared to the old model (which we’re ridden extensively) the new is actually more aggressive and balanced at speed. Its true characteristics were only evident when pushed pretty hard.
Flow will produce more information on the new models however here are some standouts and highlights from the new range:
The Anthem really is for the XC/Marathon/Endurance market with a balanced 10omm of travel. The 27.5″ Anthem has a slacker head angle (than the 29er) at 69.5 degrees, and the top-of-the-line model comes in at 9.7 kg. The Anthem also has porting for a dropper post which we think is pretty cool.
The Trance range has been extended to include longer travel models and across the Trance range fork travel varies from 140mm-160mm whilst the rear-end on all models stays at 140mm. All up their will be seven (yep, seven!) different Trance 27.5 models available in Australia. The Trance is now slacker and lower with head angles in the range varying from 67 degrees to 66 degrees. Also, their flagship model tips the scales at just 11.1 kg.
The Trance Advanced SX, on the spec sheet, appears miss matched on travel as the 34mm Fox 160mm fork is matched with the standard 140mm rear end. The rear shock on the SX is upgraded to a Float-X so we expect the big bump performance of the rear to be more suited to the bigger fork. We did get a chance to get a quick ride on the lower spec’d SX and the big fork only really came into platy when the going got really, really rough.
The XtC is probably the most interesting bike when talking about the move to 27.5″. With the new wheel size you get some good weigh savings and the top of the range comes in at an amazing 8.8 kg. Giant have also gone for a slimmer 27.2 seatpost and a really neat integrated seatpost clamp. We loved the blue XtC Advanced 27.5 2. So sexy.
The XtC is definitely going to be an interested one to watch. Many World Cup XC racers (including Giant’s) are on 27.5″ bikes and their results are proving the smaller wheel can perform.
- Other common highlights across the range are: new Giant carbon wheels (1400g a set) on top level bikes; internal routing available on all bikes; 1×11 across specific models in XtC, Trance and Anthem; ISCG tabs; 142/135mm convertible rear thru-axle; new updated Giant dropper post; upgraded cartridge bearings on pivots; and, Overdrive 2 on all models.
- Another standout is the absence of the Reign from the 27.5″ upgrade (it will no longer be available in Australia but some models will still be available in other markets). The Trance SX is not designed specifically as a direct replacement for the Reign and only time will tell if Giant makes some improvements and/or changes to their longer travel bikes. We’d love to see a 27.5″ 160mm bike.
Flow will also have a completed wrap up of the entire 2014 Giant range very soon including our first thoughts after riding the new Trance.
Giant, the world leader in cycling technology, is revolutionizing its 2014 off-road lineup with a full range of new bikes featuring 27.5-inch wheel technology. Some of Giant’s most recognizable and successful off-road models—including XtC, Anthem, and Trance—will now include 27.5 choices in both composite and aluminum frame options.
For 2014, a total of seven new men’s series and 28 global models feature 27.5 wheel technology, which Giant has been developing for the past two years. Several prototype Giant 27.5 bikes have already been ridden to major race wins in pro XC and enduro competition.
“The diversity and range of our new collection of 27.5 bikes shows how strongly we believe in this new technology,” said Kevin Dana, Giant Global Off-Road Category Manager. “That belief is founded on a lot of internal research and testing. We worked with a wide variety of riders—and from our World Cup XC pros to our enduro riders, all of them feel strongly that the end result is improved performance.”
Research and ride testing in different off-road racing disciplines, and in a variety of terrain, showed that the 27.5 wheel size delivers significant performance advantages in three key areas: weight, efficiency and control. Bikes with 27.5-inch wheels displayed some of the best characteristics of 26 and 29-inch wheels—but without the compromises associated with each.
Truly capitalizing on the advantages of 27.5 required a deep commitment to engineering and development. Giant’s team of engineers, product developers and athletes looked at each new model individually, dialing in the frame features and geometry to optimize the new wheel size for particular types of terrain and performance goals.
The end result is a full line of purpose-built 27.5 performance bikes for all different types of off-road riding. From the XC World Cup-proven XtC Advanced 27.5 hardtail to the trail and enduro focused Trance Advanced 27.5, each series has undergone extensive development from the ground up.
For elite-level Giant XC pros like Swedish national champion Emil Lindgren, the lighter weight and quicker acceleration offer a huge advantage.
“When you’re racing cross-country, you’re pushing the limits,” said Lindgren. “The heart rate is maxed and you want a bike that responds and makes the effort feel a little easier. Going from a 26 to a 29, there’s a big difference in the way the bike rides. But with 27.5, it’s the perfect balance of quickness and acceleration of a 26 with the traction and stability of a 29er.”
To meet the needs of racers like Lindgren and teammate Michiel van der Heijden, who recently won the Dutch XC Championships aboard a prototype 27.5 hardtail, Giant developed 27.5 versions of its XtC platform in both Advanced-grade composite (XtC Advanced 27.5) and ALUXX SL aluminum (XtC 27.5).
For technical XC terrain, Giant developed 27.5 versions of its legendary Anthem platform, available in both Advanced-grade composite (Anthem Advanced 27.5) and ALUXX SL aluminum (Anthem 27.5) frame options featuring Maestro Suspension with 4 inches of travel. Giant Factory Off-Road rider Adam Craig played a major role in the bike’s development, and rode his prototype Anthem Advanced 27.5 to a win at an Oregon Enduro Series event earlier this summer.
“For cross-country racing, the 27.5 offers a very clear advantage,” Craig said. “It’s not just about how fast a bike rolls, but how fast it can be in real racing scenarios, and that involves accelerating, braking, climbing, a lot of low-speed stuff. A bike that’s a little more nimble and quick is ultimately an advantage.”
For more aggressive trail and enduro riding—the type that Australian enduro racer Josh Carlson has been racing with his prototype Trance Advanced 27.5, which features 5.5 inches of Maestro rear suspension technology—the added control and stability makes a huge difference.
“It feels amazing,” said Carlson, who rode a prototype Trance Advanced 27.5 to several enduro race wins in North America this spring. “You can charge through rock gardens and gnarly terrain with total confidence that it’s going to be quicker and faster and safer than any bike you’ve ever ridden. You can come into corners quicker and exit with so much more speed.”
The Trance platform is also available with the Advanced-grade composite frame (Trance Advanced 27.5) or ALUXX SL aluminum (Trance 27.5). Both the Trance Advanced 27.5 and Trance 27.5 also come in an “SX” model for more aggressive, gravity-oriented riding.
In addition to all of the above off-road performance models, Giant is also making its 27.5 technology available to more riders of all levels with its full line of Talon 27.5 ALUXX aluminum hardtail off-road bikes.
For 2014, Giant is offering the following off-road series with 27.5 technology:
XtC Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite hardtail XC)
XtC 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminium hardtail XC)
Anthem Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite full-suspension XC)
Anthem 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminium full-suspension XC)
Trance Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite full-suspension trail and enduro)
Trance 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminium full-suspension trail and enduro)
Talon 27.5 (ALUXX aluminium hardtail XC)
The 2014 Giant 27.5 off-road bikes will be available through Giant retailers later this summer.