First Look | The 2020 Giant XTC Advanced 29 SL is the brand’s lightest carbon hardtail yet

Full suspension bikes continue to get better and better each year, but there’s still a place for a lightweight XC hardtail – no matter how much that market has shrunk over the years. With a keen eye on this pointier end of the pool, Giant Bicycles is adding a new carbon hardtail for the riders who dream of power meters and protein powder. Joining the Anthem full suspension race bike for this season is this svelte number here; the 2020 Giant XTC Advanced.

2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail
Giant has redesigned its flagship carbon hardtail for 2020 to be lighter and more compliant. Who would have guessed it?
2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail
For ultimate light weight and response under power, a carbon hardtail is still hard to beat.

What’s This 2020 Giant XTC Hardtail All About Then?

At first glance, the new XTC looks a lot like the old one. It’s a hardtail with two diamonds after all – what could possibly be that different? Turns out quite a bit, since the 2020 XTC frame has been reworked entirely from head tube to dropout to boost stiffness where it’s needed, enhance compliance where it’s wanted, and eliminate excess grammage.

Look closer and you’ll see the seatstays are much, much slimmer, and now meet the seat tube lower down – a trend we’ve seen plenty of in the road bike world. The idea is to increase the back end’s ability to absorb more of the vibrations from the rear wheel, before they make it up to the rider’s contact points. The top tube has also been pared back, again to improve compliance through the upper part of the frame, while also reducing weight.

2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail
There are two XTC frames for 2020: the Advanced and the Advanced SL.

1KG Frame? Pah – As If!

With all that tube-slimming going on, Giant has managed to sculpt a hefty amount of weight off the XTC frame. We should point out here that there are actually two XTC frames for 2020: the XTC Advanced SL, and the cheaper XTC Advanced. Both share the same moulds, which produces the same overall shape with the same geometry. The SL frame is just a bit lighter thanks to the use of higher quality carbon fibre.

Whereas the previous generation XTC frame came in at 1259g, the new 2020 XTC Advanced SL weighs in at 920g – a significant decrease of 27%. Even the cheaper XTC Advanced frame manages to scrape in under the 1kg barrier, with a claimed frame weight of 995g.

2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail
The new frame is less than 3/4 of the weight of the old XTC frame.

Impressive as the weight reduction has been, that figure isn’t as light as the 2020 Specialized S-Works Epic that we checked out recently. To put the XTC’s frame weight into perspective, here’s what the current competition looks like:

Of course for most normal people, riding a mountain bike isn’t all about the gram(s). Things like geometry and frame construction typically have a much more drastic impact on ride quality. To that note, Giant states that the new XTC boasts the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any hardtail it’s ever made. It also says that each frame size gets a custom layup schedule to ensure those stiffness values, and therefore handling, are the same whether you’re on a Small or an Extra-Large.

2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail
The XTC has had its geometry smartened up, but it’s still on the sharper end for an XC bike.

Modern, But Not Too Radical

While compliance and low weight have been a clear goal with the new XTC, Giant has kept the demands of the modern XC racer in mind by spec’ing a 30.9mm seatpost diameter. That gives you a load more options for adding a dropper post compared to the old frame’s 27.2mm seatpost diameter.

Of course there are all the usual modern accruements like Boost hub spacing, internal cable routing, a tapered head tube, along with a gargantuan bottom bracket junction that utilises the popular 92mm-wide PF92 standard.

But while other XC hardtails (such as the UNNO and Specialized) have been nudging the geometry envelope out a little further, Giant has kept things pretty conservative with the XTC. The head angle is a steep 69.5-70°, though the use of a shorter fork offset has increased the Trail measurement from 82mm to 95mm, which should improve the bike’s high-speed stability. The new XTC frame is also quite a bit longer than the old one – Reach measurements basically jump up a full size, and that’s paired to a shorter length stem and curiously wide 780mm handlebars. We suspect a lot of XTC customers will be cutting down those ape-hangers!

2020 giant xtc advanced geometry
2020 Giant XTC Advanced Geometry.

Triple Trouble

Giant Australia will have three XTC models available for 2020. Pricing kicks off at $3,699 for the entry-level XTC Advanced 29 2, and goes up to a staggering $10,699 for the XTC Advanced SL 29 0. That model does come with wireless SRAM AXS shifting, carbon wheels and a RockShox SID Ultimate fork, though it’s still in unusual territory given it doesn’t have a rear shock or a dropper post. To our count, that sees it as the sixth 2020 Giant/LIV model to blast through the $10K barrier.

Pricing aside, all Giant XTC models will come with 2.25in Maxxis Rekon Race tyres, 1×12 drivetrains, and a 100mm travel suspension fork. You’ll also see loads of Giant’s own in-house components, including wheels, bars, stems, saddles and seatposts.

2020 giant xtc advanced sl 29 0
Likely only to be seen underneath the country’s fastest XC racers, the 2020 Giant XTC Advanced SL 29 0 is both super light, and super pricey!

2020 Giant XTC Advanced 29 SL 0

2020 giant xtc advanced sl 29 1
Using the same SL frame as the top-end model, the XTC Advanced SL 29 1 drops over $4K off the sticker price by spec’ing a Shimano XT groupset and less chi-chi parts.

2020 Giant XTC Advanced 29 SL 1

2020 giant xtc advanced 29 2
For less than four grand, the 2020 Giant XTC Advanced 29 2 uses a carbon frame that is just 75g heavier than the SL model.

2020 Giant XTC Advanced 29 2

2020 giant xtc advanced carbon 29er hardtail

If you’re after more info on the 2020 XTC, then head to the Giant Bicycles website, or alternatively, drop us a question into the comments below and we’ll see if we can’t answer it for you. And if you’re all hot and bothered by all that talk of weight and efficiency, then make sure you check out our story on the 2020 Specialized S-Works Epic HT, or perhaps take a gander at our head-to-head review of the Giant Anthem 29er and Specialized Epic FSR.

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