I have to admit that I don’t know Giant's line of bikes very well. I owned one once, an old XTC high-end XC race frame that I had built up with Pyslos and a short (by 2001 standards) 70mm stem. But since that day I haven’t really paid too much attention. So arriving at the 2013 product launch in Melbourne yesterday I had to play catch up quickly.
Luckily 2013 has seen some big changes in Giant's range. The biggest being that, apart from the Glory DH, there will only be TWO bikes available in Australasia with 26” wheels: the Reign 1 and wait for it, the Reign 2. Yup, no Trance 26”, no Anthem 26" and no 26" hardtails. Even the dedicated Liv women's models are all 29”. Some might say that's a lot of eggs in one basket but Giant's sales of late have pushed them this way and it's safe to say that they are backing the 29" wheel hard. And just so you don't ask, there are no 650b wheels in the lineup.
We may as well kick things off with Giant's redesigned Trance X. For 2013 the Trance X, Giant's flagship 5" trail bike, gets a bit of a makeover with shortened up rear stays which bring the wheel in nice and close, shortening up the wheelbase while still making it possible to have a reasonably slack head angle and a fun, flickable bike. Internal cable routing is catered for in a big way with routing for the rear brake, the dropper post and the rear and front derailleurs (that's all the cables right?) so the frame is super tidy. And like most of the high end Giant bikes this year they have moved to Giant's Overdrive 2 tapered steerer (1 1/4" up top, and standard 1.5 down the bottom)
The Anthem X. There are five bikes in the Anthem X range for 2013 (plus two women's specific models). Two of the models feature carbon front triangles, and then there are three full alloy models. The bike pictured here is the top spec'd Anthem X Advanced 0 (it will retail in New Zealand for $8999) but the alloy Anthems start at a paltry $2899.
Keeping with the going fast on big wheels theme this is the radically redesigned XTC hardtail. It features some pretty big changes for Giant.
The Reign is now the only 26" wheeled trail bike left in the Giant lineup and given that there are only two models available in Australasia and that neither of them are amazingly spec'd there is no denying that the market for long travel 26" wheeled trail bikes is shrinking. So for 2013 there are very minimal changes to the Reign.
And this one is for all you Danny Hart and Andrew Neethling wannabes out there, The Glory 0. Now this bike pictured is pretty much exactly what Danny rides and it can be yours, race ready out of the box for NZ$6999. 2013 sees the bike get the Danny Hart angles makeover, with the head angle changing to 63.5 and the seat tube moving to 61.8, combine that with rear stays at 445mm and total wheelbase of 1212mm (on the medium) and you have no excuse not to be on a World Cup podium!
And it's probably worth mentioning this guy. Cross is exploding in Aussie as well as NewZealand right now and 2013 will be the first time this bike is offered to Kiwis and Aussies as a complete bike, not just a frameset. It's actually the last year of this model and I'd say the 2014 model might just feature recently UCI sanctioned disc brakes. There's two models, this TCX Advanced Carbon model that retails in New Zealand for $5699 or the Alloy TCX 1 which will hit the shop floors at $2249.
So I'm running out of time and need to wrap this up, but something you may have noticed in that lineup is none of the bikes feature 12mm rear axles. When I asked Giant's marketing manager he informed me that because the Giant Maestro suspension platform has a unified rear triangle it's stiff enough. He went so far as to say they had even tested 12mm rear triangles but they showed little to no stiffness improvement but more of a weight penalty. That said the Giant wheels which are available to purchase as stand-alone items will feature the ability to run on 12 x 135mm bikes. The one question I didn't ask, which I'll try to get an answer for today is, because the wheels have DT Swiss-made hubs will you be able to run SRAM's new 11 speed freehub on them without having to purchase a whole new rear wheel?
So I just heard from the guys at SRAM that Giant's MTB wheels are based on DT Swiss's 240 hub so it will fit the XD driver body and in turn SRAM XX1. That means switching one of these bikes to 1x11 is not as cost prohibitive as it could have been if you had to replace the whole back wheel.
I'll do a bit of a rundown on Giant's MTB wheel programme later in the week too, hopefully with the XX1 answer...