More ride reviews from the Giant Demo Day… In this installment, we ride and comment on the 2010 Giant Anthem, Trance and Reign Mountain bikes and the TCR Advanced SL road bike. Ã‚Â Thanks to the handy-dandy Park Tools scale, we have actual weights for the bikes, too!
Hit ‘more’ to see the photos and read the rider reviews…
This post covers mainly the weights and ride reviews of these bikes. Ã‚Â For a full technical feature on Giant’s new 2010 mountain bikes with specs and components, read this.
For all ride reviews below, we rode at Country Park in Greensboro, NC. Ã‚Â The mountain bike trail is about a 4.5 mile loop with fast sections, rooty sections and a few rocky sections. Ã‚Â There are gravely turns, sharp and sustained (but relatively mild) climbs and some fast (but not too steep) descents. Ã‚Â All in all, it’s a great trail with good flow, better when ridden clockwise in our opinion. Ã‚Â It rained for the first 90 minutes the trailer was there, but then the sun came out. Ã‚Â The trail drains really well, so it wasn’t muddy, but the roots were slick, limiting speed on some sections.
For the road bikes, we did several laps of the 1.6 mile paved loop within Country Park, which is the site of the Carolina Cup road crit race.
2010 GIANT ANTHEM X
Tyler (6’2″ – 180lbs): I rode the XL Anthem. Ã‚Â Unfortunately (and understandably), they didn’t have any of the new full carbon Anthem or Trance Advanced SL models, but the top of the range aluminum Anthem is a very nice bike. Ã‚Â We rode these last year, too, and reviewed them, and Giant’s reps said that only the spec has changed for both the Anthem and the Trance.
The Anthem has racing geometry. Ã‚Â The headtube is more upright for quick handling, and the new SID forks seem to keep the front end in line a little better. It keeps the Fox rear shock, though. Ã‚Â The other noticeable change is the move to almost entirely Giant-branded cockpit parts versus the RaceFace spec on last (this) year’s models. Ã‚Â The drivetrain, brakes and even wheels are all Shimano XT, so the rotors are CenterLock mounted.
The Anthem rides as fast and solid as I remembered, which makes it a solid XC race bike…a fact that pro mountain biker Adam Craig has proven against the best racers in the world. Ã‚Â While the new carbon version gets a tapered headtube, the aluminum models do not, but honestly, the bike seemed plenty stiff and stable. Ã‚Â Cranking it up the short power climbs translated into forward motion without feeling like any effort was wasted, and the rear wheel stayed on the ground throughout seated and standing hammering. Ã‚Â The bike is easy to pop over small roots and branches, and at 25lbs, it’s a contender with lots of room for weight weenie improvements.
Daniel (6’0″ – 160lbs): For cross country riding and racing, the Giant Anthem is a dream to ride. The Maestro suspension technology lives up to the hype, providing efficient and responsive articulation. The 4″ of rear travel is more than enough to float over rough terrain and hardly sacrifices anything when off the saddle sprinting or climbing. I felt a greater sense of control and maneuverability on the Anthem than on the Giant XTC I (26″) have been riding for years. Giants newer designs clearly reflect their pro rider input and teams of engineers (you should hear them boast about their engineers). As a once adamant believer in lighter hard tail race bikes, I’m shocked by my own preference towards newer full suspension bikes like the Anthem.
2010 GIANT TRANCE X
Tyler: Just to reiterate, there are no geometry or frame changes to the aluminum-framed Trance models from 2009 to 2010. Ã‚Â When I rode the Trance last year, what impressed me was the bike’s ability to combine 5″ of plush travel with solid climbing prowess, even without using the lockout. In fact, I felt that the climbing ability and lack of pedal-induced shock activity was near none on both the Trance and the Anthem.
Not so on this day. Ã‚Â Despite putting my body weight in air in the rear shock (same as last year), the Trance I rode felt overly soft. Ã‚Â On a rough descent or freeride bomb run, that’d be great! Ã‚Â But on a cross country trail, it was overkill, and I never felt efficient or powerful on the bike. Ã‚Â Comfortable, yes. Ã‚Â Fast, not as much. Ã‚Â Even playing with the ProPedal on the firmest setting didn’t do much to tame the motion.
Given that the Trance is a “Trail” bike intended for riding over most normal trail stuff, the suspension is certainly smooth and active enough to get you through all kinds of things. Ã‚Â Given my overly positive impression of the bike last year, I’m chalking this one up to not having enough time to really dial the suspension settings to my liking. Ã‚Â Aside from that, the frame is sturdy and tracks well, and as usual, Giant’s Maestro suspension keeps the wheels stuck to the ground.
If you’re considering this bike, take advantage of Giant’s nearly year-round demo day schedule and get ye to the trailer nearest you. Ã‚Â Or, hit up the Interbike Demo East in October…it’s open to the public, and they’ll be there. Ã‚Â Just make sure to play with the shock pressures to get it dialed for your style of riding before hitting the trail so you can get an accurate feel for the bike.
Daniel: As you may know from previous reviews, I am lost with 5″ of rear travel. The bike begged for bigger jumps and I couldn’t answer. Not to mention the trails we were on had little, if any, aggressive sections. My initial impression however was that the bike felt bigger than it needed to. It seemed to respond slow, almost lumbering through turns. Every other Giant bike I rode surpassed my expectations, so I urge you not to place much weight in my impression of the Trance until I pick up my game, put on my big boy pants, and learn to huck the big bikes like a pro.
2010 GIANT REIGN X
Tyler: I didn’t ride the 2010 Reign because, well, there’s just no need for 6.7″ of travel on this trail. Ã‚Â Evan, whose review is below, likes to jump lots of things though, so he’ll tell you about the ride. Ã‚Â I’ll fill you in on a couple of tech details. Ã‚Â For 2010, Giant worked with Fox and Avid to customize a lot of the little alloy bits on their components, and you can see the detail in the Reign with color-matched blue bits on the brake levers and rear shock (the brake banjo is also blue, but not shown in pics here). Ã‚Â Then, they color matched the green logo graphics with the rim graphics and green ano rear dropout…which is swappable to change the chainstay length and allow for multiple axle configs. (for a full tech rundown, read this post).
The Reign X comes with an adjustable height seatpost with remote release lever. Ã‚Â The rear cable housing ducks into the rear triangle under the BB to keep it out of harms way.
Evan (5’5″ – 127lbs): This bike eats smaller bikes for breakfast and swallows anything that is Ã¢â‚¬Å“all mountainÃ¢â‚¬Â riding. I did not really have the trail to accommodate such a beast of a bike. I found myself looking for anything and everything to roll over or jump off of. At one point, I had to refrain from rolling over Tyler and Daniel. With all of the suspension and trail forgiveness a person could ask for, the bike could still be manipulated and pedaled. It may not be the most efficient pedaling bike for day to day trail riding but, if you are aggressive and tend to Bee-line instead of go around, this may be your animal and worth the extra effort required on flats and ups. The Reign is designed well and all the components compliment the overall presence of the bike. To give you my true thoughts on how this bike performs I would need to get it in the environment for which it was designed. I will part with saying that a lot of fun can be had on this bike and I think this is the best Reign yet. Laaauuuunnnncccchhh!
2010 GIANT TCR ADVANCED SL ROAD BIKE
Tyler: We only rode about six miles total on the 2010 Giant TCR Advanced SL, but I’m pretty sure all three of us walked away with the same impression. Ã‚Â This bike handles confidently, steers directly without being twitchy, is stable and seems to mitigate road noise well. Ã‚Â There was absolutely no hit of flex from the bottom bracket when climbing short hills seated or standing, or when jumping out of the saddle to sprint. Ã‚Â Everything seemed to translate directly into forward motion. Ã‚Â It’s extremely lightweight, and at an MSRP of about $6,200 it’s not touching the atmospheric 5-digit pricing levels of some top-end race bikes. Ã‚Â If I were in the market for a new road bike, this would be on my short list.
Daniel: If you listen to Giant reps talk about the company, they couldn’t be more proud of themselves. Listing off technical explanations and innovations that I’m sure are lost of the average cyclists (I didn’t understand half of what he said). Here’s what I did get: The new T-800 carbon frames are Ooo-Ahh Fancy compared to the previous T-700. The frames are hand crafted in a process that takes almost 4x longer than the T-700. I can tell you that the bike rode beautifully. There was very little road vibration, incredible responsiveness on sprints, and an inherent stability in the fork and handlebars. Some bikes transmit the slightest movement in the saddle or handlebars through the entire bike and wheels, and can become wobbly or unstable. The TCR Advanced SL felt solid and is not affected by unintentional inputs.
Evan: I rode this bike on a short road loop with some ups, downs, and turns.Ã‚Â My weapon was a small frame outfitted with 2010 Ultegra (sweet looking groupo).Ã‚Â I did not get to ride this bike as much as I wanted and would like to spend some quality time with the bike.Ã‚Â Based upon the short period I did have with it though, I was happy with the experience.Ã‚Â What I enjoyed about this bike was the fact that it was a performer across the board.Ã‚Â It was light, stiff, comfortable, responsive, quick, climbed well, descended well, cornered well, and was appealing to the eye.Ã‚Â Without spending some more time on the bike I am not going to comment too much further and say something like it is THE standout for 2010.Ã‚Â I would want to put it in the line-up under consideration though and hope I get to ride it more in the near future.