2010 Giant Ride Reviews – Anthem, Trance, TCR and Reign

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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.  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…

NOTE:

This post covers mainly the weights and ride reviews of these bikes.  For a full technical feature on Giant’s new 2010 mountain bikes with specs and components, read this.

TEST COURSE:

For all ride reviews below, we rode at Country Park in Greensboro, NC.  The mountain bike trail is about a 4.5 mile loop with fast sections, rooty sections and a few rocky sections.  There are gravely turns, sharp and sustained (but relatively mild) climbs and some fast (but not too steep) descents.  All in all, it’s a great trail with good flow, better when ridden clockwise in our opinion.  It rained for the first 90 minutes the trailer was there, but then the sun came out.  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

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Tyler (6’2″ – 180lbs): I rode the XL Anthem.  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.  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.  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.  The other noticeable change is the move to almost entirely Giant-branded cockpit parts versus the RaceFace spec on last (this) year’s models.  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.  While the new carbon version gets a tapered headtube, the aluminum models do not, but honestly, the bike seemed plenty stiff and stable.  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.  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

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Tyler: Just to reiterate, there are no geometry or frame changes to the aluminum-framed Trance models from 2009 to 2010.  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.  Despite putting my body weight in air in the rear shock (same as last year), the Trance I rode felt overly soft.  On a rough descent or freeride bomb run, that’d be great!  But on a cross country trail, it was overkill, and I never felt efficient or powerful on the bike.  Comfortable, yes.  Fast, not as much.  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.  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.  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.  Or, hit up the Interbike Demo East in October…it’s open to the public, and they’ll be there.  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

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Tyler: I didn’t ride the 2010 Reign because, well, there’s just no need for 6.7″ of travel on this trail.  Evan, whose review is below, likes to jump lots of things though, so he’ll tell you about the ride.  I’ll fill you in on a couple of tech details.  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).  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.  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 “all mountain” 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

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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.  This bike handles confidently, steers directly without being twitchy, is stable and seems to mitigate road noise well.  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.  Everything seemed to translate directly into forward motion.  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.  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.  My weapon was a small frame outfitted with 2010 Ultegra (sweet looking groupo).  I did not get to ride this bike as much as I wanted and would like to spend some quality time with the bike.  Based upon the short period I did have with it though, I was happy with the experience.  What I enjoyed about this bike was the fact that it was a performer across the board.  It was light, stiff, comfortable, responsive, quick, climbed well, descended well, cornered well, and was appealing to the eye.  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.  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.

Comments

pokesallad1 - 09/04/09 - 9:12pm

I just got the new 2010 TCR Advanced 1 (not SL). It rocks. 2010 SRAM Force is great. I’ve been riding TT bike for past 3 yrs. so getting used to different geometry but the bike is great. Only have 30 miles as yet.

Bass - 09/28/09 - 12:44am

Any chance of a ride review of the Giant Anthem X Advanced 2010 from anywhere. Seems Giant are limiting this and not many ride reviews to read – does anyone know the reason behind this.

Editor - 09/30/09 - 5:24pm

Bass, probably because of the cost of the carbon frames…just too much risk to put a bunch of those on a trailer is my guess, but I’ll ask Giant’s go-to man next time I talk with him.
- Tyler (Editor)

Fred - 10/01/09 - 4:33pm

What’s the weight difference between a 2006 TCR Advanced (T-800) and a 2010 TCR Advanced (not SL, T-700)? I’m thinkin’ of changin my frame (and fork), but my actual is a real lightweight and I don’t know if is it worth changin it? By the way, the frame is an XS size. Thanks!!!

[...] reviewed the new XTC 29er here, and for detailed coverage of their 2010 bikes, check this post and this post.  Hit more for a full schedule and links to event locations and [...]

Tony Hebert - 10/17/09 - 1:02pm

I’ve been riding a Cannondale CAAD8 / CAAD9 frame for six years to date. I busted the CAAD8 frame and had to replace it with a CAAD9 frame. Total miles on both frames came to just over 20,000. I cycle everywhere and do not drive. Rain, sleet, or snow it doesn’t matter. My average daily cycling is 40 miles a day.

That aside, three weeks ago I busted my CAAD9 frame and decided to enter the Giant brand. I was not a fan of Giant and the only reason why I considered the TCR Advanced was because I refused to step foot in the ONLY Cannondale dealership in town because they janked up my bike when I had to replace the CAAD9 frame.

I can’t even begin to describe the difference. I understand I have no other carbon fiber frame experience to compare the TCR to other than my trail bike, however, I was absolutely blown away by the stability and stiffness of the bike as compared to my Cannondale. The slop in my cannondale became extremely apparent after riding the TCR. When riding my Cannondale down a certain road I could not let go of the handlebars because the road vibration transferred to the frame would cause the front fork and tire to oscillate with positive feedback to the point where the bike became extremely unstable. This does not happen on the TCR Advanced frame. In addition the ride is far more comfortable as the frame absorbs and mitigates most of the road noise. Another noticeable improvement. When I get up out of the saddle to explode into a sprint the acceleration is instant, commanding, and it feels as if every ft*lb of energy is transferred directly to the wheel and the road. It’s just an amazing difference.

On the Cannondale my monthly average commuting speed was 16 mph. I have only ridden the TCR for five days with a total of 250 miles and my average speed for that period is 21 mph. I’m tempted to conclude that I am faster on the TCR but I will wait till a month has gone by so I will have a better set of data to average my speed with.

I also own a 2008 Cannondale RUSH III that kicks ass I think.

Scott Laurie - 09/30/10 - 4:42am

I’ve had a TCR advanced 2010 road bike for a few months now and love the bike, the only think i can fault is the seat, you have to get a new seat.

Will - 04/05/11 - 7:21pm

Obviously this comment is quite late, but my armchair guess (and the photoes, of course) is the reason yall didn’t like the Trance X as much this year was that giant stocked ‘em with the boostvalve shocks . Bike like that does NOT need a high volume shock, if anything it will make it feel exactly as you describe: too soft and too willing to blow through travel.

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