2010 Giant XTC-1 29er – Ride Review and Weights

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Giant’s demo trailer rolled through town a bit ago, and we rode the tar out of the bikes, including the new XTC 29er hardtail mountain bike.  Three of us put about 25 miles (total) on this bike, riding a S, L and XL. So…how’s it ride?

Hit ‘more’ to see lots of photos and our ride reviews…

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.

2010 GIANT XTC 29er 1

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RIDE REVIEWS:

TYLER (6’2″ – 180lbs): I rode two laps on the 29er, my first (of four total MTB demo laps) and last.  On the first lap, I rode the Large size and, to be honest, wasn’t impressed.  I don’t much care for hardtails, and I felt like it was bumping me around…the whole time I was wondering why some people are such fanatics about them, and I’m going to go ahead and state for the record: Aluminum hardtails will transmit trail to your ass regardless of wheel size.

Then I rode the XL.  Even with tired legs from the prior 20 or so miles of demo riding, the last lap felt surprisingly good, and here’s why I think it was better:  First, the XL fit me better.  Giant’s reps said my 6’2″ height is sort of in the middle of intended users for the L and XL, so I rode both, and I say it’s XL.

Second, I took advantage of Giant’s specially designed 29er rims by lowering the tire pressure to 18psi front and 20psi rear.  Giant developed their own extra-wide rims for the XTC 29er to provide a wider contact patch for traction and lessen the risk of pinch flats.  That’s a good thing…I bottomed the rear rim on several roots and ill-timed bunny hops, but it never flatted.

If I had known what the PSI’s were before my lap, I probably would have put more air in, but I didn’t measure it until after the ride.  I’m glad I didn’t because I attribute a large part of my increased enjoyment on the second lap to the fact that it wasn’t bouncing around like it did on the first lap with “normal” tire pressure. (One of the reps said you could probably use a tubeless conversion kit if you wanted to run tubeless)

During the second lap, I was better able to think about how the bike rode.  On the Large bike, the brakes were noisy, which was seemingly amplified by the aluminum frame…just something to keep in mind if you’re not big on keeping things ultra tuned and silent.  On the XL, they were fine (likely because far fewer people ride an XL-sized demo bike).  The handling was crisp, and the bike was easily maneuverable through twisty stuff.  I didn’t feel like I was getting a full 100mm of travel out of the fork, but it could have been because the tires were taking a lot of the initial hit.  The frame is very efficient…you pedal, it goes.  On smooth courses or those with lots of fireroads, a bike like this would be the ticket.  Giant took their time introducing a 29er, they said because they wanted to see what worked with others and make something really good.  This approach shines through in the fact that the bike doesn’t make you feel like your sitting on a big rig like some 29ers.  It fits good, and other than rolling better over the little stuff, there’s nothing about the feel of the bike that screams 29er…and that should be considered a success in its own right.  At $1,950 for the XTC 29er 1, you’re getting a performance bike with a good fork and effective rims, which makes it a good deal out of the box and very easy to upgrade in the future.

Evan (5’5″ – 127lbs): The XTC1 was my first opportunity to ride a hardtail 29’er. First off, I will have to voice, Giant has done a stand up job in making an attractive bike with the XTC1. It has pop to it and there is something about the look that makes you just want to ride it hard and fast. Yeah… hard and fast.

On to performance, fit, an overall feel. I rode a small and it fit like a glove, especially after the ever so popular parking lot fit and tuning session. I was comfortable and content from cockpit to pedal. BikeRumor tested Giant’s mountain bikes on a trail that, to most, would probably be considered moderately challenging cross country with some more difficult aspects here and there. I took a total of two laps (about 10 miles) on this bike and was thoroughly impressed with the speed I was capable of getting from this machine. Don’t get me wrong, it had the noticeable reminder that it was indeed still a hardtail, however, with the 29” wheels and 100mm Fox fork, it was pretty buttery. I was surprised. Compared to my 26”, 80mm race hardtail, it was refreshing how smooth this bike was. Acceleration did not seem to be and issue and the XTC1 was able to maintain its momentum for crushing over small obstacles and re-engaging an increase in power seamlessly. In other words, if you want to go fast, HAMMER IT! As it pertains to cross country riding, a person would have trouble out-riding this bike!

Final thoughts:

  • For a bike around 2k, worth it
  • Killer looks
  • 100mm front fork, not too common on hardtail 29’ers. I like this fact
  • Stable platform lending to holding tight, aggressive lines
  • Out-of-the-box goodness

Daniel (6’0″ – 160lbs): 29er’s have been a big buzz word for the last few years. Although Giant has been noticeably reluctant to jump on the band wagon, their XTC 29er is anything but half hearted. The XTC 29er is well designed, surprisingly responsive and agile. Giants 29er wheel design features a deep dish rim that effectively shortens the spoke length to reduce wheel flex associated with 29″ wheels. Currently the XTC 29er is only comes in two midrange packages. Although the bike I rode did need a rear brake adjustment, I liked the way it is built for it’s price range. It would be nice to see a more lavishly built version with top end components or even a full suspension version.

Tyler: Ditto that, and I’ll go ahead and save Giant some market research: Make a full carbon, sub-25lb Anthem 29er with a full 4″ of travel.  Offer it in three trim levels at launch and you’ll be good to go.

Comments

JG - 09/02/09 - 11:36am

I enjoyed riding the small when they were here in Indy. Now if they would only update their web site with the 2010s.

Eric - 09/08/09 - 1:04pm

What size is the bike on the scale?

Editor - 09/08/09 - 3:23pm

It, along with most of the bikes we weighed were a Large. When a “L” wasn’t available, we weighed a Medium.

[...] used it for the Giant demo day when we were on and off the saddle and riding in very damp conditions for about five hours, and the [...]

EP - 09/23/09 - 1:26pm

I built up my medium with some racey specs and it now weighs in at 22lbs 2 ozs. It is a quick handling bike indeed!

Lars - 03/07/10 - 1:18pm

Hi! What size is the bike on the first picture? It looks like XL.

Tyler (Editor) - 03/08/10 - 10:04am

Lars,
I can’t remember if that’s the XL (probably) or the L. The Large was the rep’s personal bike, and the one in the photo looks pretty new, so I’m guessing it was the XL.
- Tyler

Carl - 03/12/10 - 8:47pm

Just picked up a medium frame XTC1. The only problem I’ve had so far is the seatmount slipping. MTBR talks about the post slipping. No such problems. The Deore hubs flex a bit. I switched them to SLX which cured the flex and dropped six ounces.

[...] specific 29er mountain bike.  The Rainier pulls from their XTC 29er hardtail (which we reviewed here) by using shaped, lightweight ALUXX aluminum tubing, but the women’s version is decidedly low [...]

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