“ Mid-range front suspension cross-country mountain bike from Giant. „
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- From the seat downwards this bike is as sturdy and well manufactured as they come. This is a full blown Cross Country Bicycle,able to withstand all the hard knocks you can throw at it. Cross Country Attributes and Faults ------------------------------------ There is no better bike in its weight class that can perform so well and effortlessly as this machine. Its Tyres are made by Michelin and are of the soft knobbly rubber type,giving excellant grip on gravel,dirt or any loose terrain. The Gearing as you would expect is made by Shimano and has 24 different positions,ideal for those steep hills . Its Front Suspension is adjustable depending on how soft or how hard you want the front wheel to ride over the ground. The Seat is a little uncomfortable if sat in for long periods of time which if you are riding across country you will probably be out of it more than you will be in it. Brakes on the bike are the disc type which are very useful when you want to avoid that tree root or rock,they have a lovely graduated action and are extremely proficiant. Finally the Frame is solidly built with nice meaty welds joining it all together. Road Attributes and Faults ------------------------ As the model name implies it is not a dedicated road bike. The Tyres when put on the tarmac are noisy yet they do hold the road well mainly due to there softness.Though i haven`t had to replace them yet i think they would wear away quite quickly if subjected to this kind of urban riding style. Having a large number of Gears is pretty useless on the road as i have found that i only need 7 maximum to get around,however the paddle type gear shifts are a dream to use ,one paddle to click to a higher gear and the other to a lower one,bit like the semi-automatic gear change in a car(tiptronic i believe). Front Suspen
sion is virtually obselete apart from when you mount the pavement from the road. As i have mentioned before the seat is uncomfortable when sat in for extended periods of time,so it is totally unsuitable for the road. The Brakes are most definately this bikes greatest assets both intown and in the forest,they stop you on a sixpence which is very reassurring if some brainless bus driver decides to cut you up. The frame is a little on the heavy side when riding up the street ,thus for the same money a more lighter racing bike would be the order of the day. Final Conclusion ------------------------- Although this bike is obviously best suited to,well,err, Cross Country riding it can be taken down your street but don`t go any further.
Giant are one of the biggest manufacturers if bikes in the world, producing a range of machines from kids bikes to mountain bikes and ranging in price from £200 to £4,000. The XtC series has been designed for cross-country use and comes in either front-suspension or full-suspension flavours. The XtC 850 on review here is a mid-range front-suspension (commonly known as a hard-tail) model. A quick run-through of the specifications reveals a none-too-shabby set of components for a bike costing £600. Frame: Oversized compact AluxX 6061 frame, 1600g Oversized but compact? Surely a contradiction of terms... not quite. Oversized refers to the tubes from which the frame is made. They are thick diameter (but thin-walled) aluminium pipes. The frame is compact due to the angles at which the tubes have been welded together, the welds being neat but beefy looking at the same time. The frame is light for a bike at this price and has an exaggerated top-tube angle which gives greater stand-over height than more conventional geometry. Front fork: SR Suntour adjustable suspension front fork, with 80mm travel Not the best fork on the market, this is obviously where Giant have saved their money. It's fine when trundling along a bridleway, taking most of the small bumps on the chin without complaining but with preload as the only control over the suspension I have found that the fork tends to get a bit too bouncy on high-speed descents over rough ground. Stem: Giant aluminium A-head The stem is rather longer than usual, making the frame seem a bit larger than it actually is. This combines with the flat handlebars to give a fairly stretched out riding position if you don't get a frame that you know is 'too small'. Rims: Rigida ZAC 2000, 32 hole, black anodized The wheel package is adequate, ZAC2000 wheels with stainless (black) spokes and Giant own-brand hubs. You can doubtless get lighter and stronger wheel
s but for everyday cross-country riding they do the job. The supplied tyres are a multi-purpose affair with a tread pattern that tries to make itself useful on the road whilst still maintaining grip off-road. It manages to do both but only just, off-road performance is noticeably better than on with the bike still sounding like a tractor when it's riding on tarmac. Brakes: Giant MPH 3 hydraulic disc brakes This is the first bike I've ever had with disc brakes, never mind them being hydraulic, and to say that I have been impressed with their stopping power would be an understatement! The brakes employ a closed-system hydraulic setup with a thumb-adjustable reservoir on the levers. This is used to adjust the biting point of the brakes and can come in handy on long downhill sections where the brakes heat up. This build up of heat would be fine in an open system, but in a closed setup, it causes the hydraulic fluid to expand, pushing the brake pads closer to the disc and ultimately locking the brakes on. With the reservoir adjuster, you can 'slacken off' the pads while still riding (but it's not advisable to try doing so when travelling at 30mph, downhill over a loose surface!). Aside from their sleek and purposeful appearance, the other advantages to disc brakes include simpler removal of Quick Release wheels and consistent braking performance in wet/muddy conditions. Other points of note about these brakes include their ease of operation, a single finger is enough to apply a surprising amount of braking force, and the amount of 'feel' you get when braking. You can apply as much or as little force to the brakes as you need and get a much btter feel for when the wheel is about to lock than with cable brakes. Sizes: S- 17", M - 19", L - 21" There are a couple of things to consider when buying a mountain bike and probably one of the most important is the size of the frame. Choose the wrong size and you
could be in a world of hurt (literally). Current guidelines say that if you will be riding cross-country then you need a bike with at least 3 clear inches between the top tube of the frame and your groin, this is often referred to as the stand-over clearance of a bike. The Giant frames have an aggressively angled top-tube which improves stand-over clearance but I found the frames came up a bit bigger than you would think. On the advice of my local dealer (and trying out a few bikes he had in stock) I opted for a medium sized frame, which does fit and gives me 3 inches of standover clearance but the setup of the bike, with long handlebar stem and flat handlebars leaves me feeling a little stretched. Of course this can be changed, buy a shorter stem and riser-bars and I could rectify the situation quite easily, but it's all additional cost. Accessories? The bike comes with front/back/wheel reflectors, a water cage/bottle and a bell as standard. It also comes with bar-ends for the handlebars, just in case you need that extra bit of reach. Oh and it's painted a mix of metallic graphite and silver. How does it ride though? From my comments above you may feel that I don't enjoy riding it. That is not the case, I have had some great times on this bike and hopt to continue doing so. The frame is light and responsive, it goes where you tell it to. It's fast as well, being a hard-tail pedalling efficiency is better than a full-suspension bike (certainly one of a similar price). The disc brakes are probably the bikes biggest selling point but they are certainly worth it. I will more than likely upgrade the front fork to something with a bit more control at some point. The same goes for the stem & handlebars. But in the meantime it's still a fun bike to ride and well worth the money. One last point... this bike has a RRP of £600. If you are going to buy it from a local dealer, it's always worth haggling over the price as they
always have some slack to negotiate with. Failing that, you could wait until next season when you will probably be able to pick it up for about half-price.