In the last few years Giant has invested heavily in the 29er market with models from the entry level Revel 29er to the top of the line Anthem 29er and Trance X 29er. Giants 29er bikes have been solid performers and the Trance X 29er has become one of my favorite bikes to throw a leg over, it is fast, capable, and plain old fun to ride. The XTC 29er was another bike that really impressed me with the line up of the last few years. It is a bike I have seen ridden as an XC race bike and then the next day used to bomb down one of the more technical trails in our area. I took one out a few times and was able to climb like I never have before. So with as impressive as Giants 29er line up has been in the last few years, this year I expected to see them continuing this with the current models and adding the Trance X 27.5 and the Reign 27.5. What they actually have done is very surprising, Giant Bikes is going 27.5 for almost their entire line up for 2014. The anthem will be offered in 27.5 in both the aluminum and carbon models, the Trance X will be offered in 27.5 in aluminum and carbon, there is a new model the Trance X 27.5 SX which is a long travel version of the other Trance model, the Reign is no more (this makes me sad), the XTC will also be offered in 27.5 wheels, as well as some of the entry level models. Liv/Giant has also announced that they will only offer 27.5 wheeled bikes this year.
Check out this article for more infomation: http://www.mbaction.com/Main/News/Giant-Bicycles-Launches-an-Extensive-275inch-Line-6958.aspx
Anthem X 27.5
Trance X 27.5
Trance X 27.5 SX
The offerings from LIV/Giant the Intrigue, Lust, and Obsess
When you think of sunglasses for mountain biking the first name that comes to mind is Oakley. In fact Oakley is the first name that comes to mind when you think about eyewear for any sport. I have owned several pairs of Oakley glasses and they are good, but I have never felt that they lived up to the price tag. For an average pair of Oakley glasses I could buy a new Shimano XT derailluer or even a dropper seat post. To me this sucks, who wants to spend $180-$300 on sunglasses that could break in a crash, but you do need that eye protection so I buy what I think offers the best protection, Oakley! Then I meet a man named Jimbeau and we spoke while I got his bikes ready to ship, he told me he worked for a little company called Ryders Eyewear and asked me to check out their products. I told him I would and that I would review them on my site. He brought me several pairs and now I will never go back. Each pair of Ryders that I test are better than the pair before and they cost a fraction of what you will pay for Oakley's that are equivalent.
Soon I will have two new pairs up with reviews and have several other people testing with me so I will also have some guest reviews. Up next are the HIJACK, and VTX both of which have an interchangeable lens system and retail for under $100. Check them out at www.Ryderseyewear.com if you can't wait for the review.
So after some significant time on the Trance X 29er I can honestly say this bike is AWESOME! It rolls fast and can handle just about anything I have thrown it into. The Trance climbs great with the 29" wheels, even for someone like me who does not fancy himself a climber. When you point the bike down hill, it flies. The big wheels roll over obstacles on the trail so easily that I forget they are there until the next time I ride my 26" bike. I feel this bike works best if you ride the climbs and relatively flat parts of the trail in the trail mode on the fox CTD suspension and only use the climb mode on paved roads leading to the trail. The descend mode is great on rough downhills but most of the time I have found that the bike works great in trail mode for everything.
1. The components on the level 1 platform are great (and only get better if you step up to the 0)
2. The Fox CTD works well with this bike.
3. The geometry feels good.
4. The bike is responsive (sometimes you forget you are on a wagon wheeler)
1. It's a 29er so switchbacks can be interesting.
2. The Giant Contact switch seat post develops play at the seat over time.
If you are in the market for a 29er or just a dependable trail bike, then I would recommend that you take a good look at this bike. For most riders it will easily fit as their everyday ride. For those who want a fast bike that can handle some serious descending, but would still like to pedal to the top then the Trance X 29er should be on your short list of bikes to be considered.
On Sunday I had the chance to get out on the trail and give the new Avid XO Trail brakes a try. Here are my first impressions of the new brakes:
-El Moro, Newport Beach Ca
-Bommer, Red Tail Ridge, Rattlesnake, Mach One, I Think I Can, Moro Ridge, Missing Link, Fenceline, Bommer.
We started out on Bommer, a fire road with a hill right at the start. I have noticed my old brakes sometimes took a couple hills to get warmed up and really work, but the XO Trails were grabbing right off the bat. From Bommer we rode Red Tail Ridge out to Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake is a single track that has a technical downhill section in it. Through the technical section I had more control of how the brakes grabbed than I have ever had. I have ridden this section with Tektro mechanical disk brakes, Avid Elixer 3, and both Shimano SLX and XT brakes. None of these felt as smooth or had the ability to modulate the braking force in this section that the XO Trails had. The thing to these brakes have been the Shimano XT's (which are awesome). The XO Trails lever pull is the smoothest I have used. After Rattlesnake we went down Mach One which is a steep fire road that you cn generate a ton of speed coming down. I was able to let the bike roll and still had plenty of power to slow down when I needed to. We then climbed up I Think I Can and Moro Ridge to Missing Link and Fenceline. I used the brakes in these flowing single tracks to really control my speed into and out of the corners and once again felt like I had superb control and flow. The whole ride took about an hour and a half and in that entire time the brakes did not make noise once. They were silent, strong, and offer great control.
I will continue to test and review the Avid Trail XO brakes over the next few months so stay tuned!
So, last night I got a call from Brian at the shop where I work on the weekends (Two Wheels One Planet, Costa Mesa), and he told me that the Sram rep was coming down to switch out old model brakes on some of the bikes on the floor and that I could also get some new brakes to try out if I got my bike to the shop. I was a little skeptical, but I still got my bike down there right away. I was told that they would either be XX or XO brakes.
Today I showed up at the shop and sure enough the Sram rep was there and he was changing out brakes. I spoke with him for a while and to my surprise my bike ended up on the stand getting Avid's brand new XO Trail brakes installed. I had to leave before he was finished, so I thanked him and headed home.
The XO Trail is Avid's brake that follows close behind the XX model. It is a four piston dual diameter caliper with their innovative lever pivot bearing. Weighing in at just 340 grams they are a 50 gram improvement per brake over my Avid Elixir 3's. As Avid says, "the new XO Trail was born to climb and engineered to descend." Here are the spec's:
I have been running some heavy tires for a while and I like them, but when I saw these Continental Mountain King 2.4's come into the shop I decided to try out a new set up. I was running Kenda Kinetics with a 2.6 in the front and a 2.35 in the rear. With the Mountain Kings I am going to try a 2.4 in front and a 2.2 in the rear. While I haven't been able to ride with these yet I can say that these tire dropped 3 lbs from the Marauder. When I combine this weight loss with the weight loss from the addition of Avid Elixer 3 brakes The bike has gone from 42.3 lbs to 37.1 lbs. If these tires hold up they will probably become a permant addition, if they don't I will go back to the Kendas. Look forward to a full review soon!