When my entry was confirmed for this year's Trans-Alp mtb race in July I decided that I really needed a new hardtail bike that was fit for the task ahead. My key criteria were light weight, efficient power transfer, predictable handling as well as reliability and durability.
I knew that I wanted an XT gruppo and I do like the plushness of Fox Forks so those choices looked after themselves. The big question came down to which brand and which frame material I'd opt for.
Looking around the ranges Giant has clearly positioned their XTC Composite 0 right in the sweet spot.
A full carbon frame from a major, proven manufacturer, a full XT 10 speed gruppo - including XT wheels - Fox F100 Forks with a tapered steerer, a quality, own brand, finishing kit, a Fi'zi:k saddle and Maxxis Larsen TT tyres. With an all up weight of 27.5lbs and retailing at well under £2,750 it looked like an excellent package for the money to me.
My first impressions of the XTC Composite 0 were excellent - it's the first mtb I've ridden that feels like it fits me properly. I've always fallen into the gap between 19" and 21" frames. Giant refer to the Large XTC Comp 0 as being a 20" - it comes in at a 19.5" but with a very generously long cockpit length.
My first ride out had me buzzing and put a smile on my face. With the forks locked out using the bar mounted remote lever this bike climbs exceptionally well and I found myself tackling climbs in bigger gears than previously. Power transfer is immediate and there's no noticeable flex from the bottom bracket area and the bike's relatively light weight make climbs a breeze.
Gav McDonald racing at Whinlatter - Dave MacFarlane
The bike's massive headtube and tapered steerer forks ensure that everything is flex free up front and the steering is pin sharp and predictable. Being a hardtail you know what you're getting into on rough stuff but the tuned carbon seat and oversized chain stays do a great job of dialling out the worst of the buzz and keep the whole plot well poised.
Super-stiff seat stays.
XT 10 speed does what it says on the tin with sharp shifting up and down, sublime brake modulation with loads of usable braking power and classy wheels with ball and cone hubs - it just gets on with the job reliably without being too flash. The Fox 100's Forks have performed flawlessly and the remote lockout means that you can, and do, easily toggle between settings as the terrain changes.
The heart of a bike is always its frame and, no matter how good the components are, at the end of the day it's all about the characteristics of the frame. Happily the Giant XTC Composite 0 has a thumping great heart! This is a bike that responds instantly to your every input and thrives on being pushed hard cross country. The large sized frame-only weight is around the 1300 grams mark and that's impressively light for an mtb frame.
So far, the frame has taken all the abuse I've thrown at it and has, the odd scratch aside, come through unscathed. Helicopter tape under the beefy down tube has prevented damage from flying stones and is recommended as is taping the other vulnerable areas of the frame such as the stays and cable rub zones.
Giant's own brand finishing kit is quality gear and I've no complaints. Some may look to upgrade the bars, stem and post for something a little more niche and lighter. Saddle and tyres are such personal items but, again, I've no complaints.
Being a long frame this bike isn't at its best on sharp, uphill (generally man made) turns. The long wheelbase takes a bit of turning - maintaining momentum as much as possible and taking smooth lines appears to be the key in this situation.
Overall it's a really great package. If you're looking for a competition level, lightweight XC bike try out Giant's XTC Composite range. Giant says it's the "ultimate go fast hardtail" and, you know, I reckon they're spot on.
Giant pride themselves on being "The Global Bicycle Company" and the last 40 years have seen the company grow to become one of the largest bicycle and bike frame manufacturers on the planet.
Founded on a commitment to push technical innovation and development Giant is the company that first brought many of the designs and materials that are taken for granted to the masses at an affordable price. The first mass produced high end alu bikes - Giant, the first compact geometry road frames - Giant, the first to offer affordable carbon frames - you guessed it, Giant.
Overall rating 5-.
Giant Homepage http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-gb/
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