Enter the carbon.

Giant XTC 27.5 0 Review

The 2014 Giant XTC 27.5 0 is one hell of a mean race bike. The XTC has been Giant’s hardtail cross country shredder for many years now, and has been extremely popular in the 29er wheelsize. World champions have been crowned sitting on top of the 29 inch model and Giant has big expectations for what will happen on the new 27.5 wheelset as well. This is the first ever carbon bike that I’ve ridden, and I’ve got to say I was very surprised at how different it was from aluminum. More on that in a moment.

Specs from Giant’s Website

Price$7200
FrameAdvanced-grade Composite
ForkRockShox SID XX with 15mm thru-axle, Xloc Full Sprint remote, OverDrive 2 steerer 100mm travel
ShiftersSram XX1 trigger shift
Front DerailleurNone, it's XX1 bro!
Rear DerailleurSram XX1, type 2
BrakesAvid XX World Cup, hydraulic disc, 160mm front rotor, 140mm rear rotor
Brake LeversAvid XX World Cup
CassetteSram XX1 10x42, 11-speed
ChainSram XX1
Crankset Sram XX1, 34T
Bottom BracketSram GXP Press Fit
WheelsGiant P-XCR0 Composite
TiresSchwalbe Thunder Burt Evo 27.5x2.1

Aside from having a Schwalbe Racing Ralph as the rear tire instead of the Thunder Burt this is the exact bike I rode.

How It Rides

Let’s just say that this thing feels super freaking fast, I was absolutely amazed at how lightweight the bike is. I wish that I had the opportunity to weigh it, I’m guessing it was maybe 20-21 pounds. This bike was stupid light and incredibly stiff.



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Like I said prior, this was my first ride on a carbon fiber bike, though not my last as I picked up about 5 more rides on carbon through the dirt demo. The way carbon rides differently definitely stuck out to me as I did all my testing. It has some very cool characteristics which I’m sure everyone has heard a thousand times over now. Only problem is the insane cost of it. This bikes price, $7000+, is far more expensive than anything that I will most likely ever have the opportunity to buy. But dangit this thing is fun to ride. 🙂

This was also my first ride on the XX1 drivetrain, which I also got to test out about 6 more times. I’ll just say that this group of components that Sram has put together is quite possibly the best thing I have ever ridden. But, like the carbon I don’t know if I will ever afford it. Check out more thoughts on XX1 and Carbon over in this Interbike Dirt Demo 2013 Recap.

Back to my thoughts directly associated with the Giant XTC 27.5 0. I thought it was a great race day bike. The light weight, stiff ride and fantastic feel of the XX1 made this bike a dream.

However, I still didn’t care for the 27.5 wheelset. It was a massive improvement over the 27.5 Anthem 3 that I rode prior, but still nothing that I really wanted to purchase. This bike actually felt like it fit me pretty well, which was the most glaring problem with the Anthem 3. I didn’t feel cramped while riding it, but instead I felt very natural.

All of that said about this bike fitting pretty well, I could still tell that the wheels were getting a lot of feedback from small rocks and bumps, they definitely felt slower than a 29er wheel does. I also still didn’t feel the nimble and quick handling that most people have reported from the 27.5 wheelset. When it comes right down to it, if I’m shelling out that kind of cash for a race day bike I would pick up a 29er over this any day.

Another knock on this is the Sram XX World Cup brakes. Throw them in the trash and get some Shimano SLX on there. You may pick up a little weight but the ride will be better overall. Plus you can sell the XX brakes for more than you’ll pay for a set of SLX making it a good deal for you! Really, I just couldn’t be more dissapointed in the Sram brakes. The XX set on this bike had the high pitched Turkey Warble scream on pretty much every braking section. They also had the much longer engagement.

Overall Thoughts

This is a really standout bike that I was very impressed with overall. It felt zippy in the flats. It handled nicely while climbing and descending, even on the chewed up rocky sections. And it was a marvelous shifter and fantastic ride. I highly recommend the Giant XTC 0 as a race bike.  However, the whole 27.5 thing just hasn’t impressed me. The 29er version of this bike is $1,000 more than the 27.5, but if my mindset is buying the best hardtail race bike I can, I’m going with the 29er and gladly paying the extra grand.

2 points I want to make before concluding.

  1. I think that I have a bias towards riding 29ers because I am so used to mine and so please take my review with a grain of salt.
  2. The trail that was used at the Interbike Dirt Demo was very open, no trees and only 1 fast-tight corner. In essence it was a 29er dream and really didn’t test the limits of the 27.5 models. I do think this played a role in my opinions on the wheelsize.

I definitely recommend you get to a local dealer or a Giant demo in your area to test ride one for yourself because your ride may be massively different from mine. In fact, I can say at this point that all but 1 person has disagreed with me on my standpoint with 27.5’s. Which means that a lot of people either really dig the way 27.5’s ride or… they’e drinking a lot of 27.5 koolaid…

 

What do you think?

I would love your feedback and thoughts on this review. Let’s open up a discussion in the comments below!