Giant USA released its 2014 bike lineup to the press and it comes as no surprise that mid-sized wheels play a large role in the brand's upper level mountain bike range. We were surprised, however, to discover that Giant will up-size all of its most important 26 inch all-mountain and dual-suspension trailbikes to 27.5 inch wheels, as well as down-size its 29er XC-racing hardtails and short-travel dual-suspension bikes to 27.5 as well. Giant will still offer its key 29er XC racing bikes next season and the Reign-X and Glory will be 26-inch only - for now - but the writing is definitely on the wall at Giant USA.
| The Trance 27.5 range of full-suspension trail bikes includes both composite and aluminum frame options. The Trance Advanced 27.5 2 model shown here features an Advanced-grade composite frame with 5.5 inches of Maestro Suspension technology.|
| Giant's Trance Advanced 27.5 uses a carbon front section paired to a welded aluminum rear suspension. The Trance uses Giant's Control Switch 100-millimeter dropper post with internal cable routing. Internal cable housings keep the profile of the 2014 lineup looking clean.|
Many mid-size-wheel naysayers insist that 27.5-inch wheels are an industry-driven fad being pushed upon customers who never asked for it. After two years in the mainstream, though, the growth of 650B points at an entirely different scenario. While there is significant push-back from existing mountain bike owners, new-bike customers seem perfectly happy to buy in to 650B. Traditionally, cyclists readily accept significant, but incremental improvements in drivetrains and frame design. Rather than inciting a revolution, apparently, the 650B wheel is being accepted similarly - as a worthwhile performance enhancement to the basic mountain bike. I believe that Giant USA has done its homework on this one and could be poised to take a leadership role among North America's 'Big Three' brands. - RC
| "It feels amazing," said Giant's Josh Carlson, who rode a prototype Trance Advanced 27.5 to several enduro race wins in North America this spring. "You can charge through rock gardens and gnarly terrain with total confidence that it's going to be quicker and faster and safer than any bike you've ever ridden. You can come into corners quicker and exit with so much more speed." |
Does This Spell the End of 26-inch Wheels For Giant?
Pinkbike asked Giant USA's Global Product Marketing Manager Andrew Juskaitis a few questions about the switch to 27.5-inch wheels: Is Giant USA eliminating 29 and 26-inch wheels from its XC, Trail and AM models for 2104?
· No, not entirely for 2014. Reign X and Glory remain 26 inch for 2014 and Anthem X and Trance X will still be offered in 29-inch. But that story will change in the future…. So, there are no 29er XC racing bikes for 2014?
· Anthem X 29er, XtC Advanced 29er and XtC Composite 29er will still be offered. Will Giant follow this path throughout its DH range next year?
· Can’t answer that question directly, but you can imagine that if we believe so strongly in 27.5 for the majority of our range in 2014, you can guess what might happen in our future… Can we expect to see 29 and 26-inch wheels eventually disappear in Giant's consumer-priced bikes in the near future?
· 26-inch for sure, but 29-inch will be dependent on market feedback. That said, if the market progresses the way we believe it will, 29-inch will be phased out in approximately two years....again, totally dependent on market feedback.
| The Anthem 27.5 range of full-suspension XC bikes includes both composite and aluminum frame options. The Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 model shown here features an Advanced-grade composite frame with four inches of Maestro Suspension technology.|
| Giant chose SRAM XX1 drivetrains for many of its top 27.5 models. It is rare to drop a chain running XX1, but just in case, Giant protects the swingrm of the Anthem Advanced 27.5 with a molded guard. Maestro dual-link rear suspension (right) has proven to be an excellent platform for mid-travel trailbikes.|
| Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Adam Craig won an early round of the 2013 Oregon Enduro Series on a prototype of the Anthem Advanced 27.5.|
GIANT 27.5: RIDE WITHOUT LIMITS.
The off-road world now has three wheel sizes from which to choose. Through extensive research and ride testing, Giant has
thoroughly analyzed how each size performs under different riding styles and in varying conditions. Our findings show that
mountain bikes with 27.5-inch wheels deliver superior performance without the compromises of 26 or 29-inch-wheel bikes.
So to create the best off-road riding experience, Giant has fully committed its 2014 lineup to this superior technology.
There is a common misconception that the performance of 27.5 technology sits squarely in the middle between 26 and 29. But
as our data reveals, 27.5 actually displays some of the best characteristics of 26 and 29—and it never measures out exactly in
When it comes to weight, 27.5 performs more like 26—it’s light and agile. And for efficiency and control, it outperforms 29.
Rather than introduce a single 27.5 model, as some of our competitors have, Giant is rolling out entirely new designs and
engineering solutions to maximize the performance advantages of 27.5-inch wheels. Here’s why:
27.5 TECHNOLOGY: Three reasons to believe
• 27.5-inch wheels are only five percent heavier than 26-inch. By comparison, 29-inch wheels are 11 percent heavier than
• Overall weights of 27.5 bikes also trend closer to 26 than heavier 29 versions of the same series.
• 27.5 wheels accelerate much like 26, outperforming the more sluggish feel of 29-inch wheels.
• 27.5 wheels roll over obstacles with much more control than 26. That translates into more efficient cornering,
acceleration and braking capabilities.
• The larger the diameter of a wheel, the greater the contact patch of the tire. A larger contact patch results in better
traction—which improves acceleration, deceleration and cornering. 27.5 wheels provide a contact patch that is similar
to 29-inch wheels.
• The larger the wheel, the larger the frame dimensions must be—and that leads to unwanted flex. A flexing frame
causes sloppy handling and slower acceleration under heavy power. A 27.5 frame flexes less than a 29 frame,
resulting in better control.
Every rider experiences two types of weight affecting their ride: overall bike weight and rotational wheel weight. Here’s a
closer look at these two forces and how different wheel sizes alter the dynamics of your ride:
Overall Bike Weight
Compare the weights of identically equipped bikes with different wheel sizes and you’ll see substantial weight differences. As
expected, the 26-inch-wheel bike is somewhat lighter than the 27.5, and substantially lighter than the 29 (up to two pounds of
overall bike weight savings from 29 to 27.5). Every gram saved helps you ride faster.
The overall weight of a 27.5 wheelset (wheel, tire and inner tube) is only 5% greater than that of an identically built 26-inch
wheelset. Compare this to the 12% increase of a 29-inch wheelset and you can see how a seemingly small increase in
diameter results in substantial weight gain—and poorer performance when climbing or accelerating.
Increased wheel diameter decreases the angle of attack (the angle in which a round object intersects a square object). This
is a good thing. A 29-inch wheel rolls over a 6-centimeter square-edge obstacle 14% more efficiently than a 26-inch wheel
does. In comparison, a 27.5-inch wheel rolls over the same obstacle 9.8% more efficiently than a 26-inch wheel does.
Another way to analyze angle of attack is the degree of impact—where 26-inch equals X degree, 27.5 equals X-4 degrees
and 29 equals X-6 degrees. Again, a shallower angle is better—so 29-inch takes the win, with 27.5 exhibiting nearly the same
performance but without the weight penalty.
Lateral (side-to-side) frame stiffness can be affected by wheel size. To accommodate larger wheels, frame dimensions must
be elongated. Therefore, a size medium 29-inch wheel frame has more lateral flex (bottom bracket and headtube) than a size
medium 27.5- or 26-inch wheel frameset. Additional flex compromises handling under heavy pedaling or sharp cornering.
The larger the wheel, the more difficult it is to optimize geometry, especially on smaller frames. As the frame size decreases,
head tube heights become higher (in relation to saddle height). On 26 or 27.5-inch frames, it’s less of a problem, but geometry
limitations can affect smaller 29-inch-wheel frames.
The larger the diameter of a wheel, the greater the contact patch of the tire. A larger contact patch results in better traction,
which leads to improved acceleration, deceleration and cornering. As you can see below, a 27.5-inch wheel has a similar
contact patch to the 29.
| The XtC 27.5 range of hardtail XC bikes includes both composite and aluminum frame options. The XtC Advanced 27.5 2 model shown here features the Advanced-grade composite frame.|
| (From Left)Giant's flagship XC racer, the XtC Advanced, features a 12-millimeter through-axle in the rear and a clean looking internal seatpost clamp beneath the top tube junction. Nice to see a carbon XC racing hardtail, with a provision for an internally routed dropper post.|
| "When you're racing cross-country, you're pushing the limits," said Swedish national champion Emil Lindgren. "The heart rate is maxed and you want a bike that responds and makes the effort feel a little easier. Going from a 26 to a 29, there's a big difference in the way the bike rides. But with 27.5, it's the perfect balance of quickness and acceleration of a 26, with the traction and stability of a 29er." |The Back-Story About Giant's 27.5 Range
Giant, the world leader in cycling technology, is revolutionizing its 2014 off-road lineup with a full range of new bikes featuring 27.5-inch wheel technology. Some of Giant’s most recognizable and successful off-road models—including XtC, Anthem, and Trance—will now include 27.5 choices in both composite and aluminum frame options.
For 2014, a total of seven new men’s series and 28 global models feature 27.5 wheel technology, which Giant has been developing for the past two years. Several prototype Giant 27.5 bikes have already been ridden to major race wins in pro XC and enduro competition.
“The diversity and range of our new collection of 27.5 bikes shows how strongly we believe in this new technology,” said Kevin Dana, Giant Global Off-Road Category Manager. “That belief is founded on a lot of internal research and testing. We worked with a wide variety of riders—and from our World Cup XC pros to our enduro riders, all of them feel strongly that the end result is improved performance.”
Research and ride testing in different off-road racing disciplines, and in a variety of terrain, showed that the 27.5 wheel size delivers significant performance advantages in three key areas: weight, efficiency and control. Bikes with 27.5-inch wheels displayed some of the best characteristics of 26 and 29-inch wheels—but without the compromises associated with each.
Truly capitalizing on the advantages of 27.5 required a deep commitment to engineering and development. Giant’s team of engineers, product developers and athletes looked at each new model individually, dialing in the frame features and geometry to optimize the new wheel size for particular types of terrain and performance goals.
The end result is a full line of purpose-built 27.5 performance bikes for all different types of off-road riding. From the XC World Cup-proven XtC Advanced 27.5 hardtail to the trail and enduro focused Trance Advanced 27.5, each series has undergone extensive development from the ground up.
For elite-level Giant XC pros like Swedish national champion Emil Lindgren, the lighter weight and quicker acceleration offer a huge advantage.
|When you're racing cross-country, you're pushing the limits. The heart rate is maxed and you want a bike that responds and makes the effort feel a little easier. Going from a 26 to a 29, there's a big difference in the way the bike rides. But with 27.5, it's the perfect balance of quickness and acceleration of a 26, with the traction and stability of a 29er. - Emil Lindgren|
To meet the needs of racers like Lindgren and teammate Michiel van der Heijden, who recently won the Dutch XC Championships aboard a prototype 27.5 hardtail, Giant developed 27.5 versions of its XtC platform in both Advanced-grade composite (XtC Advanced 27.5) and ALUXX SL aluminum (XtC 27.5).
For technical XC terrain, Giant developed 27.5 versions of its legendary Anthem platform, available in both Advanced-grade composite (Anthem Advanced 27.5) and ALUXX SL aluminum (Anthem 27.5) frame options featuring Maestro Suspension with 4 inches of travel. Giant Factory Off-Road rider Adam Craig played a major role in the bike’s development, and rode his prototype Anthem Advanced 27.5 to a win at an Oregon Enduro Series event earlier this summer.
|For cross-country racing, the 27.5 offers a very clear advantage. It's not just about how fast a bike rolls, but how fast it can be in real racing scenarios, and that involves accelerating, braking, climbing, a lot of low-speed stuff. A bike that's a little more nimble and quick is ultimately an advantage. - Adam Craig|
For more aggressive trail and enduro riding—the type that Australian enduro racer Josh Carlson has been racing with his prototype Trance Advanced 27.5, which features 5.5 inches of Maestro rear suspension technology—the added control and stability makes a huge difference. The Trance platform is also available with the Advanced-grade composite frame (Trance Advanced 27.5) or ALUXX SL aluminum (Trance 27.5). Both the Trance Advanced 27.5 and Trance 27.5 also come in an “SX” model for more aggressive, gravity-oriented riding. For 2014, Giant is offering the following off-road series with 27.5 technology:
XtC Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite hardtail XC)
XtC 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminum hardtail XC)
Anthem Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite full-suspension XC)
Anthem 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminum full-suspension XC)
Trance Advanced 27.5 (Advanced-grade composite full-suspension trail and enduro)
Trance 27.5 (ALUXX SL aluminum full-suspension trail and enduro)
Talon 27.5 (ALUXX aluminum hardtail XC)2014 Giant 27.5 off-road bikes will be available through Giant retailers later this summer.
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