The $1380 Giant Talon 27. 5 1
The popular Giant Talon aluminum hardtail has been offered for years, but the 2014 version is a big departure from previous models.
The last time we tested the Giant Talon (in our October 2011
issue), it was rolling on 29-inch wheels. Giant’s testing
persuaded them to downsize the Talon to 27.5-inch wheels,
and after getting to know the new Talon, we can assure you
there was no “downsizing” in performance.
WHO IT IS MADE FOR?
The Talon is a hardtail trailbike that delivers the goods for
a very reasonable price. We are not going to call it a
“beginner’s bike,” because although it would be a great bike
for a rider new to mountain biking, it is a serious trailbike
that would serve an experienced rider on a budget or the
rider curious to try the “tweener” wheel size.
The $1380 Talon 27. 5 1 is the top of the Talon series,
above the $700 Talon 27. 5 4 and $570 Talon 27. 5 5.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Talon uses Giant’s proprietary aluminum frame tubing, which is shaped to increase lateral stiffness in the headset and bottom bracket areas. The frame has two water-bot-tle-cage mounts. Giant opts for the interrupted and elevated
derailleur cable routing. The derailleur hanger is replaceable.
The graphics on the black-on-black Talon look like they
were stolen from Giant’s most expensive offerings. Giant also
offers the bike in red.
WHICH COMPONENTS STANDOUT?
The RockShox XC30 fork is air sprung (a nice feature at
this price range) and has external rebound and compres-
sion adjustments. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are
welcome, as is the 3x10 Shimano drivetrain matched to
Shimano Rapidfire shifters. Our bike came with Maxxis
Crossmark tires, although the Giant website lists anoth-
er brand as stock (no complaints on the Crossmark tires).
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The setup: You’ll need a suspension pump to set the
fork to about 20 percent sag, then set the
rebound to your preference (start at full
slow if you are over 170 pounds with
gear). With the large-volume tires,
you can get away with air pressure
on the low side of your regular
setting, which will improve
the ride quality, even if it does
increase the chance of a pinch
The fit: A seasoned rider
will feel like the cockpit is a bit
cramped, but a new rider will
find the fairly upright position
comfortable and less intimidating
than a more aggressive stance. The
stays never make contact with the rid-
er’s legs, and the standover is acceptable.
Moving out: The tires roll nicely. The
27.5-inch wheels get up to speed better than the
29er wheels of the old Talon, and the 3x10 drivetrain gives
you plenty of options, with nice jumps between gears if
you use that front derailleur properly. The fork’s action
can be firmed up without locking it out (just twist the blue
knob), and that feels great for accelerating while out of the
Cornering: The tires offer plenty of grip, and the geom-
etry is dialed for the wheels. The performance in tight cor-
ners was so good that we looked forward to switchbacks.
Ride quality: We have ridden aluminum (and carbon
fiber) hardtails that are jackhammers to the spine. Not the
Talon. Giant gave the rear end lateral rigidity for pedaling
power, but it still provides more comfort than is expected
from a hardtail.
Climbing: This Talon is close to 3 pounds lighter than
the 29er Talon we last tested, and that helps on the climbs.
The 27. 5 wheels roll over rocks and roots well, and
the tires have plenty of bite. In the saddle, we cleared
everything. The bite would pull the bike over obstacles
like a tractor.
Descending: The 27. 5 wheels don’t give that fantastic
roll-over-everything feel of a 29er, especially on steeper
descents. Still, it is hard to imagine ever choosing to ride a
26er after our time on this bike. It floats over stuff almost
as well as a 29er, and then hunkers down so you can drop
it into downhill corners.
Braking: The brakes are well suited to the bike,
although you need a light touch on the rear brake to keep
from locking the tire (a common trait with any hardtail).
Proof That Spending A Little
Can Take You A Long Way