The first bike we will be profiling for our $1,000 mountain bike review is the Giant Talon 0. The Talon 0 is listed by Giant as "Men’s Off-road sport". Giant’s website tells us it is:
"Engineered to give you more control and increased comfort on the trail, Talon 29 lets you sit back and enjoy the ride. The lightweight, responsive AluxX aluminium frame is designed with geometry that's optimized for it's 29-inch wheels. These larger diameter hoops roll over obstacles with greater ease, improve your traction and help you keep your momentum."
AluxX is the lower end of two aluminium technologies Giant uses. It is manufactured in-house at Giant’s own factory. Essentially, it is 6061 aluminium that Giant processes in their special way, which includes hydroforming.
6061 Aluminium is an excellent alloy and is easy to work with, strong, and reasonably light. Add hydro-forming, and this should be a frame you can keep for a long time.
The Giant Talon 0 is a very well equipped bike for the money. It has a Sram X5 drive train, except for the front derailleur. The front derailleur is a Shimano Deore top pull, bottom swing with a 34.9mm clamp, should you ever decide to upgrade. Another interesting note is that the cassette is a Sram 950 series. This is more in line with Sram X7 in terms of quality. Overall, this is a smartly spec'ed bike, as it spreads your money out through the entire bike and does not compromise any one part in favor of a rear derailleur.
Handlebar, stem, seat post, and saddle are all Giant branded components. The seat post is a 30.9mm, so it is possible to get a large selection of dropping seat posts, which I highly recommend. Handlebars are 31.8mm diameter with a rise. Again, this is a common size, if for some reason, down the road, you want to upgrade. In truth, I don't see a reason to upgrade, unless for a dropper post or for fit reasons.
The fork is a coil sprung Rock Shox tk28. This is branded as a beginner model fork. The "28" stands for 28mm uppers on the fork. You can wind down a preload adjuster to make for a firmer feeling fork in addition to a rebound adjuster. The rebound adjuster makes dramatic changes in the return rate of the compressed suspension and time should be taken to dial this in. I don't want a fork that does not have rebound adjustment, so this is a notable feature of this fork.
The Giant Talon 0 is equipped with Avid Elixer 1 brakes. This is a hydraulic brake as opposed to a cable actuated, disc brake. There is a huge difference in performance between the two systems. For newer readers, this means there is actually fluid in the brake lines. Hydraulic brakes offer much more controllable power then any other brake system out there for bicycles. This is a must for a truly trail worthy mountain bike. There are good cable actuated brakes, but really, hydraulics are the way to go, if given a choice. Fortunately, Giant gives you that choice.
The wheels are also Giant branded. The hubs are 32 hole laced 3 cross. Maintaining these wheels should be easy, as this is the most common method of building wheels and parts are, typically, readily available.
The Talon 0 comes with Kenda Small Block Eight tires. These are a fast rolling tire with closely spaced knobs. From the Kenda Tires website; ”ultimate XC racing tire with lots of speed and grip. Well suited for a variety of riding conditions”. Underneath this description it continues to say that this is a fast rolling, dry condition XC tire. For some, this may be perfect for your applications. Try them out and find out. They really do roll very fast. Unfortunately, for our winter riding conditions, we will probably have to switch these as the first tester, Jamie, is having problems due to the leaf and pine straw that litters our trails. This is not a knock on the bike as tires are such an area specific spec and as a manufacturer you have to start somewhere. Being that it really is a race tire, I have to wonder what and who the bike was targeted at or if this was motivated by the sales floor. Fast rolling bikes sell better when most test rides are on relatively smooth surfaces.
Overall then, the Gaint Talon 0 looks to be a worthy entry in our test group. We’ve just started to get some miles on it and will report back soon with our individual riders reviews as we get them..