DEER VALLEY, UT (BRAIN) — If there is one word that best describes Giant’s 2014 product line, it is bold. With the majority of its performance mountain bike line sporting 27.5-inch wheels, new models in the ‘off-road adventure’ category, and its flashiest colors and graphics yet, Giant showed retailers who attended the company’s annual dealer event, The Link, that it’s pulled out all the stops for 2014.
What’s most striking about Giant’s 2014 lineup is that all but two of its performance mountain bike models are available with 27.5-inch wheels. In addition, all of its women’s Liv/Giant mountain bikes are 27.5-inch, from a hard tail carbon race bike and on up the line.
Giant’s all-in approach to the emerging tweener wheel size is a result of three years spent testing all of the wheel sizes, said Patrick VanHorn, communications manager for Giant USA. “We didn’t just want to roll out two models with 27.5-inch wheels,” said VanHorn. “We wanted to prove that we have the most comprehensive line when it comes to the new wheel size, and that we are fully committed to taking the industry lead.”
VanHorn went on to say that extensive testing and prototyping demonstrated that Giant’s 27.5-inch models combine the best attributes of both the 26-inch and 29-inch wheel sizes without any of the disadvantages. “So what you get is better handling and better control from a lighter weight bike that still rolls over obstacles as well as a 29er,” he said.
The 2014 Liv/Giant bikes have been redesigned from the ground up, featuring revamped geometry and new model names. The decision to eliminate the popular full-suspension women’s 29er—and all 29-inch wheels in the Liv/Giant line—ultimately came down to a matter of fit and handling.
“The Liv/Giant Anthem X 29 worked well for many women, but the fit was sometimes difficult, particularly for extra small and small sizes,” said VanHorn. “There were standover, frame flex, and control issues for some women. The Liv/Giant 27.5-inch models clear that all up, and are up to two pounds lighter, which makes a big difference in how the bikes pedal.”
Longtime Giant retailer Heather Jordan, owner of The Wheel Cyclery in Kansas City, Missouri, is happy to see such breadth and depth in the 2014 women’s line. “Having so many options for women’s bikes across the board—in number of models, great color options and finally in carbon—is going to make it easier to help our female customers buy their first bike or their 10th,” said Jordan.
Breaking into the growing ‘off-road adventure’ category, Giant introduced two new models for all-terrain riding, touring and racing “gravel grinders.” The Revolt is a drop-bar bike complete with fender and rack mounts and geometry that’s suitable for long-haul riding. The women’s-specific counterpart is the Liv/Giant Invite. The AnyRoad, another drop-bar, all-terrain model, will likely appeal to commuters and the touring crowd.
“What I’m most excited about is the new Revolt and Invite. Our area has more gravel grinders going on every year and now we have a bike from the big boys that will be perfect for that kind of riding,” said retailer Kyle May of Spin City Cycles in Decateur, Illinois. “Room for big tires, disc brakes, three water bottle cage mounts and a mud guard—these bikes will do great for us."
Also notable is the revamped cyclocross line, which features new geometry, including better stand-over height and increased bottom bracket drop. All models come equipped with disc brakes. Aluminum TCX and Liv/Giant Brava frames feature Giant’s proprietary Aluxx SLR technology—their stiffest and lightest alloy yet.
Giant’s 2014 road line remains largely the same, except in the aero category. New Propel and women’s Envie models are available at lower price points, and 100 limited edition Marianne Vos Envie models will also be released.
In his keynote address at the Link, Giant’s national sales manager John ‘JT’ Thompson told retailers that the company’s 2014 line was “by far the boldest launch with the best bikes I’ve ever seen.”
Jordan, who has attended all of Giant’s dealer events, agreed. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen Giant really take the bull by the horns and pound their own chest a little,” said Jordan. “They have the product to back it up and they are letting the world know it.”