Review: Giant Talon 27.5 1 2014
The Giant Talon 27.5 1 (£899) is a capable trail bike that handles brilliantly and offers great value for money. It’s a competitive package for someone considering a bike they can ride to work in the week and get dirty at the weekend and it certainly isn’t going to feel out of place at a trail centre like Bike Park Wales.
At this price, the Giant Talon 27.5 1 is a tempting trail hardtail prospect, with what is fast becoming the new standard wheel size for mountain bikes.
At the heart of the Talon 27.5 1’s drivetrain is a Shimano XT Shadow rear mech. While we know the old rear derailleur upgrade is a trick to make bikes look a bit more desirable and we’d rather see an SLX shifter/derailleur combo, it does cut down on weight and gives great performance. It also means you’ll go for longer without the urge to start upgrading parts.
Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors are more than enough for trail centre use – even in the winter.
Schwalbe Rapid Rob tyres are a shrewd finish to the Talon’s build, with their fast-rolling tread pattern. These are great in the summer, but you might want to swap them for a tyre with more grip if you’re planning on riding muddier or softer terrain before the decent weather rolls around.
The Talon’s frame is constructed from Giant’s own lightweight Aluxx grade aluminium and has been built around the 27.5” (also known as 650b) wheel size. 650b is already fast usurping 26” wheels as the norm, because it offers many of the benefits of a 29er, while retaining the sharper handling of a 26” wheeled bike.
There are also some slight angle changes from the previous 26” Talon models, which means the bike benefits from having larger wheels, while avoiding the extended wheelbase and slower handling of a 29er.
No aluminium frame is going to be particularly flexible, but you do get the impression the Talon is taking the sting out of some rock hits. The stiff frame gives precise power transfer, especially under acceleration, and the 100mm RockShox 30 Gold fork does a really good job of keeping the front wheel planted in the dirt.
The Talon 27.5 1 is trimmed with Giant’s own finishing kit – which is no bad thing. Giant produces wheelsets that are built with input from DT Swiss and they really are on a par with branded options.
Wheels aside, the Giant-branded bars, stem, seatpost and clamp are no worse than any parts you’ll find on similar priced bikes, and in our experience are actually quite hard wearing.
Lively handling combined with a spec that’d beat anything from other brands in a game of Top Trumps, means the Talon should be the first port of call if you’re looking for a sub-£1,000 mountain bike. The 2014 shift from 26” to 650b shows Giant is staying bang up to date with its budget hardtail line-up.
Summary: At this price, the Giant Talon 27.5 1 is a tempting trail hardtail prospect, with what is fast becoming the new standard wheel size for mountain bikes.