The 2005 Giant DH Team
The 2005 Giant DH Team is a great bang for the buck.
Right off the showroom floor the bike comes equipped as a full assault down hill
race bike or quite capable free-rider. The bike delivers a powerful components
list stock and gives the rider a mix of light, yet durable equipment for the
toughest down hills or hard landings. The DH Team rides very beautifully, but
not without some drawbacks.
To start off, I feel that the two most important
aspects when selecting a DH bike are the geometry and suspension. The new DH
Team has undergone some changes to the bike. The stand over height has been
lowered significantly, this is really important in both racing and free-ride
applications. The rider needs to be able to stay low on the bike and the new
setup really allows the rider to have much more control of body positioning in
the saddle. This year's Team comes equipped with the Swinger six-way shock in
the rear and the newly done Manitou Dorado 180mm fork with evolve internals. The
suspension on the bike can be set for very stiff or smooth terrain. It seems
like Manitou has fixed all of their problems with the fork from the past. Once
both are set-up, which is really easy now that they have a remote reservoir
mounted to the inside of the bike, The Team is extremely balanced in the air,
through corners and through rough sections. The Swinger shock is wonderful
because of all the adjustments, but if you are new to the technology, most bike
shops will be capable of helping you set-up the suspension for your weight.
Giant has done really well in putting together a versatile package.
Unfortunately I'm unable to report honestly on either durability or long term
reliability due to my limited time on the bike.
The bike ride can be summarized in one word:
"balanced". My current set-up is for strictly racing so I will explain
the specifics from my stand-point. I run thirty-five percent sag in the rear,
which is roughly a little over three inches. Having proper sag is very important
because it helps to keep the bike glued to the ground. The shock is set-up with
100psi in the reservoir to make it pedal efficiently. For my weight, this setup
forces the SPV to take a good little bump to activate. My high-speed compression
is a few turns out and my low-speed is set-up the same to make the bike pedal
fairly evenly. My fork is set-up with twenty percent sag. I prefer my
bike's front end to really stick to the ground, especially in the corners as
that's key to making up time and winning races. Bike set-up is very crucial for
a design like this because it doesn't have complex linkages to make it a very
efficient pedaling race machine.
Once the bike is set-up properly, it does have many
positive attributes. To start-off, the bike corners simply beautifully. It is
very stable on high-speed corners, as well as through tight trees and off-camber
because the center of gravity is carried really low to the ground. The
bike jumps very balanced as well. I have taken mine off thirty foot step-downs
and a fifteen-foot drop as well a wide variety of big doubles. The low stand
over allows the rider to keep his body low making preloading the suspension to
pop off of lips easier as well. It handles rough terrain fairly well because the
controllability of the bike allows the rider to weave and pick smooth lines.
However, the Team responds effectively as a point and shoot bike. My last bike
was a Foes Mono and that this was a pig until moving then momentum took over.
The Giant is very snappy out of corners feels great in large variety of terrain.
It's variety of settings offers effective handling on just about every type of
terrain out there. The bike pedals above average because the of the shock
technology. It is a touch slow on the first stroke but quickly becomes snappy
The bike has few drawbacks. I feel to be a full racer
the bike needs a floating brake system. (This can be purchased from Brake
Therapy). The Team, under hard breaking, has a little bit of brake jack or
suspension stiffening. It is noticeable for me because my Mono was equipped with
a floater and it really does work when set up right. Another is the apparent
lack of a mudguard. The shock and linkage get hit with everything the tire
encounters. I built one easily with a thin sheet of aluminum, but for the price,
it shouldn't be up to the rider to jury-rig. My last complaint is the stock
chain guide. It is really heavy, noisy and not overly durable. A friend went
through four of them before he put an evil E13 on his DH Team. I put a MRP
system 3 and it works great, all minor complaints but price is of the essence
Despite little annoyances, the bike is really an amazing work of
art. Don't get fooled into the line of reasoning that ridiculously over-priced
hand built frames are superior. I can recommend this bike to anyone looking to
start racing or even getting into extreme DH. If the price is a bit much to
swallow, there is a step down available which is significantly cheaper with a
few budget components. From my experience, it is an out of the box winner.