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Las Vegas, USA, October 5 - 8, 2002
By Paul Mirtschin
Giant have come a long way since they first appeared on the scene, from humble beginnings in 1972 as a small Taiwanese company, to the mega company it is now, pumping out three million bikes worldwide each year. Giant even have the distinction of being the first and only Asian bike manufacturer to have a constant presence in the Tour de France.
And it doesn't stop there. This year, Giant have introduced FluidForm, a process where tubing is placed in a mold that then has hot oil is pumped into it, this causes the tube to expand into the desired shape. Using FluidForm, tubing can be heavily reinforced in high stress areas without the need for extra gussets or stress risers. And after running my hands over a few frames using this technology, it is something special; almost a form of artistic external gusseting.
The entire Giant range has exploded this year, with new models added to both mountain and road ranges. On the road, the new models include touring, cyclocross, and time trial bikes, and the new ONCE carbon team bikes.
The OCR Touring frame is based on the 2003 OCR, but uses a more relaxed geometry, as well as chromo forks, internal cable routing and extra bidon mounts. As a complete bike, it's fitted with a 27 speed 105 group, Mavic T-224 wheels and Avid Road Disc brakes. This bike should see some good sales in both the touring and commuting sections of the community as well as with those wanting a road bike that has a more comfortable fit.
The TCR Aero range is based on the TT bikes that ONCE rode to success in the 2002 TdF. Available as a frame only or as one of two complete bikes, the TCR Aero One and the TCR Aero Two.
A number of manufacturers are introducing cyclocross bikes this year, and Giant is no exception. The TCX uses Giant's compact frame design, tweaks it slightly for 'cross use, and adds a chromo fork with disc mounts front and rear. The butted ALUXX SL frame comes in any colour, as long as it is Giant's new Team Blue colour.
For those who like their rides to incorporate a lot of dirt, the 2003 mountain bike range is booming. Almost all models have been tweaked and now include FluidFormed frames, and an entirely new model, the VT, has been introduced.
Starting from the top, the DH Team and DH Comp both get the new Manitou Swinger rear shock. Based on the Progressive 5th Element shock, the shock has six different methods of adjustment, ensuring an almost perfect ride. The Swinger also makes it's way to the top two models of the AC series. The AC's also get a few frame tweaks including an additional 18mm of travel, bringing the rear up to 6.75 inches.
Next in line is the new VT (Variable Terrain) range. The VT uses the new Manitou Swinger air SPV shock, developed specifically with this bike in mind, to achieve from five to 5.75 inches of travel.
The NRS range doesn't see to many changes from last year, although the new SID Team and the new 2003 XTR do make a few appearances.
All up, Giant have now got a bike for almost every occasion (and budget), and it's now at the point where the 2003 Giant catalogue reads more like a book. It's certainly heavy enough.
More information can be found at www.giant-bicycle.com
Images by Rob Karman/www.roadbikephotos.com
Images © Giant