Giant Escape M1

Off-road chassis in urban camouflage

BikeRadar score 4/5

Giant's Escape city bikes are wisely based on its excellent cross country XTC hardtail range. They have the same hydro-formed aluminium chassis and riding position, but with rigid forks and some roadified parts bolted on.

An XC layout works well on road and off, with your bodyweight better spread about the bike and the cockpit comfortably open for getting the power down. There are welcome fittings for racks front and rear - as well as mudguards - but as it's an off-road frame, it requires only a pair of two inch knobblies to return it back to its roots - we used Bontrager tyres.

On sinuous hardpack the steering is well weighted and precise. On rockier stuff it's obviously kick-about harsh, and downhills can give you a beating - although the sense of control from the hydraulic discs lets you descend a lot closer to the edge of your confidence when you're trying to keep your sprung riding buddies in sight. Low weight helps it climb, but it's hindered a bit by a road crankset. Take it on the road and the gears are spot on, since it's easier to hunch down and whip it up to speed than competitor's like the Genesis Dual Track 1.0.

Those industrial-looking Giant MPH 3 hydraulic discs are the gold star in the bike's spec. They're almost unheard of at this price and they're a sensible trade off for a Dart 2 suspension fork for a mostly road-going bike. You could add that later - for less than it'd cost to put hydraulic discs on the other bikes - if you found yourself riding more off road than on. As it is, it's fine for some off-road use, but on road it rules.

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