Giant aren't saying much right now but a short video released this week reveals the existence of what many riders have been waiting for: an XtC Composite 29er carbon race hardtail.
"Sometimes a dually isn't the right option," says Giant factory team rider – and 29er aficionado – Carl Decker in the video. "What I really wanted was a full-on race bike 29er hardtail. For some races, it just doesn't get any better than that."
Several design features are evident from the short clip, with many elements borrowed from Giant's TCR Advanced road range and 'girth' being a clear design objective to tackle two common criticisms associated with big-wheeled frame design: vague handling and wimpy steering.
The OverDrive front end uses a tapered head tube – in the 1-1/8 to 1-1/2in dimension more common to mountain bikes – with an enormous cross-section that's expected to yield excellent front-end stiffness. That bulbous head tube area joins with a broad and slightly flattened top tube and a simply gargantuan rectangular-profile down tube. By our eyes, the seat tube starts out fairly narrow up top but morphs into a much broader and flatter shape down below.
The chainstays also use a large rectangular section and are very widely spaced thanks to the extra-wide PowerCore bottom bracket with press-fit cups. Both the chainstays and wishbone-style seatstays sport a curious twist as they connect to the aluminum dropouts (Giant have previously told us that "composite dropouts are scary") and post mount-style brake tabs are cleanly integrated into the rear end. Cabling is external throughout for easier setup and maintenance, and tire clearance looks very generous.
Giant's new design is highly asymmetrical, with an offset down tube to maximize the available space on the bottom bracket while still clearing the drivetrain. Likewise, the chainstays take entirely different paths from bottom bracket to dropout, with the driveside stay drooping down below the cranks to clear the chainrings and the non-driveside stay taking a straight shot – much like what's currently seen on many full-suspension frames.
Details such as claimed frame weight, available sizes, projected cost and even release date were unavailable from Giant. "Other than the information provided in the video (which I realize is very vague), I unfortunately can’t provide any additional details… for now, that is," said Giant global communications manager Andrew Juskaitis. "We'll be launching this product later in the season, but other than that, I have to ask you to let your imagination wander."