Giant Talon 1 review£650.00

Fantastic frame foiled by substandard fork

BikeRadar score3/5

The Talon is based around an all-new trail frame designed in the UK which comes loaded with the latest tech. If you’re looking for a long-term upgrade platform, the chassis and handling character make it a cracking option. However as a complete bike the Talon suffers significantly from its low-grade fork and brake spec.

Ride & handling: With a better fork this would be a sorted trail hardtail

Two components really blunt the Talon’s claws. The Giant Root brakes are wooden and uncommunicative, and really need a 180mm rotor up front for proper bite. It’s the RockShox Dart 2 fork that really spoils the ride though – clunking, twanging and jarring badly in situations where the Tora forks found on other bikes at this price still feel okay.

The inferior fork performance is noticeable because the ride position and handling is so sorted, which makes the Talon a bike you naturally want to push hard in challenging terrain. The good news is that if you upgrade the fork you’ll immediately be able to appreciate the frame.

Its combination of outstandingly accurate tracking and power placement yet surprisingly compliant and comfortable rear would shame a lot of frames that cost nearly as much as this complete bike.

Though fitted with a 100mm-travel Dart, the geometry will easily accommodate a 120mm fork or even a longer adjustable travel unit. Slap on a bigger front brake rotor and you’ll suddenly have a top-class trail weapon on your hands.

Frame: Outstanding chassis means top ride quality and upgrade potential

Giant’s Talon range has been bred for the UK market and the frame is an absolute peach that puts many more costly chassis options to shame.

The clever detailing starts with the tall, slightly scooped head tube getting a classy inset logo. Rectangular hydroformed top and down tubes expand behind the head tube for locked down front-end tracking.

Very deep rectangular to square chainstays snake subtly for ankle clearance, while the slim seatstays have a broad stance at the top to give decent if not gaping tyre clearance.

Other practical touches include twin bottle cage bosses, cables and hose tucked neatly under the top tube and rack mounts on the small 3D dropouts and stay tops. The seat tube bottle position is super-low to allow maximum seat drop.

Equipment: Some quality finishing kit, but fork and brakes blunt trail potential

Giant kit detailing is equally neat with a short squared cross-section stem with opposed bolts holding a low riser bar in our favourite Race Face style shape. Radical riders will want a wider bar, but stem and steering certainly sync nicely.

The mix of Shimano Deore and SLX gears and a wide ratio block means accurate shifting for every situation and Shimano UN bottom brackets last for ages.

Giant’s Root brakes are the latest in their MPH series and, to be fair, they stop dependably whenever you pull the levers. However, they lack the pliable modulation and fine control you’ll find with more expensive brakes or even older ones like Avid Juicys.

The Alex rims and Kenda Nevegal tyres create a solid rolling stock for a frame that’s ready to tackle the most technical trails. Replace the RockShox Dart with a decent discounted fork and you’ve got a proper premium trail bike.

Our review scoring system has changed in 2010. Therefore recent reviews may have comparatively lower scores than past reviews. Click here for a full explanation of our ratings.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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