Giant Yukon FX-1 review

Function over form rules on this Giant surprise

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
USD $850.00

Our review

The Yukon is more than capable of all-day rides - if you've got the legs for it.
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The top four-inch travel bike in the 2008 Giant Sport range is a confidence-inspiring ride with well balanced suspension and good ride position. While it still has a fair bit of weight for you to to lug around all day, it doesn’t ride like it. Worth serious consideration if you’re not too weight-obsessed, and want a well balanced suspension setup at a very good price


The Yukon FX-1 is, according to the blurb, “aimed at aspiring off-road riders”. Giant is sometimes overlooked in favour of other bikes with flashier graphics and better marketing, but it’s always worth checking out its offerings, and the Yukon FX-1 is no exception.

Ride & handling: performance belies the weight

Casting a leg over the bike reveals a geometry that affords a low-slung, slightly front-centred ride position, coupled with a pretty good sub-30in standover height. The medium size we tested had a corresponding 22.5in top tube length that seems ideal for the recommended sizing (for a rider up to 5ft 10).

Once on board you’ll find a pretty competent rear suspension action. The Giant own-brand rear shock needs setting for rider weight only, with external rebound damping adjustment the only feature to play with before getting straight into the thick of it. It proved well matched to the RockShox Tora fork up front, too.

The bottom bracket sits fairly low and this helps provide a sit-in-the-bike feel (rather than sit-on) that provides good cornering. The flip side to this is that you’re likely to clip the pedals if you ride on technical and rough ground.

The Yukon isn’t the most svelte of bikes at around 33lb, but it pedals in a way that belies its weight, which you’ll notice at the end of longer rides. It proved itself capable of scrabbling its way up steep inclines and, once there, those sensible 17in chainstays help lend a measure of control for the way back down.

“Pedals in a way  that belies its weight, which you’ll notice at the end of long rides”

It was a surprising endorsement for this bike that (weight aside) it often made us forget we were riding a budget bike, and buyers are likely to find themselves chucking it around and wringing all the available travel from it.

Frame: champagne in a beer bottle

Giant sometimes makes its often superbly functioning frames look dated, which surely doesn’t help its image (and sales). Look beyond the paint job though, and you’ll find there’s plenty going on. The hydroformed top and down tubes do away with the need for gussets to provide stiffness and a large weld area. The head tube is further ring-reinforced for strength, and also houses the low-stack-height recessed headset.

Out back, the asymmetric chainstays provide enough room to accommodate the Kenda Nevegal 2.1in tyres, which complement the all-round nature of the bike. The cockpit area is also well proportioned according to frame size, with no unusual surprises.

The shock is positioned forward of any crud sprayed from the rear wheel, which is a definite plus for mucky UK conditions, although the shock basket does have a tendency to collect muck underneath the shock. The linkage-activated single-pivot suspension design provides a sturdy-feeling frame that also offers a clean, uncomplicated look.

Equipment: good fork, brakes could try harder

The RockShox Tora fork is often found on more expensive bikes, and is as good a performer as can be expected for this kind of  money. It steers fine and has all the features you’ll need – a lockout, rebound damping adjustment and preload (set to minimum).

The Giant’s componentry is a mix of Shimano and uninspiring but perfectly functional own-brand parts. Shimano’s Alivio hydraulic disc brakes looked nice, but performance was only adequate and was not as powerful as the well modulated Avid 3s or the strong Stroker Rydes found on some slightly more expensive bikes. 

Workhorse Shimano Deore transmission performed without incident in some pretty awful conditions, though.

The Giant saddle proved surprisingly comfortable on long rides.

A nice touch was the Stick-E Nevegal front tyre as standard on the Alex/Formula wheels, which further enhanced this capable bike’s confidence-building characteristics.

Summary: surprisingly capable

Under that drab exterior is a fizzy little bike that’ll happily encourage you to push it – probably beyond its intended limits, and until its weight finally catches up with you.


It’s much better than the spec sheet and dead weight would have you believe, and it’s surprisingly capable for an entry-level suspension bike. 

Product Specifications


Name Yukon FX 1 (08)
Brand Giant

Description Yukon FX 1
Seatpost Aluminium
Rear Tyre Size 26x2.1
Rear Tyre Nevegal
Available Sizes L M S
Wheelbase (in) 43
Top Tube (in) 22.5
Seat Tube (in) 17
Chainstays (in) 17
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13
Weight (kg) 15.2
Stem A3
Shifters Deore 27 Speed
Seat Angle 73
Bottom Bracket Power Spline
Rims DP17
Rear Shock Giant Air Shock
Rear Derailleur LX
Head Angle 69
Handlebar A5
Front Derailleur Deore
Frame Material Aluminium
Fork Tora 302 Air
Cranks 5D
Chain HG-73
Cassette SRAM PG950 11-34
Brakes Alivio
Year 2008