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.