By Mark Zalewski
Giant is putting its mountain bikes front and center for the 2008 model year. The company successfully launched its multi-link Maestro suspension system just two model years ago and has rapidly expanded the design into a wide-ranging line of mountain bikes that cover the gamut from short-travel cross-country race machines all the way to full-on downhill and freeride rigs. For 2008, Giant has focused on shedding weight from its existing offerings and filling in a noticeable hole in its travel range.
The most obvious target for Giant's gram-cleaving campaign was the Trance trail bike. While its 107mm (4.2") Maestro suspension offered enviable pedaling and bump absorption capabilities, few could ignore its less-than-ideal performance at the scale: aluminum frames hovered near the 3.2kg (7lb) mark, nearly half a kilo heavier than much of its competition.
That blemish on an otherwise clean record certainly didn't go unnoticed by the Giant development team when it began work on the bike's replacement. According to Dennis Lane, Director of Product Development, "The Maestro suspension continues to work exceptionally well for us, but at the same time we are dedicated to make the frame design lighter and faster. There is a little bit of movement but it really is the best balance of pedaling efficiency and rear end compliance that still puts it at the leading edge. Now we have our most complete line-up in mountain bikes with the Maestro system. There are other bikes whose suspension is not as good but when their frame is a pound or two lighter you can have a pretty awesome riding experience. So when we looked at our Trance, we had internal frustration just wishing it was lighter."
To read the complete feature on Giant's trail bike line up for 2008, click here.