While the biggest news in Giant Bicycles’ range has been seen with the new TCR Advanced, disc-equipped budget Defy and a carbon downhill bike, it’s the component and soft goods side that has received the most extensive overhaul for 2016.
With this, Giant Australia has been showcasing in Melbourne a new range of footwear, saddles, performance road wheels, clothing, small accessories, and of course the recently announced helmet range – so we popped along this week. In total, even with a simplified range, Giant Australia says it now has just shy of a thousand product codes for its parts and accessories.
Before you read on, it's worth mentioning two things. First, we don't know just yet which of these items are going to be available in different regions of the globe. And second, we've got zero price information at the time of writing – though of course we'll update you on this as and when it trickles in from BikeRadar's various outposts.
The Surge (pictured) and similar looking Liv Macha have a distinctive aesthetic
While they've been available in Asian markets for a few years now, many of you are likely unaware that Giant offers shoes (yep, they are available in sizes other than Giant). All new and sitting at the top of the performance range are the Surge and Liv Macha (women’s) road shoes, which showcase two new intertwined technologies in the form of ‘ExoWrap’ and ‘ExoBeam’.
The upper starts at the sole
ExoWrap refers to how the shoe wraps the foot from the sole and upward. The sole is cut away and anchoring straps start at the bottom. It’s said to provide a custom fit every time you do up the shoe, because the straps work by pulling up and around your foot, giving arch support in place of specific footbeds.
Joining ExoWrap, the other technology that is seen on a handful of models both road and mountain is ExoBeam. In a similar logic to Scott’s new RC shoe, this technology aims to keep vertical sole stiffness high while allowing some level of lateral flex through the sole to relieve joint stress during the pedaling action. Giant claims that compared with systems that aim to achieve joint alignment in a fixed position, this one is more natural and forgiving.
The Surge and Macha feature full carbon soles, two Boa IP-1 dials (per shoe) and are claimed to weigh 470g a pair in size EU42.
Mountain bikers get the mid-priced AMP
On the mountain bike side, Giant Australia displayed the new AMP and Liv Salita shoes. Using a resin sole to keep the price down, these also feature the new ExoWrap and ExoBeam technology. Adding one more term to the mix, they offer ‘ExoFlex’ where a separated toe plate should allow for easier and more natural walking.
With the lowest contact point taken care of, Giant is also releasing a range of men’s and women’s saddles with its own fitting system – something we first tried at the 2016 TCR Advanced launch. It's similar to that of Fizik's fit system, which takes a riders’ position and flexibility into consideration, but Giant takes it a step further with a special fitting saddle that shows the user which model is best for them.
A tool purely to help replicate the position of the original saddle
For this, a dealer uses a fitting tool that measures the customers’ current saddle from the point it becomes 80mm wide. This measurement point is then used to replicate where to mount the special fitting saddle in relation to handlebar reach.
The fitting saddle just after it was ridden. The highlighted areas show where a rider places his/her pressure most
The special fitting saddle is then ridden on a trainer or outdoors for a few minutes, and afterward the saddle clearly highlights where the seating load is most prominent.
Depending on what the fitting saddle shows, there's a total of five shapes to choose from (three men's, two women's). There's no additional choice of width
From here, a simple chart points out which one of three men’s saddles, or two women’s saddle shapes is most appropriate. These are upright, neutral and forward (aggressive) for the men, and upright or forward for women.
It’s quite simple in practice, and so the range of saddles is also kept reasonably small. Each of the five shapes is available in either a Contact SLR model with 9mm oval carbon rails or a Contact SL model with hollow stainless steel rails making up the performance range. These models feature what Giant dubs Particle Flow Technology, where free flowing two-pocket padding (think gel padding) is said to reduce pressure.
Recreational riders receive forward or upright options too (no neutral). These more heavily padded (and cheaper) saddles are available in a Contact range with Particle Flow Technology or absolute budget Connect options – both featuring carbon steel rails.
A premium SLR Forward model saddle
The new saddles will be coming on a huge number of 2016 Giant bikes, with such models as the TCR and Propel offering the Forward saddle as stock, while something like the Defy range will be given the Neutral model.
An argument against this saddle system would be that its recommendations will greatly depend and vary based on bike setup. And much like many other fitting tools, it’s up to the dealer’s correct usage to ensure success and that a saddle isn't chosen based on poor setup.
Stock on a number of 2016 mountain bike models is the new Giant Contact SL Switch dropper seatpost. With the option to run either internal (stealth) or external cable routing, the post is a wholly new design that is said to be smoother in action than its predecessors.
Gone is the single-bolt side clamp, replaced by a simpler and more secure dual-bolt clamp head. A bonus of this design update is that both round and oval saddle rails can now be used.
From the information given, it appears that only a 30.9mm diameter will be offered, with three length/drop options available including 350mm x 100mm, 395mm x 125mm or 440mm x 150mm.
New 55 and 30mm rim depths meet a 23mm external width profile
Despite Giant moving many of its endurance-platform road bikes to disc brakes in 2015, the brand has just released a whole new range of performance carbon clincher wheels for rim-brake equipped road bikes. These are also something we first looked at with the release of the 2016 TCR Advanced.
Where DT Swiss previously made Giant’s premium wheels, the new range is now made in-house, using Giant's own carbon lay-ups and manufacturing for the rims.
Hub internals are by DT Swiss, including the well proven Star Ratchet system
The hubs and spokes are still sourced from DT Swiss, but the hub shell is said to be specific to Giant, offering an ultimately wide spoke bracing angle for increased wheel stiffness, while a lot of work has been done on how the spoke heads sit at the flange. With this, Giant is using differing spoke tensions between the crossing driveside spokes in order to create even tension under power.
Much as we’ve seen from the likes of Fulcrum, Giant is using fewer spokes laced radially on the left side to evenly balance spoke tension, something that should lead to better spoke longevity.
At the top of the range sit the SLR 0 Climbing and SLR 0 Aero wheels. Both feature a 23mm width (external) tubeless-compatible rim design that’s said to offer market-leading heat management and brake performance when used with its own brake pad. These also feature DT Swiss 240s hub internals and Aerolight bladed spokes (16 front, 21 rear).
Featuring a shallower 30mm depth rim, the SLR 0 Climbing sit at a claimed weight of 1335g for the pair. Meanwhile the deeper 55mm-depth Aero model is said to weigh 1535g.
Using the same design as the SLR 0 models, the SL 1 Climbing and Aero wheels feature cheaper DT Swiss 350-level hub internals and use Sapim Race spokes for claimed weights of 1425g and 1,700g respectively.
New clothing is a big part of the updated accessories range, with both new mountain biking and road garments for men and women.
Clutch (left) and Transfer (right) are new mountain bike clothing options. Liv provides similar options for women
Designed in Australia, the Transfer SS jersey and shorts are designed for trail and enduro mountain bikers. Sold as an outer only (no chamois), the shorts feature a lightweight four-way stretch material. The even slighter Clutch shorts go one further with breathable stretch mesh panels at the thighs.
New 'ToolShed' multi-tools: the 12 model on the far right offers a CO2 inflator
As mentioned above, all product pricing is to be confirmed. Click or swipe through the gallery above for a closer look at some highlights from the new Giant Bicycles parts and accessories range.