Over the last couple of model years Giant has made an effort to create women’s-specific versions of their more popular mountain bikes: the Trance X and Anthem X. Unfortunately, no one really noticed. For the 2012 model year, Giant has renamed the women’s bike models to match the men’s, but with a ‘W’ appended, and they have teamed up with Liv to sponsor a dedicated brand and a series of demo events around the country.
Photo courtesy of Giant Cycling World, Denver
Giant kicked off the series in Denver with a two-day event in conjunction with the Giant Cycling World concept store. Attendees were treated to women’s group rides, cycling clinics, sales, and even bike giveaways.
For mountain bikers, the demo and group rides took place at Green Mountain.
To see how well Giant has dialed in the bikes for female riders, I brought my 4′ 11″ daughter along. She stood over the Anthem XW in a size X-Small, but with its straight top tube it was too tall for her. The curved top tube of the 2012 Trance X1 W, also in X-Small, proved to be just the ticket.
The new women’s models share the same component groups, Aluxx aluminum frame, and Maestro suspension as the men’s models but are designed with a shorter effective top tube in relation to the seat tube length. Both the Anthem XW and Trance XW come in XS, S, and M only.
My daughter’s X-Small test rig sported 5″ of front and rear travel courtesy of a Fox F125 RL fork and Fox RP2 rear shock with Boost Valve technology. Brakes were Avid Elixir 5s and the Shimano drivetrain was a mix of SLX and XT. The wheels, stem, bars, and seatpost were all Giant branded, and last year’s Kenda Nevegal tires seem to have been replaced by Schwalbe Nobby Nics. The test bike was set up tubeless, but they do not ship from the factory that way. The front wheel had a QR15 thru-axle, and a women’s-specific Fi’zi:k saddle to round out the setup. As tested, the X1W lists for $2,800.
Jacquie, the friendly and helpful Giant rep, fitted the bike with some clipless pedals, set the pressure in the front and rear suspension and adjusted the brake levers a little and we were ready to ride. As we headed out onto the trail, my daughter immediately commented that it pedaled easier than her current bike, a 2006 Giant Trance 1. The bikes weigh about the same, so I assume the difference is gearing with the 10-speed cassette and the tubeless tires. Once the trail got rocky I could see her getting bounced around pretty badly so I let some air out of the tires. I also noticed she was reaching a bit for the bars, even with the 70mm stem. Sliding the saddle forward alleviated that issue. With the adjustments done, we rode for a while and she gushed about how comfortable it was and how well it handled. Once the trail turned downhill, she was off like a shot with the 5″ of travel soaking up the trail chatter and the Nobby Nics sticking to the gravel like glue.
Giant appears to be serious about creating a line of women’s bikes that fit well, look great, and perform on the trail as well as their male counterparts, and the component specs and handling of the model we tested proves that it is not just hype. To quote my daughter, “I love this bike. It’s faster, it steers better and it has SPARKLES!” (On the anodized rear suspension rocker, if you’re wondering)
If you are a female mountain biker who has had a hard time finding a good quality bike that fits like it was made for you, head over to your nearest Giant dealer and take either the Anthem XW or Trance XW for a test ride.
The Giant website is still showing the 2011 Cypher, rather than the ’12 Trance. However the Anthem XW has been updated. The paper catalog in the store has all of the 2012 models listed with the latest specs.
The Giant rep told me that they also see some tween and teen boys on these models due to the sizing. They kept this in mind during the redesign and the color choices are somewhat subdued as a result.
The Anthem and Trance are the only women’s specific mountain bike models at this time. The Reign already has a shorter effective top tube and Giant felt that there was really nothing that needed changing to make it a better fit for women. They may tackle a women’s specific Anthem X 29er at some point, but there are some major geometry issues to deal with in order to keep the handling the same.