Pretty much ever since the low-bob four-bar NRS suspension bike appeared, people have been waiting for a version using the front end off Giant’s well-regarded MCM carbon fibre hardtail. Wait no more, for the NRS Composite is here. Giant’s engineers have been working on this for the last three years, apparently. Choose from a £3,499 complete bike with Manitou Skareb Elite fork, XT group and Mavic Crossmax SL wheels or a frame-only option at £1,400.
The aluminium NRS frame has received a couple of tweaks, with some pivot points shuffled around and two travel settings on all models (last year’s cheaper bikes made do with one setting). Prices are broadly similar to 2003, with the NRS3, 2 and 1 costing £750, £1,075 and £1,475 respectively.
The VT long travel enduro/trail/”light freeride” chassis made it into the UK in small numbers this year (we’ve been running around on one of the 50 2003 frames for a while now – test report soon, but we like it a lot…). The frame’s unchanged for 2004, but the whole range will be coming to the UK. At least, we say “whole range” but actually there are only two models – the VT1 at £2,350 and the VT2 at £1,500. The latter looks like a particular bargain, as the VT frame alone will cost you £1,100…
Giant has always had a nice line in race hardtails, and the latest offering is the XTC Hybrid. It’s not, as you might be forgiven for suspecting, designed for 700c wheels and shopping – the Hybrid tag refers to the fact that the front and back ends are made of different materials. Up front you’ve got a triple-butted “AluxX SL” 6013 triangle, using Giant’s FluidForm shaped top and down tubes and an integrated headset. The slimline back end is carbon composite. Sounds like a winning combination to us – the Hybrid frame will be a reasonable-sounding £650.
Naturally there’s a full range of hardtail bikes, with the higher-end XtC bikes starting at £500 and the entry level Yukon and Terrago bikes kicking off at just £250. In the past, Giant has been one of the few manufacturers to have an off-road bike worth bothering with at £250, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can come up with for 2004.
The other hardtail is the Acid jump/trials bike. The spec is more jump than trials, and we’re not sure why it’s got a triple chainset, but the frame’s a funky-looking device and at £425 for the complete bike there’s scope for a bit of customising.
More info at www.giant-bicycles.com.