We’ve been mildly caught on the hop here. Labouring under the misapprehension that we’d seen Giant’s 2005 range, when we saw a new design at Interbike we assumed it was some weirdy US-only jobber and moved on. But in fact the Maestro suspension range, consisting of ten bikes built on to three frames, will appear in the UK in 2005. That’s an actual calendar 2005, not a bike industry 2005 which, as you’ll have gathered by now, was in August sometime.
The Maestro design is Giant’s take on the floating pivot point idea. They can’t call it a virtual pivot point because that’s someone else’s patent, but despite not using VPP’s S-shaped axle path the vague mechanical principle is the same – hanging a rigid rear triangle off a pair of short links to the main frame and arranging the links to give you your desired axle path.
Giant has opted for an essentially straight axle path (except on the long-travel Faith, which has a bit of a curve at the end). They’re aiming for minimum brake and chain tension feedback, with weight-shift-related movement being dealt with by clever shocks. The other guiding principle in the design is getting the shock down low to drop the centre of gravity. To that end, two of the bikes use a forged “cage” BB/shock mount assembly with one end of the shock nestled within it. Again, the Faith is a bit different – it needs a much bigger shock that won’t fit vertically.
The three frames are the 4in travel Trance, 6in Reign and 8in Faith. There’ll be four Trance bikes and three each on the Reign and Faith platforms. The bikes will use Fox RP3, Manitou Swinger Air or Coil or Fox DHX shocks depending on frame and model. No prices yet, but they’ll be Giant-style prices so should be very competitive. The existing NRS, VT and AC frames continue to feature in the range, with the NRS being more focussed on XC racing rather than the “trailbikey” Trance.
The bikes are certainly very low-slung, particularly the Reign which looks as if it might be a bit odd-looking in the larger sizes. But the proof is, as ever, in the riding so we’ll wait and see…