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The 2005 Giant DH Team                                

By Hunter Mattocks                                                 


     The 2005 Giant DH Team is a great bang for the buck. Right off the showroom floor the bike comes equipped as a full assault down hill race bike or quite capable free-rider. The bike delivers a powerful components list stock and gives the rider a mix of light, yet durable equipment for the toughest down hills or hard landings. The DH Team rides very beautifully, but not without some drawbacks.

     To start off, I feel that the two most important aspects when selecting a DH bike are the geometry and suspension. The new DH Team has undergone some changes to the bike. The stand over height has been lowered significantly, this is really important in both racing and free-ride applications. The rider needs to be able to stay low on the bike and the new setup really allows the rider to have much more control of body positioning in the saddle. This year's Team comes equipped with the Swinger six-way shock in the rear and the newly done Manitou Dorado 180mm fork with evolve internals. The suspension on the bike can be set for very stiff or smooth terrain. It seems like Manitou has fixed all of their problems with the fork from the past. Once both are set-up, which is really easy now that they have a remote reservoir mounted to the inside of the bike, The Team is extremely balanced in the air, through corners and through rough sections.  The Swinger shock is wonderful because of all the adjustments, but if you are new to the technology, most bike shops will be capable of helping you set-up the suspension for your weight. Giant has done really well in putting together a versatile package. Unfortunately I'm unable to report honestly on either durability or long term reliability due to my limited time on the bike.

     The bike ride can be summarized in one word: "balanced". My current set-up is for strictly racing so I will explain the specifics from my stand-point. I run thirty-five percent sag in the rear, which is roughly a little over three inches. Having proper sag is very important because it helps to keep the bike glued to the ground. The shock is set-up with 100psi in the reservoir to make it pedal efficiently. For my weight, this setup forces the SPV to take a good little bump to activate. My high-speed compression is a few turns out and my low-speed is set-up the same to make the bike pedal fairly evenly.  My fork is set-up with twenty percent sag. I prefer my bike's front end to really stick to the ground, especially in the corners as that's key to making up time and winning races. Bike set-up is very crucial for a design like this because it doesn't have complex linkages to make it a very efficient pedaling race machine.

     Once the bike is set-up properly, it does have many positive attributes. To start-off, the bike corners simply beautifully. It is very stable on high-speed corners, as well as through tight trees and off-camber because the center of gravity is carried really low to the ground.  The bike jumps very balanced as well. I have taken mine off thirty foot step-downs and a fifteen-foot drop as well a wide variety of big doubles. The low stand over allows the rider to keep his body low making preloading the suspension to pop off of lips easier as well. It handles rough terrain fairly well because the controllability of the bike allows the rider to weave and pick smooth lines. However, the Team responds effectively as a point and shoot bike. My last bike was a Foes Mono and that this was a pig until moving then momentum took over. The Giant is very snappy out of corners feels great in large variety of terrain. It's variety of settings offers effective handling on just about every type of terrain out there. The bike pedals above average because the of the shock technology. It is a touch slow on the first stroke but quickly becomes snappy after that.

     The bike has few drawbacks. I feel to be a full racer the bike needs a floating brake system. (This can be purchased from Brake Therapy). The Team, under hard breaking, has a little bit of brake jack or suspension stiffening. It is noticeable for me because my Mono was equipped with a floater and it really does work when set up right. Another is the apparent lack of a mudguard. The shock and linkage get hit with everything the tire encounters. I built one easily with a thin sheet of aluminum, but for the price, it shouldn't be up to the rider to jury-rig. My last complaint is the stock chain guide. It is really heavy, noisy and not overly durable. A friend went through four of them before he put an evil E13 on his DH Team. I put a MRP system 3 and it works great, all minor complaints but price is of the essence here.

   Despite little annoyances, the bike is really an amazing work of art. Don't get fooled into the line of reasoning that ridiculously over-priced hand built frames are superior. I can recommend this bike to anyone looking to start racing or even getting into extreme DH. If the price is a bit much to swallow, there is a step down available which is significantly cheaper with a few budget components. From my experience, it is an out of the box winner.