“ Brand: Giant / Type: Mountain Bike „
I first decided to buy the Giant XTC 4.5 mountain bike in 2009 in order to travel to work. At the time of purchase the RRP for this bike was £899 but because it was from Giants 2008 range it had been reduced to £499.
Giant have always been a big name in the world of cycling so I knew that this bike would be a good quality bike but I have to be honest I have wrecked bikes in the past and didn't expect this on to last as long as it has. Fortunately for me it has been a top class bike and has been more than worth the money.
The XTC 4.5 is a hardtail mountain bike with front suspension. In my opinion it is lovely looking bike with a really strong looking silver and grey frame that caught my attention as soon as I laid eyes on it. Hardtail means that there is no suspension on the rear of the bike. Hardtails are mainly used for relatively smooth trails or a mix of dirt and pavement which suit me well as I use it for riding to work.
The bike model is now nearly five years old but still holds its own against most bikes you could buy today at around the same price and I'm pleased to say that I have never had to change any parts. Normal maintenance has kept this bike in excellent condition and working order.
I have recently seen this model on e-bay selling for £250 which isn't a bad price for a bike that is nearly five years old.
The bike can be bought with five different frame sizes. 14.5, 16, 18, 20, 22in.
The frame is made of ALUXX aluminium. I have no idea what ALUXX means. I have read that is giants specially formed aluminium but I'm not sure what makes it so special. To me aluminium is aluminium. I don't know how much the bike weighs but aluminium is very light. I would say that it is light compared to most bikes but technology has moved on since this model so nowadays it probably seems heavy compared to more recent bikes.
FRONT FORKS AND SUSPENSION.
The front forks are the RockShox Dart 2. The aluminium forks provide suspension that has 100mm of travel. This was the first timei have ever bought a bike with any form of suspension and didn't know what to expect. As I use the bike for mainly riding on roads and pavements the suspension isn't much use to me. It is more for use on rough trails or downhill riding, both of which I do little of. The suspension seems to make it harder to pedal and makes riding more tiring on the legs.
The main feature of the front forks is that there is a turn key lock on top of the forks. Turning this anti clockwise will open the suspension to offer the most travel. As you bring it clockwise it will adjust the damper so you can set the suspension to however you want it. Turn it clockwise all the way and it will lock the suspension completely. This is how I now have mine set. I seem to be able to ride more easily and actually go quicker as a result. My next bike will not have suspension at all.
From reading reviews of these forks they seem to divide opinion. For a rider like me they represent good value for money and are a welcome feature on the bike but it seems more serious bikers are of the opinion that if you really want good forks you should change these immediately for something better. All I know is that they have served me well up to now with no problems or a need for having them serviced as is recommended. They can be serviced at most bike shops but I would probably recommend using a Giant dealership to get this done.
GEARS AND MECHANISM.
Shimano have always produced mechanisms for high performance for serious cyclists. They have always had an outstanding reputation for producing good gear systems for bikes. The Giant XTC 4.5 uses shimano deore gears for the shifters and the rear Derailleur and just normal shimano for the fornt Derailleur.
DEORE is designed to appeal to a wide range of cycling fans by inheriting the key functions of DEORE XT and DEORE LX at a great value.
DEORE design blends "Smart & Sharp" forms to complement MTB and trekking bikes. The gearing system are not top of the range but are good value. You can't really go wrong with shimano products.
The sifters are simple to use. There is a shifter on each side of your handlebars. One for the front gears and one for the back. Both have two levers for shifting up and down using your thumb for one lever and your finger for the other.
The front crank is the TruVativ ISOFlow 3.0 22/32/44 and the rear is the SRAM PG950 11-34.
The XTC 4.5 has 27 gears, so as you can imagine they take a bit of a hammering as I continually change gear looking for the perfect speed. None of the components on the gearset has ever let me down. I the odd gear jumping if I apply to much pressure to the pedals whilst changing but never that often.
Sometimes the gears don't change as easily as they should. With the constant use of the cables from the shifters to the Derailleurs, the cables stretch. This can cause the front Derailleur to rub on the bike chain or the rear Derailleur to jump between gears. Whilst I have had the bike I could simply adjust the gears with a turning screw on the shifter casing at the end of the gear cable. The cable can be tightened or slackened by pulling the adjuster out of the shifter casing and turning it either clockwise or anti-clockwise. So simple.
Sooner or later the cable will reach its end but hopefully that will not be soon.
The Giant XTC 4.5 is the first ever bike I have had with hydraulic brakes.
At first I was a little apprehensive. I work as a plant fitter and have to constantly deal with oil leaking from various machines. I didn't like the thought of having brakes that had the potential to leak and therefore fail.
I have never had that problem. The only problem I have had is dirt getting into the brake pads and because I didn't use the bike for a couple of weeks, one of the pads seized causing me to have to strip the rear brakes down.
The brakes are the GIANT MPH Root hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors. The rotors sit in the middle of the wheel rim and the brake callipers fix to the bike frame. Both wheels have the rotors and each wheel uses two brake pads in each calliper that close either side of the rotor when pressure is applied to the levers.
I find that hydraulic brakes work better than cantilever brakes because they seem to give you a more gradual slow down. Having spoken to a bike repairer he told me that hydraulic brakes also need less maintenance and they don't ruin the wheel rim either.
Maintenance is also quite simple. By using an allen key you can remove the callipers and brake pads easily. Pads could need changing up to every six months depending on how much you use the bike. In three years I've changed them twice usually buying new sets for around £20 each. You may get them cheaper if you shop around.
The trickiest part of changing the brake pads is bleeding the brakes afterwards to replace the oil you will invariably leak doing the job. It isn't difficult though. There is a bleed screw on the callipers and a small screw on the Giant MPH root brake levers.
I usually use two syringes at either end to push oil in one end and take it out at the other until no air is in the system. This is easier to do if you get somebody to help you at one end.
These hydraulic disc brakes use a special mineral oil so make sure you buy the right stuff. I'm sure any bike shop will sell it and it isn't that expensive for a small bottle.
STEM, HANDLE BARS, SEAT POST, PEDDLES AND SEAT.
The stem, handle bars and seat post are all made from aluminium. Again they are made to be as light as possible, same as the frame.
The seat is made by Giant. I find it quite uncomfortable and at first bought a gel cover but it didn't make a difference. I don't think that this seat is much different to your average bike seat but my advice would be to maybe buy some padded shorts to reduce the risk of being saddle sore and walking around like John Wayne all day.
The pedals are made from steel resin. They come with toe clips and reflectors for the sides. I removed the toe clips because I have to stop at busy roads so the thought of stopping and being unable to get my feet out didn't really appeal to me. They do however stop your feet from slipping outwards on the pedals which I sometimes do meaning that I have to keep rectifying my feet and getting a firmer grip with my feet.
The Alex DP-17 is a wheel rim that again suits the budget mountain biker. I have seen mixed reviews of people complaining about them buckling easier and people saying they have never had a problem. I myself have never had any problems with these rims.
Not only are they suitable for the kind of travelling I do but they really look the park as well. Jet black rims with the Alex DP-17 logo on the outside and stainless steel spokes they really combine well with the grey and steel frame giving the bike a mean look.
They are described as durable and hard wearing but I'm sure they are only made for trail riding. Anything more hardcore and I think you are going to get buckles because they are quite lightweight.
I have recently seen a second hand set of these rims for sale for £85.
The tyres are the Kenda Nevegal 26x2.1'' Stick-E. This tyre is used for all conditions- loose or hard. It has a downhill wire beadand this version has 2-ply construction with Stick-E rubber for better grip.
When riding on pavement or road they certainly do grip. They are a really chunky tyre and make it very difficult to ride on flat ground even though they are described as being able to handle all terrains. I seriously wouldn't recommend using these tyres for doing a leisurely bike ride on tarmac. They really take it out of your legs.
I'm sure they are a very good tyre for off-roading but I decided to take them off and replace them with road tyres after a couple of weeks of nearly killing myself riding to work.
I LOVE THIS BIKE.
If you are looking for a mountain bike and can get the Giant XTC 4.5 cheap from anywhere then don't hesitate. It really has everything. It looks stylish, it's hard wearing and low maintenance.
I have to admit I am currently considering buying a new bike but will not be considering selling this. I will keep it until I run it into the ground.