Giant has long been a brand that delivers excellent bang-for-the-buck. Maybe their bikes have lacked the flair you might get from other brands (real or perceived), but there’s no denying that Giant can pack a ton of value into their bikes. The 27.5+ hardtail market has a lot of players in it and I’ve ridden a number of them, but this time the Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 2 has delivered a little something extra that has made riding it even more fun.
2018 Giant XTC Advanced 27.5+ 2 Features:
- Advanced-level carbon fiber layup
- RockShox Judy Gold RL, 120mm
- Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrain and brakes
- Shimano BR-MT500 brakes (180mm front and 160mm rear)
- Giant alloy cockpit
- TransX dropper post (27.2m with 100mm drop)
- Internal cable routing
- ISCG tabs
- Horizontal dropouts for geared or single speed use
- Maxxis Rekon 2.8 tires (factory tubeless)
- Weight: 27.7 lbs (Large, actual)
- MSRP: $2860
By virtue of owning the factories in Taiwan, Giant always packs a ton of value in their bike line and the XTC Advanced 27.5+ 2 is no exception. The front suspension delivered by the RockShox Judy Gold RL while drivetrain duties are served by a workhorse 1×11 Shimano SLX group. The rest of the bike is outfitted with Giant-branded components — from wheels to cockpit and everything in-between.
The XTC Advanced 27.5+ frame features dropped seat stays for added comfort and modern Boost spacing front (15×110) and rear (12×148) to deliver the strongest and most responsive wheels available. The 69-degree head angle is a little steeper than some bikes in this category, but the stretched-out top-tube is more roomy than bikes of yesteryear. It has been set up tubeless throughout the duration of my testing without a hitch.
This frame uses Giant’s Advanced-level carbon fiber layup with a monocoque front triangle and horizontal dropouts so it can be run as both geared and single speed, if desired. You’ll also find ISCG tabs should you wish to run a chain guard. It’s built around a 120mm fork for optimal performance. Uniquely, this frame uses a 27.2mm seatpost diameter that’s more common to road bikes.
Plus-sized tires for plus-sized grins
After several years of 27.5+ bikes, it’s been good to cap them off with a carbon fiber 27.5+ hardtail. While we all collectively love full-suspension bikes, we’ve lost some of the soul of mountain biking’s roots and have arguably become soft. 27.5+ hardtails take the edge off just enough while still keeping things real. Re-connecting with the trail has never been easier or more fun than on a 27.5+ bike and the XTC Advanced 27.5+ is a great one to add to the mix.
While it’s no flyweight at 27.7 lbs., carbon fiber remains a wonder material as I can feel both the chatter reduction and pedaling responsiveness with this frame that I couldn’t with alloy and steel flavors. The large chain stays and downtube come into play when pushing the bike hard as energy is effectively transformed into motion.
27.5+ bikes are all touted for their outstanding traction, which is on display here. But, don’t expect super powers because there is a limit to that traction. The Maxxis Rekon 2.8’s deliver excellent grip, but you do have to balance your weight just right during standing climbs — particularly if things get loose. Tubeless from the get-go, I’ve been running 16-18 psi. with much success.
Seated climbing will result in efficient ascending for days. Stand up during technical sections and you’ll have to adjust your weight fore/aft to maintain traction. Should the terrain get extra-steep, you’ll need to keep your body position as forward as possible because it does tend to wander. I’ve minimized that wander by inverting the stem, but it still happens, so be aware.
On rolling terrain, the XTC Advanced 27.5+ is plenty of fun. On both singletrack and fire roads, I’ve been laying down some mighty quick times and look forward to more of the same as I approach mid-season fitness.
At 5″11″, I opted for the size Large. At first, I thought I should have gone with a Medium for a more flickable ride. In the end, I could be happy with both, I appreciated the roomier Large frame on long climbs and particularly on descents. Stability is paramount and the XTC Advanced 27.5+ can plow through any terrain.
With a 433mm chainstay length, this frame is a touch longer an a touch less playful than the Niner SIR 9, but it’s still a heckuva lot of fun to throw around. Particularly so in sweeping singletrack turns where you can drop the TransX dropper and lay into each corner. It swoops back-and-forth with the best bikes out there.
I will add that while the RockShox Judy Gold RL is an admirable fork, it lacks the refinement and stiffness of top-end forks on the market. The lockout mechanism was sufficient for use during pavement or gravel rides. On fast pavement, the 11/30t gearing topped out pretty quickly, but the low-range gearing helped on punchy climbs. Shimano’s SLX drivetrain has been performing without a hitch as well.
- Advanced carbon delivers a zippy ride
- Lay into it on high-speed corners and be ready for fun
- Efficient for lung-busting climbs and rolling terrain
- Comes factory tubeless
- Excellent overall value
- Beautiful frame — love the yellow color
- Wide bars and a comfortable saddle
- Includes dropper post, which is mandatory on plus bikes
- Front end wanders on steep, technical ascents
- A touch less playful than other bikes in this category
- RockShox Judy was underwhelming
The Bottom Line: Giant XTC Advanced 27.5+ 2
Rocking the local singletrack is a breeze aboard the Giant XTC Advanced 27.5+. The added tire width and corresponding lower pressures really made for a fun ride. After riding alloy and steel 27.5+ hardtails the XTC Advanced stood above the others in terms of responsiveness and chatter reduction and this value-packed build.
Buy Now: Visit Giant-Bicycles.com
The Giant XTC Advanced 27.5+ delivers a responsive, plus-sized hardtail experience. It takes the edge off when the going gets rough and delivers ample traction in tricky situations (if you keep your weight balanced). With a value-packed build, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better overall package.