Giant has completely reworked its LIV/GIANT women’s range for 2014 and created a few new high- lights.
Instead of just taking a standard frame, trying to make it look more feminine, and adding a smaller frame size option, Giant has adapted the geometry of the bikes specifically to the female anatomy. 27.5” wheels, Giant’s proven Maestro suspension, and a thoroughly top-class spec had the hearts of our female testers beating faster. The basic data are promising, but can the Giant Intrigue 1 also shine on the trail?
The Intrigue comes with two different specifications and three frame sizes (S, M and L). We tested the 3,299 euro high-end version of the Intrigue in frame size S (height of tester was 168cm).
The heart of the bike is the AluxX SL aluminum frame with a Fox Evolution Float CTD shock and 140mm of travel. Compared with the men’s version, the geometry of the Intrigue is fundamentally different. The Intrigue has a 1° steeper head tube angle and a shorter wheelbase to make it more agile. It also has a shorter top tube to match the typical reach of a female rider. The Giant is a serious eye-catcher with internal cable routing, an integrated chainstay protector, and chic peacock blue paintwork with neon pink elements.
More about the spec: a Fox Performance 32 TALAS CTD fork with a 15mm thru axle leads at the front. Surprisingly, Giant equips the Intrigue with SRAM GripShift X0 shifting instead of conventional shift levers.
A wide range of finger lengths makes it difficult to provide trigger shifters that every woman can reach; it’s possible that Giant wanted to get around this problem. Whatever: GripShift is a matter of taste. Regardless, the 2 x 10 set-up with 22/36 chainrings and an 11-36 cassette provides an adequate range of gears.
Braking duties are handled adequately by the Avid Elixir 7 disc brakes with 160mm rotors. The majority of the components are in-house products like the Giant P-TRX1 wheelset (with 2.25” Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires). The cockpit and Contact Switch-2 remote seatpost (topped by a fi’zi:k Vesta manganese saddle) are also made by Giant.
So much for the theory: let’s hit the trails!
We liked the upright and comfortable seating position immediately. The neutral suspension is great for climbing, and we didn’t really need the Climb setting on the Fox shock and fork. The 73.5° seat tube angle and 447mm chainstays create a central position for pedaling which keeps the front end glued to the trail.
The seatpost can be lowered quickly with the lever on the bars, and the bike can be changed to Descend mode easily. Descending, the Intrigue shows intriguing qualities. The Maestro suspension shows sensitivity but also a forgiving nature, swallowing bumps greedily. It complements the Fox TALAS at the front superbly. With its 27.5” wheels, the Intrigue glides effortlessly over rough sections. Thanks in no small part to its short wheelbase and the 68° head tube angle, the Giant is maneuverable and quick in playful sections and tight switchbacks.
The Intrigue is fun to jump, staying balanced in the air and easily corrected after less than perfect take-offs. The low top tube makes the bike feel safe, but the 75mm travel on the Giant Contact Switch Remote dropper post is too short. If the saddle could be lowered even further, this would increase freedom of movement and make the bike feel safer.
Shifting works precisely and quickly, but GripShift takes some getting used to. Having to shift your hand position continually between the shifter and the more stable part of the handlebars makes the ride feel less steady and quickly tires the hands. The fast-rolling Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires provide good grip on slightly damp ground and dry trails, but are too flimsy for demanding terrain.
The well-balanced Giant Intrigue is a true all-round talent. Pedaling uphill is efficient and comfortable, and the downhill performance is convincing in all aspects. Handling, ergonomics, and suspension performance are all perfect. Only the dropper post and GripShift shifters might have to be changed. A few small upgrades would make the Giant Intrigue a real ladies’ bike which is fairly priced and easy to fall in love with.
Text: Carina Hildebrandt Pictures: Christoph Bayer