Giant Yukon 1 | Fat Bike Dirt Review



In 2019 Giant Bicycles finally entered the fat bike world with release of the Yukon. Available in limited numbers these fatties were pretty much snapped up as soon as they hit dealer’s floors.


Giant returned to the fat bike ring for 2020 with both the Yukon 1 and Yukon 2 and a supply that just may meet demand. With the assistance of The Outfitters, Fatbike Republic was able to secure a freshly minted Yukon 1 for review.

FITTING & FIRST IMPRESSION


Before heading to The Outfitters to pick up the beast, I popped on the Giant web site to look at their sizing chart. I normally ride a large fattie, but Giant had my 5” 10’ frame fitted for a size medium.



Swinging a leg over the medium on the shop floor, the sizing felt right as I did not feel cramped.  So medium it was. I strapped the Yukon 1 on the back of the fat bike transportation vehicle and headed back to the shop.



My first impression of the Yukon 1 was that the folks at Giant really engineered a beautiful shapely chassis for their first fat bike. It just looks fun to ride. The bike did not feel overly portly for a fattie and that was confirmed with a weight of 14.62 kg (32.2 lbs)



Before heading out I took a quick measurement of the crank as Giant promotes that the Yukon has a narrow Q-Factor to provide a more natural feeling riding experience. The bottom bracket shell measured 124.5 mm.



Dropping the tire pressure to a dirt acceptable 8 psi and making adjustments to the bars, levers and seat . . . I got ready to hit the trails to see what this purple painted beast was capable of doing. 

COMPONENT OVERVIEW

FRAME AND FORK

When creating the Yukon, the folks at Giant reached for the ALUXX SL 6011 alloy to create a frame with a high strength to weight ratio.




A steep sloping tapered top tube and hefty down tube connect to the 30.9 mm seat tube, with a huge 197 mm rear end that should have no problem fitting the largest of fat bike tires. 



Also at the rear you will find horizontal adjustable dropouts that provides +/- 15 mm rear center length adjustment to the 460 mm chainstay length.


The rear triangle components are heavily swagged to provide maximum foot clearance with a claimed low Q-factor and a press fit bottom bracket.



The Yukon 1 has a HT angle of 68.5 that sits somewhere between Trail and XC territory with a 73 degree seat angle that puts you a little further forward on the bike for better pedaling.




Looking at the front of the bike you will find a tapered headset and internal cable routing to keep everything looking tidy.




Checking out the large frame opening you will find ample water bottle mounts (three on down tube and two on the seat tube). You will also find a couple of braze-on on the chainstays. All this is wrapped in a color that Giant calls “wine red”, but its actually more of a cool sparkly purple.



Keeping the front tire off the ground is a Giant carbon fork with standard 150 mm spacing. Painted in a gloss black, the blades sport three low rider rack mounts filled with plastic knobs. 




One really cool feature of this fork is that the front brake hose actually runs inside fork giving the front end a really clean look.



DRIVETRAIN AND BRAKES

To motivate this purple beast down the trail, Giant spec'd SRAM NX Eagle for the entire drive train: Cassette (11 x 15 12 Speed), chain, derailleur, crank (DUB FAT 5), chainring (30T), bottom bracket (press fit 121 DUB) and 12 speed shifter.




Keeping with the SRAM family, Giant mounted up Level T hydraulic brakes to each wheel with a 180 mm rotor up front and 160 mm in the rear. SRAM Level T levers grace the bars.




WHEELS AND TIRES

This is where Giant got really creative. Instead of getting an off-the-shelf rim and mating it to fat hubs, they designed their own. Manufactured from 6061 alloy the large Yukon 1 rim measures 27.5 x 86 mm . . . yup 86 mm wide. 



The rims have opposing trapezoidal cutouts to reduce weight (1390 g) with Giant Tracker thru axle hubs front (15 x 150) and rear (12 x 197).



Another interesting feature about the Giant rims is that they have both schrader and presta valve stem h
oles. The story behind the dual holes is actually related setting up tubeless.




The folks at Giant wanted to make tubeless setup easier so they slightly decreased rim cutout size to maximize rim strip adhesion.  They also installed a schrader valve hole specifically for driving larger volumes of air during tubeless setup, while the presta valve can be used to adjust pressure after setup.

Maxxis Colossus (27.5 x 4.5) rubber stick this fattie to the dirt and snow. According to Maxxis these tires were developed for use in winter conditions with the open tread pattern designed to penetrate and clear snow.




The 120 TPI casing makes this a supple tire, while the EXO sidewall protection adds a measure of lightweight cut and abrasion resistance for those nasty trails.




I have found that most fat bike tires measure quite a bit smaller in actual width. These 27.5 x 4.5 measure closer to 4.3” which is pretty darn close to the stated width.




And if you are looking to nab a set of these 27.5" Colossus for your current fattie, good luck in finding a pair any time soon. Giant actually worked extensively with Maxxis to get this tire specifically for the Yukon.




COCKPIT

Giant reached into its expansive parts bins and pulled out some interesting gear for the Yukon 1 cockpit. Starting with the bars we have a 780 x 31.5 Connect Trail mated to a 50 mm Contact stem. A Giant headset, stem cap and Contact lock-on grips round out the upper section of the cockpit.




The saddle consists of a Giant Contact Neutral seat that has relief contouring and is fitted with the UniClip accessory mount.




Connecting the seat to the frame is a sweet Contact Switch dropper post. With 125 mm of vertical travel, the internally routed 30.9 mm seatpost is described as having limitless positioning with a dual-seal design to improve durability.



The dropper release lever is conveniently placed on the bar to be easily stabbed by your left thumb.



RIDING THE GIANT

If you follow Fatbike Republic on Strava you would know that during the three week torture test I put a little over 125 km (78 m) on the Yukon 1. With the lack of front suspension I stayed away from any heavily taxing mountain bike trails, but I threw everything else at it that a damp autumn in Newfoundland could supply.




The Yukon 1 was exposed to gravel grinds, off-trail exploration, single track, ocean cliffs, rough dirt roads, rock crawling, mud and a little bit of pavement.




I worked the drivetrain through all 12 gears grinding up hills, cruising trails and blasting down pockmarked dirt roads.



The brakes slowed me down from some crazy speeds (for a fat bike) and allowed me to navigate some slow tight and twisty turns, while the dropper was ever so handy in making those wicked descents a little more manageable. 



The Colossus tires dragged the Yukon through mud, climbed up over rocks and roots, and sprinted down dirt trails.



And check out the video for some real trail footage.



FINAL THOUGHTS

After spending a short but riding-packed adventure with the 2020 Giant Yukon 1 . . . I have the following thoughts/observations:

Things I like:

  • The bike has a surprisingly light feeling and agile frame. It is a fun bike to ride.
  • With it’s tapered and swaged frame tubes this is one good looking bike. The colour is pretty eye catching.
  • Many bike manufacturers build their bikes from parts of several different suppliers, however the Yukon was created using Giant, SRAM and Maxxis.
  • The SRAM drivetrain and brakes work really well. Good Choice!
  • The cockpit is pretty comfortable. I especially loved the grips and would have liked to get more time on the saddle.
  • While I did not get a chance to use the dual valve stems, the logic behind them appears solid.
  • Although the Maxxis Colossus are rated as a winter tire, they did extremely well during this non-white testing. They never once left me wanting more.
Areas for consideration:
  • While there are ample mounting points on the frame, there are no upper rack mounts on the seatstay. An appropriate seatpost collar could easily fix that.
  • Although the dropper post was not slow, it could be a little quicker on the return. I also wonder how the cold may impact performance.
  • The Yukon’s Q-Factor of 124.5 is pretty much on par with other fatbikes. I measured two other fatties (internal and external bearings) that had a Q-Factor of around 122 mm.
  • I wonder about the low rider rack mounts on the fork. During testing I actually lost one of the “plugs” used to fill the mounting holes. I’m sure that Giant could improve the design ever so slightly.
  • I love the front brake hose running through the fork blade as it makes for a super clean look. However, for those wanting to swap in a suspension fork it may be easier to get a second front brake set instead of removing the existing brake.
  • A front fork would make this a great four-season beast.
While Giant took their time entering the fat bike marketplace, they did make one heck of an entrance. So if you are in the market for a new or upgraded fattie, there is anther one for you to check out . . . the Giant Yukon.

RIDE FAT !



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