Giant Manufacturing Co. Ltd. or the Giant Bike company is the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer.
The company was founded in 1972 in Dajia, Taichung County in Taiwan by King Liu and several colleagues.
The company’s big breakthrough occurred a couple of years later when it negotiated a deal with Schwinn to begin manufacturing bikes to be sold under other brand names and private labels. Over time, Giant started signing on new contracts, acquiring new battleground regions and rapidly expanding with joint ventures that basically handed the conglomerate the keys to the European market.
By 2018, Giant had sales in over 50 countries, with more than 12,000 retail stores; with a revenue of US$1.9 billion.
In 2020, when the COVID pandemic hit, demands for Giant bikes skyrocketed.
Fueled by global interest, and fear of contracting coronavirus on crowded buses and trains, and a need for outdoor activities, Giant built its largest plant in the European Union.
Giant is a massive company with a staggering range of products and bicycles. It’s impossible not to find what you’re looking for within their catalog. It’s a beast that mass produces quality bikes and even has multiple sub-brands.
Giant bikes were originally made out of 6061 (ALUXX) aluminum alloy. They had an iconic bladed fork design and a seat post carefully engineered to reduce air resistance
As bicycles evolved, the company started to evolve with them.
In 2003 they introduced their first carbon fiber TCR frame and n 2006 added to this composite a higher-grade carbon. By that same year, they were also introducing other innovations in rear suspension power transfer and created the Maestro Suspension system (a platform that uses a setup of four pivot points and two linkages to create a floating pivot point that is intended to decrease pedal bob and facilitates the rear wheel to move vertically).
Right now, Giant classifies its two-wheelers by user:
Within each level, it crafts bikes for several uses, including; race, endurance, city, cruiser, mountain, and hybrid.
Giant’s e-bikes, introduced in 2016, feature an HCT (Hybrid Cycling Technology) drive system, 500 watts 80Nm Yamaha mid-drive motor, a 400Wh or 500Wh EnergyPack integrated frame battery, PedalPlus 4-sensor technology, and RideControl display & control pad with Bluetooth integration.
History & Timeline
- 1987 – The first carbon bikes were introduced
- 1995 – Giant first started sponsoring a mountain biking team
- 2004 – Introduction of the Maestro Suspension
- 2008 – LIV/Giant – A new cycling brand dedicated to women cyclists
- 2012 – Celebration of 40 years in the business! 🏆
- 2013 – 27.5″ wheel bikes added to the line
- 2018 – Introduction of the new gravel bike, Giant Revolt
In 1972, Japanese-educated engineer King Liu and a few friends founded Giant in Dajia, Taichung County, Taiwan.
The engineer, who had just witnessed a typhoon destroy his eel farming business brought partners together to raise $100,000 that was used to start the business.
A 24-year-old Chinese-born investor, Tony Lo, sold King Liu his trading company and became an owner and manager in the budding bicycle company. Among the company’s earliest customers was West Coast Cycle, when Giant produced the Nishiki.
As the demand for bicycles increased, Schwinn was driven by circumstances to turn to Japanese manufacturers to meet the bicycle boom in America. In 1973, Giant began courting some of the biggest names in the bicycle industry and things got even better when an order arrived from Schwinn.
Later in 1977, Giant produced their first ten-speed Schwinn World, making Schwinn really impressed with the quality.
By the early 80s, Giant was already producing an average of 100,000 bicycles per year for Schwinn. In the fall of 1980, Schwinn workers went on strike, increasing the demand for Giant’s bicycles.
The aging production facilities at Schwinn only made it even more difficult to produce their own bicycles, making them heavily reliant on Giant. This forced them to share manufacturing and design expertise.
- The brand was born in 1981
- In 1982 alone, Giant shipped 130,000 BMX Schwinn Predators and by the end of the year, Schwinn had closed the Chicago plant and handed over most of its production to Giant.
- In 1984, Giant produced the first two chrome-moly mountain bikes for Schwinn, these were the Sierra and High Sierra.
The two became an instant hit, in three years only, their sales figures had tripled. In that year, Giant shipped 500,000 bikes of which two-thirds were Schwinn’s sales.
- By the time it was 1986, 80% of Schwinn’s inventory was derived from Giant.
It was obvious that Giant produced quality bikes, but their name was not getting enough credit on the market. This was due to the fact that very few of the bikes actually carried the company name “Giant”.
Tony Lo seemed to have seen this coming since by 1981 he had started to promote the Giant brand name. In 1986, the brand name was launched in Europe.
It was the joint Schwinn-Giant brand that brought the deal home for Giant after successful negotiations in 1985. Though not very fruitful, the deal did make a major turning point in the way the two companies were related, they were now equaled.
The wheel of fortune had spun and stopped in Giant’s favor. Schwinn knew this and tried to evade it by signing a deal with China Bicycles.
The equity deal saw Schwinn get a third of the stake and a new manufacturing facility but it was too late. Giant continued to dominate the market with their own brand and have since remained the company to beat in the world of cycles.
Giant Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikers have an expansive number of options; competitive cross-country riders will be interested in the Anthem full-suspension XC models and XTC hardtails, while trail riders will want to look at the Trance and Stance lines of full-suspension bikes or the Fathom hardtails.
Downhillers too have the choice of Reign and Glory bikes.
The Giant Reign 1 which costs $4,600 has 160mm of travel on the rear, which is matched up front for a balanced ride. Its Maestro suspension is controlled by a RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair RC3 shock, a high-end model that is a stellar performer.
The piggyback design gives a more consistent control over prolonged descents because there is more oil volume to soak up the heat gain, while the larger Debonair air provides better suppleness and mid-stroke support.
Giant Road Bikes
Giant’s road bike range consists of aero race bikes such as the Propel, lightweight race bikes like the TCR Advanced, endurance-focused models such as the Defy Advanced, entry-level all-rounders such as the Content and triathlon-TT models such as the Trinity Advanced.
One of Giant’s notable road bikes is the $7,400 Giant TCR Advanced SL O. This bike has a light frameset which weighs 2210 grams when complete.
Subtracting the weight of two 300g tires leaves 1,610g, and that’s before allowing for the cassette, tubeless sealant, valves, and skewers.
Acceleration on the TCR is as easy as it is blistering, and no ride has ever been hampered by a failure of wheel performance. Its rims are 30mm deep and 23mm wide externally, which reduces tire width to 24mm from 25mm.
Giant Hybrid And City Series
This category consists of the Escape flat bar bike that is more of a jack of all trades, the more speed-dedicated Rapid and FastRoad models, and Giant’s folding bike called the Expressway, which comes with full mudguards and a rear pannier rack.
Retailing at $1,160 is Britain’s favorite folding bike, the Brompton S2L. First of all, it has this nice trick which allows it to fold into a small package. Once fully folded, the Brompton can either be carried like a suitcase or wheeled along thanks to three small luggage wheels.
In practice, the latter isn’t really an elegant solution. The Brompton weighs 11.4 kilograms (25lbs) which means you might not want to carry it around for too long.