a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: June 29, 2005
Strengths: durability, a workhorse for us weekend warriors
Weaknesses: weight has a bouncy ride
I felt that I would write a review for all those looking at purchasing one used - I taken this thing on everything and even raced with it. I feel it does nothing spectacular but does everything well. A good bike for a bigger guy which I'm not.
Bike Setup: hayes brakes, sid rear and psylo front
from Ontario Canada
Date Reviewed: August 8, 2004
Strengths: Light for a frame with 6 inch travel option Excellent decending geometry Has survived - without a dent - my many wipe outs Overall great and versatile bike
This is an amazing ride. I actually scored a new frame and rear shock last year on Ebay for $300. Built the rest up through on-line pasts and could not be happier. Spent about one thrird of sticker price.
You can roll technical decents with one foots root drops into sand with out really even trying very hard. (Used to endo alot on these). It really excels in the fast technical root/rock/log infested areas, where you can keep hammering the pedals due to high BB clearence.
It climbs OK, not great, but this is a 6" travel bike. BOB is surprizingly minimal and dialing in the right front/rear suspension set-up is easy.
Mine weights in at just around 29 LBS, and is simpley a blast to ride. I have it set in the 5.15" rear travel setting and the Psylo is at full extension (125 mm).
I did install a Norco Axiom telescopic seat post, and designed my own shim, as the S curve in the seat stay prevents any significant adjustment options. Although after the last few months, I have become so comfortable on this frame, that I never need to redcue seat height for technical decents.
Overall, I love this bike, and while it is not a light weight racer, I bike for the fun and get a cardio workout, so this is exactly what I need.
To bad thet discountinued specing the Airlite... It's a nicely balanced trail bike that is amazingly versatile.
Weaknesses: Some of the Titec components, but I guess after a year one could expect to replace stuff...
This is my first year review. Bottom line is this bike makes all kind of riding fun: from rock gardens and root sections to drops, to several hour technical xc rides, it does it all. I ride year round, summer and winter (tho this winter had too much snow to ride alot), so my Air Lite has some good hours on it in variable weather. To give an idea of maintenance on the bike in 1 year, here's what I've had to replace/fix over the past year: Brakes: 1 rotor (rear), 4 sets of pads (2x front, 2x rear) Fork: 1 Psylo rebuild (works like butter now) Drivetrain: 1 RF Outer ring, 1 RF Middle ring, 2 chains, 1 cassette Wheels: 1 front rim; couple spokes; sidewall tears in the WTB Mutanoraptors (I like these though so am replacing with same) Components: handlebars (replace w/EA50), seatpost (replacing w/EA70 or Thomson) My rear derailleur is kind of thrashed but is still shifting ok; i'll probably replace with an LX or XT.
So that's not too bad for a year of riding. Kudos once again to Giant for making a bike that rocks in various riding conditions. I'm sure the VT is a great ride, but am sad to see the Air and Air lIte series go...
Bike Setup: Stock except Time Atacs, Easton EA50 bar, and black psylo
from Woodinville, WA, US
Date Reviewed: May 6, 2003
Basically, this a good idea that needs some refinement. I think the first thing to change should be the price, as it's certainly not the best value on the market.
The XT shifters and XT/XTR derailleurs work flawlessly, the Raceface cranksets are strong and fairly light, and the Mavic wheelset has stayed true, even after numerous small jumps and three-foot drops-to-flat (I weigh around 160 lbs). Also, the adjustable travel on both ends makes a big difference in the feel and ride quality, although the rear end bottoms out easily and feels like less than six inches of travel.
However, the rear end bobs a great deal in the six-inch setting. That can be helped by reducing the travel, which, by providing a lower leverage ratio, reduces bobbing, but leaves the bike less smooth and forgiving. Furthermore, pedal feedback, which causes my pedaling to be choppy, the bike to shift on its own, and more than a few dropped chains, is an extremely noticable problem. The Psylo fork, although the lockout and rebound and compression adjustments are perfect, is just not the same as a Manitou Black or Sherman or a Fox Vanilla. I really notice the lack of a preload ajust, whose place is taken by the U-Turn system (the springs stiffen slightly as travel is shortened). It was rather surprising that RockShox assumed that one of the three or four available spring rates would work for everybody. I have had to compensate for the light spring rate with increased wompression damping, but that reduces the small-bump performance, which is already one of the fork's weakest points. However, the fork is excellent over medium-sized hits, and is one of the lighter five-inch forks.
Here are some things that I have done to my bike to improve the performance: Tioga Factory DH 2.3 tires (the stock tires are strictly for hardpack and urban/asphalt riding).
MRP Long Range Patrol Chainguide (ends dropped chains, but still lets me use my two smaller chainrings.
Manitou Swinger rear shock (cures the pedal-induced boobbing and gives the added performance of a coil shock; it's the same as a 5th Element).
Axiom telescopic seatpost (takes care of the lack of seat-height adjustment, great for freeriders)
I am planning of putting on a different saddle as well, since the stock one is hard to move around during technical riding.
Strengths: Value of components, good trail geometry, lives up to AC moniker.
Weaknesses: Seat post shim, unable to put post down as far as I want, horrible pedals, some chainsuck problems.
Great trailbike, I can use it for just about anything. Pedals great, climbs great, decends great. I've hucked it off of 4ft to flat without any problem (215lb rider w/ stiff spring on the psylo).
I've had no problems with the RS Sid on the rear, which I had figured to be one of the first things I was going to replace. I'm not entirely happy with the Psylo SL, it's not the most confidence inspiring fork out there. It's jittery on the small stuff, and has developed a slight knock when i rock the bike with the brakes on (yet to figure out the problem). Once I get rich I'll replace it with a Zoke.
I also rarely use the ajustable travel (front or back), so its more of a novelty item for me (although I first figured it would be something very useful). The rear is a pain in the arse to change during the ride since you have to adjust your air pressure each time. I just leave everything in the longest travel for the most part, unless I know I'm going to be hitting a long, smooth trail with lots of climbing.
Get rid of the pedals, the plastic platform part will break after three rock hits. They don't release well either, so you'll end up doing a lot of slow speed tipping on tech uphills.
Keep in mind that I'm being very picky. Overall I couldn't be happier with the bike. It's great for a Clyde like myself, especially since I really only have one MTB.
That's my opinion, although they've discontinued the Bike. So who cares!
Bike Setup: Stock + 959 pedals and IRC Kujo 2.35 tires
a Cross Country Rider
from Fort Collins, Colorado
Date Reviewed: March 11, 2003
Strengths: Value, geometry, 4 bar linkage, adjustability, frame and bushings holding up nicely after one year...
Weaknesses: Titec OEM stuff is weak. Hayes OEM brakes needed constant attention so they wouldn't rub.
I was inches away from buying a boutique rig when I took this bike for a test ride at the urging of a buddy at the LBS. I have no regrets. About a month after I bought mine, three of my friends went out and bought this or the AC (we look like idiots when we ride together what with everybody riding the same bike...).
Anyway, enough has been said about this rig - it's a classic. The VT (which replaces the AC Air series) has some mighty big shoes to fill. We'll see.
Bike Setup: Replaced Titec crap with Thomson stem, RaceFace XY seatpost and Easton EA70 bars. Replaced Hayes brakes with Shimano XT disks. Replaced Psylo SL internals with Psylo Race internals - I prefer the adjustability of an air sprung fork.
a Weekend Warrior
from Miami, FL, USA
Date Reviewed: February 4, 2003
Strengths: Great component selection. Light weight, reliable, variable travel front and rear suspension. No ancient single pivot design on this bike. Hayes hydrolic brakes, XTR rear derailer, etc, etc.
Weaknesses: Seat post does not go all the way down. Problem solved on the 2003 AC1 & AC2. Crappy seat post shim needs constant cleaning to remain quiet.
At the time of this purchase I was about to order a SC Bullet until a call came in from my buddy at the LBS. Someone had a 3 day old AC Air Lite for sale. Their loss was my gain. After saving some serious cash, I quickly commenced beating on this bike. Rides and handles like a dream. The RockShock rear air shock has held up to repeated drops of 3 to 4 feet without fail. The PSYLO shock upfront is easy do dial in with adjustable rebound, and an adjustable travel range of 3 to 5 inches. The rear also has adjustable travel settings of 4.50", 5.25", and 6.00" of travel. The 5.25 inch rear suspension travel setting is great for blasting through rocky stunt ladden trails. Mud, sand, stunts, BRING IT ON! I find myself putting aside my 2000 Giant NRS1 XC bike in favor of riding this bike on the trail. So many adjustments, so little time.
A little heavier, but much more capable than a light XC bike. YOU WILL RIDE SICKER LINES WITH THIS BIKE! PERFECT ALL AROUND BIKE! BAR NONE! You may pay more, but will not receive as much in return.
Buy: If you want a heavy duty all terrain bike with a great design and hate bike repairs.
Dont buy: If you love spandex and counting grams.
Too bad Giant has discontinued this model. No more wimpy weight weenie XC bikes for me. Long live the AC Air lite. fReeRIdE oR dIE.
Similar Products Used: Nothing similar on the market.
Bike Setup: Stock setup is good to go right out of the box.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: January 14, 2003
Strengths: Frame warrantied in three days!
This is an addendum to my previous fire spitting review. So I got back from vacation and took my bike over to Ace and showed them the broken chainstay. After getting props for breaking a frame they told me that I could expect to wait a few weeks for the warranty stuff. Well they called Giant and told them what happened and they sent out a new frame that day, before they had even seen my bike. 3 days later my brand new frame had all of of my parts back on, I was amazed that they had it done so fast when they called to tell me. So I walked down to the bike shop and to my amazement they threw in a brand new rear shock! Amazing! I guess they wanted to check out the frame alignment just as I had the bike set up. So yeah it sucks that I had to run out of the woods with my bike on vacation but I had a brand new frame and rear shock for free within three days. That's customer service. Go Giant!
Amazing bike for the price. I read reviews and decided to get the frame for light weight and full adjustability. But by assembling the rest of the bike I saved money and adressed all of the complaints. Bottom line this bike kicks ass. It will go any where do anything. I have abused it good and it keeps coming back for more. I really like that this bike lives up to its AC name.
Similar Products Used: Gaint warp ds1, Specialized
Bike Setup: Psylo sl fork, Xt crank and BB, Easton carbon bars, Thompson stem and seat post, Shimano XT hub/rhynolite wheelset, XT/XTR drivetrain, and Xt hydro disc brakes
from Bozeman, MT
Date Reviewed: January 1, 2003
Strengths: Awesome initial quality, made me a better rider on the first ride
Weaknesses: The lite is too light, I keep breaking sh*t!
I was hooked on the idea of the AC right off the bat as it is for all conditions and I like it all; long climbs, long descents, jumps, north shore, jibbing town whatever. I am not super hardcore, the biggest thing that I have dropped is probably under 5 feet and I weigh 170 lbs, but I do ride as much as I can (five days a week and more during the summer). Right off the bat I thought the handlebar was too flexy, it seemed like I was going to break the thing so I swapped it out. Then I started really breaking things. So first there was a broken bottom bracket, then the psylo started getting all flexy and sticky with the travel, and then there was another bottom bracket, then I broke the rear axle, and now today on the first day of the year I broke the freaking swingarm! Aaaargh I wish that I had bought the AC1, although it is heavier it would not make me as slow as walking out of the woods with a broken ride. If you are like me and ride all the time and not just the single track you might want to get something built up a little stronger. Everything about the bike is awesome in initial quality but it might not stand up to your abuse. I'll give it 4 chilis for value if I was just riding butter single track but a 2 in the overall for the overall hassle.
Bike Setup: Stock except Wilderness Trail Weirwolf 2.5's and a stiffer handlebar.
a Cross Country Rider
from Okinawa, Japan
Date Reviewed: November 16, 2002
Strengths: Awesome climbing and descending
Broke my C'dale. Went to MTB Review and found reviews for AC Lite favorable and they were correct. Great ride in both 4 and 5 inch travel. Very fast, great handling. Thanks to everyone for the honest reviews. That is why I purchased the frame. Buy it if you like to bomb down your favorite trail and climb back up another, climbs well.Later to all "Spider Riders" in Okinawa. Gonna miss it!
Similar Products Used: C'dale Raven, C'dale, Super V.
Bike Setup: Fox Fork, King Wheels, Hayes brakes
a Cross Country Rider
from SLC, Utah
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2002
Strengths: It rocks on the downhills, but is still very light. It is the best bike you can buy for the price period.
Weaknesses: None really, it's not the best at climbing super steep stuff, but I actually think it climbs better up rough unlevel stuff better than my hard tail, it seems to track better.
This is the best bike you buy for under $2000. It is only 29lbs and has 6 inches of travel!!!! Plus it's components are spect out great. I was really unsure if this is the one I wanted but after several test rides on this and other bikes it seemed like the best choice. Well in the week I've had it so far I've done the Wasatch Crest, Slick Rock and Porcupine Rim. This bike has made me feel like a rock star. It bombs on the downhill and is awsome on the uphill. For super long uphills that are steep just set the front to 3 and the rear to 4 and tighten the rebound and you'll fly uphill. This bike is SO awsome, I wish it had a cool name like Slayer, but this bike is better, I rode them both many times. Plus this bike is like $500 bucks less than the Kona and Rocky and has better components. Mountain Biking is fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Similar Products Used: Rocky Mountain Slayer, Kona Bear-Dee Lux, Specialized Enduro
Bike Setup: XTR/Race Face
a Weekend Warrior
from Morehead Ky. USA
Date Reviewed: September 24, 2002
Strengths: Great components, extremly versatile, great price
Weaknesses: Tires, had to get front shock replaced after 2 months, bottom bracket went out after 2 months.
Bottom line is, this bike rocks! I ride everything from cross country to technical downhill and it works great on any type of trail. After Rockshox replaced the original shock which was a lemon from the factory, I haven't had any problems. This is the only bike that I could find that does it all. It's a shame that Giant is only going to product this bike for one year. Next year they are replacing the AC Air Lite with the VT and VT1, it's hard to believe that Giant can improve upon the AC Air Lite.
Bike Setup: Pretty much stock except for tires, I went with Panracer fire xc pros, I also cut a couple of inches off the handle bars because it was imposible to manouver them through tight trees. New bottom bracket and shock. Rockshox replaced the bad shock for free and the new one had worked awesome.
a Cross Country Rider
from Washington, Seattle
Date Reviewed: August 26, 2002
Strengths: Awesome price, Kick A$$ components, Great ride, Bump sucking freak, Great weight for a hucker bike.
Bottem line this is the most bike that you can get for your money bar none. Handle bar none. I might change out the rear shock to a 5th element and maybe get a new lighter rear hub, poss Chris King DISCO. Yeah Baby...
This is the ultimate fun / huckerish bike.
damm for only 1600 bones......i am in heaven, i used to hate mass produced bike companys, but giant made me a convert...Good job Giant, keep on truckin :)
Similar Products Used: Intense Uzzi SLX, SantaCruz Superlight.
Bike Setup: Mostly Stock, except for putting on my MyThos XC Kevlar tires, And a SellaItalia Gel Prolink seat.
from Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Date Reviewed: August 22, 2002
Strengths: Great all around bike, very nice components for a very nice price. I never knew how much fun this bike would be.
Weaknesses: The Psylo Sl is a little soft, goes through travel in a heart beat. SID Air rear shock is a little tough to set up and also feels soft, even at 250lbs pressure
The bottom line is this: I had a choice of many bikes but I needed it to fit my riding style. I ride about everything except for serious competitive downhill. I enter in NORBA XC races, although with this bike it will be a little different, I rode epic rides when I lived in Gold Hill, CO-I now ride urban assault style stuff as there is no terrain in Louisiana, I just like to be on my bike no matter what. I cant vouch for how well this bike will work for XC yet, however with the travel at 4.5" and 3" and alot of pressure in rear shock probably pretty well. I can tell you how well this bike is on rough terrain and its amazing. four foot drops to flat are no problem with 6" and 5" of travel although the Psylo is little soft. Stairs bring em on. I can bunny hop this bike as well with flat pedals as I could my Sugar 3 (which was five or six punds lighter). This bike is amazing, it's not limited like other freeride or XC bikes (nor is it quite as good at those applications) but for a bike that can do it all this is it. Too bad they discontinued the AC Air and Air Light line for 2003-get em while you can, fore the VT comes out. Great bike, great components, great geometry (XC-like but slightly smaller and more relaxed) at a great price!!
Going back a few years here...
I've got a 2002 AC Air Lite with the Sid XC and wanted to upgrade the rear shock to something more plush and better pedaling. I'm a bit out of touch with rear suspension technology. Was told before that a Manitou swinger would be a great improvement (but this was se ... Read More »
New member here looking to get back on the trails after 6 years of stay-at-home dad. Currently 45y/o, 6'3"/270 looking to drop 30-40lbs. Want to upgrade from aluminum hardtail to full suspension for all-around trail riding and maybe get back into local racing. No hucking.
I'm looking at an 2002 G ... Read More »
Picked up a used AC Air Lite with a Sid-XC rear shock. I'll play around with it, but can anyone recommend some base line PSI settings for the various travel options? I'm about 195 with gear. I tried searching the forums and googled this as well, but no dice, and Giant's site is silent on this.
... Read More »
A friend of mine is moving to Chicago and has decided to part with his AC (he's keeping his HT instead)........
He is leaving this weekend and is leaving the AC with me to sell it for him, if you're interested or know anyone feel free to contact me.
[B]2002 Giant AC Air Lite (18.5)[/B]
RockShox ... Read More »