Giant XtC NRS Air 2003 Full Suspension

4.61/5 (36 Reviews)
MSRP : $4100.00


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Reviews 1 - 15 (36 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mntbiker036 a Cross Country Rider from Nar the river,Pa USA

Date Reviewed: December 12, 2010

Strengths:    The suspension set up is great for a 7 year old bike. I can throw down with my buddies new $2500 Cannondale no problem!

Weaknesses:    None other than the fact that parts for bikes get hard to find after they have been out for 5 years. That sucks cuz I want to rebuild the suspension bearings and bushings in the near future.

Bottom Line:   
I resuced this bike from a guy who bought it and decided it was to small, then stripped it of the great componets and didn't care about her anymore. So for my money and the ride she gives me I stole it! I use it to commute to work somtimes but mostly ride on trials, single track and logging roads. I get a lot of comments on how it looks to! Bottom line it makes me smile!

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Favorite Trail:   The one wih my favorite dog

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $325.00

Purchased At:   down the road

Similar Products Used:   Trek fuel!

Bike Setup:   Rockshox psylo XC front,rockshox sid rear 3.75in. travel, Magura julie disc breaks, X-9 shifters & rear Derailleur,shimano xt Front Derailleur, Trivati GXP I crank set. Sram PC991 chain.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Victor Primacio a Racer from Dededo, Guam, USA

Date Reviewed: January 21, 2005

Strengths:    Solid carbon frame matched with top of the line components.

Weaknesses:    Can't go smaller frame because 16.5 is the smallest

Bottom Line:   
NRS Air gives me a natural high for speed and comfort riding a bike. No need to take a nap post ride unlike my hardtails, I guess the carbon frame plus rear suspension took all the beatings. I can't wait for my new shorter stem I special ordered from dealer after then no other weaknesses. I wish I could afford to buy all my 5 sisters and 4 brothers each one with nrs air.

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Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Purchased At:   Hornet's Sport

Similar Products Used:   My very first DS bike but former XTC and Trek 8000

Bike Setup:   Full XTR's, Sid Team fork, stock NRS air rear susp., Crossmax SL

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Neville Bailey a Cross Country Rider from Hong Kong

Date Reviewed: August 26, 2004

Strengths:    Liteweight, Strong, Value for money. Made in Taiwan - you're not paying for the name. (That comes free).

Weaknesses:    Some small issues with the rear suspension

Does anyone know where I can buy a rear bush kit ??


Bottom Line:   
This is a great bike. I built it from the ground up 2 years ago. It has beefed up rims over what you normally put on an NRS, due to the large rocks here, and weighs in at 29lbs. Could easily be built for 27lbs with lighter tires and rims for normal X country.

Two issues with the rear suspension. One, after it gets wet it squeaks. Best fix is to lube the bushes with white lightning if required.

Second, after alot of riding on rough terrain all the rear bushes have worn (several thousand KM'S), and there is now some lateral movement in the rear swingarm. This leads to ghost shifting etc. I am already on the second set of forks, rims, derailler, handlebars, and third bottom bracket, I guess its no surprise to need to replace the rear bushes. The rest of the frame and rear shok has held up well.

So.....Does anyone know where to buy a bushing kit ? Please email if you do, or there is another fix. Giant reps welcome !!

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Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Bike Setup:   Custom built. Magura Marta brakes, Shimano XTR groupset, Manitou Minute 3 Forks, Mavic F219 Rims, Panaracer fire Pro tires,

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Morgen S a Cross Country Rider from Spokane Wa

Date Reviewed: July 1, 2004

Strengths:    This bike is the most reactive bike I have ever owned. It is quick and limber climbing the steepest hill but yet forgiving on the descents. If you like to XC this is the bike to get.

Weaknesses:    Really nothing serious, a little chain slap no matter what the position; easily fixed with a chainstay cover.

Bottom Line:   
I wanted a Santa Cruz Blur because of all the reviews. I tested it out then went to my local shop and the owner convinced me to at least try the NRS Air before I bought the Blur. One ride and the smile hasn't come off my face! As a XC rider the Santa Cruz was nice but the NRS was much more responsive. The Santa Cruz is much plusher and feels like it has endless suspension. The NRS Air handles any bump or rock you would see "on" a trail with plenty of give but stiff for anything over 18". How often trail riding do you go over anything 18", not very often. Bottom line: if you like single track and want to join a weekend race now and then, this is the bike. If you want to leave the trail every once in a while and go over rocks and stumps Blurs the bike. Booth are great but the NRS AIr sells for $1,500 less

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Favorite Trail:   Down RIver

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $2800.00

Purchased At:   Spoke and Sport

Similar Products Used:   GT Team i-drive, GT 1000 i-drive and a GT Team Zascar hard tail all XTR with sid SL forks. Great bikes but no comparison to the NRS, its a better climber than any GT I have ridden

Bike Setup:   All 03 XTR, Sid Team fork, Easton Bars and stem, Alien post and WTB seat. Mavic SL tubless Hutchison Tube tires/running tubless with Stan's<-much lighter than tubeless

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by George E a Cross Country Rider from Brooklyn

Date Reviewed: June 7, 2004

Strengths:    Stiff and supple at the same time, light.

Weaknesses:    a little tall feeling. Im used to a lower center of gravity feel from my hardtail. But Im getting used to this higher setting.

Bottom Line:   
At first I was having trouble setting the SID shock to my liking. It seemed either too stiff or too plush and the rebound knob seems to adjust both compression and rebound damping. Its also EXTREMELY sensitive, between a quarter of a turn it goes from lots of damping to virtually none. (I have learned to actually like this aspect). Anyway, about 4 rides into the NRS experience I found it. The "symphony" setting, whereby you forget the suspension (front and rear) is there. I have found that setting the shock at about 7 pounds over my weight with the standard 55 neg. air pressure, with the point in the rebound knob where the shock feels like it has medium rebound.
At first I was unsure about the NRS. Now I am a believer.
As far as the height of the bike, it does feel a little tall. My last bike, a trek fuel, felt really agile in switchbacks, this bike feels a bit lazy through the tight twisties.
I am a former GS and Slalom ski racer who has 4 years of NCAA experience...so carving is my specialty...and I know what Im talking about when it comes to tight turning.
I have been working hard to learn the bikes handling characteristics and Im almost there, at the point where I was with the fuel.
ENJOY this bike. A real tight XC machine, light, stiff, but there when you need it. NOT a plush pleasure rider!!

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Favorite Trail:   Rocky Point, LI

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Purchased At:   800 frame only

Similar Products Used:   trek fuel 95, trek 6700, gary fisher tass, sugar 2...others

Bike Setup:   NRS team frame, mars elite, racelite cranks, rolf dolomite wheels.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jeff J a Cross Country Rider from Colorado Springs

Date Reviewed: May 13, 2004

Strengths:    Light weight and stiff. As a heavier rider the frame has very little bob on the climbs, even eithout a lockout.

Weaknesses:    Have not found any yet

Bottom Line:   
I bought the frame as a crash replacement. Bent the chainstay on my 2001 NRS. Of course I could not find the proof of purchase, but giant hooked me up with this deal. The NRS Air climbs like a MTN goat with very little bob. That NRS system rocks. Downhill the NRS AIR is plush. The 2003 has new reenforced welds and a little different rear triangle, which helps to almost eliminate chain slap (which I hate). I set the shock up as the manual says and adjusted the rebound for my comfort level.

I love this frame thus far. Great frame for the cross-country rider that wants a stiff climbing full susension, and who wants a smooth decent.

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Favorite Trail:   Shoots/ Columbine/ Buckhorn loop

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $400.00

Purchased At:   Performance

Similar Products Used:   2001 Giant NRS 1

Bike Setup:   Zocchi X-fly fork, XTR drive-train, XTR shifters/ brakes, bontrager wheels, WTB tires

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Wentworth Knipe a Racer from Sheffield,MA,USA

Date Reviewed: May 12, 2004

Strengths:    light, stiff when you want stiff, light, flex when you want flex, did i mention light?

Weaknesses:    The tyres are the ONLY thing

Bottom Line:   
This bike is TRICK! it is easily the best hardtail i have ever ridden- oh wait i just forgot its a full suspension- the thing about this bike is that it is so stiff going up hills, the lock out for the front shock is so beyond perfect and bob- whos that- this bike is sooooooooo stiff going up hills and then you get to the top and all you do is push a button and unlock the fork and woosh you're gone-I AM NOT a technical rider and i won a race because i caught the front man on this final hairy down hill- if you are a hadrtail rider going for an FS bike this is the way to go period. hands down this bike is the best cross counrty full suspension out there- this bike is sooooooo good! just ditch the hutchinson pythons for some other tyres instead because those are the worst tyres known to man- i would recomend eirher michelin comps or if your going for semi slicks definitley pick up a pair of kenda klimax- but don't let the tyres bring the bike down though- any manufacturer can make the mistake of specing a bike out with crappy tyres- this is the best XC FS bike HANDSDOWN

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Favorite Trail:   kennedy park or berkshire school

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $4100.00

Purchased At:   BERKSHIRE BIKE AND BLADE

Similar Products Used:   giant XTC 1 and the Giant TCR composite 1, trek fuel, sugar

Bike Setup:   stock except for the serfas bar ends i added and the michelin comps tyres

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Matthew Staron a Cross Country Rider from Hartford, CT

Date Reviewed: May 5, 2004

Strengths:    Super light, responsive, lightning fast acceleration, Renault racing design NRS frame.

Weaknesses:    Paint rubs off easily - if you can call that a weakness - it's a f***in mountain bike!!!

Bottom Line:   
You people who complain about flex in the NRS, you don't understand that that's the inherent beauty of the system! SPV came along for all those stiff as bikes that need to compensate for their being so god damn stiff. If want to ride a marshmellow through the woods, be my guest... that's not what XC is about.

If you look at any decent road bike frame, the frame is designed to "give" to absorb some of the what the road throws your way (aka. carbon, shaped seat stay), since (last I checked) road bikes don't come with shocks! It's the same concept Giant had with the NRS, a true breed racing XC frame that gives a little so your whole body doesn't reverberate every tiny bump in the trail. This translates into confidence and speed through technical terrain. Contrary to some belief, just because the bike is full suspension the bike is NOT meant for freeride/drops. Leave that sh** to the marshmellows of the bike world.

Ever wonder why a it's so hard to snap a live tree branch in half, but how on the other hand it's so easy to break a dead branch in two... it's SCIENCE you pions! It's the reason carbon fiber is so strong.

But do yourself and your a** a favor, trade in that Sid rear shock for a Cane Creek Cloud Nine. It climbs better and rebounds much better than the Sid.

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Favorite Trail:   Shenipsit

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $700.00

Purchased At:   MTB CLASSIFIEDS

Similar Products Used:   Specialized Enduro, Epic, Santa Cruz Blur

Bike Setup:   NRS Air Frame, Dave's Speed Dream Wheels (King Iso Discs, Stans 355ZTRs), Sid Team/lockout (front), Cane Creek Cloud Nine (rear), Avid Mechanical F&R, XT Components

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ted Putvin a Weekend Warrior from Olympia, WA, USA

Date Reviewed: April 17, 2004

Strengths:    Sweet ride, smooth climbing and even better going down.

Weaknesses:    None

Bottom Line:   
A great bike and it is even stiffer and tighter than my old NRS. I finally got it hooked up right with great shifters and derailleurs and riding the bike is a dream. (Hint to anyone owning a NRS; get rid of the shim and get a Thomson seatpost sized 30.8mm)the increase in stiffness and lack of sliding caused by the shim is worth the price, plus the Thomson is an amazing seatpost.
I would recommend for anyone coming from a hardtail background.

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Favorite Trail:   The Peak run

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $450.00

Purchased At:   classifieds/frame only

Similar Products Used:   Trek hardtail, 2001 Giant NRS3

Bike Setup:   2003 Frame, XT front der., VIVO rear der., Tubeless wheelset, Thomson stem and seatpost(30.8mm)

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Doug Gangi a Racer from Phoenix, AZ USA

Date Reviewed: March 27, 2004

Strengths:    Very efficient suspension design, stiff frame, handling, overall geometry, looks (electric blue color is awesome), RockShox SID rear shock is very tunable and is holding up well, durability

Weaknesses:    Seatpost shim + carbon post = slippage, cable rub, rear suspension can be a bit harsh under braking

Bottom Line:   
This bike just plain rocks. I must have spent the better of 4 months shopping for my first FS race rig and I am glad I settled on the Giant. Fortunately for me, I found the frame on sale (new) at the Tour de Tucson swap meet and I snatched it up.

At first I thought the geometry was a bit sluggish, but after playing around with the stem, bars, and seat position, I got it dialed in perfectly. Now I am very comfortable in the cockpit and the bike responds very well in the twisties.

The rear suspension is a gem. There is absolutely no pedal feedback or rider-induced bobbing that plagues some other rear suspension designs. It feels like every ounce of effort that goes into the pedals translats directly into power to the ground. If you are a hardtail convert (like me), you will really appreciate the rear suspension.

That being said, the rear suspension does tighten up under hard braking. This is supposedly common with all 4-bar designs (felt the same on a Titus Racer-X). It's something that does not bother me but I can notice it.

This bike also gives the feeling of "toughness". Unlike some other FS bikes that felt flexy and wimpy, this bike just feels durable. It doesn't flex and the beefy tubes on both the front and rear triangles give the visual impression of a well-constructed bike.

Aside from the brake-jack issue, the biggest complaint I have with the Giant is the use of a seatpost shim. As with other bikes that use a shim, seatpost slippage has been an issue. I have addressed it with various fixes, but the bottom line is that a bike should not need a shim and the associated headaches that shims produce. I have been told that one can use a 30.9 seatpost and get rid of the shim, but I don't know if that voids the warranty.

Lastly, I have yet to experience the RockShox "clunk" that others with 2003 bikes have noticed. Supposedly the DU bushings develop play after a modest amount of use. So far I have not noticed this.

As far as the part spec is concerned, I can't comment because I bought just the NRS Air frame and built it up with my own components.

Bottom line - if you want a fast FS XC race bike, put the NRS on your short list.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Anywhere I am riding

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   El Tour de Tucson Swap Meet

Similar Products Used:   Trek 8000 hardtail

Bike Setup:   Custom build - NRS Air frame, Fox F80RLT fork, Truvativ Stylo Team crankset, XTR/XT derailleurs, Answer carbon bar, Sette carbon post, Velocity VXC / AC disc wheelset, Magura Marta disc brakes

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Kirk a Cross Country Rider from Flowood,MS,USA

Date Reviewed: March 1, 2004

Strengths:    The SID Air Suspension is great. Rides like a hardtail and XC Full Suspension when needed.

Weaknesses:    have yet to find one.

Bottom Line:   
If you are looking for a great XC full Suspension look at this bike and try it out. You will not be disapointed. The NRS system works great. I have had the bike for a week and have already put 70-80 miles on it. If i had done that with one of my hardtails i would have so much back pain. But with the NRS there is no pain at all.

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Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Similar Products Used:   Went from a 99 Trek 7000 to a Giant XTC1 to the NRS. Will never go back to a hardtail again.

Bike Setup:   I transfered most of my parts. Bought frame by itself with a Manitou Skareb Comp. Great fork.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by William a Racer from Woodstock, NY

Date Reviewed: December 31, 2003

Strengths:    Light weight,
no bob suspension
new XTR
those wheels


Weaknesses:    Cable rubbing off the paint--reported by others--easy fix with some little round protectors but do it early before the rubbing begins.

Bottom Line:   
Love this bike. The no bob suspension works as advertised. As a test pushed the o-ring up to the top of the rear shock and jammed up a hill on the road out of the saddle. When I got off and looked the o-ring hadn't budged. NO BOB! If I lock out the front shock, (another great feature on the Sid Team that came with the '03) it feels like climbing on my road bike, but still lots of active suspension on the downhills and the rock gardens. Came to mountain biking starting from dual suspensions rather than hardtails so I'm comparing with my other dual suspension rides. I love my Marin for its plushness, but this is a faster, more agile and lighter ride while still being comfortable. Great for racing, combining the sprinting and climbing performance of a hardtail with the control of a dualie. Disk brakes are fantastic. Rode several races in the mud that would have been a panic with rim brakes but the disks were completely reliable. New XTR is a great group. Definitely a 5 chili rating. If you're looking for a fast and comfortable dual suspension, ride it, buy it. You'll love it.

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Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Similar Products Used:   Marin Mt. Vision Pro, Kona King Kikapu

Bike Setup:   Stock '03

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bush surfer a Cross Country Rider from San Diego

Date Reviewed: December 24, 2003

Strengths:    This is actually a review of the '04 carbon frame NRS Air with the Fox AVA shock. Strengths are...
- Lighter weight (22-23 lbs)
- Very stiff bottom bracket and front triangle
- No pedal feedback (like the earlier models)
- Carbon frame dampens the high frequency vibrations missed by the suspension
- Slightly longer top tube compared with my old '02 NRS


Weaknesses:    None found so far. I'm a little concerned about the carbon frame on the more technical rocky trails, but time will tell. I suspect its considerably more durable than it looks.

Bottom Line:   
I'm fortunate enough to own a number of excellent bikes. The '02 NRS Air was already a favorite due to its speed, agility, no-bob suspension etc.

The '04 is significantly improved. It is lighter and stiffer. It accelerates like my road bike. The geometry is quick and ideal for racing, but the bike is comfortable enough to be used as a trail bike for the long ride.

The Fox AVA is noticably better than the RS on the older version although I never had a reason to complain.

The Skareb super is a perfect match for the bike. It tracks more reliably than the SID and is reasonably plush on the big hits - plus its light.

I had some doubts whether the new frame would be worth the upgrade since I was so satisfied with the '02. Its exceeded my expectations. The damn thing is incredible.

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Favorite Trail:   Noble Canyon

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Similar Products Used:   Truth, '02 NRS Air, Enduro Pro, Turner 5 Spot

Bike Setup:   Manitou Skareb Super, Mavic 317 with CK hubs, Easton seatpost and bar, Sram XO, XTR Rings, FD, and BB

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ride a Racer from Indianapolis

Date Reviewed: December 15, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Purchased at a bike shop that helped me set it up. 50psi in the negitive and 10 psi over rider weight in the positive. This bike ROCKS! My favorite bike yet. The NRS is designed by the same engineers that design formula one race cars. It is not like other 'lets copy the other guy' design. It is locked out until you hit a bump then it's active. There isn't any lockout lever...it is all built in! The bike also has sealed bearings in the pivots which allows for smooth operation for years to come! This bike is faster than a hardtail, and I hear there is a Carbon model coming in the spring?? If so...I am all over that frame!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   Bike Shop


Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by spangels aregreat a Weekend Warrior from Edinburgh, Scotland

Date Reviewed: November 27, 2003

Strengths:    Light, rides like a hard tail, geometry suits my style of riding, good climber, 4.5 aftermarket rockers gets the best out of the shock.

Weaknesses:    Shock bushings (see below), normal rockers make for a bit of a harsh ride on small stuff.

Bottom Line:   
I bought this bike for the NRS system. I do not like bouncy suspension so the NRS solves this problem.

It rides really well and is very ridgid. I changed the rockers for the 4.5 inch ones and this has improved the ride. It is a lot plusher but it still retains the NRS feel when riding out of the saddle. These is a slight trade off when climbing in the saddle in that it feels a bit plusher but that is not really a bad thing.

I had problems with the shock bushings fitted (they were the wrong size) and despite me finding the problem early on it took Giant UK 4 months to accept this and replace them. The bike is fine now that they have been changed but the customer service (from Giant, my dealer was great throughout) left a lot to be desired.

Overall I really like this bike. I also like Santa Cruz Blur but I have saved £700 by going for the NRS. With the option of the 4.5 rockers it is now a great all day bike. The rockers also seem to get a lot more out of the Shock. There has been some criticism of the RS shock but the longer travel makes it plusher and it seems to get the full travel without any problems.

Pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) there is nothing that matches Giant for value vs functionality. With the new shocks on the 2004 models it is a great bang for buck bike.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Glentress

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $1199.00

Purchased At:   Velo Ecosse

Similar Products Used:   None, this is my first FS.

Bike Setup:   Rock Shox Psylo SL (2002), Hope XC on Mavic 317, Michelin Wildgripper XLS on Eclipse Tubeless, SRAM 9 shifters and mechs (1998 still going stong), Race Face cranks and seat pin, Time pedals, Giant MPH brakes, Profile bars, Flite saddle.

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