My Giant Mistake: Why I Finally Bought a Women’s Specific Trail Bike

This was my 2015 Trance 2 and one of the last rides I took on it.
first-race

Me (right) on the podium after my first race in 2012 at Windham, NY.

If you told me in 2010 that in a few short years I’d be a Pro downhill racer, I would have laughed in your face. In 2011, my brother Tim began working at Diablo Bike Park, now known as Mountain Creek Bike Park in Vernon. He suggested that I volunteer at the registration table for the U.S. Open of Mountain Biking. Having no background in cycling I didn’t know what “downhill” was exactly, but I said yes. I met all kinds of awesome people. Men, women, racers and media, it was a little overwhelming. Later that day I volunteered to course marshal for the Giant Slalom. The racers kept asking “Do you ride?” and I kept saying no, but I so badly wanted to try! It looked thrilling; everyone was high fiving and cheering each other on. It seemed like such an amazing community of supportive people despite it being a competitive sport.

The following weekend my friend Matt, who I had met at the U.S. Open, lent me his demo Diamondback Scapegoat and we headed to the lift. Watching me struggle to get the bike onto the lift was probably hilarious to everyone waiting behind me. No one really warned me as to what I was getting myself into, but off I went. I had never used or even knew what hydraulic disc brakes were. I quickly found out that when you squeeze them really hard, especially over rocks, you catapult yourself over the front of the bike. Three over the bars later and we’re finally back at the bottom. I was covered in scrapes and my hands were destroyed but I was smiling. I was literally head over heels for this sport! I started racing the following year and I continue to race to this day at the Pro level. Pinch me!

Racing Plattekill the season (2014), placed 2nd with only 5 seconds off first.

Racing the Eastern States Cup Finals at Plattekill, NY this season (2014), placed 2nd with only 5 seconds off first.

My first mountain bike, 2008 Giant Reign X1

My first mountain bike, 2008 Giant Reign X1

When I’m not downhilling, I really enjoy trail riding but my equipment was not up to the task. I had been using my dad’s entry-level trail bike for quite awhile. It was way too big for me, and I had outgrown its performance. I was especially tired of the insane backaches that come with riding the wrong size bike. My first mountain bike ever was a used 2008 Giant Reign X1. Man, was that thing clapped out.

I’ve always ridden men’s bikes. There aren’t too many women’s specific downhill bikes and even though I knew there were women’s specific trail and road bikes, I was skeptical. Despite my coworkers’ advice to consider a women’s specific bike, my stubbornness got the best of me. I went with another men’s bike, the Giant Trance 2 in a medium. I fit well on my medium downhill bike, so I figured I would be able to shred on this bike.

This was my 2015 Trance 2 and one of the last rides I took on it.

This was my 2015 Trance 2 and one of the last rides I took on it.

For weeks I was just so excited to have a brand new bike that I ignored my riding performance. I was riding as often as possible and I really loved showing off my new bike to my friends. The more the excitement of a new bike wore off the more I realized that something wasn’t quite right. I started to notice how clumsy I felt when I would try to rail a corner, jump or send a drop. I could tell the bikes wheelbase was too long for me. I hadn’t taken into account the wheel size difference between the Trance and my downhill bike. Every time I would try to jump or drop I couldn’t maneuver the bike like I knew I had the skills to do. When I would drop and try to get my butt over the back wheel, the front would nose dive so hard that I thought for sure I was going to go OTB. I also couldn’t for the life of me get the wheels to leave the ground when I would try to jump. For anyone that knows me, I love to jump. I started losing confidence and getting frustrated. I know that the Trance is an awesome bike; all of my friends that own one love it, but it wasn’t the right bike for me. I ended up trying a smaller bike from a different brand and I realized that I needed to make a change.

“…the Intrigue is truly made for a woman!”

My new baby! 2015 Liv Intrigue 2.

My new baby! 2015 Liv Intrigue 2.

I started looking at bikes from Liv, Giant’s women’s specific sister brand and settled on the Intrigue 2. I started comparing the geometry and discovered that the Intrigue is truly made for a woman! The reach is shorter and the head angle is a little steeper to complement a woman’s lower center of gravity. This makes for snappier handling, the ability to get my butt over the back for drops without nose diving and I can throw this thing around in the air like I want to. I needed this bike! I sold the Trance and got the Intrigue 2 in small. Now that I’m on the right bike, I have my confidence back and I can rip on the Intrigue!

Technology has come a long way and the difference in women’s and men’s bikes goes beyond just the color of the paint. Companies like Giant have considered how our bodies differ and how that affects the way we ride. Since I’ve been on the women’s bike my performance has skyrocketed. Plus, I can’t stop smiling when I ride my Intrigue. I’m in love!

About Cait Fields (3 Articles)
I started riding downhill in the summer of 2011 and quickly developed a passion for riding. I now race downhill at the Pro level and I am madly in love with bicycles.

6 Comments on My Giant Mistake: Why I Finally Bought a Women’s Specific Trail Bike

  1. can i ask your height? considering one of these bikes at an awesome price (ex-demo) and would be moving from a Medium on a Trance 2 to a Small on the Intrigue???

    • Cait Fields // May 26, 2015 at 5:45 pm // Reply

      Lauren, I am 5’6″ and the small intrigue feels perfect and I left it pretty stock. The only thing I changed out was the bars.

  2. so did you ever try the M trance with a dropper and 35mm stem?

    • I never did try it only because that doesn’t fix the fact that the wheelbase was still too long for me. It felt like I was riding a bus through corners. I don’t think the shorter stem would have helped in the long run to get the feeling that I was trying to achieve.

  3. I’m not understanding how you can fit on a Medium Trance and then feel that the size Small Intrigue fits you perfectly. Doesn’t that mean that you bought the Trance bike which was too big for you in the first place?

    • Yes, Cait is saying she bought the wrong size bike based on bad advice and earlier experience but that getting on the correct size bike improved her riding!

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