Giant Yukon FX

Pro Reviews

Extra Frosting Please
When it comes to having our cake and eating it too, the MBT test crew often replies: “what else are you going to do with cake?”

Fortunately, when it comes to mountain bikes, some companies understand where we’re coming from. When we picked up a brand spanking new fully suspended Giant Yukon FX for a little under $900, the first thing came to our minds was what’s the catch? Surely a full squish trail bike under a grand has got to be overweight, poorly spec’ed, and pretty darn ugly right? Wrong! Once we hit the trails with this Trance replica we realized that there really wasn’t a catch. Instead there was a list of solid components, active suspension, and a look shared with several more expensive models on the company’s line. Best of all we had enough left over from our $1000 budget to pick up a helmet, gloves, and new pair of biking shoes. Giant understands that not all riders have limitless budgets and doesn’t exclude anyone when it comes to getting out and enjoying the trails. We can certainly get with that, and really, what good is cake if not to eat it?

The Spec Sheet
Using a simple but elegant aluminum chassis, the Giant Yukon FX comes equipped with Hayes MX-4 mechanical disc brakes (front and rear) and Truvativ ISO Flow 3.0 cranks. Shifters are SRAM (SX4) as is the rear derailleur. SRAM also provides the 8-speed cassette (PG830) while the front derailleur comes in the form of Shimano’s budget-friendly Alivio line. 2.1” Kenda Nevegals wrap around WTB Dual Duty XC rims and the 4 inches of suspension arrive via a RockShox Dart 2 in the front and a proprietarily branded Giant Air Shock in the rear).

All told our bone stock medium bike weighed in at just a tad below 34 lbs with pedals. Not bad especially considering that the pedals (aluminum platforms) are included at the ridiculously low MSRP.

The Walk Around
Taking a stroll around the Giant Yukon FX is a good way to start wondering if you paid too much for the bike in your own garage. As mentioned above, it is pretty difficult to tell the Yukon from even the top-tier Trance models at a glance. Upon closer inspection the bike manages to dazzle with a suspension linkage configuration that looks an awful lot like the very highly regarded Maestro design that its bigger brothers boast. Adding to the charm is an air sprung Giant shock with external rebound adjustment. Even the RockShox Dart 2 (which we initially suspected to be the proverbial weak link of this chain) managed to impress with such luxuries as external preload and rebound adjustment and lockout! To put this all in perspective, one of our guest test riders may have inadvertently put it best: “Really an amazing deal considering this entire bike cost less than I just paid for my new fork.”

The Test Ride
Of course great pricing and sharp looks alone a good mountain bike make not so we saddled up and hit the fairly hilly terrain of Ellicottville NY to put the Yukon FX through the paces. Mounting up is a natural affair thanks to a nice slope in the top tube that insures the lowest point of the structure right where you swing your leg over to step through. Thanks to a fairly short stem and a decently swept bar, the reach to the handlebars is neither free-ride upright nor cross-country stretched out but rather neutral and comfortable for quick jaunts or all day epics.

Pushing off is surprisingly rewarding. The Yukon FX makes very snappy bursts of acceleration with each rotation of the cranks. Hardtail style snappy you ask? Well, no maybe not but let’s put it this way, the Yukon doesn’t give up much in terms of pedaling efficiency to bikes costing double and triple its asking price! So maybe now you’re thinking that we’re going to drop the bomb and say that the Yukon accelerated well but cornered slow or lagged on the climbs. Wrong on both accounts and for that we have to thank Giant’s engineers. 34 pounds may be no featherweight but Giant realized this as well and wisely situated most of the bike’s weight low in the frame (just above the cranks). As such the weight you felt when lifting the bike up onto the rack disappears instantly when you hit the trail and that’s where it matters to us.

Odds and Ends
The budget-oriented component spec exhibited no glaring flaws or weak links in our stewardship and everything functioned as well as (if not better than) expected. The Hayes mechanical disc brakes take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re coming from some of latest hydraulic designs in that they burn in a little slower and sound like they’re dragging initially and when they get really hot. It should be noted however that their performance never faltered in these situations.

We wanted to find fault in the rather heavy RockShox Dart 2 coil-sprung fork but the truth of the matter is that it performed honestly throughout our test period. RockShox has really gone the distance to secure a hold of the entry level fork market with the entire Dart series and this example (Dart 2) even includes enough external controls and nice-linear damping characteristics to make us forgive them for their earlier Judy disasters.

The Kenda Nevegals with their 2.1- inch contact patch make for a pretty decent all-purpose tire. If you ride on steep elevations or in loose conditions, you may want to consider running a slightly more aggressive-tread tire such as the WTB Weirwolf. Other than that, ditch the reflectors and department store inspired chain guard (on the cranks) and let not the trails tempt you a moment longer.

Conclusion
We like to end our tests by answering a very simple question: If it were our money, would we be inclined to buy it? In the case of the Giant Yukon FX, that’s a no brainer. In fact, at the moment, this could possibly be the best deal going on in mountain biking. Up until now, beginners and budget-conscious riders were forced to shy away from full suspension on account of the fact that for around $850, there were serious compromises but Giant blew that mindset away with the Yukon FX. The bike looks good, pedals quite well, and just plain dazzles when called upon. If the weight troubles you (and it shouldn’t as it hides it very well in the real world) there are many quick and easy swaps that could start deducting from the total figure. And since it costs so little initially, aftermarket swaps down the road are easy to justify.

This bike shared a stable here at our office with bikes that easily cost three and four times its asking price and yet never was there a hint of complaint when our testers were asked to switch over to the Giant. We came away comparing the Yukon FX to the Little Train That Could; it could, can, and does and in this case the little part refers to the amount of money you’d have to spend to get out and enjoy the trails.

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  • Ryan says:

    Would be a great choice for someone looking to get their husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend into mountain biking with a decent full squish!

  • Mahony says:

    Yeah, I have to agree- sounds like a great deal. I’ve always said our sport needs more honest performing cheaper priced bikes like this- I mean who knows how many people thought they didn’t like the sport because their entry level bike was overweight and poorly spec’ed?

  • rkj__ says:

    “Upon closer inspection the bike manages to dazzle with a suspension linkage configuration that looks an awful lot like the very highly regarded Maestro design that its bigger brothers boast.”

    When it comes to styling, yes, it does a good job of looking like Maestro.

    From an engineering perspective, the linkage does not look the same. I just find that the above statement sounds a little misleading. It could be interpreted as “it looks almost the same, it must act almost the same,” when that is not necessarily true.

    It’s just a minor nitpick on the wording. Giant has a long history of building quality bikes for a great price.

  • L'il Matt says:

    After returning to mountain biking recently, a niggling back injury led me to look for a FS bike.

    After reading a number of positive reviews for this model, I managed to purchase a Yukon SX (a slightly better spec’d. model available in Australia) at close to cost price.
    The usual post purchase tweaks followed (saddle, stem, bars, etc.) and so far I’ve been very happy with my purchase.

    My suspension knowledge and needs are simple, and I soon lost interest in the numerous claims & counter claims of almost every FS bike manufacturer… a minimum of pedal bob and reasonably a supple ride were my requirements, and this bike delivers. It pedals and handles responsively, and appears to have a well designed & built frame.

    This is a “Sport” bike so in the long term it may not prove as durable as a more expensive/better spec’d. bike, but I believe the Yukon is more than adequate for the average beginner to intermediate rider who doesn’t want to spend a fortune to find a quality FS ride.

  • Matt says:

    Speaking to the Giant rep, he said it was basically an NRS, but not, because Mazda (I think it was) own the patent for the suspension

  • festa says:

    i have owned the yukon fx3 model for about 6 months now and boy have i give it some stick. maybe more than i should but it has withstood everything i have thrown at it.
    it’s main use is single track and off road work in all conditions.

    i’m no light rider either at 15 1/2 stone. ive had to change the chain as it snapped twice on me and also the rear cassette. will also need new brake pads soon.

    apart from that the bike is still holding out well. i paid £600 in england where i live for the bike and would highly recommend it.

  • festa says:

    spoke to soon. just snapped the frame doing an easy drop off. frame broke on the weld near to the bottom bracket which then caused the back wheel to buckle.

    bike now been sent back to giant for a warranty investigation. not very hopeful as they said it is an entry level bike and should not be used for such things.

    will let you know the out come.

  • festa says:

    good news , giant are replacing my broken bike with a brand new one. hows that for service.

    i’m getting it tomorrow.

  • Pauly says:

    did you purchase a warrantee for it? or is that not needed.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been looking at getting a dual suspension, and I can’t quite justify spending the ~AU$2,500 that a lot of the better dualies (eg Giant Trance X3, etc) are going for. The Halo 1 (almost identical to the Yukon FX, but a different rear derailleur and hydraulic breaks), on the other hand goes for something like AU$1600, which is a lot more affordable, and should be more than sufficient for my uses.

  • Phlipper says:

    Just lucked into the Giant Yukon when I returned to my local shop for a test ride on an non-dual shock bike… didn’t know I could have so much bang for the buck (and not look like every other delivery guy on the street), I took it for a quick ride and knew immediately there was no other ride to test…. will comment again after I’ve survived more than just the streets of NY!

    Great upgrade from my Y2K Specialized Hardrock FS

  • DaftPunk says:

    Just bought this bike from an online dealer for £300 here in the UK. Hope its everything you guys have talked about!!!

  • Robster says:

    Where did you find it for £300?!?

  • Aaron says:

    Pauls Cycles I have just bought one its £309 realy good bike for that money.

  • Ian says:

    Great value for money. Just purchased one of these to replace my rigid frame specialised hardrock from 10 years ago. For £309.95 brand-new no-one can complain at that price. Purchased it from Paul Cycles, and as stated on other forums, the delivery was great and definitely recommend taking a look.

    Bike rides well, only couple of points to note. The spec is OK for the price being paid but the gear paddle is plastic and looks cheap. Only other aspect, is after spending a while deciding which size frame to order (choose 17″) that the seat stem only goes so far do into the tube because of the rear suspension housing…no problems for me but others might need to cut a piece of the saddle stem tube if too high. Other that, great bike and looking forward to some decent action.

  • Justin says:

    I’m looking to buy one of these this week, I’m 5ft 9….can anyone recommend the 17 or 19 inch frame for my height? Cheers.

  • Florin says:

    I’m 5ft 10, I just bought the 19 inch one and I’m fine with it, though somewhat at the limit. Rather try the 17″ first if you have the chance

  • Gabriel says:

    Hi,

    I’m 6’4″, Would the xl 21″ frame be ok for my size? Other makes have a 22″ frame.
    There are 3 versions of the Yukon fx 2009, middle spec is probably best, any comments..

    Cheers

  • Neil says:

    I bought the 17″ I’m 5’10″ and I chopped an inch or two off the seatpost for when I’m coming down the way. For someone @ 5’9″ the 17″ would be ideal.
    I’ve only changed the grips for lock ons, and fitted DX pedals with longer studs. The bike has been out a few times now, once on the red trail at Glentress, and its superb for the money. I also got mine from Paul’s cycles in the UK. What a bargain!!!
    After a while I might change to hydraulics, and upgrade the fork, but right now everything is cool.

  • Simon says:

    Just got one from Pauls Cycles. Amazing deal for the price although there are a couple minor points, mainly that some of the gears slip and the brakes need adjusting fairly often but for the price can’t really complain. It does weigh a fair bit though!

    The shock was extremely stiff at first so a let a little air out and its perfect now. Wasn’t expecting much from the fork but it actually performs very well and has lock out which is very handy.

    only been out in the woods a few times but for the price has really gone beyond what I was expecting.

  • Jack Tors says:

    When you say “on the limit” do you mean that its on the verge of being too small or too big? Im 5’11″ and looking at the 17″, LBS tells me I should get the 19″. Any thoughts? (they dont have this exact model to try… tried the 18″ Trance and it felt great…20″ Trance felt too long)

  • Florin says:

    I mean the 19″ it’s rather to big (as you might have infered from the rest of my post). Though, after changing the original stem with a shorter one I find it confortable enough.

    If you have the possibility try both sizes before you buy.

  • Alex says:

    I’m about 5″8/5″9 and looking to buy the YUKON FX2, what would be the best size, 17″ or 19″?

    Thanks, Alex.

  • Kev says:

    I weigh 77 kgs, how much psi should I be putting into the rear air shock?

  • Brian says:

    I rented one of these in Phoenix area from cactusbikes. Sooo impressed! I like it better than my klein that costs twice as much. I had a medium (I think that’s the 17″) and I’m 5’9″ and it felt perfect. I don’t know how much it weighs, but it felt like a sub 30lb bike. I took it on very technical trails and it climbs, flicks, and descends great. Fantastic deal for the money

  • mike says:

    I just picked up a yukon fx 2010 model at my local shop where I get all my bikes, parts, and accesories. I tested one out about a year ago at rays mtb park in ohio. It did extremely well even know its meant for the trails and not the jumps and rock gardens. But anyway, I picked this up today and did some snow riding (very fun if you havn’t tried it I suggest you do) just be carefull. So for $715 this bike is amazing! I am 5’10\ and got the 19\ (because I’m using it for xc) now I also have a jamis diablo for downhill/ freeride. And that’s a 17\ and I have to tell ya, I payed about $3000 for the diablo and I like the ride better on the yukon fx. Granted I don’t get the 8\ travel in the front or the 6\ in the rear but it still works really well and I would recomend it to any rider. I mean I spend an average of $2000 on my bikes without upgrades and I got this and I only plan on upgrading the fork and brakes. So have fun on the trail guys and girls and as always, I bid you good riding!

  • Gary says:

    I picked up a 2010 Yukon FX today.. I would recommend this to anyone starting out or even an avid rider.. Keep adjusting your suspension to your comfort and keep in mind they are simple and quick adjustments.. Lock the front fork suspension on your climbs and you will climb with ease.. I am impressed with this bike..

  • I got a Yukon FX3 recently from Pauls Cycles.
    So far I have been really impressed. It is a pretty heavy bike, but for the money you just can’t complain. I intend to upgrade the drivechain to an 8spd Shimano setup (Hopefully XT if I can afford it) which should bring the weight down some. I have never had disc brakes before so have nothing to compare them to, but I really like the mechanical Tektro brakes that come with the bike. Once broken in they stop me with good power. I also like the simplicity of the mechanical brakes over the hydraulic ones.

  • Keeping that to myself... says:

    Bought one of these at Bike Habitat in Carson City, NV in mid-May, 2010. I’m an old, 280-pound fatty whose heart is about three beats from its last. I can’t run (ancient back injury) or walk too far (makes my hips hurt), so I wanted a bike with dual suspension. All the ones I looked at before seeing the FX were just too, too expensive. I almost gave up on the idea of buying a bike. Then I saw the FX, saw its suspension and its price. I rode a Medium around in the parking lot behind the store a bit, felt it being a tad small for my 5′-11″ build, then ordered a Large. The Large has a sticker on it stating it’s for people 5′-10″ to 6′-1″. I also ordered a bouncy-butt seat tube, a big, soft seat for my fat tokhus and a stem riser to allow me to sit more upright. I’ve only ridden it two times and for not many miles at all in total, but I like it a lot. I’m a slow rider over gentle terrain. I don’t expect to ever ride such that I destroy this bike. If I break something I’ll replace it with a higher-tier part, which will slowly make it a better bike. If you want to get into a dual-suspension bike for about a grand, try the Yukon FX…

  • eric says:

    have yukon sx great bike but giant no longer make such good pricede entry level d/s bike for australia have more up market mongoose teocali super which is better still but yiou pay for it

  • Neil (Same one as up there ^ ) says:

    Just an update to my original review…..

    I’ve now had the Yukon for about 1.5 years, and all thats left of the original is the frame, wheels, seat and post, front derailieur and rear shock.
    I swapped the fork for a Rockshox Recon air 130mm
    Deore HTII crankset, Deore Shadow rear deraillieur, DMR V8′s (DX pedals where crap!)
    Conti Mountain kings – 2.4 front 2.2 rear, Hayes HFX9 brakes, 720 Gusset bars/Husselfelt 65mm stem.

    I pretty much replaced things as they broke/wore out, but the frame, shock and wheels have been pretty outstanding to be fair. I’ve had no problem with spending a bit of money on the bike, as I got such a good deal in the first place. All in, the bike still probably only owes me about £650 – £700.
    Its taken a few big hits,and its wandered into the trees now and then, but its still performing superbly on the 7 stanes.

  • ciaran says:

    im looking at getting one of these. its a stock 08 model and the guy is looking for $800 im in australia. this seems a bit expensive… right??

  • Maxwell says:

    Hey I just demoed this bike reccently. I am 6’7″ and about 270 pounds. I used the XL frame and it was a dream. Its an XC bike for sure but it can definitely take a pounding. If Gabriel gets back on this I would tell him go XL and if at possible upgrade the rims because mine are starting to creak already from the load on them.

  • spiro says:

    im looking to get a Giant Yukon fx 2009, has much changed from specs on the bike or are they still the same ,i own a Kona with front suspension forks only ,i love it but would like a full suspension and i don’t want to spend big bucks, is $600 good price

  • Will says:

    My Giant Yukon FX was amazing! I had it for 3 years and washed it twice (toward the end right before I sold it) and never maintained it but it still carried me down trails and I even took it dirt jumping and it rode amazingly! On downside was the derailer, it always broke when I went dirt jumping so that’s the reason I sold it but the second owner is probably somewhere out there still riding it until this day.

  • Bud says:

    I got the 09 fx and it sucks. I got it to get to some places were i live and to do some light trail riding. The chain snaped, rims bent (i don’t do jumps or go over trees), crankset, both brakes, the pedals, the rear derailieur all broke. This was my first and last Giant bike i will EVER get.

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