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Best Budget Bike: Giant Talon 3 Review

Carlos Glover
March 8, 2024

If you are breaking into mountain biking, the Giant Talon 3 is a great option for new riders. This entry-level bike is equipped with excellent features at an accessible price point.

The Giant Talon 3 is a hardtail mountain bike that was designed to tackle the toughest xc terrain. With hydraulic disc brakes, a front suspension fork, and aluxx grade aluminum frame, this is the gear you want for your next mountain biking adventure. In this Giant Talon 3 review, we look at what makes this bike great.

We were so impressed with the Talon 3, my dad bought it as his entry into the sport. He has been riding for over a year now and is still satisfied with his giant talon. With almost daily use and a couple of crashes, this entry-level bike has proven durability.

Giant Talon 3 Specs

FrameALUXX-Grade Aluminum
ForkSR SUntour XCT30
TiresMaxxis Ikon 27.5
RimsGiant GXO3V 27.5
CranksetProWheel Forged 22/36
Front DerailleurmicroSHIFT FD-M282
Rear DerailleurShimano Acera
CassetteShimano CS-HG200-8, 12×32
ShifterShimano Altus
BrakesTektro HDC M275
SaddleGiant Custom

Is the Giant Talon 3 a good bike?

If you are looking for an entry-level bike that can grow with you, it will be hard to find a better bike at this price point. The Talon 3 mountain bike has some incredible features made by the best brands in the market. For the beginner biker, you are not going to find this many quality pieces straight out of the box on a bike.


Any bike you take on a trail has to have hydraulic brakes. The Talon 3 is equipped with tektro hdc m275 hydraulic brakes, so you can feel comfortable stopping at a moment's notice. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are known to be incredibly reliable on and off the trail.

The interior cable routing keeps your brake cables safe from brush and debris. It is difficult to snap hydraulic disc brakes.


The bike frame is made of aluxx grade butted aluminum for a sturdy ride that is still light to maneuver. The frame geometry places you in an aggressive riding position that allows your center of gravity to work with the bike. Adjust the seat post to fit your specific biking position.

Talon 3 bikes have a front suspension fork with preload adjuster to help you tackle trail obstacles. Use the lockout feature on road rides to make the most of hills and bike speed. All Talon bikes have a hardtail frame and the 3 specifically is made from the patented grade butted aluminum frame-- for a light yet sturdy frame.

Should you choose to take the Giant Talon 3 on a road ride, this fork has a lockout knob so the bike can support any kind of riding style. Ride these entry-level mountain bikes anywhere you would take the pro-line.


Shift through the Talon 3's 16 gears with ease thanks to the Shimano fd m282 rear derailleur. This isn't Shimano's top piece, but it is pretty close. Riders of any experience level will appreciate the ease of transition the Shimano rear derailleur offers throughout the bikes' diverse gear range.

The top of the line rear derailleur is ready to tackle drastic elevation changes to make your ride more efficient.

The bike has 27.5x2.2" wheels with giant gx03v 27.5 alloy rims. This complements the frame aluxx for an all-around sturdy ride. The tires are tubed, which is standard for an entry-level mountain bike. You will have to be aware of tire punctures and carry a repair kit in your bag.

From the Shimano microshift fd m282 rear derailleur to the frame aluxx grade aluminum, you can confidently say that the Giant Talon 3 is a good bike.

What is the difference between a Talon 2 and Talon 3?

The Talon line starts with the Talon 3 and then goes up from there. With each upgrade, you are going to get some better features on the Talon 2 and Talon 1, and it is up to you to decide how much gear you need to support your ride. These mountain bikes were made for everyone from beginner to experienced riders.

As we review giant talon bikes, we are looking at the differences in the bike design how that will affect the rider experience.

The Fork

One crucial difference in the Talon 2 compared to the Talon is some major gear upgrades in the front suspension fork. The talon 2 features a coil spring to better absorb trail impact. You also see the hydraulic lockout feature that makes all talon bikes incredibly powerful.

A suspension fork is a key difference between a mountain bike and your casual hybrid, so it is a crucial piece in your bikes' build. While the talon 3 rocks a Suntour xct30 hlo 27.5, the talon 2 is outfitted with the RockShox XC 30. You are going to get a little more power, but for beginner riders, the sr Suntour will absorb plenty of punch. Your main differences are the coil spring and preload adjuster included with XC 30.

The Frame

All three talon bike models are built on a grade-butted aluminum frame. It's strong, it's light, it's everything you could ask for on a mountain bike.

The aluxx grade aluminum is light, so the bike is easy to pack, but durable enough to withstand the hardest impacts. Aluxx grade aluminum is considered top of the line and all three talon bikes are made of this material.


You really can not say enough about the tektro hydraulic disc brakes. They are reliable, effective, and easy to maintain. Maybe this is why giant decided to include these disc brakes on all three models.

Disc brakes are imperative for trail safety and you will not find more effective equipment than the tektro hdc m275 hydraulic disc. Riders can stop their bike on a dime to avoid trail hazards or regain control of their bike. You won't do this quicker or smoother than with brakes tektro hdc m275 on your side. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes truly are the best on the market.

When you are way out in the woods, these are the brakes you want keeping you safe from walking your bike back to the car. That is never fun.

Wheels and Rims

Now we are starting to get into where the talon 2 bike differs from the giant talon 3. On the talon 2, you see a major wheels upgrade. Talon 1 and 2 come with the maxxis Ardent tires, while the talon 3 has maxxis Nikon. Both are wire bead, but the ardent tires are going to let your wheels be slightly more durable than the Nikon.

Again, you are going to have a ton of fun riding the Talon 3. My dad's bike has yet to have a problem. But, if you are going to be doing some hard-core riding, the tougher tire may be worth the upgrade.

The rims giant gx03v 27.5 are consistent across all three bike models to complete these sets of wheels.


The main difference between the three giant talon bikes is the shifters and cassettes. While the talon 1 and talon 2 have front and back gear hubs, the talon 3 only has a single front gear.

This changes the number of gears tremendously between the three models. The bottom bracket of the talon 3 has 32 gears while the Talon 1 has 50. All three talon bikes have a name we love to see: shimano.

Only the Talon 3 and Talon 2 bikes have a front derailleur, and you see a pretty large upgrade from the talon 3 to the talon 2. The Talon 2 is equipped with the microshift fd m282 that we talked about earlier, while the Talon has a Shimano alivio front derailleur. This piece is of significantly higher quality and riders will notice a difference in the ease and speed of the alivio compared to the microshift.

The Talon 1 has a single front speed and does not require a front derailleur to be used at all. That is nearly unheard of for a mountain bike and is a feature we are just starting to borrow from the notoriously advanced road bike models.

All three giant talon bikes boast serious cassette range for their nimble frames, giving riders a variety of choices when it comes to matching their terrain. The cs hg200 8 of the talon 3 has a wide gear ratio for all sorts of terrain. This hardtail mountain bike is ready for whichever trail you choose to take it on.

The Talon 2 picks a few more Shimano accessories in its crankset and rear derailleur. As mentioned, with the talon 2 you do get four additional gears in your ratio, and the Shimano alivio is used in the front and back.

The talon 2 ditches the Prowheel forged gear hub and picks up another shiny piece of Shimano, the Shimano FC-MT 101. Again, for a beginner rider who doesn't know any different, the Prowheel will work just fine. But for an experienced rider, the ease of a Shimano is hard to beat.


We have yet to talk about the saddle for the giant talon bike. All giant bikes come with a custom giant seat and the giant talon 3 is no exception. Like all leather seats, they take a second to break in. But once that cushion knows its rider, it will keep you comfortable for the long haul.

What bike is the best?

This question is hard to answer. You want a bike that has all of the bells and whistles you want, but none you don't need. I would hate to see a Shimano Alivio go to waste on a rider who only uses a single front gear.

My dad has parked his front cassette in second gear and never looked back. That works for his level of intensity when he rides. He loves the sport, considers it a hobby, and has a great time on a Talon 3.

As you move up the levels of a giant talon bike, you also move up in price point. You are definitely getting your money's worth in gear upgrades, but only if you use them. All three members of the giant talon hardtail mountain bike series have a top-of-the-line frame. It really doesn't get any stronger than the aluxx grade butted aluminum.

They also all have the tektro hdc m275 hydraulic brake set with hdc m275 hydraulic disc pads. Pair that with the sr Suntour xct30 hlo and the giant talon 3 is a beginner bike that does more than get your feet wet.

If you are an intermediate rider, or beyond, you may find yourself disappointed with some of the budget parts of the talon 3. Experienced riders will feel the difference between the Shimano shifter and derailleurs. It will require more effort to quickly move your bike between gears.

If you are looking to race and advance in the sport, you will definitely want a more advanced model of the giant talon. But for all you joe newbies out there, the talon 3 is a great budget mountain bike.

This model has top-of-the-line equipment everywhere it counts, and saves you some pennies on features you may not be ready to use yet. Of all the entry-level bikes, you are not going to find a better combination at this price point.

When we were shopping for my dad, we wanted a mountain bike that was going to allow him to enjoy the sport as quickly as possible. I wanted low-maintenance equipment that I could count on to keep him safe and on the trails.

As he has developed his skills, the giant talon 3 has kept up with his riding without needing any upgrades or intensive maintenance. Aside from a brake pad change, we are looking at the same giant bike he rode home over a year ago.

He isn't heading off to the races or vying for a pro card on it, but he is getting outside daily and having one hell of a time.  The SR Suntour xct30 hlo tackles the trail like a champ and hdc m275 hydraulic disc allows him to control his speed as if he were on the next model or higher.

Giant has done an incredible job with this budget bike. Pulling in incredible, quality pieces to maximize performance, and selectively pairing down accessories a new rider might not need. If you find you do desire a better quality shifter or front derailleur, you can always upgrade. Like the man who sold me my first bike said, get your kids into biking and they will never have money for drugs.

In conclusion: The highlights of the Giant Talon 3 are the sr Suntour xct30 hlo front suspension, aluxx grade aluminum frame, Shimano cassette and shifter, and giant talon custom seat. These combine to make the giant talon 3 a premium first choice for riders looking to get into the sport.

If you have been hesitant to buy a bike because of the price tag, but want to know if mountain biking is for you, get yourself a giant talon 3, and don't look back. You can ride in confidence that your bike is one of the best on the market.

Grab your bike and hit some trails today. Life is short. Make sure you are having fun.

Carlos Glover
About the Author
I took up cycling in high school and haven’t looked back since. My love of cycling eventually evolved into an obsession with bicycles. From road bikes to mountain bikes, I have tried them all – and have the scars to prove it! I love sharing my findings with the rest of the cycling world as unsolicited as they may be.
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