This is an old bike, but I really like it. It fits well, and it's very friendly. I got it from the shop that used to sponsor my old team. It sat for a while at the shop and no one bought it, so the owner stripped the parts and I bought the frame for $300.
I tried racing it, but the geometry is a bit off for that. The wheelbase is short, the rear triangle is very tight, and it's very stiff. It's actually one of the lightest MTB frames ever mass produced if you believe the literature. It's made from Giants proprietary AlCU, whatever that is. Since the tubes are so thin, you can see they had to go with the 'beer can' downtube for strength. As such it doesn't do well on rough courses. Of course, the thing climbs like a solid fuel rocket, but I can't keep the rear wheel on the ground on a rough descent. Between the 'active' rear end and the fact that I race well under 150 pounds, it's just to skittish.
So, I decided to set it up for 'cross. I had an aluminum Kinesis rigid fork that weighs about one pound. I put on some left over parts from my old Proflex 853: tektro blue anodized brakes, Real blue anodized levers, sampson stratics blue anodized crankset, Sram X-ray 8 speed shifters, and some old 8 speed XTR deraileurs I had laying around. For a while I had a stupid light MTB wheelset consisting of American Classic hubs and Mavic 213 rims. Eventually though, the Regina 8 speed freewheel wore out, and you simply can't find 8 speed freewheel replacements anywhere anymore. (If you have a link, let me know). So I how have the american classic on the front, but a WTB offset rim laced to a white industries cassette hub on the rear. Gearing is 24/34/44 x 12/21. For 'cross use, I put Continental Cross Country 1.5's front and rear.
As it sits in the picture, the bike weighs 9 Kg even. My 'real' 'cross bike - a steel bontrager CX - weighs over 1 Kg more. It's still not very good for 'cross, since it doesn't accelerate or handle as well as a real XC bike, and even I can tell the difference - as shitty as a 'cross rider that I am - between this and my bontrager. I have it for that special race where we've had 6 inches of rain for the past week and the course is a mud bog. This thing does fantastic in those conditions.
I found another good use for it this past summer. A local bike club has a weekly time trial, and they called out a day for MTB. Ride the TT course on your MTB. The rules - had to be a frame designed as a mountain bike; flat bars; off road tires of at least 1.85 " (no slicks or road tires), and no aero accessories (wheel covers, clip-on bars, aero helmet). Well, I just happened to have a set of tires by Kenda called the Kosmic Lite. 1.95", 395 grams, max pressure of 80 PSI, miminalist off road tread - similar to a ritchey speedmax. As shitty as a time trialist as I am, I got 2nd, only six seconds behind the winner. Most times they tell you "it aint the bike, it's the motor". Not this time.