The Anthem X from Giant has for a long time been one of the most liked bikes in the UK for its speed and composed suspension, and it’s no surprise that when they transformed it into a 29er last year, it went on to be the company’s single best-selling bike across the entire full suspension range.
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For 2013 they’ve given the bike a carbon makeover, turning the front triangle into a smooth composite one-piece section to reduce weight and increase stiffness. This saves 185g over the aluminium version. The swingarm is the same aluminium design as the before, and with it frame weight for a medium, with shock, is a claimed 2.2kg (4.85lb). With a SID fork and XT group-set the full bike hits the scales at a very impressive 25lb.
That new front triangle offers a claimed seven percent increase in stiffness. At the front of the frame steering stiffness is improved with Giant’s latest OverDrive 2 tapered front end, which has a 1 1/4in top bearing diameter combined with a 1.5in lower bearing.
Bottom bracket stiffness, for better power transfer, has been improved through the introduction of a PowerCore 86mm press-fit bottom bracket, which allows the MegaDrive downtube to be huge in size. The downtube is simply ma–hoo–sive. It scores high on aesthetics with a subtle curve that sits well with the slender straight top tube and small swingarm. The Anthem has always been a good looker, and it looks even better in smooth carbon.
Gear cables are now routed internally to continue the smooth looks, though the rear brake hose is zip tied to mounts along the outside of the downtube. Interestingly, considering this is a cross-country/marathon bike, there’s provision for a dropper post with three zip tie guides underneath the top tube. That’s probably because Carl Decker, a Giant sponsored rider who is a two-time Downieville All-Mountain World Champion and two-time Super D U.S. Champion, had a part in the bike’s development. It’s a good move we say. Adding a dropper post to a lightweight cross-country bike such as this could prove to be the ultimate super fast trail bike setup.
Also carried over from last year’s bike is the 135mm quick release rear axle and post mount disc tabs.
Giant’s Maestro suspension has been with us since 2005. It’s now in its 4th generation and comprises two short aluminium linkages that allow Giant to control the path of the rear axle and the characteristic of the 100mm (4in) suspension. We’re fans of Maestro, it works extremely well in all situations, doesn’t bob excessively, is neutral and controlled.
Geometry carries over unchanged from last year’s bike. A 71 degree head tube and 73 degree seat tube, 462mm chainstays, 1105mm wheelbase and 23.38in top tube.
Giant offer two models, the top spec Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 gets a SRAM XX drivetrain, RockShox SID fork, carbon fibre wheels and a whopping £5999 price tag. That’s a serious wedge of money.
More appealing is the £3,499 Anthem X Advanced 29er 1 we have in for testing. A RockShox SID 29 RL fork takes care of bump taming duties up front and has a 15mm bolt-thru axle. Our bike is a sample built up for us to test (full production bikes not being ready in time) so final bikes well have colour match fork decals. Production bikes will also have a RockShox Monarch shock, not the Fox CTD unit on our test bike.
The rest of the build is correct though, and includes a complete Shimano XT groupset. A 26/38 chainset and 11-36 cassette gives a good range of gears. Brakes are XT too and feature very ergonomic levers for one-finger braking and reach adjustment on a tool-free knob.
Working with DT Swiss has allowed Giant to spec their P-XCR 1 wheel-set paired with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25in Evo Tubeless-Ready tyres. It’s great to see a 730mm wide handlebar and short 90mm cockpit on the Anthem, a sign that Giant are listening. A Fizik Tundra 2 saddle with Manganese Rails completes the build. Weight without pedals is 25lb on the nose.
I reviewed the Anthem X 29er 1 (here) earlier this year and was impressed with how well Giant had taken the regular Anthem and managed not to spoil any of its character when upsizing the wheels. In fact they had managed to improve on it, the 29er wheels giving the bike extra stability which really makes a difference at higher speeds.
Riding the carbon version at Brechfa Forest recently, I was reminded just how good Giant’s Maestro suspension is. I was also reminded how portly that bike was at 27lb, the Anthem X Advanced 29er 1 is vastly superior when it comes to sudden accelerations, prolonged climbs and generally slinging the bike along the trail, due to its lower bulk.
Stability at speed seems to be the Anthem’s trump card. The long chainstays and wheelbase ensures the bike has a planted feel, whether it’s skimming over the top of a root garden or barreling through a series of switchbacked corners. The wide bar/short stem gives good control for squeezing the most out of the bike.
My first ride left me really impressed. I’m going to ride it some more, and will take it to some races in the coming weeks, and see how it fares.
On first impressions, it’s a seriously good 29er.
More information: Giant Anthem X Advanced 29er Carbon 1