GIANT GLORY ADVANCED DOWNHILL BIKE REVIEW

The glorious return of a legendary DH platform

Adjustments galore! This bike can be made into just about anything from an ultra-stable DH racer, to a flickable freeride sender by simply flipping a few chips.

GIANT GLORY ADVANCED DOWNHILL BIKE REVIEW

We hardly need to introduce Giant, as they are the biggest bike manufacturer in the world. Nor do we have to retell the legacy of the Glory, which was in Giant’s lineup for 12 years, from 2006–2018. Well, after a five-year hiatus, the Glory is back with all the flair a modern World Cup-ready downhill bike deserves and is equipped with the adjustability needed to turn it into just about any style of gravity-fueled beast you can imagine. Things like a reach-adjusting headset, a three-position flip chip in the rear linkage, and 27.5- or 29-inch wheel compatibility help bring this bike into the modern age.

This bike was raced in the 2023 World Cup series under riders like the Meier-Smith brothers and Remi Thirion, who took fifth place in the Loudenvielle round in September. This 200mm-travel beast is clearly a bike that is capable of tackling the hardest tracks out there, and with only one build kit available, Giant has made it easy to buy and shred straight from the shop.

FRAME

Just like with any modern downhill bike, the Glory is loaded with features and geometry adjustments that mean you can set it up for just about any style of gravity riding you can think of. The frame itself is made up of Giant’s advanced-grade composite, which is, as they claim, a high-performance-grade raw carbon material produced in their factory to achieve a high stiffness-to-weight ratio. The frame features internal cable routing and bottle cage/accessory mounting tabs along the underside of the top tube. It can accommodate either the stock 27.5-inch wheel or a 29-inch wheel if you decide to swap it later. It features 157mm Super Boost rear-axle spacing.

The Glory was designed with three different flip chips: a three-position (Maestro 3) chip at the top of the linkage to adjust the geometry, a headset chip to adjust the reach, and a rear dropout chip to adjust the wheelbase. Our size medium’s stock configuration with the Maestro 3 chip flipped to the low position, the neutral headset cups installed, and the dropout in the short position has a head tube angle of 61.6 degrees, a reach of 461.2mm and a chainstay length of 447.9mm. There are way too many configurations to report here, and we tested many of them, but we eventually found our favorite. We set it up more like a freeride bike with the Maestro 3 chip in the steep position, the dropout chip in the short position, and the headset cup in the long reach position.

COMPONENTS

With only one build spec available for the Glory, Giant made sure to put the good components where it counted by only putting slightly less expensive components in places where it’s cheaper to replace and bring the performance up. Shimano’s Saint brakes have been a trusted staple on downhill bikes for years and, paired with a 220mm rotor up front and a 203mm rotor in the rear, supply excellent and consistent stopping power on this beast.

The SRAM GX DH rear derailleur, 170mm TruVativ Descendant DH cranks and MRP SXg chain guide/bash guard are also examples of the good, quality, strong components we expect on a DH bike. They saved a little money on the heavy but relatively strong Giant in-house AM30 wheelset; the rear wheel of which we had to true after only a couple of days in the park. A basic cockpit made up of Giant alloy bars, saddle, seatpost, and grips round out the build. With all that, they were able to reach a respectable asking price of $8,000, which isn’t bad in today’s market.

SUSPENSION

Giant has been using their Maestro suspension for generations of full-suspension mountain bikes dating back to 2004 when it first appeared on the Trance. Of course, a lot of innovations have been made leading up to the modern version, but the idea is the same—a solid rear triangle suspended by two rotating links connected to a vertically oriented shock. The claimed result is a more active suspension movement under tension with no loss of efficiency. They also claim it reduces pedal kickback, doesn’t bob when pedaling, doesn’t lock up under braking forces, and allows for excellent small-bump sensitivity.

In order to effectively soften the heavy blows of the trail, Giant has chosen Fox Factory suspension on both ends. A Fox 40 Factory fork with 203mm of travel and the GRIP2 damper grace the front with high- and low-speed damper adjustability for both compression and rebound. The 200mm of rear travel is controlled by a Fox Factory DHX2, which also features high- and low-speed compression and rebound damper adjustments, and is sprung using an interchangeable SLS (Super Light Steel) coil spring. The spring we found worked for our hard-charging test riders—weighing between 160 and 180 pounds—was a 450-pound spring. This was the spring that came stock on our size-medium test bike and was enough to keep adequate support on the lips of jumps but remain plush enough to tame the braking bumps and rock gardens.

ON THE RIDER:  FLY Racing Werx-R Carbon Helmet ($500) Zone Pro Goggles ($70) Rayce Jersey ($50) Radium Gloves ($27) Rayce Pants ($125); Shimano GE7 clipless shoes ($180) 

DESCENDING

Fast and flowy: It is becoming more and more important for downhill bikes to have supportive suspension systems to help manage not only World Cup-style chunk and chatter, but also smooth and flowy jump tracks. The Maestro suspension platform on the Glory proved to be exceptionally supportive where we needed it. This meant we could push into the bike hard on milder trails to pump and maintain speed. Likewise, this helped in tight, steep berms where compression G-outs can bog down a suspension system, causing us to lose speed. With the Glory, this was not a problem, as it handled these sections with excellent agility and allowed us to push in and pop out with maintained traction and speed. It also quieted trail chatter, like braking bumps, so much that we were able to full-out sprint through such sections without feeling our energy was being wasted.

Pushing into jumps, large or small, was met with similar support and consistency that brought great confidence while riding the bike. The bike flew with precision and had the travel and bottom-out support for when something went wrong. It was an easy bike to get comfortable on to tackle any sized hit. The small back wheel also helped in this area by making what could’ve been a big-feeling bike feel maneuverable and manageable. Whether we were throwing a whip on a big jump or squeezing around some tight corners, the 27.5-inch rear wheel was a great asset on the way to success.


Steep and technical: We all know the real reason you buy a DH bike is to take it to the bike park and hit all of the gnarliest, chunkiest and steepest trails they have to offer. That’s what got us excited to ride this bike at least, and, boy, did it deliver. There’s something to be said for those stout Fox 40 Factory forks and the confidence they inspire when plowing through rock gardens or navigating steep chutes. Trailing behind those stout forks, the rest of the bike was no slacker.

On the loosest chutes, the bike felt planted and was easy to direct in whichever way we wanted to go. It held its composure in fast rock gardens, allowing us to keep looking ahead at our next line instead of down at a specific rock we feared would upset our momentum. The support the suspension provided made it easy to precisely weight and unweight through sections where we needed to dance over the rocks to get through it quickly.

As we said earlier, it took a lot for the bike to lose composure in any section, but it was in the super-slow sections where it really showed its raked-out aggressiveness; specifically, in the low setting on the Maestro 3 flip chip and with the long-reach headset cups installed.

At speed, the 61.6-degree head angle was a stabilizing wonder, but at low speeds the front end became a little harder to manage with a little bit of wheel flop. This is one reason why we chose to keep the Maestro 3 chip in the high position on most days. In this configuration, the 62.3-degree head angle was enough to keep adequate stability on fast or chunky sections, while the slightly shortened wheelbase helped us navigate lower-speed sections, tight corners, and jumps with more precision and control. We also found this to be a much more fun setup in most bike-park settings when timed runs weren’t important and the terrain varied with each run.

Cornering was a breeze in most situations, and the bike stuck to the ground like glue on even the loosest terrain.

 

WHAT DID WE LOVE?

We loved the adjustability of the bike in all corners and how we could make it match its individual user with the systematic loosening and tightening of only a few bolts. It could either be stable for racing or super playful for freeriding.

We also liked how low we could get the seat without having tire buzz. If we wanted to, we could’ve even cut the seatpost and gotten it even lower, but we didn’t feel the need for what we were riding.

We also enjoyed the careful notice Giant took of the component spec when putting this bike together with things like the Fox Factory suspension, Shimano Saint brakes and the SRAM GX Eagle DH drivetrain.

The Glory was just as comfortable in the air as it was plowing through rock gardens.

WHAT DID WE HATE?

There were precious few things we could fault on the Glory. We did notice, however, that the shock placement in the bottom of the front triangle was very tight, which made it very hard to adjust the high-speed rebound knob. We had to stuff our fingers in there and hope we could press against the knob hard enough to spin it as we pulled our hand back and curled our finger.

The only other thing that we care to mention is the rear wheel, which we had to true after only two days at the park. It’s true that rear wheels suffer more heavily in bike parks than any other style of riding, but it still seemed to come untrue faster than we’d expected. We had to re-true it after almost every ride thereafter, though it never failed completely, nor did it acquire any fatal dents even after some heavy rim hits.

BOTTOM LINE

Our biggest takeaway from testing this bike was that it was capable of being just about anything we wanted it to be in the gravity world. Flip the Maestro 3 chip to the high position and you’ve got a maneuverable freeride bike ready to hit the deserts of Utah. Flip the chip back to the slack mode and you’ve got a bike that will allow you to take on world-class downhill tracks with a grin on your face.

It is clear that Giant puts priority on the performance parts that matter, like the suspension and brakes; only cutting costs on the easiest-to-replace items. This makes the price easier to swallow and gives the buyer time to save up and put the parts they really want on it eventually.

For the DH rider who wants a race-ready rig combined with a fun and playful park bike, the Glory is an excellent option. It did everything we wanted it to do and was always ready for more. This bike certainly has our recommendation, and we feel its versatility makes it a viable option for riders of all styles from the racing weekend warrior to the freerider looking to take to the air. The Giant Glory is the right tool for the job.

GIANT GLORY ADVANCED

www.giant-bicycles.com

CATEGORY: Downhill

SUSPENSION: 203mm (front), 200mm (rear)

TIRE SIZE: 29″ (front), 27.5″ (rear)

Price: $8,000
Weight: 36.9 pounds (without pedals)
Sizes: S, M (tested), L
Frame tested: 203mm travel, advanced carbon fiber
Fork: Fox 40 Factory, 203mm travel
Wheelset: Giant AM30 alloy wheels
Tires: Maxxis Assegai, 3C MaxxGrip, DH, 29×2.5 front, Maxxis DHR II, 3C MaxxGrip, DH, 27.5×2.4″ rear

Seatpost: Giant Contact post
Saddle: Giant Romero
Handlebar: Giant Contact SL TR35 bar
Stem: TruVativ Descendant direct mount, 50mm
Grips: Giant Tactal Pro single
Headset: Giant three-position flip-chip headset
Brakes: Shimano Saint BL-M820 brakes
Rotors: Shimano RT-66 rotors, 220mm (f)/203mm (r)
Rear derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle DH
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle DH, 1×7
Crankset: TruVativ Descendant cranks
Bottom bracket: SRAM Dub, threaded, 83mm
Cassette: SRAM GX DH 7-speed, 11-25T
Chain: SRAM PC 1110
Chainrings: TruVativ direct-mount 34-tooth

GEOMETRY SIZE M/L

Head tube angle: 62.3º–61.6°
Effective seat tube angle: 79.1º–78.4°
Reach: 468.6–461.2mm (18.4″–18.1″)
Stack: 629.2–634.9mm (24.8″–25.0″)
Bottom bracket height: 345–334.8mm (13.5″–13.2″)
Chainstay length: 445–447.9mm (17.5″–17.6″)
Wheelbase: 1,291–1,293mm (50.8″-50.9″)

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