Giant Bicycles made a point to be early for the 2013 model year. In the week leading up to the barrage of new products at Sea Otter, Giant grabbed our attention by launching two brand new 29ers, the Anthem X Advanced 29er and Anthem X 29er W, while giving us a sneak peak of their new carbon cross country 29er wheelset, the P-XCR Composite 0. Giant invited us out (across town, really) to Westlake Village in sunny, southern California to ride the Anthem X Advanced 29er and a pre-production version of the wheelset.
The aluminum version of the Anthem X 29 is Giant’s most successful, full suspension mountain bike platform in the company’s history, and based on our glowing review of that bike, we are not surprised. Giant stressed that they didn’t want to create just a light weight cross country race bike, but a versatile trail bike as well. “Giant wanted to deliver a higher performance version of the Anthem X 29…more capable, more of a good thing,” said Kevin Dana, Giant’s Global Category Manager for Offroad.
The Anthem X Advanced 29er features a monocoque front triangle constructed of Giant’s proprietary Advanced-grade composite, while utlilizing an aluminum “Aluxx SL” rear triangle also found on the original Anthem X 29er. According to Giant, going with a carbon rear triangle would not have yielded enough performance gains to justify the huge price increase it would have brought. Like its aluminum bretheren, it features four inches of Giant’s Maestro suspension and also shares identical geometry with the Anthem X 29.
The frame now features internal derailleur cable routing as well as cable tabs to route a remote for an adjustable seatpost. Giant will offer three different builds with the top of the line Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 retailing for $8900, the Advanced 29er 1 for $4650 and the Advanced 29er 2 for $3300. A complete size medium Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 will come out of the box at a claimed 22 lbs and the Advanced 29er 1 will weigh in at 25 lbs.
The new frame shaves .4 lbs compared its aluminum counterpart and offers increased stiffness both in steering and pedaling. The Anthem X Advanced 29er features Giant’s “OverDrive2″ technology which uses a 1-1/2″ to 1-1/4” tapered steerer tube to increase stiffness. OverDrive2’s increased diameter along with the Advanced’s meaty “MegaDrive” downtube and the 15-milimeter through axles found on all of the Anthem X Advanced model’s forks, help the bike see a claimed seven percent increase in steering stiffness. Giant also claims the carbon “PowerCore” press fit bottom bracket helps boost pedaling stiffness by three perecent.
The rear triangle utilizes a 135-millimeter axle as opposed to the wider 142-millimeter standard being found on many companies’ new models. According to Dana, the Anthem X’s rear triangle would only see a slight increase in stiffness while adding weight if they had gone with the larger standard. The Maestro design does not benefit from the larger size because the rear triangle is one solid piece welded together without a pivot inturrupting the chain or seat stays, “by going with the 142mm, the other guys are getting to where we already were in terms of stiffness,” Dana said.
Giant also introduced the Anthem X 29er W, the world’s first women’s specific, full suspension 29er. It’s constructed of ALUXX SL aluminum and features the same four inches of Maestro suspension found on the men’s models, as well as OverDrive2, MegaDrive and PowerCore technologies. The geometry is manipulated to meet women riders’ needs. Including a shorter top tube with more stand over height and slightly steeper head and seat tube angles. The bike is also equipped with women’s specific components such as a different saddle, narrower handlebars and lighter wheels.
Giant will offer two models: the 29er 0 W which retails for $2950 and the 29er 1 W which goes for $1925.
Giant also announced that they’re developing new “Off-Road WheelSystems” and introduced a pre-production version of their flagship model, the P-XCR Composite 29er 0. They are geared toward the cross country race and performance driven trail riders. They feature a tubeless compatible, 19-millimeter wide carbon rim, Aerolite spokes and dual sealed hubs. The new hoops come in at a claimed 1430 grams per pair.
Giant looked to boost the lateral stiffness of the wheel, increasing the driveside bracing angle 2mm wider, a technology they have named “Optimized Anchor Point.” Along with the added lateral stiffness, Giant looked at the the angle between the hub and rim where each spoke meets the two, called the rectangular leverage angle. They found that a near 90-degree angle between the hub and rim optimizes rotational stiffness, to accomplish this angle they had to add spokes, going with a 28 hole design. While originally spec’d with SRAM’s Rise 60 wheels, expect to the see Giant’s P-XCR flagship model appear on the Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 as they become available later in the season. Pricing as well as more details will be available later this summer.
Photo: Jake Orness
After an afternoon of product introduction and bike set up, we were set to put the new steed to the test on the Backbone Trail, one of our favorite local rides. Our ride would take us on 28 miles of mostly singletrack with a few fireroad sections thrown in. The trails had received rain a few days before and honestly we don’t know if the conditions could have been any better. We were met with tacky trails, clear blue skies with views of the Pacific Ocean and warm, yet comfortable temperatures.
Having recently spent a long day in the saddle on the aluminum Anthem X 29er with almost an identical compnent spec to the bike we would be on, it was a great opportunity to see what the Advanced frame brought to the table. While we will need more time in the saddle for a full bike test, we did get a solid first impression.
Photos: Jake Orness
The Anthem’s familiar geometry was welcoming, it only took a couple turns to feel right at home on the bike. Giant hit the mark by keeping what we loved about the Anthem X 29er intact while putting it on a racer’s diet. The combination of the carbon wheels and new frame made for razor sharp handling. Flicking the bike around the trail is a blast; the bike simply goes where you want it to.
We were glad to find that by making the bike into a featherweight, it doesn’t give up any of its willingess to charge down rough sections at full speed. The Maestro suspension keeps the rear wheel active on the descents, even under heavy braking.
The rear suspension performance doesn’t come at the cost of pedaling effiency either. While the RockShox Monarch RT3 shock offers a lockout and pedal platform setting, we were able to leave the shock in the open setting almost all day, reserving the platform setting for a few sustained fire road climbs. The Anthem X Avanced climbs with the best of them. Out of the saddle attacks on the Anthem X Avanced 29er are met with quick accelerations and big smiles.
Needless to say we look forward to putting Giant’s Anthem X Advanced 29er through a proper test. Look for a full write up in MBA.