Now if you remember we did a little post on”COMMITMENT” ( Interbike 2013) when we came back from Interbike about Giant Bicycles taking a big leap for their top Off-road line. Giant had been testing the 27.5 wheel size for just over a year, so when we saw the line up, no one was more excited then me to try one out.
Well the wait is over and this will be one of our first test for the year with a 2014 bike and Giant is a bike company that truly believes in “No Boundaries” and this is apparent more then ever with the new line up they have this year.
Giant has equipped 29 bicycles in 12 model titles with the 27.5 size tire, “Phew I did the math and hope I got that right.”
Now we all know this isn’t the first company to do 27.5, let alone in a Carbon frame, but if you look at any of the Advance line and the degree of thought put into it, you will come back walking away saying these are the most sexy looking, cleanest lines, and coolest parts groups you could get on a bike short of a custom build.
When I first received the Anthem Advance 27.5 1 I really didn’t want to ride it, I wanted to just look at it, sounds weird, but we all do it when we get a new bike. Its a beautiful bike. I just wanted to sit there and check it out up close, from one end to the other, studying the curves of the Carbon frame, looking at the links, and parts. One thing comes to mind “Feng shui”. This bike has a sexy flow of lines from the headtube through to the Maestro links, to the rear triangle and the parts package is spot on, Shimano XT, Fox suspension, topped off with Giant’s very own components.
After I was snapped out of my state of bliss from my friend rapping me on the head, I noticed his strange look of discuss in me and I felt the drool running off the side of my lips, he gave a loud “LET RIDE MAN!!!” OK so after composing myself it was time to work this baby out and see what this 27.5 thing is all about…
One thing I noticed off the bat was the head angle of the headtube, it looked slack compared to my first gen Anthem and those since, so this made me wonder about the handling and after all the preliminary set up was done I did feel the Anthem Advance felt different in the cockpit. The ergonomics of the the controls felt great, I could reach all the FOX CTD levers well, shifting with the Shimano XT is excellent, Giant's components consist of the control Stem and Bars, Seat post and the P-XCR1 27.5 rims, and sure you could get better parts here, but out of the box they do the job great.
I might add the Giant rims that come on the Anthem Advance 1 are Tubeless compatible and have all the parts to set them up, but out of the box they come with tubes in them.
With that all said lets get down to the nitty gritty of what you want to hear, “THE RIDE”!!!
I will start with the thing I hate most on an XC bike, the climbing. I’m a Downhiller by nature, but riding a XC bike is important to training, I do like going on a long ride with friends, so its important to have a great bike that can do this efficiently and the ANTHEM 27.5 1 does this with ease.
I noticed very quickly that the Anthem Advance feel while climbing up was lighter feeling then a 29″, but ascended a little better then a 26″. The weight felt better then a 29″, yet it feels like a 26″.
Reaching down to lock out the FOX CTD Pro Pedal to lock out mode on the fork and rear shock was no problem. Once you have this on the ANTHEM 27.5 1 was a tractor up the hill. Tight switchbacks were more manageable then being on a 29er.
While doing any type of climbing the bike felt nimble and reactive to my input on the trail at all times, in a standing pedal, mashing the pedals its light feel will get up and go. The Maestro suspension preformed by far better then all passed Maestro suspension’s. How do they get it any better.
This was truly a nice bike to climb. I never felt like I got the work out from the bike itself.
Now this is where I want to have my fun and this is reward time after the climbs, so how did the new Anthem Advance 1 do? “It did better than great. At times I didn’t feel like I was even no XC bike, but more like on a tail bike with more suspension.”
In comparison to my first gen Anthem Team 26″ and the last of the 26″ Anthem X (I did call upon a friend to try out his Anthem X to compare), the descending on the 27.5 was by far more stable at speed, line choice with the 27.5 size wheels was a mere point and shoot feel to it. with the bigger tire size, raked out headtube and a frame that is stiff in all the right spots, the Anthem Advance puts the fun in XC riding. The stock tires held grip good and I would look for something more to my needs. Under braking the XT disc brakes work awesome and pull you down in speed with no problems. In the photos you will see the comparison of the 27.5 to that of the 26″ wheel and that of the 29″ wheel. I doesn’t look like a lot, but size matters.
Before going down I turned the CTD levers to descend and the Anthem’s Fox fork and Shock worked great. One thing I have to put in here is that since getting this bike I have not dialed in the front or rear suspension at all. Out of the box it has worked fine.Jumping on the Anthem Advance is a dream, it handles air time nicely if you want to have fun on some little jumps on a trail.
As I mentioned I had asked a friend who I knew had the last of the 26″ Giant Anthem X 1. I had not ridden his bike before and I wanted to see just how much of a difference it would be, plus he had never ridden a bike with the bigger wheel sizes. This was a in the field blindfolded test ( really wanted to try that).
Just to see how much of a difference there is between a 26 inch and 27.5 inch I called my friend Juan Arrello to bring his Anthem X to do a ride compare and what I found out was there is a huge difference in how both bikes feel.
The older Anthem X feels so twitchy in the handling compared to the Anthem Advanced 27.5. You wouldn’t think this small amount would make this much matter when it comes to the overall ride-ability between the two.
The 27.5 wheel size feels like no other Anthem since and the 29″ does have its place. With this being said I have to say that the 26″ wheel size may be a thing of the past sooner then later. In my opinion the 27.5 wheel size is truly the choice for my size over the 29er.
You get all the characteristics of the 26″, the feel of the 29er without the wheel weight, and without loosing to much of the handling characteristics in tight areas.
My friend Juan had this to say about his ride on the Giant Anthem Advance.
“I own one of the last of the 26″ wheel Giant Anthem X. The ride is great but after riding a 27.5″ Giant Anthem it was like night and day. First of all the 27.5″ rolls so much smoother over exposed tree roots, fixed rocks, and wash board surfaces at breaking points. On the 26″, one is more dependent on a well tuned suspension to smooth out the ride, as for the 27.5″ it felt like I had more suspension even though both bikes have the same 4″ travel. The 27.5″ really complimented the 4″ travel suspension the Anthem. On the descent I also noticed the amount of speed I picked up and to sustain the speed without much rider input to keep up the momentum. I liked the fact that I was able to brake a bid late going into a turn but at first I had to get used to turning the larger wheel but I quickly adjusted. Even though the 26″ is more nimble on tight turns I like the fact that the 27.5 rolls much better if there are obstacles in the turn. There was a very slight difference in acceleration but with proper gear selection acceleration differences was insignificance to me. Overall I wished I would have waited one more year so I wouldn’t buy the last of the 26″ Anthem and I could have been one of the first to purchase a 27.5 Anthem.”
In a nut shell I have to say that every time I ride this bike I love mountain biking more and more everyday.
The parts group is top notch as it should be at what your paying and Giant is not skimping here. They are giving you a race ready bike out of the box, now its up to you to take it to the podium or race it at your favorite trail.
Oh and what is this little baby going to cost you, only $4750.00, is it worth it, I would say an outstanding “YES!!”