Long-term Test 2015 | First look: Giant Anthem SX Advanced 27.5
You almost feel sorry for the Giant Anthem SX. With its undeniably recognizable cross-country roots, it’s the puny kid on the playground that no one wants to play with. And definitely not on a technical trail! For starters, its 100 mm travel = way too little, and XC? Isn’t that just a synonym for skintight lycra? Uncool.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Anthem SX is the bike that’s left behind at home when the bigger ones go out to shred in the forest. But that’s really only half the truth… As love and sorrow are so closely linked, I’ll start with some love.
As soon as we started issue #015’s group test for the new-school cross-country bikes, I fell in love with the Giant Anthem SX – along with all of the other test riders. With a complete package that just worked, incredible riding performance and a super cool look, the Giant was a standout victor. But how would it perform in the long-term test? And are its lightweight parts and components equipped for a frequent hammering on the trails? In order to find out the answers, we ordered the exact same bike from Giant Germany to see how it would fare in a long-term test.
Really, is that necessary?
There’s a simple answer to the question you’re all asking: Why ride a cross-country bike? At times like these when everything has to be stiffer, fatter, bigger, and with the growing popularity of extreme downhill-bike-inspired geometry, we keep failing to ask ourselves the fundamental question: Do I even need that? And why do I need that specific bike?
Is the Anthem SX the right bike for enduro races or for gnarly trails in the Alps? Nope. Is the Giant the right bike for flowing and fast trails, like my home trails? Hell, yes.
Working 70 hours a week doesn’t leave me much time to load the bikes into the car and travel somewhere that might demand a large-calibre bike, so I usually have some two-wheeled fun on the trails around my house in Stuttgart. On flat, flowing and less technical trails, long-travel bikes aren’t as much fun to ride – and not just because of their (too extreme) geometry, but because they monster-truck everything, thereby smoothing out anything remotely choppy about the trail and robbing it of any challenge it might have posed.
The slogan of this compact and super agile bike could be ‘just jump on it and enjoy’, although its base is a cross-country World Cup race model: the Giant Anthem. For € 4,300 ($ 5,575) the Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 offers everything that a modern trail bike should: a well thought-out spec with a dropper seat post, comfortable cockpit, a considered wheel combination, as well as SRAM’s X01 1×11 drivetrain. In size medium the Giant weighs in at 11.3 kg (24,9 lbs).
Like the World Cup bike, the Anthem SX also only offers 100mm rear travel, but the front’s 120mm travel thanks to the RockShox Revelation RL forks, means the front of the bike sits higher and its head angle slackens to 68.5°.
I haven’t made any changes to the spec just yet, but I’m considering putting on some handlebars with more rise in order to raise the front. Then I’ll convert it to tubeless.
I’ve got pretty set goals for this season; instead of racing I’m going to spend as much time as possible riding my home trails, get fit again and keep the fitness! Since last week we’ve been doing daily pre-office rides at 7am, banging out quick & dirty loops on our currently pretty muddy trails. During the season I’d like to do a few odd races, but whether I actually race on the Anthem SX or on a long-travel enduro bike remains to be seen.
And while we’re on the topic of love and sorrow: In contrast to most of the long-term test bikes, the Anthem is far less likely to travel the globe, as I’ve chosen it to function as my faithful home bike. So in this case, the kid does have to stay at home – but he’s going to have damn good fun there. So keep loose and give gas. The Giant is definitely made for that!
Check out issue #015 to read our review of the Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5
Born: 1990 | Biking Since: 2000 | Height: 178cm | Weight: 71kg | Job: ENDURO Founder | @Strava