The Giant Anthem 27.5 3 is way more fun than expected but needs a few specification tweaks

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Giant Anthem 27.5 3

Weight:
Weight:

Pros:

  • Real turn of speed and precision on twisty trails, married with excellent parts

Cons:

  • Tall/short sizing requires an extra long 100mm stem

Product:

Giant Anthem 27.5 3 review

Manufacturer:

TAGS:
This product is featured in: The best mountain bikes under £1,500.

Need to know:

  • Giant’s ALUXX SL frame gets a Powercore press-fit bottom bracket and tapered head tube for increased stiffness
  • Frame uses a QR rear hub with frame adaptors, rather than a bolt-thru axle
  • Shimano’s Shadow Plus rear derailleur has a clutch to stabilise the chain and quieten the ride
  • XC racers don’t drop their saddles, but the rest of us would benefit from a QR seat clamp

In recent years, the popular XC-focused Anthem range has shifted through wheel sizes. A lonely 29er still exists, but Giant has now migrated pretty much all of its bikes to 27.5in wheels. The 100mm travel Anthem is no different. There are three aluminium Anthems to choose from, and the ‘3’ model tested here is the cheapest.

>>> Click here to find the best bike under £1,500

Being the biggest bike manufacturer in the world has some advantages. It allows Giant to control quality at every stage of production, right down to smelting alloys and making its own aluminium tubes.

Up close, the ALUXX SL frame reflects this with top-notch construction that wouldn’t be out of place at any price point. Smooth, hand-finished welds, neat pivot hardware and sculpted tubes all look great, but save substantially on weight too; the Anthem is over two pounds lighter than most bikes in this price range.

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Giant anthem 27.5 3 review riding

From a distance, however, the sizing and shape of the Giant Anthem are a bit old school. ‘Gate-like’ might sound a bit harsh, but the frame is very tall in both top and seat tubes, yet short in the front triangle. Conversely, the 100mm head tube is so stubby, the Anthem needs a huge 100mm long riser stem to achieve a decent handlebar height.

Suspension

Both halves of the frame are connected by two short, sturdy, links that deliver 100mm of travel. The upper link of Giant’s Maestro design houses sealed bearings in the shock mount to ensure the Monarch RL runs smooth and true. As such, the rear suspension has a very supple feel with excellent climbing traction and bump isolation, and it feels like the Anthem runs way deeper than the 100mm on offer.

Giant Anthem 27.5 3 review maestro

Maestro suspension orchestrates superior grip and feel

RockShox’s Recon Gold RL fork is easy to set up. Adjust the air spring to match rider weight and dial in the rebound damping and you’re set. Just like the rear suspension, the fork proves that less can be more: its superior, well-controlled 100mm travel easily trumps more bounce elsewhere
on test.

Components

Giant’s own-brand S-XC2 wheels are light and still feel solid enough to handle g-outs and bermed corners. Clad in semi-slick Schwalbe tyres, the wheels accelerate rapidly: but once the cheaper, wire-bead Racing Ralphs hit wet surfaces, flat corners and even stopping become pretty dicey with the limited grip on offer.

Giant has totally nailed the drivetrain in terms of functionality; the chain-stabilising Shadow Plus mech and a 2×10 transmission offer slick shifting, while the forged HollowTech II Deore crankset is rock solid.

Giant anthem 27.5 3 review stem

Giant by name, giant by stem length too

The same can’t be said about the controls. A narrow 690mm riser bar and crazy long 100mm stem just about reach the right conclusion in terms of fit, but for all the wrong reasons. The seatpost badly needs a QR clamp too.

Performance

With the least travel and the dated cut of the Giant Anthem’s cloth, we hastily jumped to certain conclusions about its potential performance. But there’s actually a surprising sweetness to the way this solid 100mm bike cuts through tight singletrack, limbers up lengthy climbs and carries a turn of pace that harks back to its roots as an XC race machine.

Giant Anthem review 27.5 3 fork

…it’s what you do with it that counts: 100mm of controlled travel

The very low bottom bracket improves handling massively, and is likely key to the manoeuvrability and confident ride quality. However, combined with the smooth Maestro suspension that can compress too readily under hard pedalling efforts, pedal strikes are all too frequent. We ran the shock firmer to help compensate.

As much as we dislike the somewhat dated handlebar and stem combo, it ultimately doesn’t stop the lightweight Anthem from being a comfortable and effective bike. And with its stiff, quiet, drivetrain, precise gear changes and speedy wheels, in terms of pure riding experience, it comes across like a way more expensive bike.

Buy now:

Giant Anthem 27.5 3 review featured

Verdict

In recent years, the popular XC-focused Anthem range has shifted through wheel sizes. A lonely 29er still exists, but Giant has now migrated pretty much all of its bikes to 27.5in wheels. The 100mm travel Anthem is no different. There are three aluminium Anthems to choose from, and the ‘3’ model tested here is the cheapest. Being the biggest bike manufacturer in the world has some advantages. It allows Giant to control quality at every stage of production, right down to smelting alloys and making its own aluminium tubes. Up close, the ALUXX SL frame reflects this with top-notch construction that wouldn’t be out of place at any price point. Smooth, hand-finished welds, neat pivot hardware and sculpted tubes all look great, but save substantially on weight too; the Anthem is over two pounds lighter than any other bike in this test. From a distance, however, the sizing and shape of the Anthem are a bit old school. ‘Gate-like’ might sound a bit harsh, but the frame is very tall in both top and seat tubes, yet short in the front triangle. Conversely, the 100mm head tube is so stubby, the Anthem needs a huge 100mm long riser stem to achieve a decent handlebar height. Suspension Both halves of the frame are connected by two short, sturdy, links that deliver 100mm of travel. The upper link of Giant’s Maestro design houses sealed bearings in the shock mount to ensure the Monarch RL runs smooth and true. As such, the rear suspension has a very supple feel with excellent climbing traction and bump isolation, and it feels like the Anthem runs way deeper than the 100mm on offer. RockShox’s Recon Gold RL fork is easy to set up. Adjust the air spring to match rider weight and dial in the rebound damping and you’re set. Just like the rear suspension, the fork proves that less can be more: its superior, well-controlled 100mm travel easily trumps more bounce elsewhere on test. Components Giant’s own-brand S-XC2 wheels are the lightest here and still feel solid enough to handle g-outs and bermed corners. Clad in semi-slick Schwalbe tyres, the wheels accelerate rapidly: but once the cheaper, wire-bead Racing Ralphs hit wet surfaces, flat corners and even stopping become pretty dicey with the limited grip on offer. Giant has totally nailed the drivetrain in terms of functionality; the chain-stabilising Shadow Plus mech and a 2x10 transmission offer slick shifting, while the forged HollowTech II Deore crankset is rock solid. The same can’t be said about the controls. A narrow 690mm riser bar and crazy long 100mm stem just about reach the right conclusion in terms of fit, but for all the wrong reasons. The seatpost badly needs a QR clamp too. Performance With the least travel and the dated cut of the Anthem’s cloth, we hastily jumped to certain conclusions about its potential performance. But there’s actually a surprising sweetness to the way this solid 100mm bike cuts through tight singletrack, limbers up lengthy climbs and carries a turn of pace that harks back to its roots as an XC race machine. The very low bottom bracket improves handling massively, and is likely key to the manoeuvrability and confident ride quality. However, combined with the smooth Maestro suspension that can compress too readily under hard pedalling efforts, pedal strikes are all too frequent. We ran the shock firmer to help compensate. As much as we dislike the somewhat dated handlebar and stem combo, it ultimately doesn’t stop the lightweight Anthem from being a comfortable and effective bike. And with its stiff, quiet, drivetrain, precise gear changes and speedy wheels, in terms of pure riding experience, it comes across like a way more expensive bike than its rivals here.

Details

Frame:ALUXX SL-Grade aluminium, 100mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch R
Fork:RockShox Recon Gold RL, 100mm travel
Wheels:Giant S-XC hubs and rims, Schwalbe Racing Ralph 27.5x2.25in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano Deore 38/24t chainset, f-mech, r-mech and shifters
Brakes:Shimano M396, 180/160mm
Components:Giant Connect, Contact Forward saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:3.09kg (28.9lb)
Contact:giantbicycles.com
Size tested:L
Head angle:68.1°
Seat angle:69.7°
BB height:314mm
Chainstay:434mm
Front centre:695mm
Wheelbase:1,129mm
Down tube:676mm
Top tube:615mm
Reach:441mm