Giant uses a high strength, T800 uni-directional carbon, made by Toray, one of the world’s biggest carbon-fibre suppliers, for the Anthem Advanced frame. Each frame is made in one piece, using four orientations of ply (0, 45 90 and 135 degrees) each with a different property. There’s nothing unique about this method of construction, but the difference is that Giant makes the Anthem frame from start to finish in-house.
Like the aluminium bikes, the carbon frame tubes have Giant’s unique profile for added stiffness. Cable routing is OK but the rear derailleur line could be better. The frame comes with a zero-stack headset, twin-bolt seat collar and the bearings have had the covers removed to save weight (around 20-30g) — but after a month of riding we’ve found rust spots.
To save even more weight Giant runs composite top rockers with titanium bolts. It could use the new co-pivot technology found on the new Trance X and Reign frames to save even more mass, but this would place the shock controls out of reach when riding.
Giant is claiming a frame weight of 5.46lb with shock, headset cups and collar; the bike on the mbr scales weighs a touch over 26lb.
Like the Trance X1 we tested last month the Anthem comes with a cheaper Fox RP2 shock, which has a single ProPedal setting instead of three on the more expensive RP23. Not that it matters because the Giant pedals really well despite this.
The 80mm Fox F80 RL fork has the least amount of travel on test but we wouldn’t change it for a 100mm fork. Increasing travel by 20mm would slacken the head by a degree and, while we’d like that, it’d also lift the bottom bracket, lengthen the wheelbase and shorten the top tube — three changes we don’t think the bike can accommodate.
Giant runs a mix of Shimano LX and XT components on the Anthem with a Race Face Evolve XC crankset. The latter is stiff but the shifting isn’t as good as with a Shimano crankset. Shimano’s new XT brakes have all the adjustments and a funky new lever but we were always grabbing a handful of the rear brake — it’s almost as if there’s nothing in the first part of the stroke and then it suddenly kicks in.
We’ve been banging on at Giant for quite a few years now to run shorter stems and wider bars. Our medium Anthem came fitted with a long 120mm stem and narrow 22.5in flat handlebar. This combo frees up space in the cockpit but it takes the edge off the handling. At least Giant has ditched the WTB Devo saddle for the excellent Silverado.
If you look at the geometry chart on page 94 you’ll see that the Giant has a steep 72.3-degree head angle, a short 42in wheelbase and a short down tube compared to the other bikes on test. These numbers shouldn’t work, but the Anthem is a quick bike. It felt as stable as any on the wide fire road descents and there weren’t many bikes quicker through the singletrack. It demanded to be ridden in the big ring and was almost disappointed if we changed down for the climbs. You have to keep on top of the steering if it’s rooty, and hang on down steep stuff, but the Anthem felt more planted in the hairpins than either the Scalpel or Epic.
We’ve noticed the Maestro suspension hooks up a bit on square-edge rocks and exposed roots on some of the longer travel Giants, but with such quick Michelin tyres and a responsive frame this isn’t true of the Anthem. Despite only having a short fork and only 90mm of rear travel the Anthem absorbs big hits and hard landings really well.
Having tested an Anthem before we think it’s the best bike in the Giant range because it really does what it sets out to do. It’s quick, maybe a bit pricy, but it’s definitely the ideal choice for marathons and 24-hour races. The only snag is you’ll need to change the stem and bars if you want the handling to be as good as our test bike. With this build the Advanced 1 bike is packing a few extra pounds but we’ve ridden the £4,695 Anthem Advanced and its pimped spec is significantly lighter, so it’s just a case of throwing a bit of money at the frame to get the weight down.
MBR RATING: 9/10