First Look: 2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1

by
September 13, 2017

Announced to the public back in June of this year, the Anthem 29er rolls into the 2018 Giant Bicycles lineup as a brand new full suspension XC race bike. The news of the Anthem 29er may have come as a surprise to many, given Giant’s lack of investment into 29in wheels over the past five years after it publicly embraced the 27.5in wheelsize in a big way. But with the arrival of the new Anthem 29er and the latest XTC 29er, it would appear that Giant might be quietly pulling a U-turn on its previous stance on 29in wheels. Perhaps we can expect more wagon wheelers to come from the Taiwanese brand down the line?

We’ll leave you to speculate on what all that may or may not mean. But right now, lets take a closer look at the brand new full-carbon Anthem Advanced 29er that we’ve got in to test for an upcoming issue of Singletrack Magazine.

giant anthem 29er
It’s not that big really.

As we noted in our review of the excellent Anthem 27.5, the latest platform received some rather significant updates that saw the popular Anthem swelling in both travel and capability. Giant effectively turned the Anthem 27.5 into of a lightweight trail bike with 110mm of travel, a bigger 120mm travel fork, meatier treads, and a dropper post. While the latest Anthem 27.5 is no doubt a barrel of laughs, it did leave a void in the Giant lineup for a lighter, sharper and more focussed full suspension platform.

And that’s where the Anthem 29er comes in.

Like the latest Anthem 27.5, the Anthem 29er integrates several key technologies that claim to bring improvements in suspension performance, handling and frame stiffness. Those changes include a move to Boost rear hub spacing, which offsets the drivetrain away from the frame by 3mm, allowing for more room to play with around the chainstays to widen tyre clearance, while shrinking chainstay length. The rear shock updates to a metric-sized unit that mounts to the one-piece composite rocker link via a trunnion mount and two cartridge bearings. On top of that, geometry has been lengthened out to add a little more stability to the front of the bike.

The 2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1 is an evil-looking machine.

Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er Features

  • 29er full suspension XC race bike
  • Full carbon fibre mainframe & swingarm
  • Maestro dual-link suspension design
  • 90mm rear travel
  • 100mm fork travel
  • 69° head angle
  • 73.5° seat tube angle
  • 438mm chainstay length
  • PF92 threadless bottom bracket
  • Tooled 148x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Di2 and Fox Live Valve compatible
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
giant anthem 29er
The Anthem Advanced Pro models get a full carbon fibre frame, including the swingarm.

The model we have on test is the top-end Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1. Catchy name huh? The ‘Advanced Pro’ bit refers to the full carbon fibre frame – that’s carbon for both the front and back. Giant also offers a non-Pro version called the Anthem Advanced, which subs in an alloy swingarm. There’s also an all-alloy version of the Anthem, with complete bikes starting at £2449.

You can check out the full specs on our blacked-out test bike down the bottom, but in a nutshell, your £4249 is getting you a full carbon fibre frame, a Fox Performance Elite suspension package, carbon fibre rims, tubeless Maxxis Ikon tyres, a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, and Level TL brakes.

giant anthem 29er
90mm of rear suspension travel via the Maestro linkage.

Compared to the 110mm of travel on the Anthem 27.5, the Anthem 29er gets just 90mm of rear travel. It’s controlled by the Maestro dual-link suspension design that sees the carbon fibre swingarm rock on two linkages that mount to the mainframe. The lower shock mount shares the same pivot as the lower linkage, helping to reduce a couple of moving parts in the name of simplicity and weight.

trunnion fox float dps
An updated composite rocker link is lighter and stiffer than the alloy unit of old.

The upper linkage is molded from composite fibre, which Giant claims is far lighter and stiffer than making the same thingamabob out of metal. The rocker bolts onto either side of the rear shock via two sealed cartridge bearings (instead of the ol’ DU bushes), which aims to increase sensitivity by reducing stiction. You’ll find this same basic design on the new Giant Trance and on the Liv Hail bikes that we’ve tested and reviewed.

giant anthem 29er
100mm of fork travel on the Giant Anthem 29er.
fox 32 step cast fork
Still can’t quite wrap our heads around the ‘chopped’ lowers on the Fox 32 Step Cast forks. It just looks like something is missing!
fox 32 step cast evol
Being a 2018 Fox fork, this one’s got the new EVOL air spring that enlarges the negative spring volume for smoother stroking.
fox 32 step cast remote lockout
There’s a FIT damper inside, but up top is pulley system with a cable coming out…
fox handlebar lockout remote
…and going into the remote handlebar lockout. One paddle to open up the suspension, one paddle to lock it out. The second cable then pops out of the remote lockout and goes…
giant anthem 29er
…around and into the downtube…
giant anthem 29er
…before popping out underneath the bottle cage bosses…
giant anthem 29er fox float dps remote
…and connecting to the lockout mechanism on the rear Fox Float DPS shock.
giant anthem 29er
There’s a combination of internal and external cable routing for the new Anthem 29er frame.

Although the Maestro suspension platform promises plenty of pedal efficiency, for XC and marathon competition, being able to turn your full suspension bike into a fully rigid rocketship at the flick of a button can be a very useful tool for your racing toolbox. The Fox remote lockout controls both the fork and rear shock, so you can lock or unlock both simultaneously.

2018 Giant Anthem 29er geometry.

Geometry-wise, the Anthem 29er is a significant step away from the old Anthem 29er. The head angle relaxes from 71.5° to 69°, and the top tube has been lengthened significantly. As a direct comparison, the Medium sizes Anthem 29er is 27mm longer in its reach measurement, though Giant is running shorter stems across the size range to keep the bars within spitting distance. On the note of reach, you’ll see that the seat tube angle isn’t particularly steep at 73.5°, though this has been done to help extend the effective cockpit length as the saddle is raised to the desired pedalling position.

Another number that sticks out like one throbbing red thumb is the chainstay length. The new Anthem 29er gets a 438mm long rear centre length, which is almost 30mm shorter than the old bike! So despite the new frame being longer and slacker in the front end, bringing that rear wheel in closer to the frame could have the most dramatic effect on handling.

giant anthem 29er gx eagle sram
The 2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1 gets a 1×12 Eagle drivetrain from SRAM.
sram stylo gx eagle
Giant has spec’d the tough Stylo non-series alloy cranks for the Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1.
sram gx eagle stylo press fit
Inside the carbon PF92 bottom bracket shell is a SRAM GXP bottom bracket.
giant anthem 29er
Full carbon fibre swingarm for the Anthem Advanced Pro. You’ll get an alloy swingarm on the Anthem Advanced models, whereas the base Anthem is alloy front and rear.
giant anthem 29er
148x12mm bolt-up rear axle and direct mount tabs for a 160mm disc rotor.
giant anthem 29er
Giant does its own hoops for the Anthem, which come in the form of the XCR 1 wheelset.
giant wheel scales
We stripped the wheels down to check out the weight of the new carbon 29in wheels. 954g for the rear.
giant anthem wheels scales weight
And 810g for the front. That’s a total weight of 1764g for the wheelset, which is respectable, but not hugely light for an XC race wheelset.
giant tubeless sealant
Giant includes two wee bottles of tubeless sealant with the Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1.
sram level kabolt
The fork has been spec’d with a KaBolt 110x15mm thru-axle for gram reduction. Aside from that, it looks super clean too.
giant anthem 29er
Of note is the hoooooge 780mm wide bars that Giant has spec’d on this model. We’re all about going wide and short for cockpits, but this does seem like quite the whammy bar for an XC race bike.
sram level brake giant
Giant lock-on grips and a tidy single clamp for the SRAM Level TL brake lever and GX Eagle shifter.
giant anthem 29er saddle
Another spec choice we’ve noted is the use of a 27.2mm diameter carbon seatpost. This has been done for compliance purposes (the skinnier post flexes more), but it does limit the option to run a dropper post, which we’re not thrilled about.
saddle seatpost clamp
There’s a bolt-up wedge that locks the carbon post in place. A rubber condom keeps it sealed and looking very clean indeed.
giant anthem 29er
It’s still lightweight and sharp-looking, but the new 29er Anthem brings with it fresh geometry to keep up with the Jones’s.

We’re looking forward to swinging a leg over the stealthy black Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1, which comes with plenty of updates to get excited about. It appears to be a very different beast from the last Anthem 29ers we rode, but all the changes are pointing in the right direction. We’ll be pitching it against a couple of other screaming-fast 29er race bikes in the near future, so stay tuned for more.

If you’re not so into the £4249 asking price, you’ll be happy to know that Giant offers several different spec options in the new Anthem 29er platform, starting at £2449 for the all-alloy Anthem 29er 2 model. For more details, head to the Giant UK website.

giant anthem 29er
Ready for a’racin’

2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 1 Specifications

  • Frame // Advanced Grade Carbon Mainframe & Swingarm, 90mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 32 Float SC Performance Elite, Remote Lockout, 100mm Travel
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS Performance Elite, Remote Lockout
  • Hubs // Giant XCR, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // Giant XCR, Carbon Fibre, Tubeless Compatible
  • Tyres // Maxxis Ikon 3C EXO 2.2in Front & Rear
  • Chainset // SRAM Stylo 6K Alloy, 32t X-Sync
  • Front Mech // N/A
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed, 10-50t
  • Brakes // SRAM Level TL 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
  • Stem // Giant Contact SL 31.8mm, 70mm Long
  • Bars // Giant Contact SL Alloy, 780mm Wide, 19mm Rise
  • Grips // Giant Contact Lock-On
  • Seatpost // Giant Contact Composite, 27.2x400mm
  • Saddle // Giant Contact SL (Forward)
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Actual weight // 10.67 kg (23.47 lbs)
  • RRP // £4249

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