Giant Goes Back To 29in Wheels With New 2018 Anthem

by Wil Barrett 7

Last year at the Eurobike show, we got hands on with the latest Giant Anthem. With slacker geometry, a bump up to 110/120mm of suspension travel along with the addition of a dropper post and wider bars, the new Anthem received a significant boost to its technical trail capabilities. Tweaks to the Maestro suspension design and a move to a trunnion-mounted rear shock improved small-bump sensitivity to no-end, and it led to the 2017 Giant Anthem 1 getting a rave review from us.

As good as the new Anthem is however, its beefing-up has somewhat left a gap in the Giant full suspension lineup. What about all the hardcore XC racers out there? The marathon riders who value lightweight, sharp handling, and climbing speed?

Twelve months on from the release of the new Anthem, it’s now become apparent what Giant’s masterplan was all along. Having just announced the new Anthem 29, Giant launches a brand new XC full suspension race bike to fill the gap opened up by the burlier Anthem 27.5.

giant anthem 29er
Joining the existing Anthem 27.5, the 29er is new for 2018.

“Now, after 12 years of evolution, XC-specific wheel-size research and engineering, along with some key updates to our Maestro Suspension, the next-generation Anthem 29 range has arrived. Engineered with 90mm of rear suspension travel, and 100mm up front, it features optimised 29er XC geometry and comes race-ready out of the box. More than a decade of XC domination. Continual progression. A hunger for race-winning performance that never goes away. That’s the story of Anthem. Welcome to its next chapter.” From Giant Bicycles.

giant anthem
The new Anthem 29 from Giant Bicycles.

Giant Anthem 29 Features

  1. Maestro suspension design w/90mm rear wheel travel
  2. Available in alloy (ALUXX SL) and carbon (Advanced) frame options
  3. Brand new frame geometry with 69° head angle, 73.5° seat tube angle & 438mm chainstay length
  4. Boost hub spacing: 110x15mm front & 148x12mm rear
  5. Composite rocker link
  6. Trunnion mounted rear shock
  7. 92mm wide PF92 bottom bracket
  8. Available in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  9. Tapered head tube to suit a 100mm travel fork
  10. 29in wheels


For a start, we’ve gotta address the elephant in the room. You know, the baby elephant that stands about 29in tall?

After Giant very publicly denounced 29ers a few years ago when the brand first went hard with 27.5in wheels, it would appear that the R&D team at Giant are chowing down on some humble pie right about now. Indeed we’ve seen a big uptake of 29in wheels over the last years across all genres of the sport, even at the World Cup downhill level. But for Giant, the brand hasn’t developed a new full suspension 29er for over five years after having fully committed to 27.5in wheels for most of its mountain bike line.

So why the change of heart?

giant anthem xc
For flat-out XC racing, Giant is bringing 29in wheels to the Anthem platform.

Thanks to advancements in frame construction and the addition of features such as Boost hub spacing and 1x drivetrains, 29ers have gotten a lot better in recent years. Head angles that don’t look like they came off a ‘cross bike have increased the descending capabilities of 29in mountain bikes, while shorter chainstays have improved tight-corner handling. Combined with better suspension and the increased rolling momentum and traction of the bigger wheels, modern 29ers are surely a far cry from the dopey big-rigs of last decade, and in many cases, faster than their smaller-wheeled cousins.

Looking to take advantage of all these improvements, Giant has decided to turn back to 29in wheels for its flagship XC race bike.

giant anthem 29in
Boost 148x12mm thru-axle on the back end of the Anthem 29, with 438mm long chainstays.

There will be three different platforms available in the new Anthem 29. There’s the Anthem Advanced Pro, which uses a fully carbon fibre mainframe and swingarm. Then there’s the Anthem Advanced that uses an ALLUXX alloy swingarm, and the regular Anthem, which uses alloy for both the front and rear.

We’re yet to get confirmation of UK pricing and availability, so we’ll update this article as soon as we find out which models are coming to our shores and when.

giant suspension frame
Updated Maestro suspension design.

Both the carbon and alloy models share the same new Maestro suspension design, which (like the Anthem 27.5 and Trance models) has updated to a trunnion-mounted Metric rear shock that’s designed to improve small-bump sensitivity. The rocker link is made from composite fibre, which is purportedly lighter and stiffer than an alloy equivalent. Suspension travel is at 90mm on the rear, 100mm for the front, and frame angles are 69/73.5° with 438mm long chainstays.

All new Anthem 29 models will feature a smattering of Giant-branded components, with Boost hub spacing front and rear. The only key difference between the alloy Anthems and the ones that get a carbon mainframe is the ability to run a front derailleur. On the alloy Anthem, there’s a welded tab on the seat tube that allows for an upper direct mount mech, whereas the carbon models are strictly 1x only.

giant anthem advanced carbon
2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29

2018 Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 Specifications

  • Frame // Advanced Carbon Fibre, 90mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 32 Float SC Factory Series, 100mm Travel, Kabolt
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS Factory Series 3-Position w/Remote Lockout, Trunnion Mount
  • Wheels // Giant XCR0 Composite, Boost Front & Rear
  • Tyres // Maxxis Ikon 2.2in 3C EXO
  • Drivetrain // SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12
  • Brakes // SRAM Level Ultimate, 180/160mm Rotors
  • Bars // Giant Contact SLR Trail, Carbon, 780mm Width, 19mm Rise
  • Stem // Giant Contact SLR, Carbon, 60mm (Small), 70mm (Medium), 80mm (Large), 90mm (X-Large)
  • Seatpost // Giant Contact SLR, Carbon, 27.2mm
  • RRP // $8500 USD
giant anthem advanced
2018 Giant Anthem Advanced 29

2018 Giant Anthem Advanced 29 Specifications

  • Frame // Advanced Carbon Fibre Mainframe, Alluxx Alloy Swingarm, 90mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox SID RL, 100mm Travel, Remote Lockout, Maxle Stealth
  • Shock // RockShox Deluxe RT, Trunnion Mount
  • Wheels // Giant XCR1 Composite, Boost Front & Rear
  • Tyres // Maxxis Ikon 2.2in EXO
  • Drivetrain // Shimano SLX 1×11
  • Brakes // Shimano SLX M6001, 180/160mm Rotors
  • Bars // Giant Contact SL Trail, Alloy, 780mm Width, 19mm Rise
  • Stem // Giant Contact SL, Alloy, 60mm (Small), 70mm (Medium), 80mm (Large), 90mm (X-Large)
  • Seatpost // Giant Contact, Carbon, 27.2mm
  • RRP // $3900 USD
giant anthem
2018 Giant Anthem 29 1

2018 Giant Anthem 29 1 Specifications

  • Frame // ALLUXX Alloy, 90mm Travel
  • Fork //  Fox Float 32 SC Performance Elite Series, 100mm Travel, Remote Lockout
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS Performance Elite Series, 3-position, Trunnion Mount
  • Wheels // Giant XCR1 Composite, Boost Front & Rear
  • Tyres // Maxxis Ikon 2.2in EXO
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle 1×12
  • Brakes // SRAM Level TL, 180/160mm Rotors
  • Bars // Giant Contact SL Trail, Alloy, 780mm Width, 19mm Rise
  • Stem // Giant Contact SL, Alloy, 60mm (Small), 70mm (Medium), 80mm (Large), 90mm (X-Large)
  • Seatpost // Giant Contact, Carbon, 27.2mm
  • RRP // $3750 USD
giant anthem decker
Carl Decker from the Giant Off-Road Factory Team. Shredding as per usual.

If the new Anthem 29 can deliver a similar level of suspension performance to the current Anthem 27.5, then we have no doubts that this will be a significant improvement over the old Anthem 29er. It’s certainly got a good-looking feature list, and geometry that is modernised without pushing away from the full-blown XC racing vibe. But we shall have to wait and see once we get the chance to put one to the test on our local British trails.

Wanna know more about the current Giant range? Head tot he Giant Bikes UK website. As of the time of writing, the new Anthem 29 isn’t on there just yet, but you can view the full US range via the Giant Bikes US website.

Comments (7)

  1. With wheelsize, Giant seems to be the brand with no confidence in their own insight into performance or a total inability to make decisions…

  2. I’ll be getting one to replace my 2013 Anthem.

    If Giant would like a blogger / reporter / social media poster in the UK XC/Marathon scene my email’s in my profile Mr Giant sir, if you’ll lend me one to do the job on… 😀

  3. Never trust anyone who tells you what wheels they think you should be using…. It’s whatever works

  4. @jamj1974

    Totally agree… When your starting point is the original Anthem X 29er, a fantastic bike which still stands up to today’s bikes (perhaps with 120mm forks), saying things like Boost and 1x are the missing pieces to making a good 29er is totally hollow…
    I’m willing to bet that the original Anthem 29 (+120mm forks), would be a match for the new 27.5…

  5. Bring on a longer slacker Trance x 29. Still have the old 29 trance x and it’s a brilliant bike. Just wish it was longer on the reach.

  6. “I’m willing to bet that the original Anthem 29 (+120mm forks), would be a match for the new 27.5…”

    I’m racing mine with no issues. However I have a carbon HT with a 68.5 HA and shorter stays and it feels much less lethargic in the singletrack / short XC races. Marathon less so.

  7. So I placed my 2011 Anthem 29 in front of the fire place last night and searched for a reason to replace it with the new 2018 version. Quite honestly I can’t find one! This has been great bike and had years of fun. Set up with Maxis Ardent at the front and seat dropper for an enduro next month.

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