Branding is a powerful thing. Most of us don’t want to admit it or perhaps we’re not even aware of it but when it comes to mountain bikes, something as simple as a name can influence our opinion about a bike. Admittedly my perception of Giant mountain bikes has been that they’re heavy and clunky (don’t ask me where I got this idea – I own a carbon Giant road bike that I really like). So coming into my test ride of the Giant Anthem X 29er I assumed the bike would be a beast on the trail (and not in a good way). And once again I was wrong.
The Anthem X is a full suspension 29er with 100mm of travel front and rear and a full aluminum frame. The SRAM X0 build that I rode was lightweight and seemed to be almost on par with the carbon 29ers I rode during the day. The stealthy paint job and muted components scream “surgical strike.”
Climbing up the road to the start of the demo course was a breeze but otherwise unremarkable. In fact I could have done the same climb on my hardtail 29er and wouldn’t have felt much difference. The suspension was responsive through dips and transitions but where it really shined compared to other FS 29ers I tested was on the short, steep stingers along the course at Bootleg Canyon. Even slightly out of the saddle on those short climbs the Anthem X delivered without feeling overly twitchy on the descents.
Just one year ago I couldn’t name a single FS 29er that I enjoyed riding but for 2012 companies like Giant seem to have found the sweet spot with XC-style bikes like the Anthem X. Models are priced at around $3,800 MSRP from your local Giant dealer. This is a fun bike to ride and one that won’t leave you completely worn out at the end of an epic day on the trail.