Giant Bicycles today confirmed what we'd suspected: the release of a new higher-performance carbon fiber version of the Anthem X 29er cross-country bike. The composite version is lighter and stiffer as expected, and it's accompanied by a new women's-specific aluminum version for 2013 as well.
Meet the Anthem X Advanced 29er
The 100mm-travel Anthem X Advanced 29er features a new one-piece carbon fiber front triangle that Giant say shaves 185g (0.41lb) off of the current aluminum Anthem X 29er – claimed weight of the new bike is just 2,200g (4.85lb) for a medium frame and rear shock. Giant readily acknowledge that the Anthem X Advanced 29er could have been lighter yet but off-road category manager Kevin Dana says he didn't want to sacrifice "tangibles" in order to do so.
According to Dana, the current Anthem X Advanced 29er has been Giant's most successful full-suspension mountain bike ever largely due to its balanced and versatile capabilities, not just because of weight. "[The Anthem X Advanced 29er is] more capable, more of a good thing," he said at the media presentation just a few days before this year's Sea Otter Classic. "It's stiffer where it matters most: steering and pedaling."
Changes include a move to Giant's OverDrive 2 tapered front end, which uses a 1-1/4in upper steerer diameter instead of the more common 1-1/8in dimension to provide a seven percent claimed boost in steering precision. Pedaling stiffness climbs by a more modest three percent thanks to the rectangular-section MegaDrive down tube and carryover PowerCore press-fit, extra-wide bottom bracket.
The new Anthem X Advanced 29er features a PowerCore extra-wide press-fit bottom bracket shell. Giant don't bother with a guard for the underside of the carbon down tube
Derailleur cables are now internally routed and there are new guides for a dropper post, too, but the rear brake hose is still zip-tied to the down tube. Geometry is wholly carried over, including a 71.3-degree head tube angle and 462mm chainstays.
The new bike will also continue to use a 15mm through-axle front end and a conventional 135mm quick-release rear. Dana told BikeRadar that the Maestro suspension design's compact and fully enclosed rear triangle omits the need for a more robust axle assembly, which would only have added weight with little benefit.
Speaking of the rear end, Giant have also kept another tangible in mind when conceiving the Anthem X Advanced 29er: how it feels to your wallet. Rather than go all-out with a carbon rear triangle and upper link like on the flagship Anthem X Advanced SL and Trance X Advanced SL, the new 29er carries over the current bike's all-aluminum construction out back.
Giant decided to stick with an Aluxx SL aluminum rear end to keep costs down. We can't help but think this leaves the door wide open for an even higher-performance model next year, with a full-carbon frame
Giant will offer the new Anthem X Advanced 29er in three models along with a bare frameset, with availability starting in May in the US and Australia, and globally later in the summer. The top-end Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 will come with a SRAM XX group, a RockShox SID 29 RCT3 fork and SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels for US$8,900 and a claimed weight of 9.98kg (22lb).
The 29 1 switches to a SRAM X0/X9 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 9 brakes, a RockShox SID 29 RL and Giant house-brand aluminum wheels for $4,650 and a claimed weight of 11.34kg (25lb). The entry model 29 2 will come with a SRAM X5/X7 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 3 disc brakes, a RockShox Reba RL fork and Giant house-brand wheels for $3,300 and a claimed weight of 11.79kg (26lb).
Giant say the current Anthem X 29er is the most successful full-suspension bike in company history so it's safe to say the new carbon version will be well received
New women's-specific model, too
Joining the Anthem X Advanced 29er is the new Anthem X 29er 0 W, which Giant claim is the world's first women's-specific full-suspension 29er. It differs from the current (men's) aluminum model mostly in the fit, with a slightly shorter top tube and barely steeper head and seat tube angles.
In addition, head tubes are slightly longer and standover is increased across the four sizes (XS-L, in contrast to the standard bike's S-XL). Parts are custom tuned where applicable to maintain the desired ride characteristics. Gearing is lower in some cases and forks will use Giant's standard 1-1/8 to 1-1/2in OverDrive front end instead of the stiffer OverDrive 2 setup.
Giant will offer two women's Anthem X 29ers for now. T the Anthem X 29er 0 W will come with a SRAM X7/X9 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes, a RockShox Reba RL fork and Giant house-brand alloy wheels for $2,950. The Anthem X 29er 4 moves to a Shimano Deore drivetrain and Avid Elixir 1 brakes, a RockShox Recon Silver 29 fork and Giant house-brand wheels for $1,925.
The new women's-specific Giant Anthem X 29er 4 W features a modified frame geometry with a shorter top tube and longer head tube than the standard bike
A preview of new wheels to come
The Anthem X Advanced 29er 0 will come with SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels for now but later this year, Giant will begin equipping the bikes with their own P-XCR Composite 29er 0 wheelset built with their own carbon rims, alloy hubs developed in conjunction with DT Swiss, and straight-pull DT Swiss Aerolite stainless steel spokes. Claimed weight is just 1,430g per pair.
As with the new Giant road wheels, component category manager Bill Miller has concentrated on spreading the spoke flanges further apart for additional lateral rigidity – a key weakness in many 29er wheelsets. According to Miller, the stacked flange design allow the spokes to sit 2mm further apart than usual and they're also angled almost perfectly tangentially with the flange for more direct power transfer. Engagement speed is set at a reasonably quick 10 degrees.
Flange spacing on the new Giant P-XCR Composite 29er 0 wheels is pushed extra wide to help boost lateral rigidity
The standard axle configuration will be 15mm through-axle front and 135mm quick-release rear, although the latter will be convertible to a through-axle if needed. Even so, Giant aim the new P-XCR Composite 29er 0 squarely at the cross-country crowd with its 19mm-wide (internal dimension) rims. Maximum recommended tire size will be 2.2in when the wheels are released later this summer. Pricing is yet to be finalized.
Miller didn't say so explicitly but there was also the subtle suggestion that a more all-mountain friendly set of carbon wheels might be coming at some point in the future as well. Either way, we'll have an early ride report on both the new Anthem X Advanced 29er and the new wheels tomorrow, as Giant have set up our test bike with pre-production samples. Stay tuned for additional details.
Rim width on the new Giant P-XCR Composite 29er 0 wheels is just 19mm but we're expecting a more all-mountain friendly version to follow