Giant Anthem 2 first ride review£2,299.00

Not much travel, but a ton of fast-trail fun

Once the epitome of a full-suspension race weapon, Giant’s Anthem has increasingly moved into trail bike territory over the years, and this new version is the most rowdy-riding-ready yet.

Giant Anthem 2 spec overview

  • Frame: ‘ALUXX SL’ aluminium, 110mm (4.5in) travel
  • Fork: Fox 34 Rhythm FIT4, 120mm (4.7in) travel
  • Shock: Fox Float Performance
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX (1x11)
  • Wheelset: Giant XC2 rims on Giant Tracker Boost hubs
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance (f) and Racing Ralph Performance (r) 27.5x2.25in
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore M615, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bar: Giant Contact Trail, 740mm
  • Stem: Giant Contact Trail, 80mm
  • Seatpost: Giant Contact SL Switch-R dropper
  • Saddle: Giant Contact Neutral
  • Weight: 13.07kg (28.8lb), large size without pedals

Giant Anthem 2 frame and kit

A dropper is unusual on a 110mm-travel bike,  but very handy on the descents
A dropper is unusual on a 110mm-travel bike, but very handy on the descents

Giant’s alloy Anthems have always been a benchmark of cost-effective performance, and at 2,124g (without shock), the new frame is only 200g heavier than the carbon fibre chassis of the Anthem Advanced.

Good cable routing on the Giant flatters the often-sticky Shimano SLX shifting

The short tapered head tube sits at 68 degrees, while the effective top tube stretches to a generous 625mm on the large. Out back, the dropouts are 148mm Boost width and the 428mm chainstays are shorter than before.

New for 2017 is a metric-sized ‘trunnion’ shock (the top mounting bolt goes through the shock body, not an eyelet at the end). This connects to a broader ‘Maestro’ linkage piece, and both the shock leverage and centre of gravity are lower than on last year’s bike.

A shared axle for the main pivot and lower shock mount sits at the base of the super-wide ‘MegaDrive’ down tube, just ahead of the 92mm ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket, to minimise weight and maximise stiffness.

Good cable routing on the Giant flatters the often-sticky Shimano SLX shifting and the mechanical durability of the drivetrain is good. The 34mm diameter, 6000 series alloy legs of the Fox Rhythm fork are probably overkill for a 120mm stroke, but it’s my new favourite cost-effective aggro trail fork.

Giant’s dropper post is another budget fave, and the 740mm bar is a good width for general riding. The Tracker rear hub is clunky and slow to pick up though, and while the chunky front/semi-slick rear Schwalbe tread balance is spot on, the PaceStar compound is slippery when wet.

Giant Anthem 2 ride impression

Don’t be deceived by those XC racer looks — the Anthem is looking for trouble!
Don’t be deceived by those XC racer looks — the Anthem is looking for trouble!

It’s a credit to the Boost-width, big-tube handling precision at both ends and the impressive traction from the Maestro suspension system that the effect of the tyre compound is minimised, even on slick clay and root sections. There’s certainly some slip, but it’s well communicated and swiftly caught wherever possible.

Once you’ve removed the excess headset spacers and dropped the bar, the handling of the 68-degree head angle is bang on for the predatory, speed hungry character of the bike too.

In ‘trail’ mode, the Fox shock gives rock-solid pedalling stability with surprisingly little loss of sensitive traction, and the bike holds speed well across rough terrain.

Switch to ‘open’ mode, and the Rhythm fork and dropper post let it attack trouble a lot harder than you’d expect from the tiny air can, with a supportive mid stroke controlling most impacts before a significant ramp-up to save the last few millimetres of shaft for emergency landings.

While the dropper and big fork add weight, it’s significantly lighter than longer-travel bikes at a similar price, so ‘climb’ mode on the shock creates a hard-sprinting summit hunter.

The overall tightness of the ride is really satisfying if you prefer to live on your wits than just wallow round in excess travel, and confirms that the Anthem is still an excellent way to attack the trails hard, for flatland rather than freefall-focused riders.

Giant Anthem 2 early verdict

An outstanding high-velocity race or rowdy ride predator at a cracking price.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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