The Giant Anthem 27.5 is a very capable cross-country/trail bike with 100mm of travel and, as the name suggests, 27.5in (650b) wheels. The Anthem 27.5 2 is the middle model of the three-bike Anthem 27.5 lineup. This model is a superb bike at a strong price.
Compared to the base model in the range, the 3, it has better suspension and brakes, a higher-spec drivetrain and is lighter. You also get swanky white shocks to match the paint for your extra money.
Frame and equipment: 100mm rear travel, and parts from the RockShox and SRAM
The stiff chassis is underpinned by a muscular down tube and Giant's Overdrive 2 tapered head tube, and fronted by a 15mm thru-axle fork. The head angle measures in at 69.5 degrees, the wheelbase is 1,119mm (on the size Large) and the chainstays are 430mm long.
The suspension comes in the form of a RockShox Reba RL Solo Air fork and a RockShox Monarch RT shock, both of which are upgrades over the base model. The transmission is SRAM X7, and there's an X7 Type 2 clutch derailleur, S1000 cranks and a press-fit GXP bottom bracket. The package is rounded out by Avid’s Elixir 5 brakes, which work very well in a slightly blunt way.
100mm of travel comes courtesy of the RockShox Monarch RT shock
Giant’s own finishing kit is all good stuff, and includes an overlong stem and P-XC wheels, shod in some hard compound Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance rubber, which is a bit below par in the wet.
Ride and handling: confident and stable
The Anthem 27.5 2 is very capable on the trails and stable at speed. Its geometry helps it turn rapidly and manual easily, while the 650b wheels mean it’s not sharp or nervous.
With 32mm legs, a 15mm axle and a tapered steerer, the fork remains stiff and steers accurately, and the Motion Control damping is excellent throughout its supportive 100mm stroke. The fork has a useful sag indicator on one leg, although the indexing on the rebound adjuster of our sample was very hard to feel, which made adjustment awkward.
The Monarch RT shock features a threshold lever, but on anything other than the smoothest tracks and roads it reduces traction and rolling speed, and we were generally happy riding with it off.
The X7 shifters offer solid engagement and are hard to fire accidentally. They also take less adjustment and work better in deep filth than Shimano thanks to their lower ratio – each shift pulls more cable, which makes the margins for tension error a little wider.
The transmission is a SRAM X7 setup
The Anthem 27.5 2 certainly better than the 3, if ‘better’ means faster. It weighs a good chunk less; its acceleration is sparkier, and it pops up and over obstacles with greater verve. That adds up to a feeling that’s noticeably more willing at the end of long rides, too.
The parts may not be spectacular, but the bits that matter most – frame, fork and wheels – are spot-on. The Anthem 27.5 2 is a superb bike at a strong price.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.