Giant Factory team rider Carl Decker won Friday’s Sea Otter Super D on a generation 2 prototype of the brand’s never-before-seen Anthem X 29er.
The 100mm travel bike’s second prototype iteration is the last chance for Decker or Giant engineers, who also have prototypes for ride testing, to make modifications before the bike goes into production for 2011.
The first iteration of the bike landed in the Giant offices around Christmas, where Giant engineers worked through the bugs associated with a first round prototyping.
Decker wasn’t involved in first round prototype testing and didn't even see the bike for the first time until he arrived in Monterey. According to Giant communication manager, Andrew Juskaitis, he approached the 29-inch wheeled prototype skeptically.
“He wasn’t too keen on it,” said Juskaitis. “He had some reservations about weight and he didn’t want to ride a bike that, in his mind would be slower.”
After a few practice runs on the Sea Otter Super D course, Decker found that it to be a fast bike. So fast that he picked it to race on over all of the other rigs he has access to.
Carl Decker took his first win on the second generation prototype Anthem X 29er the second time he rode it.
“He rode it for the very first time yesterday and he raced on it just a few hours ago and won the Super D, under no obligation,” he said. “I told him, ‘hey man you can pick any bike you want to make sure you win.’ He just said that it is a faster bike.”
Juskaitis didn’t know if he will race the bike in anymore of the cross-country events held over the course of the weekend.
The Anthem X 29er’s development cycle will be quite short if it continues to follow its current course, which will bring the bike to market in roughly 10 months and ready for this fall’s tradeshows. During its first model year Anthem X 29er will only include alloy models.
While it isn't composite the Anthem X 29er features much of Giant's latest technology, including a tapered head tube, Maestro suspension and press-fit Shimano BB86 bottom bracket.
“It’s standard business practice,” said Juskaitis. “ We make sure it has legs with production in aluminium and if it does we’ll produce it in composite.”
Even though Juskaitis has all but said Giant will produce a composite model in 2012, he it quick to tout what the company can do in alloy.
“Even though everyone always talks about composite,” he said. “We’re making most of our breakthroughs in aluminium. It’s much more affordable and we’re getting much, better at shaping and butting.”
Giant Bicycles is an expert in aluminium shaping. The top tube of Decker's prototype has a radical taper back to the seat tube junction.
While the Taiwanese brand can be seen as late to the big wheeled party, the 29-inch full-suspension playing field is still wide open. It appears that’s exactly what Giant has its sights set on.