Giant’s Glory has been a popular downhill bike for several years now – it’s great value for money, tough and gives a solid, predictable ride – exactly what downhillers want from an off-the-peg bike.
In the wake of Giant’s recent launch at Pemberton, British Columbia, we had the privilege of getting our mitts on the 2015, 650b iteration of the Glory and spent some time putting it through its paces at BC’s Whistler Bike Park.
Check out more of our Giant 2015 coverage.
Giant has over 40 models of bike in its current 2014 range with 27.5 wheels – so it was a matter of time before the popular Glory got the treatment too.
With the help of its top racers – Andrew Neethling, Marcelo Gutierrez and Danny Hart – Giant has made the Glory faster, lighter and better in all situations.
It took some doing to get there though. The first prototype frames ridden by Hart were described as odd and different, though he couldn’t place exactly why. And Giant wouldn’t tell – the firm believes in ’emotional’ testing, in which the riders are given various options of bikes and not told what their differences are. The riders then ride them, and feel what has changed.
Giant has made the Glory faster, lighter and better in all situations
This is compared against the clock to see what actually works… and by Hart’s third run at the ultra rough San Romolo test track in Italy he’d smashed his track record by two seconds clean. The same happened when Needles and Marcelo saddled up, and with further refinement the bike they’ve been racing is now available to buy.
So what’s different?
Giant’s development team were as keen for the bike to feel right as they were for it to be a faster bike. This meant ride attributes that flattered the playful and aggressive styles of Needles and Hart, but without removing the all-out ability to hammer through horrendously rough terrain as Gutierrez proved in the Whistler Garbanzo DH race with a convincing win recently.
To fit the bigger 27.5in wheels in to the 203mm travel frame while retain its ride qualities, the BB height has dropped by a huge 14.5mm, which increases the stability of the bike, and the chainstays have actually shortened by 5mm. The bigger wheel increases the stability while the shorter chainstay ensures it can still be popped around on the trail.
The suspension is better too – Giant found it had a dead patch in the middle of the stroke, so has now used a longer eye-to-eye shock and incorporated a bearing in the upper shock mount. This dramatically improves ride sensitivity, and the shock feels great throughout the stroke.
Giant has now used a longer eye-to-eye shock and has a bearing in the upper shock mount
The all-important front centre is also longer by some 32mm on all sizes, which increases the wheelbase to 49.5in on the size large we rode (over 47.8in from the 26in model). Half a degree has been taken off the head angle, making it a slack 63 degrees, which soon comes in to it’s own at the high speeds the Glory encourages.
Aesthetically, the bike looks a lot neater though, unlike other manufacturers that have chosen internal cable routing, Giant opted for external routing on top of the down tube for the smoothest route, and both ease and speed of replacement. Without pro mechanics in the pits, privateer racers could struggle swapping cables out in a hurry with internal routing.
The external cable guides are neat, and double as bump stops for the fork
When quizzed about a carbon model making a future appearance, Giant’s designers swerved a direct answer – but a couple of wry grins suggested that it’s something we’ll see the team riders on at some point. However, they were quick to point out that the aluminium Glory weighs in at just 35lb for a size medium – which is lighter than some carbon competitors.
Rather than take time away from riding the Reign at the recent Pemberton launch, we chose to take the Glory down to Whistler Bike Park following the launch, and put some time in on the kind of terrain that the bike is designed for.
The biggest concern we had about 27.5in wheels on the new downhill bike is the increased weight that the wheels carry, and of course how it would affect the bike’s overall weight. But we needn’t have worried, because the shorter chainstay out back really does keep the bike feeling agile, while the bigger wheels counter any nervousness. You certainly don’t notice any increase in wheel weight – if anything they add to high-speed control, especially when the going gets choppy and rough.
Our size large Giant Glory 27.5 0 test bike
One thing we noticed especially is how the Glory deals with hard impacts, notably holes and square hits. We spent a lot of time up in the Garbanzo zone at Whistler sessioning the rocky stuff. When watching locals coming through we really noticed how differently other bikes could ride the same lines. The noise some bikes would make – and the visible flex – was quite disturbing at times. The Giant was certainly a lot quieter, and not once did we suffer a rabbit’s nostril moment when tanking through holes. The Glory just eats it all up, and the SRAM DH specific drivetrain was completely silent.