The Giant Glory downhill bike has strong heritage in the sport, but its racing glory days have seemed behind it of late. However, this latest model delivers impressive performance and an abundance of frame settings that even the most avid tinkerers will find challenging to explore.
This new carbon Glory boasts 200mm of rear-wheel travel through its twin-link Maestro suspension platform and offers 18 different geometry configurations.
It rolls on mixed wheels, featuring a 29in front and 27.5in rear from the factory, in line with the current trend for downhill bikes. However, its adjustability allows for the use of two 29in wheels. Plus, it’s not lacking in terms of high-performance parts.
I spent two weeks thrashing the Giant Glory around the French Alps to get the lowdown on this new speed machine and came away thoroughly impressed. Its easy ride character enables you to charge with minimal effort, and its composure has you covered when things get wild.
While it’s sure-footed and capable at speed, it still has an eagerness when riding slow, more technical trails. It suits riders who like to get creative on the trail.
Giant has also dialled the suspension and fitted mostly great parts. The Glory will be equally at home being ridden between the tapes of a world cup track as it will being thrashed at local downhill trails.
Giant Glory Advanced frame and suspension
Giant went back to the drawing board with its new Glory and the frame features a host of new tech to help it get back to the sharp end of the racing scene.
The new full-carbon front and rear triangles are claimed to be lighter and stiffer than the previous model. They use Giant’s Advanced-grade carbon, which comprises a custom resin and high-performance grade carbon fibres, custom-made in Giant’s own composite factory.
The upper rocker is also produced from a carbon and aluminium composite to lower weight and improve stiffness compared to a full-aluminium rocker. This is the first time Giant has released a full-composite downhill bike to consumers.
Giant has beefed up the down tube and top tube that it calls Megadrive. These chunky tubes are intended to improve lateral and torsional rigidity of the frame for greater steering accuracy and pedalling performance.
The frame features plenty of down tube and chainstay protection to help keep the carbon safer. The down tube’s internal cable routing enters through standard entry ports in the frame, but there are no integrated fork bump stops.
The suspension is an updated version of Giant’s long-standing Maestro platform and uses two co-rotating links to make up its four-bar design.
Giant has increased the overall progression to give a supple initial stroke and help add a smooth ramp-up to prevent harsh bottom-outs.
In the largest sprocket, anti-squat is around 83 per cent nearer the sag point, so the bike will bob somewhat when pedalling. However, it should maintain active suspension at all times.
Giant has tailored the anti-rise to fall between 60 and 70 per cent. This means the rear suspension should remain active under hard braking, but not allow the chassis to pitch forwards too significantly at the same time.
Giant Glory Advanced geometry
There are only three sizes of frame available: S/M, M/L and L/X. Giant has built in three different areas of adjustability, enabling riders to fine-tune their geometry preferences.
There’s a reach-adjust headset that allows swapping out headset cups to give three positions, including Short (-5mm), Mid (0mm), and Long (+5mm) options.
The frame isn’t compatible with older 35mm-stanchion RockShox BoXXer forks due to the clearance of the fork arch with this new head tube.
The Maestro 3 suspension flip chip enables riders to alter the head tube angle and bottom bracket height in low, mid and high settings. This makes it possible to use both 29in and 27.5in rear wheels.
There are two chainstay lengths riders can choose from that increase or decrease the rear centre by 10mm.
In the middle settings, the bike has a sensible 450mm reach for the frame size, matched with 447mm chainstays. The stack height is 632mm, which gives good height to the front end for steep trails, but isn’t overly tall.
In this setting, there’s a slack, 61.9-degree head tube angle, with the fork stanchions lowered to their furthest point through the crowns, giving this bike the highest front possible without adding stem spacers or a taller ride handlebar.
The seat tube is 430mm, which could be shorter for the smallest frame size, but I was able to get my saddle low enough.
The wheelbase is 1,272mm, and while its reach is 15mm shorter than the Propain Rage 3 CF Highend and Nukeproof Dissent Carbon 297 RS I’ve also tested, it falls within a few millimetres of those bikes. The bottom bracket drop is reasonable at 8mm.
|Seat angle (degrees)||78.7||78.8||78.8|
|Head angle (degrees)||61.9||62||62|
|Seat tube (mm)||430||450||450|
|Top tube (mm)||575.5||595.5||615.6|
|Head tube (mm)||110||110||110|
|Fork offset (mm)||52||52||52|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||8.1||8.3||8.4|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||353||353||353|
Giant Glory Advanced specifications
This is the only model of Giant’s new Glory, and its high price tag means it’s stocked with plenty of proven parts.
Riders get Fox Factory-level suspension, with its 40 fork and X2DH shock delivering 203mm front and 200mm rear travel.
The frameset also comes with a Fox 40 fork that leaves space for the new reach-adjust head tube. The latest RockShox BoXXer will also fit the bike, just not the older 35mm version.
Braking is taken care of by Shimmao’s powerful Saint brakes, with a large 220mm front rotor and 200mm rear. Giant has mixed brands and uses SRAM’s GX Downhill 1×7-speed gearing, paired with a Truvativ Descendant DH crankset.
The rest of the components are Giant-branded, including the Giant AM30 alloy wheels. These are wrapped in Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip DH front and Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxGrip DH rear tyres.
The cockpit is Giant’s Contact SL TR35 carbon handlebar and is attached with a Tuvativ direct-mount stem. There’s a Giant Romeo saddle and Contact seatpost to finish the build.
Giant Glory Advanced ride impressions
I tested the Giant Glory Advanced for a couple of weeks in the Portes du Soleil, basing myself out of Morzine. Trail conditions ranged from bone-dry dust to sloppy mud and everything in between.
I tested the Giant over a wide variety of tracks, from pro-line bike park lines to steep, natural off-piste trails peppered with harsh root spreads and deep compressions. I also tackled Morzine’s famous high-speed main line.
I rode a size S/M Glory Advanced with the long headset cups installed. I ran the Maestro 3 flip chip in the mid-setting with the short chainstay length.
I set the Fox 40 Factory fork with 72 psi for my 75kg weight. This gave me 20 per cent sag, or 41mm, and is Fox’s plusher setting.
I kept the standard two tokens for progression because this gave plenty of support while still managing to get full travel.
I ran both high- and low-speed compression fully open to gain as much sensitivity as possible from the well-supported front end. I ran low-speed rebound at 10 clicks from closed out of 14, and high-speed rebound at seven clicks from 10 to get my preferred rebound feel.
The Fox DHX2 shock came with a 425lb spring, which produced nearly 30 per cent sag at the shock. I found this setting provided ample sensitivity with enough support to prevent harsh bottom-outs.
Giant has nailed the shock tune and I found myself near the middle of most settings. I set the low-speed compression to 11 clicks from closed out of a counted 18.
I ran the high-speed compression at 7 clicks from closed out of 10.
For the rebound, I set low-speed to 10 clicks from closed out of 20 settings. With the high-speed, it was hard to identify the indexing but I settled on four clicks of eight.
I ran the bike in its stock mullet setup with a 29in front wheel and 650b rear wheel. I set the bike to its middle geometry setting, the long reach setting and short chainstay length.
I had one difficulty setting up the Giant. The shock’s high-speed rebound dial is very difficult to access because it sits in a hollow in the frame’s linkage, making it impossible to reach with your fingers. I used a 2mm Allen key to turn the dial.
Giant Glory descending performance
Giant’s Glory Advanced is a terrifying bike to ride, but I say that positively. It’s so easy to go fast that you can thrill and scare yourself with little effort. Giant has done an impressive job of balancing comfort and precision.
The impressive shock tune, combined with the new kinematics, meant the bike had tons of grip on sketchy sections of trail. Small bumps were absorbed effortlessly, which smoothed out the trail, and helped the bike find traction in corners and through cambered sections.
Still, there was ample support deeper in the travel and the bike skipped over bumps with impeccable composure that the Propain and Nukeproof couldn’t match.
There was enough support that I could pump and maintain speed on smoother trails, which also made the Glory fun to ride. I could place it on any part of the trail I wanted without hesitation.
The accuracy and composure in rough trails gave me tons of confidence. I didn’t notice harsh feedback coming through the bike even in the roughest trails. This enabled me to charge hard no matter how steep, or sketchy the trails got.
The Shimano Saint brakes had bucket-loads of power and under hard braking the Giant still eked out plenty of traction. The suspension remained supple, while the chassis was never noticeably unstable or felt as if it wanted to pitch forwards.
The Fox fork balanced the bike’s impressive rear suspension and added to the its impressive stability. One cause for concern was the Giant AM30 rims.
These suffered and came away with dents in them where other mountain bike wheels I’ve tested have fared fine. Even Maxxis DH casing tyres and typical tyre pressures of 22psi front and 26psi rear didn’t prevent hefty dings.
I don’t think these wheels are strong enough for downhill use.
The Maxxis Assegai was great in many conditions, but didn’t deliver the same confidence in soft mud as the Michelin DH22 or Schwalbe Magic Mary, which are better all-round front tyres. Otherwise, the spec on the Giant is top-notch.
The Giant feels eager in the turns too, and isn’t lazy or cumbersome through corners, but offers direct and precise handling.
I could throw the Giant around on the trail and trust it would go where I wanted without battling me, understeering or becoming sketchy. Cornering confidence was great.
It appears Giant is back with a bang with the new Glory
How does the Giant Glory Advanced compare to the Nukeproof Dissent 297 RS?
Both bikes are extremely capable and can be ridden scarily fast. The Giant comes out on top here because it has a wider bandwidth for speed. It feels happy and comfortable when ridden at moderate speeds and still gives an engaging feel and fun ride.
Still, at high speeds it’s utterly composed and easy to ride at your limit.
The Nukeproof, however, feels as though it needs to be ridden full-gas to get the best from it. It feels more cumbersome and under-engaged when taking it easy, and only comes to life at full speed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a downhill bike, but not every rider will want to race the bike on every run.
The Giant offers more versatility, while keeping the top-end speed.
Giant Glory Advanced bottom line
The Glory Advanced is an impressive piece of kit. It has enough geometry adjustability to keep even the fussiest tinkerer happy.
Its ride character is easy to get along with, and it balances supple traction-happy suspension with decent support for maximising speed.
The rims are its Achilles heel, but outside that the kit is good and the overall performance across various trails, conditions and speeds is brilliant.
While not cheap, you get a great package that will suit a wide range of abilities, from weekend warriors to world cup racers.
How we tested | Downhill race bikes
We took three downhill world cup race bikes out to the French Alps to give them a thorough thrashing.
This enabled us to ride suitable trails and use chairlift and gondola uplifts to get plenty of testing runs in.
We judged these bikes on their overall ride character, and how easy they were to ride at our limits. We wanted to dig into how they balance traction and support, their chassis stability at speed and how they behave under braking.
We also highlighted how they feel on the trail and who they’re most suitable for.
Bikes on test
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $11499.00EUR €7999.00GBP £7499.00USD $8000.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 17kg (S/M) – without pedals, Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Giant|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, S/M, M/L, L/XL|
|Bottom bracket||br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, SRAM DUB 83mm|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Shimano Saint, 220/203mm rotors|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SRAM GX DH 7-speed|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, SRAM PC-1110|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, TruVativ Descendent DH, 36t|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Fox 40 Factory, 203mm travel|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Giant Advanced grade carbon fibre, 200mm travel|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Giant Tactal Pro Single|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Giant Contact SL TR35, 800mm|
|Headset||br_headset, 11, 0, Headset, Giant, custom|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Rear Shocks||br_rearShock, 11, 0, Rear Shocks, Fox Float DHX2 Factory|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Giant Contact|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Giant Romero|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Giant Contact SL TR35, 50mm|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip DH 29x2.5in (f), Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxGrip DH 27.5x2,4in (r)|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Giant AM30, alloy|