The Anthem offers 3.5in of travel and the sales pull is low weight. The bike we rode weighed 26.8lb. The frame is almost insectile in its liquid-formed skinny-tubed glory, and the image is nicely flattered by the beetleshell-style overcoat. A Manitou shock links the downtube to a tiny cast alu rocker link and the pivots rotate on sealed bearings. Frame weight with the shock is an anorexic gnat’s whisker over 5lb.
The ride posture is long and low, with our medium (18in) bike instantly right in reach, although it did need too much seat post sticking out. With a low, flat 23in handlebar cockpit, riders over 5ft 10in should look to the large (20in) frame size with its 24.2in top tube. With longer than usual stems, the rangey posture really emphasises the XC Anthem’s race personality. Not everyone will get on with that, but most of our testers loved it, and simply fitting a riser barcreates a much more casual feel.
We don’t want to moan because the price tag is so reasonable, but we need to point out that the Manitou R7 fork is a fairly basic unit for a bike like this. It does the job, and keeps racers happy with its low weight and ‘pump it up as much as you want’ air cartridge, but most bikes at this price will offer a more supple fork with more control options.
The componentry is efficient and workmanlike, with powerful brakes, a slimline saddle and one of our favourite tyres.
Like the Merida Carbon, this is a thoroughbred race bike that’s at its best in the hands of fit and skilful riders. We love it.