Tested: 2019 Giant Trance 29er 1

Giant threw the cat amongst the pigeons with the new Trance; we were not expecting their return to 29” wheel trail bikes with a bike with only 115mm of rear suspension travel. Though after a few solid weeks ripping singletrack alight, we’re impressed with its fun and lively ride. Click here to read our first impressions and reaction to the new bike release.


Watch the Trance 29er in action here:


Stout and lively, the new Trance was SO much fun to rip about the singletrack on.

Packing a punch.

The Trance is a short travel bike that punches way above its weight; we found ourselves going just as hard on the Trance as we were on far bigger bikes and it felt fantastic. We’re used to categorising bikes by wheel size and suspension travel amount, but with the advancements in suspension technology and a better understanding of how all the elements of mountain bike design come together, bikes like the Trance 29er need not be defined by the quantity of suspension, rather the quality of it.

115mm doesn’t seem like a lot of travel for a trail bike, but if we didn’t know that number we’d have sworn it was longer travel.

We’re witnessing a resurgence of shorter travel bikes that keep up on rough trails, with decent rubber, stable steering and a robust chassis, a good technique, line choice and effort is rewarded with a whole lot of fun.

Holeproof spec.

Giant is pretty darn good at speccing their bikes right for the cause, and the Trance is an excellent example of picking the right tools for the job. It’s hard to fault the spec at all, especially considering the very fair price tag. The SRAM GX drivetrain is a real winner in our experience, and a massive contributor to the bike’s smooth and quiet operation, bringing high-end performance to a lower level.

While the higher end Trance 29ers use DVO Suspension, we can’t get enough of the FOX DPS shock, and 34 fork’s fantastic performance, the smooth, supple and highly adjustable fork and shock are what we’d expect to find on top-spec model bikes. The rear shock does a stellar job of managing significant impacts as well as remaining calm under pedalling forces, pretty dialled.

Carbon wheels on a bike at this level is a nice surprise, the new TRX wheels from Giant will be very popular with a nice width and direct feeling. They did pop and ping quite a bit on the first ride as the spoke tension settled down, and the rear wheel wasn’t 100% true after a couple of weeks.

Carbon wheels on a $5499 bike, nice!

Supplied with tubeless sealant and valves, Giant address one of the biggest gripes we have with many test bikes we get, and the Maxxis tyres sealed up like a dream on the wheels, yay!

Giant’s new saddle and dropper post rate a mention too, great high-quality kit.

Who’s it for?

The Trance nails that all-around trail bike vibe with a very comfortable riding position that feels instantly natural. While a race bike might feel longer in the reach, the handlebars on the Trance fall right into your hands like you’ve owned it for years.

The FOX 34 is our favourite trail fork.

It’s efficient enough to take on a marathon race or multi-day event and would be more comfortable on the body that the race-ready Anthem would be, and on our local trail network, only the rowdiest of sections would challenge the Trance leaving us wishing for longer legs to cope with bigger impacts at speed.

How does it compare to the current Trance with 27.5” wheels and longer travel?

This one feels lighter to play around with and make quick line choices, easier to jump up and over stuff on the trail. Pair that with the inherent stability from 29” wheels and you’ve got a bike that is light to ride yet composed.

Pretty stoked on this one!

We’re always searching for new experiences from mountain bikes, and the emergence of short travel trail bikes that rip is one thing that is doing it for us right now. It’s easy to feel a little isolated on a long travel 29er when riding trails that don’t call for such a big bike, riding this one confirms that you don’t need loads of travel for a good time.

Love the feeling of going fast, and your trails aren’t particularly rough or steep? Consider the new Trance 29er, for sure.

Flow’s First Bite: 2019 Giant Trance 29er 1

With the recent news Giant were bringing back 29″ wheels to their popular trail bike platform – the Trance – the internet went into overdrive, with warriors hammering out their disdain that Giant would backflip on their hard-nosed approach to wheel size. But seriously, what would you do if you were Giant?

Short travel 29er are the new enduro… Maybe.

The last Trance that Giant made with 29″ wheels is an abomination by today’s standards but doesn’t everything age? Either way, we don’t care about that, because we’ve ridden this new one and it brought us immense joy. The new bike is a total singletrack weapon!


Watch our reaction to the 2019 Trance 29er here.


We have just taken delivery of the 2019 Trance 29er 1, and are already huge fans of its singletrack manners, after only two rides we know we’re going to get along. There’s something pretty special about this thing; its fast handling, lightweight steering and agility through tight trails is super exciting. We’ve been spending a lot of time on our Norco Sight and Yeti SB100 lately, the Giant gives them a run for their money! Especially considering the frame-only price of the Yeti SB100 is not too far off the complete Trance off the shop floor.

Top FOX minus the fancy Kashima coating, this FOX 34 fork is a real winner.

With a taught 115mm of travel out the back and 130mm travel forks, its a lot shorter than the 140/150mm Trance with smaller 27.5″ wheels. Traditionally going up in wheel diameter lets you drop in suspension travel slightly without sacrificing too much stability over rough terrain. More on that point in more detail coming in our review.

115mm of travel was a surprise to many, but as suspension designs develop, does this mean we don’t need volume but quality for a good ride?

We see a bit of a shift of late, shorter travel 29ers with more aggressive spec – chunkier tyres, wider rims, beefier chassis forks etc, and with a trend shifting towards shorter offset crown forks and slacker head angles. Some are simply 100mm travel bikes with a 120mm fork option, like the Santa Cruz Blur and Specialized Epic EVO, while bikes like the Intense Sniper or Yeti SB100 have come about at the right time with a dedicated, aggressive XC build.

Nice bits, Trance.

The Trance 1 is the top-level aluminium offering with their new carbon wheels, a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Guide R brakes, a new Giant dropper (feels slick!), saddle and cockpit.

It’s all glorious kit, though we tend to prefer the feel of Shimano’s brakes at this price point, the SRAM Guide R brakes feel a little dead at the lever, but have plenty of power for the cause. SRAM GX Eagle is marvellous stuff, operating like its higher-end siblings, X0 and XX1 without the cost.

Ride time!

Already we know that we’re going to like this bike a lot, more than we expected. It’s a pleasant surprise, lets ride!

 

Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 0: Reviewed and Rated

The new Giant Anthem 29 is finally here; we’ve wanted this bike for a while now, this is the bike we needed from you, Giant. Thanks for listening!

Hammer time! Laying down the power aboard the Anthem was amazing, so fast.
Giant has finally produced the XC race bike we’ve been waiting for.

Welcome back, Anthem 29!

Back before the wheel size thing dominated discussions and confused everyone, Giant Anthems were everywhere at the races; they were light, fast, affordable and always really well specced. But over the past few years, Giant stubbornly stuck to their guns by only producing 27.5″ wheel bikes. In the meantime, other brands began to make really great 29ers and gained major ground on the biggest brand in Oz.

Yes, we are pumped to see this bike come to fruition. We know it’ll be a welcome sight for the keen mountain biker that pushes their fitness and loves to lap around the race track.

While Giant went all-in with 27.5″,  the rest of industry seemed to finally figure things out with 29ers. Frame geometries and handling characteristics improved and component manufacturers overcame their teething issues – mainly weight problems – and 29ers eventually became the staple choice for cross-country racers due to their rolling speed. Even Nino Schurter – an advocate for smaller 27.5″ wheels – couldn’t resist the momentum and finally went full 29er.

The Anthem name diversified and went through a bit of a reformation during that time too, taking a half-step toward the Trance, Giant’s all-rounder trail bike. The geometry got slacker, travel got longer and many people bemoaned the fact the Anthem seemed to be abandoning its XC racing roots. We reviewed an aluminium version of the 2017 Anthem, check that out here. It turns out Giant were repositioning the 27.5″ Anthem just to make room for the new 29er version.

Yes, we are pumped to see this bike come to fruition, we know it’ll be a welcome sight to the keen mountain biker that pushes their fitness and loves to lap around the race track, hooray!

What’s new with the Anthem 29?

Everything! While still based on Giant’s long-standing Maestro suspension design, the frame is entirely new for 2018, and it looks one million bucks. Sleeker lines than we’ve seen before, cleaner finishes with crisp new graphics and on-point colour matching give the new 2018 Anthem 29 an extra fresh look. The cable management and seat binder system helps clean up the whole package.

There are five Anthem 29 models available here in Oz, with two carbon models (the top-of-the-line $8999 version we have here and a SRAM-specced $5999 version using the same frame). The three aluminium versions range from $2999 to $4999, so, plenty of choices. Taking a closer look at the range will reveal some very appealing bikes for the cash. With great value and well-considered spec for the dollars, the new range is a sure bet.

The one-piece rear end is super trim, smooth shapes and a narrow profile give the bike an air of allurement.

Tell me everything about this new Anthem 29.

For the full rundown on the new bike and the background on the design, jump on over to our coverage of the official launch at Giant’s headquarters in California last year; New Giant Anthem 29!

Oh, that fork! The new FOX 32 SC.

The FOX 32 SC Factory fork is completely marvellous, it is so supportive and stable yet so sensitive, an ideal scenario for cross-country racing.

The way the fork handles the terrain is a great highlight of the bike.

The ‘Open Mode Adjust’ feature is a valuable adjustment; with a few turns of the dial the fork will limit the way it will react to slow movements, so you can still jump up and lean on the bars to sprint away out of the saddle without the front suspension bouncing around wildly, but it’ll still respond to bumps to help the bike from skipping around or deflecting interrupting your direction. The way the fork handles the terrain is a great highlight of the bike.

Read more about the FOX SC in our full review here: FOX 32 SC Factory fork review.

On/off suspension, what about the middle guy?

With the fork having such a useable range of adjustability (with Open Mode Adjust) it’s a pity the rear end only has an on/off lockout.  So much of the time when we ride cross-country or trail bikes, we spend the bulk of our riding time with the shock in the middle compression setting, or ‘trail mode’ as it is often referred to.

On the Anthem, the remote lockout lever gives the rider immediate access to the shock to lock it out, but it’s either fully open or fully firm –  you forgo a useable pedalling platform setting in between on and off. We’d prefer the two settings to be ‘trail and off’ or ‘on and trail’ rather than just on or off.

The new FOX remote lever is very easy to access and light to actuate; we just wish there was more options than on and off.
The tiny little FOX DPS EVOL Factory shock with remote lockout, driven by a stout little one-piece carbon link.

Our gripes with the fork and shock lockout aren’t easily rectified. It’s not merely just a case of fitting a standard shock-mounted lever and taking off the remote and cables to the fork or shock; it’s a different system.

We’d prefer the two settings to be ‘trail and off’ or on and trail’ rather than just on or off.

In fairness to the new FOX system, the lockout lever is particularly ergonomic and is much lighter to push than in years past encouraging more regular use. The cables could do with a trim, and you could even ditch the barrel adjusters to clean it up aesthetically. This might mean more work to get the right cable tension, but it can be done.

Let’s take the Anthem 29 to the race track!

The Anthem 29 is 100% built for cross-country racing, on paper the frame geometry numbers look right on the money. When we hit the dirt, our expectations were met faster than we could say “GO!” – this thing is quick! Stomping on the pedals hard had us winding up the speedometer with brilliant efficiency, and hitting the remote lever on the smooth sections of trail and tarmac practically turned it into a hardtail so you could mash away even harder and not worry about losing energy to the suspension.

Hot summer days ripping laps on the Anthem, locked into position and hunting out more speed.

The Anthem 29 holds terrific speed, staying off the brakes through the singletrack it rolls with such little resistance, you feel very fast on this thing.

A long, outstretched position has you sitting comfortably on the saddle with open shoulders and when standing there’s loads of room to move around. The long reach and tall front end had our backsides firmly planted a lot during a lap of the track, we were reaching with our arms around through the corners, so we experimented with dropping the fork pressure and increasing pressure in the rear end. This propped the bike up and forward more, for a more aggressive cornering position over the front end and had us riding out of the saddle more often.

We love the saddle, way more comfortable than the one on the Giant Reign we’ve been testing, we pushed it forward on the rails a touch to get closer and lower over the front, to get more comfortable with the seated climbing position. We also flipped and lowered the stem for an extra aggressive climbing and cornering position. That’s what this bike is all about; attacking speed and fast corners! If you want all-day comfort and confidence on wilder trails, you could leave the spacers under the stem and keep the front end tall, or better yet check out the longer-travel Giant Trance for an option.

The bars are fairly wide; we’d suggest new owners consider trimming down a centimetre or two unless you’re particularly broad-shouldered, it’ll help speed things up in the twisty stuff.

The Anthem 29 holds terrific speed, staying off the brakes through the singletrack it rolls with such little resistance, you feel very fast on this thing.

Once we got comfortable with a lower front end, we began to ride the front end very aggressively through the turns.

Just 90mm of travel? Short-changed, or just right?

The 90mm of travel surprised us, it doesn’t feel any shorter than a 100mm travel bike, even though we can’t recall the last time we rode a bike with less than 100mmm. We made sure the rebound speed wasn’t too fast, or the bike would bounce back hard after G-out impacts. Keeping the rebound speed slower stabilised the pedalling when the shock was open, also.

Part of Giant’s reasoning behind building the Anthem 29 around only 90mm of travel was that they believe many 100mm race bikes in this category don’t actually use the full 100mm of claimed travel. A frame with dedicated 90mm of travel and its associated moving parts can be packaged into a smaller space to achieve the desired geometry, weight and stiffness. That all sounds pretty fair to us.

It felt smoother and more active than we’d predicted. The new generation FOX DPS rear shock is super-supple and very sensitive off the top of the stroke, helping keep the bike composed through braking ruts and rocky sections.

Dropper post limitations, oh damn.

Building the frame with a 27.2mm seat post in our mind is a massive fail, whether you run a dropper post or not, speccing a 27.2mm post rule out the vast majority of dropper post options. Sure you can still get a 27.2mm dropper post, KS, for example, make one in the small size, but c’mon folks!

At the World Champs in Cairns, we lost count of how many dropper posts there were on cross-country bikes. Even the top pros, like Julien Absalon and Yolanda Neff for example, were running them. If they appreciate the benefits of lowering the saddle for a descent, then surely the punters will too! Admittedly, a thinner post is traditionally more compliant, which is why you see them on a lot of hardtails, but on a dual suspension bike…?

Super SRAM Eagle.

This top-end Anthem 29 comes specced with the brilliant SRAM Eagle XX1 with a 34-tooth chainring for high top-end speed; it might be a bit too tall for a mid-pack rider during a multi-day stage race, keep a 32-tooth handy if the hills are looming. We found ourselves in the lowest gear on the steep climbs of our local XC race track, and we are remarkably powerful bike riders here at Flow… (ha!)

Ah, sweet, sweet Eagle we love you.

10.08kg, nice.

10.08kg is mighty impressive out of the box, trimming the bars, steerer tube and lockout cables it might even be closer to 10kg for extra kudos in the race pits.

A 10kg bike is always going to be a breeze to climb on, but it’s more than just low weight that helps the Anthem on the way up.

Nice bits from Giant.

All of Giant’s best parts are here, and so much carbon! The seat, post, bars, stem, rims are all Giant’s own gear, and it all hit the mark for this bike intended use. Any upgrade areas? Not really, it’s good to go.

This Anthem 29 is supplied with tubeless tape, valves AND sealant, chapeau Giant! For what might seem like a small inclusion to the whole package, it wins big points from us.

Sensible rubber, the Maxxis Ikon is a great dry conditions tyre, keep a spikier one in the gear bag for wet races though. It’s 100% tubeless ready too, nothing missing for a proper setup.

Verdict.

Yay, the Anthem 29 returns to the front of the race pack with a brilliant race bike that will serve the speed-hungry racers with a valid range of options. The top-shelf model we tested is a real winner, we can’t fault its design and ride character, and the high-end parts are spot on for the cash. We might have sounded a bit harsh on the on/off FOX lockout system and lamented the 27.2mm seatpost restricting the dropper post options, as it sure won’t bother everyone. The new Anthem 29 is tops.

Tested: Giant Reign 2

Let’s skip the features of the new Reign for now (click here to get the lowdown on features with the new model) and talk more about how it goes in the dirt.

Our first ride on the Reign was a big loop that would take in just about any style of trail, from steep rocky chutes, flat drops, fast flat turns, double jumps, switchback climbs, the whole lot. We aimed to recreate what you’d encounter in a classic enduro race, pretty much.

Upcoming sub $4K 160mm travel 27.5″ wheel bike shootout! This Giant Reign will go up against the Merida One-Sixty 800 and the Norco Range A3 this summer, stay tuned for our full video review.


Go time!

From the moment we hopped on, we felt the apparent length of the bike, for a medium size the front hub axle felt a very long way away from you, and the steering reflected that with that trademark wandering front end. It’s a familiar feeling that occurs on long and slack bikes, with the front wheel flopping side to side as you turn the bars. Sitting back in the saddle the seat tube angle also felt very laid back, putting you right behind the bottom bracket. We knew it was going to be long but didn’t expect it to feel like we were riding two sizes up.

Two wheels a long way apart. Long bike = stability in spades.

We adapted our steering inputs to keep the front wheel pointing where we wanted and pedalled out to the dirt where we very quickly found out that it takes a lot of effort to keep up to speed on the flatter sections, no major surprises there. Then as the speeds trickled up, we had a moment where we didn’t feel like we were going that fast, but the trail was whizzing by very rapidly. When the first proper descent came along, it was then that we began to turn it up a notch and let the Reign come into its own. We expected it to be a ripper descender, but we didn’t expect it to make us feel invincible!

27.5″ wheels, 160mm of travel, aggressive geometry and meaty tyres are a recipe for serious shredding!

On the Reign you have so much bike in front of you to move around and let the bike move around underneath you, the bars are wide, the stem is short and the top tube super-long so it promotes you to get over the bars and attack the turns with all your might, weighting the front tyre and pushing it into the dirt the stability is simply remarkable.

Like using a bit of bod language, and letting the bike dance about beneath you when situations get a little hectic? The Reign likes that too.

The stumpy headtube allows the rider to achieve a low bar height if so desired.
The frame looks to have provisions for the upcoming FOX Live Valve system with battery mounts and sensor mounts integrated into the frame.

We dropped into a particularly fast chute of large boulders, and old creek bed, with no real apparent line we put trust in the stiff forks and stable cockpit to get us through and pounded our way to the bottom. That’s how it wants to be ridden, hard.

It’s at the bottom of the descent that the mood shifts down a notch as you realise that you have to climb. There’s no way to sugarcoat it; this Reign isn’t the best at climbing. If you race up the climb, hammering out of the saddle with the shock locked out, it’s not too bad, but a tired rider sitting down makes for a laborious task to get to the top.

The Reign’s Maestro suspension is ultra plush, so don’t expect spritely pedalling with the shock unlocked.
The stout little carbon link driving the trunnion mount shock.

The rear shock has two compression modes, on or off, which is better than nothing but we can imagine how the higher Spec Reigns with greater adjustments (a middle setting like on the RockShox Deluxe RTC3) would help you pedalling the flatter trails with the bike still settling into the travel to achieve suitable geometry.


Stop complaining about the climbs; you’re boring us.

What are we whining about, there has to be a tradeoff for descending ability and Giant have clearly done their homework with the input from guys like Josh Carlson to position the Reign above the Trance in the realm of epic descenders. It has 160mm of travel, use it!

We did see the Giant Factory Off-Road Team race their Giant Trances at the less challenging rounds of the EWS series, proving that the Reign is made for charging hard, getting loose and pretending you’re on a downhill bike.

Check out our review of the 2017 Trance Advanced here: 140mm travel Giant Trance review.


The parts.

For the dollars it’s mighty dialled, the cheapest of the Reign range, the Reign 2 has you covered with a careful selection of robust parts. If you’re keen to get rowdy and push the limits of product durability and strength you should feel confident, in our minds, the components are well up to that task. The Shimano Deore drivetrain worked great for us, a far sight from the Deore from past years, and the chain guide and bash guard kept the chain protected and snug on the Praxis chainrings all the time.

Shimano brakes, big rotors, we found them very ample.

The fork and shock are proven performers and smooth operators, and the rims feel tough and are nice and wide to give the tyres a great shape and loads of volume.


What would the more expensive Reign 1 do better than the Reign 2?

For an extra 1800 bucks the bright red Reign 1 scores a few worthy upgrades, notably the remote lockout shock and SRAM Eagle drivetrain which would lift it’s climbing game tenfold. The fork goes from the Yari to the Lyrik which uses a more sophisticated damper for more composure, and the brakes are going to withstand longer descents with less fade of power. Then there are the lighter carbon frame models… Anyhow, we digress.


What we liked.

  • Tidy rig. The new Reign range is the best looking yet, not just the colours but the finish and graphics are slick. The logos are minimal, and colour matched suspension parts rounds out a beautiful looking bike. The pivots, linkages and rear axle are low in profile, flush and well-thought out.
  • Tubeless ready. The tyres are ready for tubeless, and the rims come taped up with tubeless rim strips and two little bottles of tubeless sealant are included, not something you could say about many other brands.
  • Maxxis tyres. The Maxxis Shorty up front is super aggressive, we thought the spiky profile would have only suited soft soils, but on drier gravel and loose-over-hardpack grounds it dug in and hooked up nicely.
  • Descending. Oh boy, it’s fast, like a mini Giant Glory that you can pedal back up.

    The spiky Maxxis Shorty tyre on the front, amazing bite.

What we didn’t.

  • The on-off rear shock lockout. We’d trade anything for a middle setting that we could leave it in for flatter descents and technical climbs.
  • Hard as a rock saddle. Not our cup of tea, sorry!
  • Meandering climbs. Grit your teeth and bear it, it has to be done.
  • Firm, so firm.


Yay, or nay?

We did find the Reign 2 to feel bigger and a lot more to manage on flatter singletrack and slow climbs than we expected, but on the flipside we also found it to be one of the most confident high-speed descenders of recent times despite it being the entry-level model at a very reasonable price.

Giant offer the Trance for riders who want to pedal everywhere and spend less time cursing on the climbs, we’d seriously consider a test ride on both models. But of course the Trance doesn’t go absolutely bonkers for the descents like the roomy, long and slack Reign does.

Like shredding as hard as what you see on TV? Don’t care how long it takes you to pedal up, beats walking or shuttling? The Reign is burly, loves a pounding and isn’t afraid of much.

We’re not done yet, the Reign will go up against a Norco Range and Merida One Sixty in a sub $4K shootout, so stay tuned!

Flow’s First Bite: Giant Reign 2

The new longer and lower Giant Reign is here, and we have the base model $3799 Reign 2 on review. Excuse me; this is supposed to be the base model…?

While it does sit at the bottom of the range of the Reign lineup, on paper, the Reign 2 is everything one could wish for when it comes to hard enduro riding. The 160mm travel Reign scores some chassis updates for 2018, a notch up the aggressive parts scale, and a very sleek new paint job.



The new Reign is a real looker with a clean finish, cool graphics and aesthetics.

2018 brings updates, what are they?

Longer, lower. The decision to stretch out the reach and wheelbase even further was a request from the factory enduro racing team, making this bike really appeal for those who prefer a lot of bike in front of them when speeds get high. What does that mean for us mere mortals though, will it be so big it’s too much to handle, or will we change our attitude on the trails and begin to ride with reckless abandon with a renewed sense of confidence?

Much longer in the reach, time to ride off the brakes!

The suspension gets a few small tweaks, most notably the upper shock mount and linkage. The new trunnion mount shock is driven by a very tidy little one-piece carbon rocker arm, and the result is the shock uses a longer stroke in a smaller package. Lengthening the shock stroke while maintaining the 160mm of travel has enabled the frame designers to run a lower leverage ratio to let the shock react more to smaller bumps.

Sweet one-piece carbon linkage on all the Reign models, even this one.

How’re the parts for the cash?

From where we sit, the Reign 2 is pretty dialled for $3799. The Yari fork is a solid performer, we already know that, and we’re stoked to see wide rims with super meaty tyres and a single ring drivetrain.

160mm RockShox Yari, smooth and solid performers.
Praxis Works cranks, MRP guide and a Shimano Deore drivetrain.
Maxxis Shorty tyre, miniature DH tyres!

The new Giant Contact Switch dropper post remote feels super light to actuate, and it even comes with tubeless sealant to seal the tyres. It’s very much ready to go.


Shootout test time! What’s it going to be compared to?

We’re aiming to have the Reign 2 up against a few other new-for-2018 bikes in a sub $4500 160mm travel 27.5″ wheel shootout. We’re talking; Norco Range A3, Specialized Enduro Comp 27.5 and the Merida One-Sixty 800. So, stay tuned for the ultimate entry-level enduro bike showdown!

Let’s ride.

So, stay tuned for the ultimate entry-level enduro bike showdown!

 

Giant / LIV 2018 Range Highlights

Reign Advanced 0 and 1.

The Reign Advanced 0 is savage. 13kg of fury.

Let’s start with the one everybody’s talking about, the new Reign. Already one of the most popular and aggressive 160mm bikes on the market, the new version is positively ferocious. It has a poise that makes you feel like it wants to head butt you – hell, it comes with a Maxxis Shorty front tyre, talk about aggro!

A new trunnion mounted shock with carbon link. While the coil sprung shock mightn’t be quite so convenient in terms of adjusting spring rates, it is plusher than a feather bed. A remote lock out keeps it all stable on the climbs.

Travel is still 160mm, but the move to a trunnion mounted shock means a longer shock and lower leverage ratios, for improved sensitivity and more damping control. Geometry is on the slaaaack side, with a 65 degree head angle, and even longer reach than its predecessor (460mm in a medium).

The Reign Advanced 0 is full SRAM spec, with a Lyrik, Eagle drivetrain and even a RockShox Super Deluxe rear shock. The use of coil shocks in this category of bike has been gaining momentum (Josh Carlson has been using a coil in his Reign for a couple of years now – take a look at our bike check with him here). The addition of a handlebar mounted lockout is wise. It’s kind of a best of both worlds solution – coil-sprung grip on the descents, with a firm lockout for fire road climbs.

Brighter than a radioactive frog, the Reign Advanced 1.

Interestingly, there are no more carbon wheels in the Reign lineup, with the high-end bikes now moving to DT rims. We never had a drama with Giant’s carbon wheels in the past, but in the Enduro race world, alloy rims are still seen as the safe option, so perhaps this is simply a nod towards the race crowd.

There are four models of Reign coming into Australia, two in carbon and two in alloy. Pricing starts at $3799 for the Reign 2 and tops out at $8999 for the Advanced 0. The luminescent Reign Advanced 1, in the picture above, is $6499.


LIV Hail 

LIV are cementing their advantage in this market, with a comprehensive line-up of big travel women’s bikes.

LIV are doubling down on their range of women’s specific trail bikes and Enduro bikes too, clearly determined to put their stamp on the hard-riding women’s market. The women’s specific segment is an interesting place at the moment, with a number of brands discontinuing women’s specific frames, while LIV keeps on growing their offering.

We were grabbed straight away by the Hail Advanced 0, which essentially has all the same intentions and burly spec as you’ll find on the Reign, but with slightly revised geometry and a lighter suspension tune. It’s heartening to see that just as with the Reign, there will be four models of the Hail coming to Australia too – two carbon, two alloy. At $5299, the stunning brushed-alloy Hail 1 is probably the model offering the best bang for the buck in the Hail line up.

 


LIV Pique

The Pique gets more travel up front for 2018. We love this model with its superb suspension and top notch spec.

LIV have given the Pique lineup a bit of curry too, adding 10mm travel up front (130mm front, 120mm rear now), pushing it into the trail bike realm, rather than strictly an XC bike.

We couldn’t walk past the range topping Pique Advanced 0, which has a very cool, slightly 80s inspired ‘fade’ decal kit which we love. It reminds us of 2017 Anthem SX actually, especially with the spec of a piggyback shock and big-bagged Maxxis Forekaster rubber. If you’ve got the budget to stretch to this bike’s $8499 price tag, we don’t think you’ll find many finer women’s specific trail bikes out there.

With the Pique getting slacker and longer-travel, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more of a cross-country race bike from LIV in the near future. With the recent release of the new Anthem 29er, you’d have to assume something is on the way. (Though whether or not it’ll be a 29er or 27.5 is anyone’s guess).


Trance 1

Cheers! The Trance 1 is a robust beast, but with money spent in all the sensible areas.

The Trance line up was comprehensively overhauled last year, and so there are no great changes for 2018, but the range does look great. We particularly like the working man’s bling of the Trance 1, which blends a tough and proven alloy frame with some high-end components.

For a little over $5000, you get an Eagle drivetrain, carbon wheels, and a great FOX Elite suspension setup, with the new DPX2 shock. The money is clearly being spent in the areas where it’ll have the most impact.


Anthem 29er 2

We’ve already had an in-depth look at the new Anthem 29er in our launch piece, but we were impressed to see that you can get rolling on the platform for less than $3500, with the alloy Anthem 29 2. A no-fuss SLX 1×11 drivetrain keeps the cost down without sacrificing performance (read our SLX review here), allowing money to spent on high-quality suspension, including a FOX 32 Step Cast fork. If you’re after a bike that’s race-friendly without spending a tonne, then this is a good contender.

It’s cool to see a lightweight Step Cast fork at this price point.

Revised dropper post, more tubeless out of the box

A new under-bar dropper lever.

Some welcome tweaks have been made to Giant’s in-house dropper post, which has a greatly improved under-the-bar lever now. This was one item we whinged about in our recent Trance Advanced review, so it’s cool to see this feedback taken on board. Apparently, the sealing is improved too.

More bikes in the range are now coming setup for tubeless too, which will be welcomed by bike shops. Rims are largely pre-taped now, with tubeless valves installed, so all that is required is a splash of sealant, and you’re set.


Fresh trail and downhill footwear

The Shuttle is a robust looking shoe, with a high cuff on the inside of the ankle to protect you from banging against the bike.

Giant have added two new shoes to their growing range of footwear, with the Line and Shuttle ($189 and $169). The Line is aimed at trail riders and the Enduro market and has been on the leg-ends of Josh Carlson a lot this EWS season. The Shuttle is more of a downhill shoe with extra ankle protection, but we can see its popularity crossing over into the trail market too.

Both shoes have a nylon sole and a pretty chunky tread too, for clambering about. While Giant weren’t keen for us to chuck them in the pool, apparently the material is highly resistant to absorbing water, so even when sopping wet they only weigh 30g more.


GPS units

Hello! At $299, the Neos Track is superb value.

Giving you more information at a glance than the NSA, Giant’s new Neos Track computer is going to rattle the cage of some of the bigger GPS brands. At $350, it’s crammed with features, including turn by turn navigation, Di2 integration, plus of course power and just about every other metric under the sun. Battery life is over 30hrs, so you can DOMINATE Strava next weekend, and the weekend after, and the one after that too.

Flow’s First Bite: Giant Trance Advanced 1

With an all-new carbon frame, wide carbon rims, FOX Factory level suspension and a full Shimano XT groupset the Trance Advanced 1 comes in just shy of six gorillas at $5799. And if its predecessor is anything to go by, we’ll certainly enjoy this review.

The Giant Trance Advanced 1 is one good looking bike.
The Giant Trance Advanced 1 is one good looking bike, we especially like the understated logos and shimmering carbon shining through a glossy paint job.

Check out our range highlights of the 2017 Giant lineup.

See our review of the 2016 Trance Advanced 1 here.


The good bits.

FOX, Shimano and Giant’s own components make up the bulk of the spec. We’re most impressed with the way the Trance Advanced 1 (and last years version too) comes with the absolute best from FOX suspension, the cream of the crop fork and shock with Kashima-coated sliding bits and all the external adjustments we love.

Shimano’s XT is always a winner in our minds, but new for this year the 11-46 tooth cassette that widens the range significantly from last year’s 11-42 cassette, to sweeten the deal Shimano’s new chainring is here too, a new teeth profile promises to cut down on noise, increase lifetime and maintain chain retention without the need of a chain guide.

This will be our first experience with Giant’s new TRX 1 wheels, which claim to be only 1680g and the rims a generous 27mm internal width (33mm external). We like these numbers a lot!

As always, there’s much more to a bike than its components, but in terms of value for money and deciding how to spec a bike, Giant are off to a running start.

The Trance Advanced 1 comes with Shimano's 46 tooth XT cassette for lower climbing gears.
The Trance Advanced 1 comes with Shimano’s XT 11-46 tooth cassette for a super-wide range.
FOX Factory 34 fork, absolutely premium stuff.
FOX Factory 34 fork, absolutely premium stuff.
Delicious Kashima coating.
Delicious Kashima coating.
New and wide, and carbon!
New and wide, and carbon!

What’s the Giant Trance Advanced 1 all about?

The Trance Advanced 1 is a long travel trail/all-mountain bike that’s designed to cover a wide range of needs. It sits in the middle of Giant’s shorter travel Anthem and burly Reign, so its intended use is to fill that large segment of the market that is made up of riders that are not fussed on racing, those that are prepared to pedal all day and could do with a generous amount of suspension travel for control on rough trails and comfort on long rides. 

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Colour-matched wheel set and custom stickers from FOX, the bike looks gorgeous in the flesh.

The 2017 Trance frame looks similar but is vastly different to the 2016 one, what has changed?

The Trance platform received major updates to the frame this year, it’s longer in reach, lower in bottom bracket height, shorter in its chainstay length and fork travel is bumped up 10mm to 150mm. The 2017 model comes with a host of new and emerging technologies, such as boost hub spacing front and rear, a trunnion mounted rear shock and a flush Kabolt (not a quick release) axle on the fork and Giant’s allen key axle on the rear.

The upper linkage is now one-piece, curvy and carbon and mounts sideways to a trunnion mount shock.
The upper linkage is now one-piece, curvy and carbon and mounts sideways to a trunnion mount shock.

How much travel is the Trance packing, and what about the wheel size?

Built around 27.5” wheels, the Trance range comes equipped with 140mm of rear travel mated to a 150mm travel fork up front.  Giant have colour-matched their frame and wheelset with custom stickers from Fox, and the bike looks gorgeous in the flesh.

140mm of Maestro suspension out the back.
140mm of Maestro suspension out the back.

Where to now?

A bike like the Trance Advanced 1 is probably going to have an owner that uses it for many things, so that’s exactly what we’ll be doing. From buff singletrack to downhill bike worthy terrain, we’re keen to see what this bike is capable of. Even just looking at the 2016 model of this bike, one of the major gripes we had was its narrow rims holding back the bike’s performance on rougher trails, with this rectified and with a host of other improvements this is sure to be a hot bike for 2017.

We’ll be putting a full review up in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!

Tested: Giant Anthem 2

2017 sees the incredibly popular Giant Anthem take a chill pill and a tentative step towards the larger Trance with a real change in its vibe.

For more on the 2017 Giant Anthem, Trance, Reign and XTC jump over to our range overview here: 2017 bikes from Giant.

What makes the new Anthem so different to the 2016 one?

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Slacker, longer, lower, better. Heard that before? It’s the way forward, not only for long travel bikes.

In the past there was the lean and mean 100mm travel Anthem (read our review of one here), and the Anthem SX (no longer for 2017) which used the Anthem frame with 120mm travel forks and more aggressive parts. The new 2017 Anthem is even more aggressive than the outgoing Anthem SX and we love it.

The 2017 Anthem feels so different they could almost have given it a new name.
The 2017 Anthem feels so different they could almost have given it a new name.

The new Anthem has a dropper post (shock, horror!), 120mm travel big diameter 34mm legged forks, a knobby front tyre and a cockpit we’d expect to see on the longer travel Trance.

Tell me about the frame.

Giant gave the Anthem’s construction a complete overhaul for the upcoming year model, it now uses Boost hub spacing, a one-piece carbon linkage (on all 27.5″ Anthems, nice!) and the trunnion mount rear shock. Frame geometry also scores a modern update with longer reach, lower bottom bracket height and shorter chain stay length.

428mm chain stays on the new bike, you'll feel that when you pull a wheelie.
428mm chain stays on the new bike, you’ll feel that when you pull a wheelie.

The finish is glossy, and quite busy in Giant’s iconic bold styling.

Where does it sit in the Anthem range?

The $3499 Anthem 2 is the second model in the range, with the base model Anthem 3 sitting below it at $2499 and the Anthem 1 above for $4999.

Getting the Anthem dirty on our home trails.
Getting the Anthem dirty on our home trails.

If you want more awesomeness there is the Anthem Advanced version with a composite/carbon main frame and higher spec starting at $5499 for the Anthem Advanced 1 and then the top of the line Anthem Advanced 0 for $8299 which will get you carbon wheels, and the incredible SRAM Eagle drivetrain.

What does an extra 1.5K earn you with the Anthem 1?

Sharing the exact same frame, stepping up to the Anthem 1 you’ll get wheels with carbon rims and tubeless ready tyres, the superb single-ring Shimano XT drivetrain and a higher quality damper in the fork amongst a few other things.

$3499 gets you a very solid parts spec and a modern handling bike.
$3499 gets you a very solid parts spec and a modern handling bike.

The carbon wheels are the big one for us, tubeless lifts the traction and ride quality immensely and the fork will certainly feel smoother and more composed on the rough trails.

Or could I buy the cheaper Anthem 3 and upgrade a few bits?

The brakes, and drivetrain are fine on the Anthem 3 but you do lose the dropper post and step down to a RockShox 30 Gold fork which will feel under-gunned in the fast and rougher trails in comparison to the FOX. If the Anthem 3 is your best bet, at least invest in a dropper post to open up more shred-ability.

How does it go?

Throwing a leg over the Anthem 2 we quickly found it to be more inclined to shred fast trails than lap around the groomed race track, the forks are raked out in front of you and the seating position is nice and relaxed.

Instantly we began popping wheelies, manualling sections of trails and jumping off trail features for the fun of it.

It's fun, lively to ride. A lot more fun than a hardtail and more engaging than longer travel bikes.
It’s fun, lively to ride. A lot more fun than a hardtail and more engaging than longer travel bikes.

It’s a lively ride, with the stout 110mm of rear travel feeling quite progressive, never wallowing or bogging down the way longer travel bikes can. Combine the short travel and fun geometry and we loved how fast the bike felt on our regular trails.

It’s the kind of bike that doesn’t rely on generous suspension to get you through the rough and tight stuff, rather the confident riding position puts you in great control of where you want to go with quick and safe handling.

Is it too laid back?

If you love the Anthem from the last few years for racing cross country this new version may feel a little laid back for buff cross country race tracks, but it’ll light up the singletrack and rip descents with a whole lot more speed and flair.

Probably too laid back for our liking to take it racing, perhaps there's something more coming from Giant for the racers.
Probably too laid back for our liking to take it racing, perhaps there’s something more coming from Giant for the racers.

It won’t take a detective to notice that the repositioning of the Anthem leaves a big hole in the catalogue for a dual suspension cross country race bike, we can only guess what may fill the gap in the future. Will Giant re-enter the 29er market with a new model soon? What will the cross country riders in the Giant Factory Off Road Team race? Rumours, rumours…

Shimano’s impressive new SLX drivetrain.

Shimano’s new SLX drivetrain has everyone very impressed, along with SRAM’s GX and NX we are now in an era that the entry level priced drivetrain components are so close to performance to the top stuff that at times the only obvious difference is feel and weight. The single-ring is going to be popular too, the 30T chain paired to an 11-42T cassette was more than enough range for us during testing. The bike will still accept a front derailleur if you live in the alps.

Shimano's new 11-speed SLX drivetrain, so similar to performance of XT we are massive fans.
Shimano’s new 11-speed SLX drivetrain, so similar to performance of XT we are massive fans.
No chain guide, no dropped chain. The new tooth profile on the SLX chainrings is quite and smooth too!
No chain guide, no dropped chain. The new tooth profile on the SLX chainrings is quite and smooth too!

Testing this bike was our second experience with the new SLX drivetrain, check out our full review here: Shimano SLX 11-speed review. 

New FOX Rhythm 34 fork and trunnion mount rear shock.

There’s a reason you won’t have seen many of these forks yet, they are new for 2017 model bikes and OEM spec only (not sold separately). The Rhythm line signals a move into the lower spec levels for the high end suspension brand, by using a lower grade 6000 series aluminium and grey anodised stanchions the construction costs can be cut down, and the GRIP damper is a more basic and slightly heavier system than the one found in higher level FIT4 forks. It may be cheaper but we loved the feeling and quality, especially compared to forks on bikes this price only a couple years ago.

The new FOX Rhythm 34 fork, a FOX fork that will reach a lower price point.
The new FOX Rhythm 34 fork, a FOX fork that aims reach a lower price point, it feels great on the trail.

Out the back Giant have specced a new trunnion mount rear shock, same same but different. Mounting on the side of the shock instead of on the end the frame designers are able to position the shock lower in the frame, freeing up space for a longer stroke shock and thus requiring less air pressure. All the details sound a little dull? It’s a marginal gain for sure, but expect to see the trunnion mount become more common over the next few years.

The FOX shock with a new trunnion side mount on the upper end.
The FOX shock with a new trunnion side mount on the upper end.

Would we change any parts?

The tyres need to go, it’s not the brand, size or tread pattern we don’t like, it is the compound and non-tubeless compatibility that lets them down. Schwalbe’s Performance line of tyres are not all bad but a set of tubeless tyres would unleash the Anthem’s traction on rocky terrain by allowing you to run lower pressures with less risk of punctures or a squirming tyre.

Other than that we would suggest poking the internal dropper post cable out the right side of the frame for a neater cable arrangement, a super quick and easy job to do, we’d not even change the grips, this thing is dialled..

Would we recommend it?

Hell yes we would, this is a seriously great bike! The suspension is balanced and efficient, the geometry is playful and fun, and in singletrack and fast descents it feels alive and confident and it’s not $5000.

We can expect to see many of the big brands making the most of the emergence of great quality entry level components to build bikes that ride really great, for an affordable price. With things like the Shimano SLX, FOX Rhythm forks and home brand dropper posts, we’re more than satisfied with the performance.

Put this bike in a time machine, and send it back three years. It'll blow minds for only $3500.
Put this bike in a time machine, and send it back three years. It’ll blow minds for only $3500.

The value is impressive, and with only the tyres turning our noses up, we would certainly recommend it for someone who is keen to shred trails for the fun of it, and a hardtail is too hard and the bigger travel Trance overkill.

Tested: Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1

Coming from a five-strong lineup of Anthems, Advanced 1 is the second model from the top, one of two Advanced Anthems with the sexy carbon front end. There’s a women’s version too from Giant’s women’s specific range LIV – the LIV Lust is the Anthem’s sister, sharing the same appetite for fast cross country riding.

Also available in the Anthem family is the fun-loving SX range, a half step towards the bigger travel Giant Trance with a longer 120mm travel fork, a dropper post and a slightly more aggressive parts kit. We reviewed the 2015 Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 and had a ball riding it, check that one out here: Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 review.

Before you read our full review, have a read of our first impressions of the Anthem (Flow’s First Bite – Anthem Advanced 27.5 1). Or for more on the whole 2016 Giant range, take a look at our highlights here: Best bits from the 2016 Giant show. And same from the latest LIV range: 2016 LIV.

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Buzzzzz.

The Frame

The Anthem is a lean, low and sharp bike with a minimal 100mm of suspension travel, 27.5″ wheels and race-ready frame geometry.

Big carbon shapes join slim aluminium lines out the back, tied together by two widely-set floating linkages. Giant are the kings of carbon (or composite) manufacturing, their Taiwanese facility is enormous, producing high grade carbon versions of all their performance mountain bikes, even the new Glory downhill bike comes in the light and lively Advanced carbon. And with a lifetime warranty on all Giants, they are a sure bet.

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The bold yellow and glossy finish is a nice change from the growing trend of matte black bikes lately.
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Aluminium triangle out the back.

Suspension: Giant have been running with their tried and proven Maestro floating link suspension design for quite some time across their entire range, and our experiences have always been fantastic. Providing a stable bike with just the right amount of suspension activity whilst pedalling, the Anthem doesn’t skip around when you’re hammering down hard on the cranks.

The lower shock pivot and main suspension pivot share the same axle, providing a wide and remarkably laterally rigid junction between the front and rear end. A heavy shove of the back wheel into a corner will show you that despite its low weight, it’s quite tough and feels super solid beneath you.

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The lower link of the Maestro Suspension, combining the shock mount and suspension pivot in one.

Geometry: We are talking about a race bike here, so it’s no surprise to see some pretty sharp numbers on the geometry chart. A 69.5 degree head angle when paired with the 100mm travel forks makes for a twitchy front end that wants for an experienced pilot, and the sharp 73 degree seating angle pitches you right over the front wheel.

Finish: Get up close to this Anthem and you’ll see yourself staring right back at you, the paint is smooth and glossy. The cables are housed internally through the front end of the frame for neatness sake, but they do enter the frame at an angle that makes them bow outwards, requiring a trim or they’ll rub your knees when pedalling out of the saddle.

Trim those cables pronto!
Trim down those cables pronto!

Wheel size: The 100mm travel suspension bike category is overwhelmingly dominated by 29ers, but Giant are firmly (very firm) devoted to 27.5″ wheels.

There are still a couple 29er Anthems in the Giant catalogue, one in carbon and one aluminium. But the Anthem X 29 uses the older style frame without internal cable routing and has an older frame design that looks dated. Surely there are riders out there who want the bigger wheels, and Giant aren’t catering for them at present with their best offerings.


The Parts.

For $4999 there is a lot to like about this bike, especially with the new 11-speed Shimano XT, premium FOX Suspension and Giant’s lightweight carbon wheels.

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Shimano XT single chain ring, clean, neat and stable.
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Shimano’s 11-speed drivetrain and brakes have garnered massive respect all over.

Shimano: Shimano’s new 11-speed groupset won us over last year when we put it on long term review, the wide range single ring drivetrain and snappy brakes are a big jump up from the previous XT group, performing on-par with Shimano’s mega light XTR kit. Read that Shimano XT review here – Shimano XT long term test.

While the absence of a front derailleur certainly removes a lot of clutter and extra complication, there is a penalty to pay in terms of gear range. But the new Shimano XT Rhythm Step cassette with the 11-42 tooth range paired with the 32 tooth ring up front, we found enough gears for the steep climbs and only used the 11 tooth sprocket on the roads.

Shifting through the gears is remarkably precise and positive, the thumb lever may feel a little harder to push than a SRAM or older XT did but you will know what gear you are in thanks to a loud click and the gear indicator window will take the guess work out of it all.

Power and predictable modulation from the XT brakes.

The brakes are amazing, up there with the best out there. A light squeeze of one finger will give you all the power you need, delivered in a very controllable and consistent manner. There’s nothing to worry about when these brakes are fitted to a bike.

The best from FOX. Seriously supple and supportive suspension.
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The tiny FOX Float rear shock with lustrous gold Kashima finish.

FOX: Straight from the first page in the FOX catalogue is the Factory level fork and shock, the top shelf kit in their category. With all the external adjustments and their finest dampers, the Anthem really is running the best on offer.

The Float 32 Factory fork uses a remote lever to control the three position compression dial, while we appreciate how well it works (and the ergonomic lever is a damn sight better than the older version) we just don’t go wild for remote fork lockouts. Considering how often we touch the rear shock settings, we’d prefer to have a remote going back to the rear shock rather than the fork, but that’s probably not the case for all riders. If it bothers you, an aftermarket conversion is available from FOX to ditch the remote and run the compression adjuster with a standard dial on top of the fork leg.

Out the back the tiny Float shock has a very useable range of adjustment that we would regularly take advantage of throughout the ride, it’s easy to find the right setting for the trails ahead with the flick of the blue lever. For such a tiny unit it packs some serious punch, taking the biggest hits without a worry and it is so insanely supple, working away quickly to absorb high frequency impacts effortlessly.

Giant PXCR 1C wheels: Giant are clearly investing serious time and brainpower into their in-house brand wheelsets, their road bike carbon wheels are gaining loads of space in the peleton, and these PXCR 1C hoops are a mighty hot addition to the Anthem.

The rim is certainly skinny, with a narrow 21mm internal width you can’t go too low on tyre pressure, but blimey they do roll fast! The 27.5″ Anthem with its light wheels and tyres accelerates from a standstill like a BMX race bike, getting you up to speed with little effort – this is one of the real positives of the smaller wheel in this category of bike, it just flies out of corners when you put the power down. Through the tighter singletrack where you’re constantly slowing and accelerating your legs will appreciate such a zippy set of wheels.

They even sound fast (in a good way), with that whooshing carbon sound echoing through them when you give them a nudge through a fast turn. They may be subtle in appearance, but know you’ve got lively carbon wheels on your bike when it’s time to pick up the pace.

Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph tyres use the Liteskin casing and Pacestar triple compound for a seriously light and tacky tyre, not amazing in the wet trails but certainly providing good traction on harder surfaces. Supplied with the bike is a tubeless kit, with valves and rim tape. Don’t go near trails without first fitting up the kit and ditching the tubes! Our test bike took a couple of rides before they really sealed up airtight, so keep an eye on them.


The Ride.

In one word – sharp. The Anthem knows its place on the trails and doesn’t give the rider any mixed messages, it’s a lightning quick handler and a rapid steering bike, that is best utilised in competent hands.

Climbing: Race you to the top! The Anthem is your express lift pass to the top of the mountain, a brilliant climber. It’s the combination of the roomy and low cockpit shape, overall lightweight, compression adjustable suspension and fast rolling wheels that blend a perfect concoction of efficiency to propel you up the climbs.

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Race time!

Don’t ignore the suspension settings, use them to your advantage. In the lighter compression setting the shock does bob about a little bit as your push on the pedals, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with what the little blue and black dials on the fork and shock do before hitting the trails. Your bike shop is handy for those face to face tutorials.

Climbing switchbacks is a real highlight on this bike, you can really get up and out of the saddle and yank on the bars as you crank on the pedals providing a strong position to use your whole body instead of just your legs. Where some of our test bikes get hung up and stall, we ripped around tight climbing turns without a worry on the Anthem.

Cornering: While the Anthem might fly around a worn-in purpose-built cross country race track, it’s no trail shredder and prefers to keep its tyres on the ground. Take it back country and off the beaten path and you’ll have to hold on tight and keep your wits about you, but cutting laps on a familiar and predictable loop of trail and it’ll match your hard efforts with speed in return.

While an experienced cross country rider will have no troubles, to others the Anthem could be a hand full to manage, the long and low cockpit tends to put you in a position that doesn’t exactly lend itself to tipping the bike over into a corner or helping you hook in with the side knobs of the tyres. It won’t respond so well to flamboyant or reckless riding like the Anthem SX or Trance does.

The 27.5″ wheels do great things to the bike’s agility, you can twist and weave through tight singletrack like crazy, and we were setting fast times through those stop-start trails with loads of tight turns.

Descending: The FOX suspension and the Maestro do a stellar job of gobbling up the rough trails, but if it gets steep, things get a bit nervous. The long stem gives the Anthem its top climbing marks, but it does put you right over the front when the trail points down, especially as there’s no dropper post to help you get your weight low. At the risk of sacrificing the bike’s ultimate climbing  performance, you could experiment with a shorter stem to bring you up and back a little towards the centre of the bike, especially if the trails you frequent are steep or loose.

The Shimano XT brakes are solid insurance when descending. If you do come in a bit hot, they’ll rein it all in quick smart. The lever fits so perfectly under a single index finger letting the rest of your hand grip the bars securely.

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The Anthem is at home on fast and buff trails rather than adventuring off the beaten path.
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Experiment with the stack height – low and fast, or higher for a more manageable ride.

What we’d change: The Anthem comes with a super-long rear brake and gear cable, and when we dropped the stem down on the steer tube they got even longer. When climbing out of the saddle our knees would knock the cables, so give it some TLC and lop a few inches off them.

If your trails are rough and loose, perhaps experiment with a shorter stem and a meatier front tyre for a little added confidence through the turns and down the hills.

Otherwise the Anthem is dialled and ready out of the box, Giant have done a great job dressing this one.


Verdict

After a few weeks of riding we got to understand what this bike lives for, and we learnt to love the Anthem on trails that suited its competitive streak. But you really need to understand what you’re getting into if considering one:  if you’re into racing, or riding buff trails you’ll love it, it’s an absolute rocket on fast race tracks. On the other hand if you’re less experienced and/or are keen for a bike that’ll be more confident on a variety of trail types or you want a rig to blast around for the fun of it, we’d suggest a test ride the Anthem SX or Trance too.

And the wheel size debate? Well, once on board, we soon forgot about the 29 vs 27.5 wheel size thing. Our time on the Anthem was spent ripping through singletrack so fast it was hard to believe we could have done it any faster, no matter what wheel size it had.

Flow’s First Bite – Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1

There’s a whopping nine versions of the Anthem available in both aluminium and carbon frames. There’s the Anthem X with 29″ wheels, the more aggressively specced Anthem SX (click here for our review of the SX) and the regular Anthem we have here.

We’ve also reviewed the Anthem’s bigger brother recently, the Trance Advanced 27.5 1. The Trance Advanced 27.5 1 uses 140mm of travel based around the same platform, and a similar build kit.

Flow has happily just taken delivery of the bold yellow and black Anthem Advanced 1, so let’s take a look at what we might expect during our upcoming test, it seems there’s quite a lot to like about it.

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Weighing only 11.04kg after the supplied tubeless conversion this is a very light bike for a fair price tag of $4999, we’d put the low weight down to the carbon frame, wheels and the single-ring Shimano XT drivetrain.

Travel is a trim 100mm and the head angle is a sharp 69.5 degrees, that means business. In the right hands this thing will be lightning fast through singletrack and will lap around a racetrack efficiently.

Giant are right into the 27.5″ wheel size, while the 100mm dually category is typically dominated by the bigger 29er wheels Giant stick with the thinking that a smaller wheeled bike can benefit from the reduced weight, faster acceleration and handling of 27.5″ than 29″. We’re eager to test it out on the trails to put that theory into action.

The frame.

A carbon (call it carbon, or composite) front end with an aluminium rear with the Maestro floating link suspension system is doused in glossy yellow and black paint, cables run internally and neatly though the front end and in classic Giant style the finish is busy yet striking.

A front derailleur mount is there if need be and also provisions for an internally routed dropper post (go on, do it!), and there’s loads of space for a full sized water bottle .

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The new look 2016 logo for Giant’s performance (higher end) bikes.

The parts.

For five gorillas you’d hope for a lot of good bits, and Giant don’t fail on delivering at every angle.

A full Shimano XT kit equips the Anthem with the brakes and the entire drivetrain. Since its unveiling earlier this year, Shimano’s second-tier groupset has won us over, the brakes are perfect and the single-ring drivetrain is crisp, smooth and durable. For our full review of the new Shimano XT click here – Shimano XT long term test.

Shimano’s new single-ring drivetrains may not match the wide range offered by SRAM but it’s close enough, here we have a 32 tooth chainring paired to a 11-42 tooth cassette out back.

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_LOW0058
XT on XT. Right hand shifter and brake levers.

The combination of the new shape brake levers with reach and free stroke adjustment, longer shifter paddles and Giant grips make for a very ergonomic cockpit that will be easy to find a comfortable position for your hands.

FOX suspension front and back is a welcome sight, their latest 2016 range is absolutely killer and we’ve been loving all of it on a variety of bikes. Even better is that it’s top shelf stuff, both the fork and rear shock are the premium Factory models, with the extra smooth and stiction-free Kashima coating and all the adjustments you could ever want.

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Top of the line. FOX Float 32 Factory.
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That lustrous Kashima golden colour, the special smooth finish does wonders to the fork’s sensitivity.

The fork uses a handy handlebar remote lockout lever which does adds a little clutter with an extra cable but the way it loops around the back of the fork crown is pretty nifty and should be easy to work around.

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FOX Float DPS rear shock with all the right adjustments.
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A regular size air can (not the EVOL version) handles the stout 100mm of travel.

Out the back the FOX Float rear shock is also top of the line, a new Dual Piston System Float with all the excellent slow speed compression settings, and the little blue lever easily within reach when riding.

The Anthem uses Giant’s carbon rims laced to their own hubs, the narrow and stiff rims look at home on this bike, and included with the bike is the blue tubeless rim tape and valves for converting to tubeless. You’d be mad not to convert to tubeless, and surely the bike store can do the quick and simple job for you.

_LOW0062
Giant’s understated PXCR – 1C rims are 19mm wide (internal width).

Giant round out the rest of the parts with their own in-house components. The low-rise handlebar, stem, seatpost and their excellent new saddle ties it all together nicely and neatly.

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2016 sees more of Giant’s new saddle range, and our experiences so far have been fantastic.
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Contact SL cockpit, perfect match for the Anthem’s racey shape.

So there’s a quick roundup of what’s what with the new Anthem Advanced 27.5 1, now let’s hit the trails. Keep your eyes out for our review soon.

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To the trails!

Tested: Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1

Choosing the right bike is a seriously tough decision. Ideally you would need at least six bikes to have it covered, right?

But we also know that often reality has other plans, so it’s back to the drawing board, and deciding on the perfect steed that will do all the things you wish. In the case of the Giant Trance, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’ll have most bases covered. Bikes like these are constantly blowing our minds with their versatility, and with such a wide range of ability you’re able to have more fun, go fast, ride efficiently and travel to more new trails.

We don’t casually throw around the phrase ‘quiver killer’ very often, but here we go.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-1Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-59

[divider]What is it and who’s it for?[/divider]

The immensely popular Giant Trance has been around for years, it hasn’t changed too much over recent times. It still sits proudly in the category of the real ‘mountain’ bike with its good dose of suspension travel and handling characteristics that will let you ride anything in your path, without lugging too much bike around.

Sitting in between the Anthem, Giant’s 100mm travel cross country dual suspension bike and the burly enduro rig, the 160mm Giant Reign, the Trance uses 140mm of travel front and back.

The meaty tyres with moderate width, a dropper seatpost and 740mm wide bars lets you know that even though it’s super-light at 11.5kg, there is no hiding its intentions as a go-anywhere all-mountain bike.

Read our first impressions piece here: Flow’s First Bite: Trance Advanced 27.5 1 And the 2016 range highlights from Giant here: 2016 range preview.

[divider]The frame.[/divider]

‘Advanced’ denotes a carbon frame (Giant like to use the term ‘composite’ which is probably more accurate, but we’ll just call it carbon for simplicity’s sake) for a lighter bike and a more lively ride. The carbon front end joins an aluminium rear end via their tried and tested Maestro suspension design. A thick rubber bumper protects the underside of the frame from debris impacts and the rear brake line, dropper post and gear cable are internally routed through the front end.

Take a close look at the frame and you’ll see the carbon material shimmering and winking back at you in the sunlight under a very glossy paint job. The finish is super sharp, with nice touches of details like the matching colours on the fork and shock, plus the new Giant logo gives the Trance and fresh look for 2016, we like staring at this bike a lot.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-48

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-26
The floating linkage plate at the heart of the Maestro Suspension.

[divider]The parts.[/divider]

Giant are well known for offering great bang for your buck, often cited as the benchmark in competitive pricing in Australia. In recent times where the of state Australian dollar has seen the prices of bikes steadily creep up, it’s the big guys like Giant Australia who have the power to keep their bikes affordable, and it shows with this bike.

The Trance is a very well-specced bike, and while we give utmost kudos to Giant for tying it all together, it’s the improvement of the new Shimano XT and FOX suspension that really adds serious value to this particular Trance.

Shimano XT: Shimano released their completely overhauled component group earlier this year to a very positive reception, they nailed it. Click here to read our Shimano XT M8000 review.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-33
The new Shimano XT M8000 cranks, no chain guide needed for chain retention. Smooth, clean and quiet.
Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-22
The new Shimano XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur has adjustable clutch tension, and a very positive shifting feel.

The single ring thing is right on trend at the moment, this 11-speed drivetrain operates like it is sent from a dream. The clean, quite and smooth operation of one derailleur and one shifter is a real pleasure to ride and now with the Shimano cassette ranging from 11-42t the wide range of gears on offer is excellent. While not quite as wide as a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain (SRAM cassettes go from 10-42t) the 11-42t XT cassette paired with a 32t chainring is still fair.

The tidy new XT brakes have taken what we already loved about them and provided a lighter lever feel in smaller overall unit. During our testing all the Shimano parts performed perfectly.

There is a black KMC chain fitted to the Trance, the hollow link and hollow pin chain must be light, but strong riders with a propensity for being hard on chains may want to seek a classic Shimano one for peace of mind, just in case.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-27
A wind up skewer in the rear wheel, and the Shimano XT brakes with a big 180mm Ice Tech rotor.

FOX Suspension: After a few fairly rough years of inconsistent performance and strong opposition from RockShox, FOX rebounded (boom!) back with some seriously good bouncy stuff for 2016. The new rear DPS EVOL rear shock is an especially good product, FOX have been able to achieve a more supple and sensitive shock action via careful tweaking of a larger air spring volume, every bike we have ridden with the new generation shocks feels 100% better than before.

The fork also uses the new FIT 4 damper unit, delivering a very supportive ride and category leading sensitivity.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-28

The suspension on the Trance are top of the line, FOX’s best.

With all the adjustments under the sun, you can really make what you want out of the bike. Open up all the compression settings and you’ll have a magic carpet ride of smoothness, or dial them in for a firmer ride that will still remain somewhat sensitive, reacting to impacts to keep your momentum un-interrupted and your wheels firmly tracking where you want them.

The impressive fork is from the 34 range, with beefy 34mm diameter legs for a really stiff and direct front end. Take our word for it, the robust fork lets you do the craziest things on the trail and get away with it.

Read our review of this exact FOX fork and shock here: FOX 2016 Suspension review.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-5
FOX Float 34 Factory forks, top of the line, seriously good.

Giant Carbon Wheels: Yep, carbon wheels. Probably something you’d find standard spec on a bike upwards of $7000, carbon hoops are a seriously good addition to any bike. It’s not just the weight saving but the ride quality you get when compared to your typical aluminium rim is excellent. While not all carbon rims are equal in performance, feel and strength, our experiences with the PTRX-1C wheels has always been quite good.

The wheels feel very light to wind up and stiff on the trail but when we look at how much potential this bike has on the descents – especially with the big 34mm leg forks leading the way – we found the rims just too narrow for our liking. We’ve been spending so much time on bikes with wider rims these last couple years, the way that a wider rim boosts ride quality by letting you run lower tyre pressures with more tyre stability is a sure bet. It’s not a deal breaker in this instance, but we will bet that over time wider rims will be trickling down to all mountain bikes for good reason. As it stands, the rims (21mm internal, 27mm external width) didn’t offer as much support for the tyres as we’d like, to allow us to run lower tyre pressures.

Giant have been pretty clever with the tyre choice, selecting a softer compound tyre for the front. The Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s are a great tyre with real bite just about anywhere, and remarkably low weight (mounted to wider rims they’d be even more awesome). Our rear tyre was showing signs of wear from our test, perhaps not ideal when they aren’t cheap to replace, but that’s the price you pay for excellent grip.

Giant Component Bits: Giant’s in-house components have been expanding into the high end bikes in the last couple years with serious quality, and new for 2016 we see a new range of saddles. The Contact SL saddle fitted to the Trance might be slim and quite firm but we really found good comfort during long and short rides.

The Contact SL Switch dropper post is also a real winner, we’d happily run it on any brand of bike. It requires very little force to drop, the remote thumb lever is light to push and could also be swapped over to the left side to tidy things up a little too.

[divider]On the trail.[/divider]

The Trance feels so light to ride, it takes very little effort to get up to speed and keep it there.

It’s not a long, slack ground-hugger type of bike, nor is it a rapid and twitchy bike. The Trance is all about striking a good balance, slotting in between the Reign and the Anthem to deliver a serious quiver killer, do-it-all bike. There, we said it ok!

The Trance is very sure about its role, the 140mm of travel is a perfect match for its geometry. The 67 degree head angle errs on the sharper side of things, but those moments on the trail where you might be wishing for a slacker head angle the excellent fork and great cockpit position will save your ass.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-61

Climbing: Going uphill on the Trance is what you’d expect from a 11.5kg trail bike with great lockout adjustments, you can really plan ahead and settle in for a long climb with a quick flick of the dials to firm up the FOX suspension, and up you’ll go with literally no unwanted suspension bobbing robbing your of energy.

The seating position is more ‘XC than enduro’ and once we dropped the stem down a couple spaces on the steer tube, the bars were in a great position for managing the steep and tight singletrack climbs. The Trance climbs excellently and efficiently.

Descending: In good hands, the Trance will not flinch when you really turn it up a notch, you can really trust us on that one. We handed the Trance to a visiting Flow friend, an ex-downhiller, certified manic descender and once an owner of the original Giant Trance. Watching him punish the Trance on the rockiest descents in Sydney’s Northern Beaches was like watching Man From Snowy River on fast forward. He had no idea where he was going, but he pushed the Trance so hard with only a ‘wow, this bike is so good!’

The stiff front end and remarkably controlled fork action will take big hits on the chin like a James Bond film villain, without a flinch. Thankfully though because it’s not too slack, the slower and tighter turns are able to be negotiated without feeling that floppy front end at low speeds. It’s a really good balance indeed.

The Trance achieves what many attempt in vain, it descends as well as it climbs.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-43
The Trance doesn’t rely on super-slack angles and massive fork travel, the stiff front end has a lot to do with the Trance’s confidence in the descents.

Our time on this Trance re-affirmed that notion of buying a bike for what you ride 90% of the time. Anyone considering a cross country bike like the Anthem for a couple events during the year should seriously consider trying a bike like this. The efficiency is there, the weight is amazing and the huge range of suspension adjustment will let you dial in the right feel for the moment.

[divider]What we would change[/divider]

If it were ours the first thing we’d change would have to be the rims. Get some wide (at least 27mm internal width) rims on there pronto, it’ll really let the Trance hug the ground and ride smoother.

The seatpost lever can be mounted anywhere, so we’d try and get it under the left hand side of the bar, that’d require routing it out of the opposing internal routing port.

[divider]Verdict[/divider]

If you’re in the market for an upgrade to your 3-year-old dually but think 140mm of travel is too much, don’t rule a modern whiz bang bikes like this out of the equation. Suspension technology has come a long way, and with the best on offer on a $5499 carbon frame bike like this, you’ll be sure to appreciate how supportive yet forgiving they can be.

It’s been a very positive experience for us testing this bike. When we first saw the 2016 Giant range we predicted this one would be a real winner, with the trademark handling we expect from the Trance coupled with the great new kit from Shimano and FOX it was sure to be on point, and it is.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1-31

Flow’s First Bite – Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1

Not an all-night dance party for really tall people, the Giant Trance could be the most popular all-mountain bike in Australia, and for good reason. Over the years we’ve seen the Trance move with the times, and for 2016 it is seriously on the ball.

We’ve just received the Trance Advanced 27.5 1, the middle of the three carbon (or composite, call it what you like) models of the Trance that uses 27.5″ wheels and 140mm of Maestro rear suspension.

We’ll be putting in some seriously miles on this new Trance so expect a full review soon, but for now here is what we think of this tidy number.

*UPDATED – Read our complete review here: Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 review.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 23

As we discovered when checking out the entire 2016 range from Giant at their new season launch, there hasn’t been too many changes made to the mountain bike range, frames remain the same for the Trance, the bigger Reign and the leaner brother – Anthem. But what we see here is a clever speccing of the kind of parts we all want to be riding for 2016.

[divider]The Frame[/divider]

In Giant language ‘Advanced’ denotes that the frame is made in house at their own composite manufacturing facility from raw carbon materials. It’s a composite front end mated with an aluminium rear end joined by the Maestro floating suspension linkage.

It’s a 140mm travel bike front and back, great for comfort and control in a wide variety of terrain, but not too much to handle if the trails aren’t requiring much suspension travel.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 30

All the frame’s finishing touches are absolutely spot on, it’s a very tidy package when you look front to back. The bold paintwork with the blue and orange works really well, and in the sunlight you’ll catch the glimmering composite material shining through.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 5

Cable routing is internal, you’ll fit one water bottle on the frame and there are still provisions to mount a front derailleur if you wish.

Geometry wise the Trance uses 440mm chain stays, a 67 degree head angle and a 73.5 degree seat angle.

[divider]The Parts[/divider]

The previous 2015 version of this same model shared the same frame but was specced with a SRAM X01 drivetrain, a RockShox Revelation fork and the RockShox Monarch rear shock. Going forward it’s a real Shimano and FOX show, making the most of the recent return to the forefront of performance for these two brands.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 29

Shimano’s new 11-speed XT grouppo is kick arse, we have spent plenty of time on it now, here’s our in-depth review.  The Trance is setup out of the box how we’d love it. A 32 tooth single ring with the super-wide 11-42 tooth cassette is an excellent setup, quiet, smooth and has enough of a gear range for just about anywhere.

We haven’t had much experience with the 11-speed KMC chains, this one is black and uses hollow pins and links, there’s not much to it!

And as far as suspension goes the Trance uses the best that FOX has on offer, their premium fork and shock. Up front its a Float 34 Float Factory with the silky smooth Kashima coating, with all the bonus adjustments and dials as standard. The bigger diameter 34mm legs will give the Trance a lot more confidence when steering and braking through rough terrain, we’re glad to be seeing less 32mm leg forks in this travel amount these days.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 20

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 21

It’s the rear shock however that has us very excited. In our experience the Trance has never been the most supple or sensitive suspension bike, with the earlier models using RockShox Monarch (gee they have come a long way, and much smoother than they used to be) or a FOX Float CTD shock. For 2016 we have the new Float DPS with the EVOL extra volume air spring.

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 10There’s no doubt that the EVOL component of the rear shock alone will lift the suspension performance in a big way, the suppleness of the larger air can and the spring curve it delivers is excellent.

We loved the Trance Advanced SX with the FOX Float X – review here – so this will be a great comparison with the lighter and smaller Float shock.

Read our review of the exact fork and shock fitted to this bike here – FOX 2016 review.

Other spec highlights are the Giant carbon wheels, Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres, the dialled Giant Contact SL Switch adjustable post and their new Contact SL saddle.

So that’s it for now, less typing and more riding. Stay tuned!

Giant 2016 Range Preview

Walking into a room full of brand new 2016 Giants is naturally going to raise heart rates and eyebrows with us at Flow, the range is so dialled and complete. Here is a brief overview of what caught our eye.

Giant 2016 123
New bikes, fresh new kit, bring on 2016!

*Click images to enlarge.


2016 is a big year for development on the road bike side of things at Giant, so the bulk of the mountain bike range remains fairly unchanged from the 2015 lineup.

Take a look at our highlights from the women’s specific LIV range here: LIV 2016.

Check our review of the 2015 Giant Reign 27.5 1, Anthem SX, LIV Lust 27.5 2  and 2015 range overview.

From a quick look at the range we were able to see:

– Giant is very much behind 27.5″ wheels for everything aside from cross country racing. With the Anthem X 29er and XTC 29 hardtail being the only two models with 29″ wheels.

– Bold new colours are everywhere, following on from the 2015 range Giant have gone even brighter. And they look HOT.

– Anthem X 29ers will have a new top tube shape for strength, internal cable routing and a 142x12mm through axle.

– More single ring 11 speed drivetrains than ever before, especially with the new Shimano XT 11 speed. Giant feel it is lighter and easier to use.

– New Giant saddles in the range, with three shapes to match the bike’s intended use – Forward, neutral and upright.

– Redesigned Contact Switch adjustable seatpost – Zero offset, and new two-bolt clamp. Better adjustability and smoother action, and in three lengths to suit the frame size.

– FOX suspension more prominent in the range, especially the new FOX Float DPS shock with the EVOL (extra air volume) air can.

– New performance logo, from the Stance and upwards. Sharper and fresher look.

– Trance models will have bigger legged forks, via a RockShox Pike and FOX Float 34 (no more 32mm legged forks).

[divider]Giant Trance 27.5[/divider]

Giant’s do-it-all trail bike is their most popular suspension bike. With 140mm of Maestro rear suspension, 67 degree head angle and 440mm chain stays, this sums up trail riding in a light and versatile package.

Three carbon models and two aluminium, pricing ranges from $3399 up to $7499.

Giant 2016 28
This bike is a real winner, the Trance Advance 27.5 1 for $5499.
Giant 2016 35
FOX Float 34 leading the way, bigger diameter fork legs for more steering precision.
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[divider]Giant Reign 27.5[/divider]

In the catalogue, the colour description for the Reign Advance 27.5 1 simply states ‘green’… That’s a bit dull, we’d have gone with ‘pollen celeste’.

The Reign Advanced is a serious bike, raked out angles and a plush 160mm of travel for giving trail hell, this bike has quickly become a popular one for the emerging enduro crowd and race scene.

Josh Carlson may go faster than you on his one, but at least you can look the part.

Pricing ranges from $3799 for the aluminium Reign 27.5 2 up to the Reign Advanced 27.5 0 for $7999.

Giant 2016 16
The Reign Advanced 27.5 1. A composite front end paired to an aluminium rear end, with all boxes ticked for seriously hard enduro shredding.
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Giant 2016 17
Colour matching gone wild! Pike dressed perfectly.
Reign Advanced 27.5 0.
Reign Advanced 27.5 0.
Reign Advanced 27.5 2
Reign 27.5 1.
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[divider]Giant Glory[/divider]

The Glory 27.5 range expands for 2016 with the addition of the carbon version – the Glory Advanced 27.5, shaving 200g from the frame and delivering a ride quality that composite bikes are known for, less fatigue and more precision.

Ranging from $3499, up to the $7999 version pictured below, there are four Glory models to choose from in 2016.

It's finally here - the Glory Advanced 27.5. This premium one for a pretty reasonable $7999.
It’s finally here – the Glory Advanced 27.5. This premium one goes for a pretty reasonable $7999.
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Giant 2016 93
A dialled spec, composite frame and all for $5499.
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[divider]Giant Anthem[/divider]

The only dually in the Giant range with a choice of two wheelsizes, it’s also available in three variants, it has many personalities: The Anthem 27.5, Anthem X 29er and Anthem SX 27.5.

For 2016 the 29er Anthem X receives a new aluminium rear end with a bolt-through 142x12mm axle, and a stronger top tube and seat tube junction.

Giant Anthem 27.5

From $2999 for the basic aluminium Anthem 27.5 up to the Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 for $9299.

Giant 2016 3
The Anthem Advanced 27.5 1 – $4999.
Giant 2016 1
So much yellow, so much good spec!
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Hello, race track! The Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 is a seriously hot rig. $9299 for this guy, whoa!
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Giant Anthem SX

SX stands for ‘shred harder’, right? Well, with dropper posts, more fork travel and a slacker head angle the Anthem SX blurs the line between the Trance 27.5 and Anthem 27.5. Read our review of the 2015 model here.

Two versions of the Anthem SX 27.5 at $4299 for aluminium, and Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 for $5799

Giant 2016 58
Anthem Advanced SX 27.5. Big rubber, dropper post, 120mm fork for a little bit more go go. $5299 for this little ripper.
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Giant 2016 21
Anthem SX 27.5, with an aluminium frame for $4299.

Giant Anthem X 29er

With such a focus on 27.5″ wheels, Giant still represent 29ers where they feel they suit best – cross country.

Two models, the aluminium one for $3299 and the one pictured below – Anthem X Advanced 29er for $5299.

Anthem X Advanced 29er_Comp_2000px
The Anthem X Advanced 29er, big wheeled fans rejoice!

[divider]Giant XTC Advanced[/divider]

Giant’s carbon hardtail remains unchanged for 2016. With two wheel sizes there is still a choice, but it’s 27.5″ wheeled version that scores the highest spec and higher grade frame construction.

Advanced SL Composite brings Giant’s finest material to the mountain bike range.

Pricing ranges from $3199 for the XTC Advanced 27.5 2, and up to the super-light XTC Advanced SL 27.5 0 for $8699.

Giant 2016 96
Full Shimano XTR Di2, SL-grade composite frame and composite wheels for the premium hardtail.
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Stay tuned for more, as we get our grubby mits on a few of these sweet new rides.

Giant and LIV 2015 Range Highlights

It’s fresh new bike time of the year, now from the folks at Giant and their women’s specific brand, LIV. We see a few slight changes to the ever-popular Maestro suspension designs in spec and, fewer 29ers in favour of the 27.5″ wheel size, and we see the introduction of some of the boldest coloured bikes yet from the big G.

No more Overdrive 2. We raise our glasses to Giant for ditching Overdrive 2 on the mountain bike range for 2015. Gone is the slightly irritating proprietary stem size needed with Overdrive 2 system (1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ upper and lower bearing sizes) that claimed to add stiffness to the front end. Sure, it may have added stiffness, but with Giant or Giant dealers not really carrying a full range of stems, changing a fork or stem length was perceived more hassle than the added performance was benefitted.

More bigger travel bikes to be announced. With two more bikes yet to be officially released very soon (hint at the bottom of this post), we bring you a few of Flow’s highlights from the 2015 range.

Click the smaller images for more detail.

[divider]Anthem Advanced SX 27.5[/divider]

New for 2015 is the Anthem SX 27.5, which is basically an Anthem 27.5 with balls.

The Anthem 27.5 is Giant’s short travel, high speed, cross country dually with an efficient 100mm of Maestro Suspension goodness. For very good reason, the Anthem has been so incredibly popular in Australia, with a hard to beat balance of the important elements in a good honest bike; looks, efficiency, weight, durability and value. Giant are really pushing the 27.5″ wheel size, and each year we see less of the 29ers in the catalogue. Still offering the choice though for consumers though, with two 29er full suspension bikes remaining for 2015, in both composite (Anthem X Advanced 29er, $4999) and the lower cost aluminium 29er (Anthem X 29er, $2799).

It grows a 120mm fork (in place of a 100mm fork) for a slacker head angle, wider bars, a shorter stem and meatier tyres. There will be two models, one alloy $2799, one the top end composite version pictured below for $4999. Hats off Giant for noticing what the savvier riders are modifying to their bikes, we see a lot of riders adding these style of components especially 120mm forks to their Anthems over the last couple years, making the bike shred just a little harder on fast and buff trails but not wanting to go bigger in rear wheel travel.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 34
One of the coolest bikes in the 2015 lineup, the Anthem Advanced SX 27.5, for $4999.

[divider]XTC Advanced SL 27.5[/divider]

The term ‘SL’ is given to Giant’s lightest mountain bike frame, the XTC Advanced SL. With a lighter composite layup and super minimal frame shape, this guy has one thing in mind, racing buff trails with maximum power.

Also going down the route of 27.5″ wheels even more for 2015, Giant’s 29er hardtail range is down to just two models in there Advanced composite only, using the older style frame with the more square shaped profile. We could’t keep our eyes of this one below, the attention to detail in the graphics and spec colour choices will not help you find it in the dark, so very black.

Stealth black XTC Advanced SL 27.5
Stealth black XTC Advanced SL 27.5 1, $4799

[divider]Stance 27.5[/divider]

Giant cover the whole gamut of cycling, with no area unrepresented, including the entry level dual suspension market with this seriously great value and well-manufactured Giant Stance 27.5 with 120mm of travel.

Borrowing the frame shapes and styles from the Maestro range of the Anthems and Trances, the Stance cuts down in production costs with a simplified suspension design. A RockShox Monarch rear shock pivots around a single pivot and ‘flex stay’ arrangement (replacing one suspension pivot towards the rear axle with an area of flex in the aluminium frame) keeps the frame price down, but the component spec is still super capable for real off road riding. This bike ain’t just a comfortable ride, it’s decked out for the dirt, at an entry level price of $1599.

Giant Stance, a very well built $1699 dually.
Giant Stance, a very well built $1599 dually.

[divider]Trance Advanced 27.5 2[/divider]

The trail ready Trance series remains unchanged for 2015, but we couldn’t get past this red number for its bang for buck at wallet friendlier $3499. At 140mm of travel, the Trance series nail that all-day trail bike category, with most models with an adjustable seatpost as standard, and great geometry for shredding the rougher and trickier trails with confidence.

27.5″ wheels is the continuing theme for Giant’s range, and they are sticking to their guns on this size being the ideal wheel size.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 44
A carbon trail bike for under $3500, bargainzzz.

[divider]Anthem Advanced 27.5 0[/divider]

The Anthem series also remains unchanged for 2015, with the 27.5″ wheels staying as the 29er Anthem options shrink to one alloy and one composite model. The 100mm of travel is managed by more RockShox than we’ve seen in years past, but the new Fast Black coating on the shock shaft boosts the sensitivity and smooth action of the shocks and forks.

This Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 would have to be one of the finest options for the cross country or marathon racer out there. Or if your focus is speed, and your trails are smoother then an Anthem could be your pick of the Giant bunch.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 10
Anthem Advanced 27.5 0, $6799

[divider]LIV, women’s specific[/divider]

For six years since Giant made a concerted push into making their women’s specific bikes that are more than a just smaller framed bikes with a paint job, Giant have created a whole new brand; LIV. For 2015 the LIV mountain bike range is very healthy, and we finally receive the Intrigue into Australia, 140mm travel dually that was previously only available in some international markets. The frame constructions for the Obsess composite hardtail, Lust 100mm dually and the new Intrigue but what we love most about these bikes are the fun, and vibrant graphics.

[divider]LIV Lust[/divider]

The Lust is womens specific from head to toe, we reviewed the 2014 aluminium Lust 27.5 2 and loved the capable, agile and well-specced bike that also looked so damn hot. With 100mm of suspension travel front and back, the Lust is based around the Anthem 27.5 platform, geared towards the cross country rider looking for the added control and comfort rear suspension gives.

Lust Advanced 2, $3299
Lust Advanced 2, $3299

Expanding on their parts, accessories and apparel to match the other big brands, we’ll see more Giant and LIV branded gear at a higher quality than before. A digital gauge floor pump will be available as well as a whole new foray into the footwear range. Lycra kit manufactured with the Australian brand, Jaggad and new-look trail gear.

So, keep your eyes peeled for more bikes to be announced soon.