You almost feel sorry for the Giant Anthem SX. With its undeniably recognizable cross-country roots, it’s the puny kid on the playground that no one wants to play with. And definitely not on a technical trail! For starters, its 100 mm travel = way too little, and XC? Isn’t that just a synonym for skintight lycra? Uncool.

Allein in der Ecke... das Giant Anthem SX.
Alone in the corner… the Giant Anthem SX.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Anthem SX is the bike that’s left behind at home when the bigger ones go out to shred in the forest. But that’s really only half the truth… As love and sorrow are so closely linked, I’ll start with some love.

As soon as we started issue #015’s group test for the new-school cross-country bikes, I fell in love with the Giant Anthem SX – along with all of the other test riders. With a complete package that just worked, incredible riding performance and a super cool look, the Giant was a standout victor. But how would it perform in the long-term test? And are its lightweight parts and components equipped for a frequent hammering on the trails? In order to find out the answers, we ordered the exact same bike from Giant Germany to see how it would fare in a long-term test.

Really, is that necessary?

There’s a simple answer to the question you’re all asking: Why ride a cross-country bike? At times like these when everything has to be stiffer, fatter, bigger, and with the growing popularity of extreme downhill-bike-inspired geometry, we keep failing to ask ourselves the fundamental question: Do I even need that? And why do I need that specific bike?

Is the Anthem SX the right bike for enduro races or for gnarly trails in the Alps? Nope. Is the Giant the right bike for flowing and fast trails, like my home trails? Hell, yes.

New School XC. Schnell, unbarmherzig und vor allem eines: Spaßig.
New School XC. Fast, unrelenting and above all, fun.

Working 70 hours a week doesn’t leave me much time to load the bikes into the car and travel somewhere that might demand a large-calibre bike, so I usually have some two-wheeled fun on the trails around my house in Stuttgart. On flat, flowing and less technical trails, long-travel bikes aren’t as much fun to ride – and not just because of their (too extreme) geometry, but because they monster-truck everything, thereby smoothing out anything remotely choppy about the trail and robbing it of any challenge it might have posed.

Das ist leider nicht meine Hausrunde, sondern der Strand von Santa Barbara, an dem wir während unseres XC-Vergleichstests für Ausgabe #015 waren
Unfortunately this isn’t one of my local trails, it’s the beach in Santa Barbara where we held our cross-country group test for issue #015

The slogan of this compact and super agile bike could be ‘just jump on it and enjoy’, although its base is a cross-country World Cup race model: the Giant Anthem. For € 4,300 ($ 5,575) the Anthem Advanced SX 27.5 offers everything that a modern trail bike should: a well thought-out spec with a dropper seat post, comfortable cockpit, a considered wheel combination, as well as SRAM’s X01 1×11 drivetrain. In size medium the Giant weighs in at 11.3 kg (24,9 lbs).

Schicke Farb-Decals sorgen für einen selbstbewussten wie coolen Look.
These cool details give the bike a self-assured and cool image.
Die RockShox Revelation Federgabel harmoniert sehr gut mit dem Hinterbau und bietet mit ihren 120 mm Federweg genügend Reserven.
Im legendären Maestro-Hinterbau mit virtuellem Drehpunkt steckt der Monarch DebonAir RT Dämpfer.
In the legendary Maestro rear suspension with its floating pivot point you’ve got the Monarch DebonAir RT shock.

Like the World Cup bike, the Anthem SX also only offers 100mm rear travel, but the front’s 120mm travel thanks to the RockShox Revelation RL forks, means the front of the bike sits higher and its head angle slackens to 68.5°.

Die Giant Contact SL Switch Teleskopsattelstütze bietet 100 mm Hub, was für viele Fahrer und maximale Versenkbarkeit nicht immer ausreichend ist.
The Giant Contact SL Switch dropper seat post offers 100mm of drop – loads of riders will be after more here!
Beauty: Der Carbon-Hauptrahmen mit innenverlegten Zügen.
What a beauty: the carbon frame with internally-routed cables.
Die SRAM Guide Bremse RS gefällt mit ihrer guten Dosierbarkeit, wie sie sich im Dauertest schlagen wird?
The SRAM Guide RS brakes impressed with their modulation. But how will they handle the long-term test?
Voller Original-Spec. Kleine Anpassungen folgen noch.
Full original spec – small adjustments to follow.

What’s different?

I haven’t made any changes to the spec just yet, but I’m considering putting on some handlebars with more rise in order to raise the front. Then I’ll convert it to tubeless.

Das Cockpit wird eventuell mit einem Lenker mit mehr Rise upgedatet, um die Front höher zu bekommen.
The cockpit will probably be updated to handlebars with more rise in order to raise the front.
Abner Kingman 2015©

I’ve got pretty set goals for this season; instead of racing I’m going to spend as much time as possible riding my home trails, get fit again and keep the fitness! Since last week we’ve been doing daily pre-office rides at 7am, banging out quick & dirty loops on our currently pretty muddy trails. During the season I’d like to do a few odd races, but whether I actually race on the Anthem SX or on a long-travel enduro bike remains to be seen.

And while we’re on the topic of love and sorrow: In contrast to most of the long-term test bikes, the Anthem is far less likely to travel the globe, as I’ve chosen it to function as my faithful home bike. So in this case, the kid does have to stay at home – but he’s going to have damn good fun there. So keep loose and give gas. The Giant is definitely made for that!

Check out issue #015 to read our review of the Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5

Born: 1990 | Biking Since: 2000 | Height: 178cm | Weight: 71kg | Job: ENDURO Founder | @Strava

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About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.