The Bike List

Giant Anthem X 29er 2011

Looking for the latest version of this bike?

Tested by Oli Laverack

Review

New for 2011 Giant’s Anthem X 29’er is a 4.0”/100mm full suspension cross country bike that is essentially a 29” wheeled version of the Anthem X1 and comes in at exactly the same price point. Back in 2010 I was super impressed with the XtC 29’er 1 hardtail which offered a smooth, responsive and fast ride and earlier this year the Anthem X2 scored equally well thanks to its amazing ability to climb efficiently and descend like a bike with more travel. Having reviewed both the 2010 XtC 29’er hardtail and the 26” wheeled 2011 full sus Anthem X2 I was keen to find out if the Anthem X 29’er could combine the best parts of each to make a super fast and responsive race bike. Without realising it my subconscious was already starting to meld the ride of the 29’er hardtail and the 26” Anthem X2 together to build up an idea of how the Anthem X 29’er would ride. So to find out if the new 29’er would live up to my expectations I’ve hammered the Anthem X over my local, mostly dry trails this summer. I’ve also ridden the bike in the Yorshire Dales and had chance to test the bike on the epic Hellrider Adventure Duathlon earlier this June.

From a construction side the Anthem X 29’er frame is made from Giant’s light yet strong, fluid formed AluxX SL Aluminium. The boxy down tube and tapered top tube seem to be even more accentuated on the 29’er, thanks in part to the shorter head tube. For me the shape and polished metal finish with blue stripes complete with colour coded anodized finishing touches means this bike delivers in the looks department and has turned plenty of heads out on the trails and even down the high street. The only obvious downside to this being that you wouldn’t want to leave the bike locked up anywhere no matter how good your lock is.

An oversized “Overdrive” tapered head tube (1 1/8in top & 1.5” bottom) helps keep the front end stiff which is especially important on the Anthem X 29er due to the shorter head tube. The fluid formed tubes are designed to not only be functional and aesthetically pleasing but consideration is also given to where the weight lies and how this will affect how the bike handles. As on the 26” frame the Anthem X 29’er uses a Press Fit bottom bracket. Snaking rear chain stays and curved seat stays on the intricately engineered rear triangle are designed to help diffuse vibrations created by the ground. Once both front and rear are bolted together the result is a very stiff, flex free frame with rear suspension that stays fully active even when braking.

I’ve had plenty of chance to test the Anthem X 29’er on my local trails but the first real ‘call of duty’ for the Giant was the Hell Rider, an off-road team duathlon event that took place in West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire in June on a scorcher of a day. The event, which sees teams of three or five tag team their way round a gruelling and surprisingly hilly run and a mountain bike course for eight hours straight, tested The Bike List team’s metal to the max (click here to read the full story). The mountain bike course took you straight into a long-ish climb instantly testing the Anthem X 29’ers uphill ability. Although I was trying to ride a steady first lap I couldn’t help feel that perhaps I was putting in too much effort as I quickly overtook a number of fit looking riders to the top of the first long winding hill. My overtaking spree carried on through the first lap on the flatter sections as well as the climbs. First lap down and I’d managed to claw back 9 places on a lap that felt hard but I’d kept well within my physical limits.

This same level of speed continued through the race and although there’s no doubt that some of the advantage is psychological the Giant is a fast bike. The open, flowing but mixed course of the Hell Rider suited the Giant brilliantly and it’s not hard to see how this bike could be a race winner with the right pilot. Giant’s team rider Carl Decker rode his race spec prototype Anthem X 29’er to victory at this year’s Sea Otter Classic race in California and is reported to have ridden away from the field to take the win on a fast, dusty, wide-open course with one long climb. Sadly the same wasn’t the case for our Hell Rider event, but having used the bike on a course that also lent itself to the speedy Giant, it wasn’t hard to see how this bike could be a game changer. This year Carl is racing an all-new production frame with the same geometry that featured on the prototype meaning our test bike is essentially the same as Carl Decker’s minus a few super light components.

The Hell Rider course didn’t really phase the suspension so a trip to the Yorkshire Dales to thrash down some rugged and unforgiving terrain quickly followed. The Fox F29 fork which impressed on the XtC 29’er hardtail delivered the same silky smooth travel up front with the 15mm thru axle preventing the front wheel from flexing and helping keep the front end super stiff over rocks, roots or deep ruts. The Fox Float RP23 unit integrated to Giant’s Maestro suspension system makes for a great combination and comes with ProPedal damping which can be adjusted on the fly and reduces pedal-induced suspension bob. When set to ‘open’ the suspension is fully active and when set to ‘ProPedal’ the suspension is stiffened up giving you much less bob as you pedal whilst still remaining effective over more demanding terrain. As with the Anthem X2 reaching down to adjust the ProPedal lever wasn’t difficult but not having a remote lockout lever on the bars for the forks is a bit disappointing especially for the £2950 asking price, and considering the equally priced Anthem X1 does have one. More importantly though, the Giant descends as well as it climbs on wide open trails and should you get caught out by some sneaky rocks like I did on several occasions, both suspension units will work super hard to save you. Although the big wheels of the Anthem X 29’er roll fast, the bike doesn’t descend the more technical rocky trails as well as its 26” cousin which feels easier to manoeuvre.

The Shimano 30-speed gearing was faultless and the gear ratio only caused me to get off and walk up one very steep climb in the Dales which was even difficult to walk up. The steepest climb about half way round this year’s Hell Rider course was covered in rocks and ruts and required a slow winding ascent to cancel out the gradient. Balancing the Anthem X 29’er at low speed was surprisingly easy and I was able to cycle my way past the majority of others who had decided to get off and walk. There is one chink in the Giant’s armour though. Although the wheelbase of the Anthem X 29’er is only 2.5cm longer than that of it’s 26” counterpart, the geometry and bigger wheels make this bike noticeably more difficult to manoeuvre through singletrack with lots of tight turns.

Our size Large test model tipped the scales at 12.03kg / 26.52 lbs, making it just 310 g heavier than the 2011 26” Anthem X2 (both without pedals). The DT Swiss hubs laced to Giant’s own P-XC 29 DW rims weighed in at 1.95kg for the front (including the 15mm thru axle) and 2.35kg for the rear including tyres. Getting bigger wheels moving takes more effort, making it even more important for 29’ers to have light wheels and this set felt fine and more importantly are still running true after several months of use. The Maxxis Crossmark tyres felt quick on forest fire roads and trails alike and offered plenty of grip when needed. The only issue we had with the tyre was on the Hell Rider when a piece of flint cut a small tear in the sidewall. This caused a small bubble of inner tube to poke through and impressively we finished the race without having to make a repair. Giant’s Contact flat handlebars feel a little wide to begin with but the additional width gives you the extra leverage you need to steer the bigger wheels with the same precision as a 26” bike. Combined with Giant’s contact stem (100mm with 8° rise) the position is racy but comfortable and has been easy to maintain on longer days in the saddle. The Fi'zi:k Tundra 2 saddle sadly hasn’t given me the same level of comfort but I’ve yet to find a saddle that’s comfortable for everyone. The Avid Elixir CR hydraulic discs with a 185mm rotor up front and 160mm rotor on the rear give you ample braking power that’s easy to control and feather as needed.

If you’re looking for an off the shelf, race ready, cross country / endurance bike at the £3000 price range that’s ideal for going flat out on open trails, up climbs and then quickly back down again, then the Giant is a strong contender. Its larger 29” wheels will also smooth out your ride as you chase victory, but on snaking singletrack, dogleg trails and through trees, the Giant was at times cumbersome and sluggish. In almost any other situations the Giant Anthem X 29er will enhance your performance and enjoyment without the need to take any performance enhancing substances!

At a glance

Verdict A smooth, super fast, race ready, legal performance enhancer that’s best suited to more open trails.
Value
Performance

Do you own this bike?

by Gerald Matiation  on 16 Jan 2018
I own this bike ...iam very happy with it ..i changed the crossmark tires out with some 28 inch road tires that fit on the 29 inch rims cuz i mostly ride on the road and this bike flys !
I love it and plan on keeping it ..o yeah ...i put on a softer seat and different grips and it is perfect to riding for me ...😁

Similar Giant bikes

Spec
Value
Giant Anthem X4 2011 £1,650
  • Price £1,300 cheaper
  • Brakeset Shimano Alivio
  • Cassette Shimano HG50
  • Shifters Shimano Deore
  • Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
Giant Anthem X3 2011 £2,150
  • Price £800 cheaper
  • Brakeset Avid Elixir 5
  • Rear Shock Fox RP2
  • Chainset Shimano SLX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
Giant Anthem X2 2011 £2,350
  • Price £600 cheaper
  • Rear Shock Fox RP2
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
Giant Anthem X 29er 2011 £2,950
Spec
Value
Giant Anthem X1 2011 £2,950
  • Brakeset Shimano Deore XT

Similar Giant bikes from other years

Spec
Value
  • Price £951 cheaper
  • Brakeset Shimano SLX
  • Chainset Shimano SLX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
  • Price £951 cheaper
  • Brakeset Shimano SLX
  • Chainset Shimano SLX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
  • Price £951 cheaper
  • Brakeset Avid Elixir 5
  • Chainset Shimano SLX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX

Other similar bikes

Kona HEI HEI 2-9 2011
RRP £3,000
Spec
Value
  • Chainset SRAM X9
  • Rear Derailleur SRAM X9
  • Shifters SRAM X9
  • Front Derailleur SRAM X9
  • Rear Shock Fox 32 Float
KHS Flagstaff 29 2011
RRP £1,900
Spec
Value
  • Price £1,050 cheaper
  • Brakeset Avid Elixir 3
  • Rear Shock RockShox Monarch RT
  • Chainset Shimano M552
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Trek Top Fuel 9 2011
RRP £2,800
Spec
Value
  • Price £150 cheaper
  • Rear Shock Fox RP2
Kona 2+2 DL 2011
RRP £3,200
Spec
Value
  • Price £250 more expensive
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
  • Price £450 cheaper
  • Brakeset Formula RX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
  • Price £650 cheaper
  • Brakeset Shimano Deore XT
Spec
Value
  • Price £50 cheaper
  • Rear Derailleur SRAM X0
  • Shifters SRAM X9
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur SRAM X7
Kona 2+2 2011
RRP £2,500
Spec
Value
  • Price £450 cheaper
  • Brakeset Avid Elixir 5
  • Rear Shock Fox RP2
  • Chainset Shimano SLX
  • Cassette Shimano SLX
  • Shifters Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur Shimano SLX
Spec
Value
  • Price £451 cheaper
  • Cassette SRAM PG 1070
  • Rear Derailleur SRAM X0
  • Chainset SRAM X9
  • Shifters SRAM X9
  • Front Derailleur SRAM X9
  • Brakeset Formula RX

Used bikes for sale