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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look review

Giant's new Anthem Advance gets a serious suspension and geometry overhaul for 2022 in what could be the cross-country bike's biggest update yet

What is a hands on review?
Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look
(Image: © Graham Cottingham)

Early Verdict

Giant's refreshed Anthem is as good on the ups as it is on the downs - we're looking forward to spending more time on it before giving it an official rating

For

  • - Calm and controlled geometry
  • - Loads of traction when climbing and descending
  • - Very capable spec list with Fox 34, Reckon tires and 125mm dropper post

Against

  • - Lower shock mount recess collects dirt
  • - Only one bottle cage
  • - No downtube protection

Bike Perfect Verdict

Giant's refreshed Anthem is as good on the ups as it is on the downs - we're looking forward to spending more time on it before giving it an official rating

Pros

  • + - Calm and controlled geometry
  • + - Loads of traction when climbing and descending
  • + - Very capable spec list with Fox 34, Reckon tires and 125mm dropper post
  • +

Cons

  • - - Lower shock mount recess collects dirt
  • - - Only one bottle cage
  • - - No downtube protection

Giant has released the new 2022 Anthem Advanced Pro and the cross-country platform has received a serious overhaul. It’s been four years since the Anthem last had an update and a lot has changed in the cross-country scene since then. Now not only do the current crop of cross-country bikes make the outgoing Anthem look pretty dated but even some of the more radical adventure gravel bikes are starting to get close to the old Anthem’s conservative geometry numbers. Giant’s latest Anthem brings it right back in line with some significant updates that will greatly boost the capability that is demanded by modern cross-country racing. 

No longer using the Maestro suspension design, which has been a staple of Giant’s best full-suspension mountain bikes, it has been replaced with a new system called Flexpoint Pro. Since the Anthem’s original launch in 2005, the cross-country race platform has gone through a number of changes to suspension layout but this will be the first time that the actual design has been changed. Alongside the simplified and lightened rear end, Giant has also completely remodeled the geometry, lengthening and slackening the bike’s stance. We take a first look at what will be the most dramatic update in the Anthem’s history so far. 

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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Giant has overhauled the Anthem, making it slacker and moving to a new suspension layout (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The new suspension design is called FlexPoint Pro (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Gone are the lower linkages of Giant's Maestro platform (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

By moving to a linkage driven single-pivot design, Giant claims to have saved 250g (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Giant calls the finish Chameleon Saturn (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The finish has a sparkle to it under direct sunlight (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Giant has increased the torsional stiffness by a claimed seven per cent compared to the previous Anthem (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Design and aesthetics

Giant has used its next-generation Advanced composite carbon fiber for the Anthem’s main triangle and rear end. Giant says that it has managed to increase torsional stiffness to improve handling and there are molded brows that extend around the headtube and merge into the low slung and gently curving top tube. The downtube has a broad flattened shape and curves horizontally at the bottom to meet the bottom bracket, lower pivot and bottom shock mount. Giant claims that the new Anthem is 20 per cent stiffer in the bottom bracket area to improve power transfer when sprinting and climbing. 

At first glance, it doesn't look like a whole lot has changed. However, like many other recently released cross-country bikes, Giant has opted for rear flex points rather than using pivots throughout. Gone is Giant’s faithful virtual pivoted Maestro system and in its place is a new FlexPoint Pro suspension design. This means the Anthem uses a linkage-driven single-pivot system to deliver the 100mm of rear suspension travel, 10mm more than the previous model. While that means fewer pivots to service, the most significant gain from removing the lower linkage is that the rear end is now 250g lighter than the old Anthem. 

The 67.5-degree head tube angle might not match the de rigueur numbers of some more radical downcountry-esque bikes we have seen recently, but it’s still plenty slack enough for cross-country riding, and is on par with the roster of bikes that can be found lining up at the start of races and, more importantly, crossing the finish line at the front of the pack. Stretching the reach to 450mm on our size medium and boosting suspension travel further enhances the Anthem’s on-paper poise for tackling the steeper, gnarlier terrain that is now expected of cross-country mountain bikes. To help put riders in a better climbing position, the seat tube angle is now 75.5-degrees, an increase of two degrees over the older version, and by removing the lower linkage, FlexPoint Pro has allowed Giant to shorten the chainstays by 3mm. 

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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

There are quite a few extra bits of wiring connecting up Fox's Live Wire system (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Cable routing exits at the bottom of the downtube (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

There is a minimal MRP guide to keep the chain in check (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Ribbed coverings protect the chainstays (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

There isn’t a flip-chip though, which is surprising considering that Giant’s other performance suspension bikes use one, not to mention the recently released Revolt which allows riders to tailor the geometry to riding conditions.

Detailing is decent with plenty of rubber chain protection on the chainstay and inside the seat stay. Uncomplicated internal cable routing is relatively neat, feeding through bolted cable guides located just behind the headtube. These exit at the bottom of the downtube to either run internally through the chainstay to the rear derailleur or externally along the inside of the non-driveside chainstay. Unfortunately due to the layout of the frame, there is only space for a single bottle cage.

For 2022, Giant has doubled down on its support of Fox’s Live Valve suspension system. For those unaware of what Fox’s Live Wire is, it is an electronic system that automatically controls the suspension as you ride. The system uses sensors to take measurements thousands of times per second and feed that data to a controller (the block under the top tube) which automatically adjusts the fork and shock independently as the terrain changes. While it may add a significant level of engineering complexity, the idea is that the system simplifies the riding experience. Simply put, the system remains closed off until it senses that the suspension is needed to absorb an impact. The Live Valve reaction time is claimed to be three milliseconds and should feel seamless while riding.

Giant has specced Live Valve on the Anthem previously, as well as other halo bikes in its ranges, but, for 2022, Live Valve will be fitted to both the top of the range Anthem Advanced Pro 29 0 and Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 we have here. Although Giant now has two Anthems featuring Live Valve, it’s actually one of the few bikes on the market that is equipped with the elusive electronic suspension system from Fox.

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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Mounted under the top tube is Fox's Live Valve battery and computing system (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The shock is a Live Valve specific design (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Wiring plugs into one of the barrels to deliver instructions to the shock (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The suspension is set up and adjusted as you would normally (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Live Valve then controls the suspension using sensors to open up the forks and shock (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Components and build 

The Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1’s suspension sensor wizardry and mysterious magic box are undoubtedly going to be the biggest talking point of the spec, not just because of the promised performance but also because of how rarely it’s seen fitted to bikes. Said Live Valve system plugs into a 110mm Fox 34 StepCast Performance Elite fork and a Performance Elite rear shock, both of which have been custom tuned for Giant.

The drivetrain is very nearly a Shimano XT full house, including a 10-51T 12-speed cassette and 32T chainring, the only XT exclusion being a KMC chain. The Shimano XT brakes are paired with 180mm front and 160mm rear disc rotors.

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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 comes with an XT drivetrain (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

XT cranks are fitted with a 32T chainring (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

With a 10-51T cassette there is a good range of gears (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Shimano also handles the braking (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

There is a 180mm rotor at the front and 160mm at the rear (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The shifter and brake lever are neatly mounted (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The finishing kit comes from Giant and features a 760mm Contact SLR XC carbon handlebar and Contact SL 70mm stem. The 35mm clamp diameter adds handling stiffness although I would have liked to see a slightly wider bar to be able to leverage this to more effect. The Giant Contact Switch dropper post on our medium comes with 125mm of travel (size large goes to 150mm) and is topped with a Fizik Antares R5 saddle.

The wheels are Giant's own XCR 1 wheelset, set up tubeless from the factory with 2.35in Maxxis Rekon tires. The Giant branded hubs used are fast to engage and are built to 30mm wide carbon rims using 24 front/28 rear spokes.

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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Giant supplies the 760mm carbon bar with a oversized 35mm clap diameter (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The Contact dropper post has 125mm of travel (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

I wasn't a huge fan of the small foam grips (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Rekon tires offer good trail adhesion (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Giant has equipped the Anthem with its XCR 1 wheelset (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

The wheels use a 30mm hookless carbon rim (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Performance

While I haven’t ridden the older Anthem, from my short time on the new bike I can only presume that the ride feel would be radically different in all scenarios. The more progressive geometry paired with the added suspension travel means that results in a bike that I quickly felt pretty comfortable on.

We have only had a limited time on the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 and unfortunately, the Fox Live Valve on our test bike wasn’t working. That meant we were unable to get a proper feel for the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 as it was intended. That said, Fox’s electronic wizardry is a halo product, only featuring on the two most expensive models, so our first ride will be more in line with what most Anthem owners will experience as when Live Valve is not on, it just works like a normal bike.

Climbing is definitely the area in which Live Valve is going to have the most dramatic effect. Without it, the Anthem would happily press on, making diligent progress, although there was certainly some activity from the suspension. While a little more suspension fettling will probably help remedy this it did mean there was loads of traction on scrambling rock sections or loose inclines.

Most XC bikes, even the slack ones, usually have an extremely lively feel on the descents, the Anthem is quite sedated in comparison. Handling feels on the slow side and in some circumstances almost reluctant to change direction. That's not to say that the bike can’t corner, it just doesn't have the hair-trigger cornering and intensity that can be equally thrilling as it can be unnerving when pushed too hard. There were a number of corners I rode through only realizing upon exiting that I hadn’t actually braked going into them and, if Strava is to be believed, I wasn’t going slower either as I returned from my first ride with a decent haul of PRs.

Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

110mm fork and big tires make the Anthem a really confident descender (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Descending, the Anthem has a very calculated feel to it, almost like the bike is breaking down each section of the trail into manageable pieces to deal with one at a time, step by step before taking a breath and resetting ready for the next part. Push it into hard trails with increased intensity and it still manages to stay resilient and controlled, even if it feels like you don't have time to breathe.

The 34 fork with its 110mm of travel really helps bring about a calm and collected feel in the bike. As cross-country bikes become slacker, geometry numbers can make promises that ultra-lightweight svelte suspension forks can't deliver. The taut headtube, 34mm stanchions and 35mm diameter handlebar feel precise and direct, rather than undermining the bike’s desires.

This structural security, on top of the additional Live Valve paraphernalia, dropper post and robust tires, means that the overall weight is on the heavier side. Our medium test sample weighed in at 11.45kg, which is still respectable enough to really motor up climbs - and once we have Live Wire working it should be even more efficient. The weight can’t be ignored though, especially considering the cost of the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 means it’s always going to be a compromise as there are lighter, cheaper, classically damped options that are just as capable on the market. That said, the fact that Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 comes equipped with Fox’s Live Valve could be a serious performance enhancer and a real selling point for those looking to get their hands on cutting-edge cross-country tech.

Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 2022 first look

Live Valve should give the Anthem a real boost in efficiency  (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Verdict

With limited time on Giant’s new Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 and, having yet to ride it with its futuristic suspension trickery fully functional, it’s hard to give an early verdict. Giant has clearly worked hard to bring the Anthem up to date with the current crop of multi-faceted cross-country bikes that see opportunities to win races not only on the ups but also the downs.

Initial impressions look like Giant is on the money, too, and the Anthem could be a cold, calculated killer on rowdy XC tracks that demand composure to clear. Bike racing is as much about conserving energy as it is putting out power, and so far the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 has shown a certain degree of calmness. The confidence of the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 on the downhills does come with a small weight penalty. The Anthem has loads of traction but until I have ridden the bike with the Live Valve active, I don’t want to comment too much on its climbing ability at this early stage.

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 8-10 degrees C
  • Surface: Tweed Valley trail center and natural trails

Tech Specs: Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1

  • Price: $7,500 / £6,999
  • Model: Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1
  • Discipline: Cross-country
  • Head angle: 67.5-degrees
  • Frame material: Advanced-Grade Composite
  • Size: Medium
  • Weight: 11.45kg
  • Wheel size: 29 x 2..35in 
  • Suspension: Fox 34 Float SC Performance Elite Live Valve 110mm travel, 44mm offset / Fox Performance Elite Live Valve 100mm travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT shifters and mech with Shimano XT 10-51T 12-speed cassette
  • Cranks: Shimano Deore XT (175mm), 32t chainset
  • Brakes: Shimano XT brakes with 180mm front / 160 rear rotors
  • Cockpit: Giant Contact SLR XC Flat (760mm) handlebar and Giant Contact SL XC (70mm) stem
  • Wheelset: Giant XCR 1 30 wheelset
  • Tires: Maxxis Recon Race 29x2.35 tires
  • Seatpost: Giant Contact Switch dropper post
  • Saddle: Fi'zi:k Antares R5 with K:ium rails
Graham Cottingham

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.