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New Wheels

Giant Anthem 29-0

I’m the proud owner of a new Giant Anthem 29-0 dual suspension mountain bike.

This raises some important questions:

1. Why did I get it?

I already had a 29er, and love the advantage I get from the big wheels – better traction, less rolling resistance, better obstacle clearance.

I love doing lots of long rides. Often those rides are in rough areas with steep descents and climbs, and often I ride them by myself.

I wanted dual suspension to make the rides more comfortable, but safety was an issue too. Rear suspension keeps the back wheel on the ground on fast descents, which gives me more traction. Plus it makes the ride smoother which (hopefully) will keep me on the bike when otherwise I might have been bumped off it. On long rides, it makes a difference on my back and backside if the ride is smoother, which means I enjoy it more, and come home happier.

I also wanted a 2 x 10 gearing system (two chain rings on the front, ten cogs on the back).

My old bike had a 3 x 9 gearing system. On a 3 x 9 system you can’t use all the gears because of the angle of the chain. For example, when I was in the big ring on the front, I couldn’t use the lower 2 or 3 gears on the back. Similarly when I was in the small ring on the front, I couldn’t use the upper 2 or 3 gears on the back. So I ended up with 5 or 6 un-useable gears and a lot of over-lapping gears.

The other problem with the 3 x 9 gearing system was mud. In muddy weather, if the front rings got dirty, it eventually became impossible to change gears. The angle of the chain coupled with the rubbish that built up on the front derailleur clogged the system up.

My hope with a 2 x 10 system was that I could use all the gears (there’s less of an angle with 2 rings on the front compared with 3 rings). The other hope was that the smaller chain angle would reduce problems with mud preventing gear changes on the front.

2. What do I think of it?

I love it!

The dual suspension makes a big difference. I’ve ridden it down a few really steep hills at Clear Mountain and love how stable it feels at speed. The ground was bumpy, but I felt comfortable on the bike. My knees no longer had to do all the rear suspension work.

The suspension front and back is fully adjustable. Not only can I adjust how stiff the suspension is, but I can adjust the rebound rate – how quick it bounces back. And there’s an extra air chamber on the front forks to counter-act against the suspension to stop the forks sticking. I’m used to the Fox F29 RL forks on my XTC-29 hard tail, so I was a bit surprised when I had to pump the Rock Shox RTC3 forks up about 20% more than what I was used to, but I suppose that’s just a minor difference between manufacturers.

The gears are all I expected too. The changes are crisp: click – change – no mashing or delay. All ten gears on the back are useable regardless of which ring I am using on the front. I rode the bike out in the mud and sand a couple of days ago and had no problems with rubbish clogging up my gear changes, so (I’m hoping) I’ll have less hassles in the mud too.

One bonus is the Avid Elixr 9 brakes. I now have a huge 180mm (7 inch) brake rotor on the front where I used to only have a 160mm (6 inch) rotor. The larger rotor gives me more stopping power which helps on steep descents.

Another bonus is the Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres. They’re tubeless ready, and feel pretty tough. I hate punctures and plan to convert them to tubeless in the next month or two. It’s nice to have a decent quality UST tyre on the bike, which will save me having to buy UST tyres once I go tubeless again.

But there are some minor issues….

On my old XTC-29, the small ring on the front had 22 teeth. This is small, and made hill-climbing really easy. When the trail got steep, I just dropped it into the “granny” ring, popped the rear cassette into first, and spun the pedals. It would get me up almost any hill and I loved it.

The small ring on the Anthem 29-0 has 26 teeth, and that makes a heck of a difference. When I tried climbing some of my favourite hills at Clear Mountain I found it really difficult. This was a major issue for me. Being able to climb almost any hill means I can go almost anywhere on my bike. If that was no longer the case I might have problems.

The solution was to replace the 26 tooth granny for a 22 tooth ring. This gave the Anthem the same advantage as my XTC-29 in hill climbs.

The second problem is with the brakes. The front brake howls like a banshee when I use it heavily. I used to have this problem with the lower spec Avid Juicy 3’s on the XTC-29. After persevering with them for 12 months, I eventually complained to Giant who replaced them under warranty with Shimano SLX disk brakes. The SLX brakes were whisper quiet. I loved them. But now with the top of the range Avid Elixr 9’s I’ve got that horrible howling again. I’ll persevere with it for a while longer. Hopefully the pads will wear in and the the brakes will quieten down. If not, I might have to whinge to the wonderful people at Giant Bicycles again 🙂

3. Bottom line?

It’s an awesome bike. As with most Giant Bikes – you get a hell of a lot of good quality bike for your money. The guys at Strathpine Cycles gave me excellent service (as always) and were able to give me a decent amount of change out of $3,000 which will come in handly for my tubeless conversion.

It has quality components.

It looks great.

It rides really well.

I’m really happy with my purchase!

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