TESTED: Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1

While money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you incredibly lightweight, responsive suspension and wheels, both of which make this bike a dream to ride.


One of the first things you’ll notice about the new Anthem Advanced Pro 1 is the battery under the top tube. Look closer, and you’ll also see a control module attached to the rear shock. Both are for Fox Live Valve – tech that in South Africa, you will only find on Giant bikes. 

Live Valve is basically an electronic lockout system that turns your suspension on when you need it and turns it off when you don’t. Unlike some other automatic lockout systems that use floating weights that clink and clank, Live Valve is almost silent, and relies on motion and impact sensors to take up to a thousand readings per second to gauge the trail and give you the best traction possible. The latest version of Live Valve allows you to pair your bike with an app and select different suspension modes and sensitivity settings, giving you a range of tuning options. 

More on how Live Valve affects ride quality shortly, but safe to say it’s incredible tech that elevates the Anthem above many of its competitors who rely on the rider having to lock out the suspension manually.

In terms of geometry, the Anthem has moved with the times. Like all the other bikes, it has longer reach, a shorter stem as standard, and a 67.5° head-tube angle. The rear suspension design, called FlexPoint Pro, delivers 100m of travel, but fork travel has been increased from 100mm to 110mm. Combined with the slacker head angle, this gives you that little nudge of confidence to approach obstacles at speeds that would normally make you think twice. 

Luke Lockhard-Ross riding the Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1
Photo: Carl Jones (Postage Agency)

What’s it like to ride?

Over the past decade and more, the Anthem has consistently been one of the best XC bikes around. The new one is even better – it’s so light and responsive, and the Live Valve tech allows you to just ride, without having to think about when to firm your suspension and when to open it up. 

Whereas almost all the other brands have gone for rear suspension with a horizontal shock (and even a hidden horizontal shock, à la the new Specialized Epic World Cup and Trek Supercaliber), Giant have stuck with a vertical shock. Like the Cannondale Scalpel and others, Giant’s new FlexPoint Pro design also uses engineered compliance in the seat and chain stays; but instead of being something totally new, FlexPoint is essentially an evolution of their Maestro design of years gone by, which was always excellent. 

I biased the Live Valve system to favour descending performance, and I was amazed at the plushness through some very wild and rocky sections on Table Mountain. At the same time, the bike climbed like a mountain goat without any noticeable pedal bob – aided, of course, by its low overall weight. 

The vertical shock does limit you to one bottle in the front triangle using the standard mounts, but many Anthem riders have managed to fit two bottles using the Holy Rail system from local SA brand Lyne Components. I wouldn’t say the lack of a mount point for a second bottle is a game-changer, especially considering how well the suspension performs.

Giant have quietly been perfecting their in-house wheels and cockpit components – the XCR 1 carbon hoops on this bike are world-class. They’re lightweight, with a hookless bead and a 30mm internal width that pairs beautifully with the stock 29×2.4 Maxxis Rekon Race tyres. If you’ve only ever ridden with skinny 29×2.25 tyres, you’ll be amazed at the extra plushness and traction you get with wider rubber.

Likewise, the Giant Contact SLR XC flat bar with 35mm bore is stiff and light, and the raw carbon catches the light beautifully.

On one of my test rides, a friend compared the Anthem to a Toyota Fortuner (in a good way). He’s right: you hardly ever hear of anyone complaining about an Anthem breaking, or giving trouble – it just takes you where you need to go in comfort, without fuss. 

One thing to note: at this price point, mechanical SRAM GX shifting is a bit of a let-down. There’s nothing wrong with GX, but you’d expect the AXS version at least, considering how premium the rest of the build is. Still, if you compare apples with apples, and line up the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 next to the very top models from other brands – some of which cost R50k more than the Giant – you’ll realise you’re getting a lot of bike for your bucks. 

In summary

If you’re serious about XC and marathon racing, or if you just want to spoil yourself, the new Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 should be near the top of your list. The ride is refined and precise, and totally uncomplicated once you’ve worked out the Live Valve settings. The wheels and suspension are excellent, and it even comes with a dropper post. Hallelujah! 


Fox Live Valve really works

Great wheels

Dropper post 

Could have better drivetrain components

Only takes one bottle

Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 SPEC

Frame: Giant carbon; 100mm travel 

Fork: Fox 34 Float Step Cast Factory 110mm; Live Valve 

Shock: Fox Factory; Live Valve

Drivetrain: SRAM GX 32t chainring; SRAM GX Eagle derailleur, shifter and 10-52t cassette (12-speed)

Brakes: Shimano XT

Wheels: Giant XCR 1 30 rims; Giant hubs 

Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race 29×2.4

Cockpit: Giant Contact SLR XC carbon flat bar (760mm); alloy stem

Seat: Fi’zi:k Antares R5 saddle; Giant Contact Switch dropper post (125-150mm travel, depending on frame size)

Sing your own Anthem

If you want to build up your own bike, the new Anthem is available as a frameset for R56 200, in a raw carbon colourway that you won’t see on any of the stock models. 

Alongside the Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1, we also got the chance to test a beautiful custom Anthem with Fox Factory suspension (no Live Valve), SRAM XX1 AXS and a RockShox AXS dropper post. It was a smidge lighter than the stock model (around 11kg) and it performed similarly well, although I did have to think about which manual lockout mode to use.

The frameset option is great if you have parts you might want to move across from an existing bike. Chat to the guys at Giant, and they’ll happily advise.

Price: R153 000 | Weight:  11.5kg | giant-bicycles.co.za

READ MORE ON: bike review Bike Test Giant Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 New bikes XC racer

Copyright © 2024 Hearst