Giant / Liv have taken a massive leap forward with women’s cycling over the last few years and the 2017 range saw an even more refined collection of women specific bikes. Interestingly the women’s MTB range was far more comprehensive than anything I’d seen from the other major players.
After much deliberation I decided to go with the Men’s/Unisex Anthem. I wanted an XT spec on an aluminium frame and I couldn’t keep my eyes off it in the showroom.
The Bike Fitting
I’m smallish at 5ft 5″ and find that I can’t just hop on any bike and ride comfortably.
I booked in with Ian at Cyclopaedia to find out what would work best for me. He had fit me to my road/cyclocross bike last year and completely transformed my riding and comfort.
The Anthem looked great, I’d go for a small and swap the mens saddle out for a Women’s Fizik Vesta. We’d shorten the stem, go for some narrower bars and do a full cleat setup.
Strictly speaking, the anthem is more towards the cross country race end of the full-sus MTB spectrum, but I haven’t got it set up to be racy.
I wanted a bike that would encourage skills development, but that would compensate for my lack of experience and give me some margin for error. This was the main deciding factor in going full-sus over hardtail. The anthem was slightly slacker in the head angle than its Liv counterpart which has helped me tremendously in my struggle to keep weight back over jumps and pumping dips. It’s slightly longer but my riser bar makes the difference pretty neutral. Geometry wise, I think I’d be just as happy riding the Liv.
Plush suspension, dropper post and the 46t sprocket!
The Deore XT 1×11 drivetrain is truly delicious. The braking is on point (and slightly sharper than I’m used to), and the shift is slick. Considering the last mountain bike I rode was a top spec XTR equipped carbon hardtail (on loan from my mate, Dewi), I was afraid anything else would feel sluggish.. I was wrong.
The 46t sprocket has been a godsend. I usually ride with ‘the boys’ who are all much fitter and faster than me. The 46T allows me to keep spinning and eventually catch up, even when I’m at my absolute limit. I also like to click into the 46t for a little rest and recovery before a big climb without having to stop for a breather. As my fitness has improved over the last few months I spend more and more time in the 37t which is a great confidence booster.
The carbon wheels take a huge chunk off the overall weight. The fork and hub spacing are BOOST which means stiffer and stronger wheels. ( I was a little concerned that I would be limited for future upgrades with Boost, but the industry is moving forward with it and there’s loads available so fear not. )
The dropper, or “uppy-downy seatpost” as many call it, is Giant’s own. Whilst it isn’t the best on the market, it is definitely good enough for me.
I am by no means an expert in ride analysis. I still spend a lot of my time hanging on for dear life.
Compared to other bikes I have ridden, when I’m riding something sketchy, the Anthem 1 seems to know what it is doing. It is super stable, nippy and responsive on the descents and the maestro suspension brings a lot to the party when tackling long, arduous climbs.
Honestly, for the first few weeks I struggled with the whole mountain bike thing. I’d never really got to know one properly. I’ve had a few silly crashes and realised that a lot of this MTB stuff isn’t the bike, its me. The chaps at Cyclopaedia recommended laying off the brakes, looking for my exit when cornering, lowering the heels to keep weight back and dropping the outside foot to dig into corners. The best thing about my local bike shop is that they really care about this stuff. I’ve had a comprehensive bike fit, a fantastic bike and some incredibly beneficial advice and you’ll never get quality of service online.
The first event I took my Giant Anthem to ride was CX/MTB; a mountain bike marathon event organised fantastically by ACycling. A 24/52km off-road event with great feed stations and lots of nice people. It was photographed by Anthony Pease, a kickass adventure/sports/cycling photographer. Follow his blog HERE , it’s totally inspiring! / Find him on Twitter HERE
I’ve found the GMBN videos on Youtube really helpful for quick riding tips. Finding likeminded MTB rides through the MTB Divas Facebook group added a whole new element of fun to my riding.
Follow Cardiff Cyclist on Twitter HERE (@CDFcyclist)
Follow Jenny on twitter HERE (@jennylovestrees)
Follow Cyclopaedia on Twitter HERE (@cyclopaediashop)