Strengths: Light, responsive, suspension is extremely smooth, climbs like a goat
Weaknesses: wheels, tires, brakes, handlebars
I have a 2011 model. I test rode several other 29ers, including a Niner Jet9 and Air9, and settled on the Anthem, as it was the one that fit me best. I gave my LBS owner a number in terms of how much money I could spend and asked him to give me the best upgrades for my money. He replaced the stock wheelset with Stan's Arches w/ ZTR hubs and the tires with Schwalbe Nobby Nics, set up tubeless. We also replaced the stock handlebars with riser bars and a shorter stem. The brakes were extremely noisy and "warble-y" at first, but since wearing through the stock pads and replacing them with organic/metallic mix pads, they are much quieter. With these upgrades, I am now extremely happy with this bike.
This is a fabulous XC trail bike. It rolls over obstacles with an unbelievable amount of ease, though, as some reviewers have pointed out, it does have a low BB and tends to smack into logs. As I mentioned above, this thing climbs like a billy goat, and I've been able to climb a lot of steep hills I could never get up before! It's also an extremely stable downhiller, as well. Though I mostly ride XC, there are some fairly gnarly downhill-oriented trails at my local trail system, and this bike is perfectly capable of handling them. For me, stability is the biggest selling point on this bike. I can power through just about anything with it, track stand like there's no tomorrow when I get stuck, and eventually pedal my way out of the situation, and get through sketchy spots on the trail that send others sliding all over or off the trail. I love this bike!!
Weaknesses: Wheels (crappy hubs), brakes (kinda weak, but some like the modulation. Not me), Fizik Tundra, I mean Tourcher seat (most uncomfortable ever!), tires (thin as tissue)
Instantly fell in love with the handling of this bike on a Giant demo day at the trail. It was very responsive on fast twisty singletrack and climbed very well. It's easy to induce into a two-wheel drift now and confidence inspiring to lean into turns (once dialed in). The bike can be as stiff or as plush as you want/need it to be IMO. I keep the rear shock pretty stiff for my weight and rebound slow for my terrain. But I speed up the rebound if it's really rocky/rooty where I'm riding. Either way, I don't feel suspension bob robbing me of my power.
What I didn't like are the wheels. The rear Shimano M475 is the worse hub EVER! It constantly leaks grease out and tightens on it's own. The front Formula hub eventually started having problems too. I HAD to replace the wheels after less than 2 months of riding. For a $2000 bike, they should have at least put M525 or LX hubs on this bike. The tires have no grip and can be punctured with a finger nail! Their only benefit is they're light and roll fast. Replaced with a cheap set of Velociraptors. And the brakes are just weak. I can't bash them yet because I haven't tried new pads yet, nor have I blead them - but off the shelf they're weak. My BB7's were better.
Since the frame cost $1500 and the whole bike cost me $1700, I still think it's a great deal. Even though the parts spec are not top of the line, the Giant Connect stuff looks and performs very well. You only need to replace it to get lighter stuff, but if weight is that much of an issue, you should go with an X1. The Deore cranks work and shift fine as well. Only replaced mine because I stripped the drive side pedal. Wheels and tires will need to be replaced immediately. They SUCK! The Mavic rims are OK but the hubs are complete crap and they should never have been stocked on a bike of this caliber. See if you can get store credit on an upgrade. The roadie seat is a personal perference thing, but I personally HATED it. Very easy to sell and get something else. Sold mine and got a Giant Flow seat with a cut-out. 1000X better than the Fizik antiscrotum device.
Bike Setup: XL frame, Giant flo saddle (replaced the Fizik Tourcher, I mean Tundra), LX Hollow Tech II cranks, Xenduro wheelset (Novatech), the rest is stock. Rear shock is 1 click away from slowest rebound.
a Cross Country Rider
from Québec, Québec
Date Reviewed: May 23, 2011
Strengths: Lightweight, predictable, look nice
Weaknesses: Mavic 317 wheels are too heavy, I replaced by rims NoTube Crest and HopePro2 hubs
Actually, I'm in a bike club and I roll a lot. I love my bike! With the new wheels, I think I'm around 25.5lbs or 25. This bike is predictable, easy to drive in technical ride, easy to work on when you want to do some mecanics.
I think I have a lot for what I paid for. Don't pay for an Anthem X2 or X1, it's a waster of money! Buy some wheels with the cash you saved. I have a friend that bought a X1 and regret a bit of paying it ±3500$.
Bike Setup: I swaped the Shimano XT shifting setup to SRAM X9
Got custom wheels
Front tire: Schwalbe NobbyNic 2.5 (tubeless ready)
Rear tire: Maxxis Argent 2.25 (not tubeless at all! but running tubeless)
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: December 20, 2010
Strengths: Light and fast in '09 stock trim. Climbs ANYTHING in front of it.
Weaknesses: Shimano brakes are a little weak, freehub is slow to engage
Great overall ride, I weight ~200lbs with gear, fork set at 80-85 psi, three clicks from slow, shock set at 160 psi 4 clicks from slow. I run tires at 32 psi rear, 26-28 psi front, (michlin Dry2's and tubes). Love it, just took time to remember BB is low comming from AM Fat Possium.
a Cross Country Rider
from Waiouru, New Zealand
Date Reviewed: September 19, 2010
Strengths: Fast out of corners. Jump out of saddle and it powers up most hills.
Weaknesses: Brakes. Burnt both front and back in an event. Now front brake keeps cloging with dust.
Great Bike. Well worth the money. Well balanced bike. Powers out of corners with very active Fox front and rear suspension. Very fast gear changing with Shimino SLX rear derailer. Only thing letting it down is the brake set. Seams to clog with dust after small ride. Will be upgrading them soon with Avid's.
Strengths: Very Light with ok components. Changed the crank to KCNC, as well as the Deore shifters and rear derailer to SRAM X9. Rides like a dream and climbs hills with ease. Cycles de Oro changed the components for me and gave me trade in credits. They were great to work with!
Weaknesses: none so far
Overall great bike. Components are a little to be desired, but for the money a great buy. If you are looking for a bike that is a rocket up and down the hills, this bike for you.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: April 6, 2010
Strengths: A really good climber, if you're into climbing. Great rear suspension and the maestro links really feels like all your efforts and energy is going to the back wheel and driving the bike forward even through the steepest climbs.
Weaknesses: The brakes. I changed mine to a shimano XT. The original Avid Juicy was really crappy.
Part of the fun is that with the same frame as the X0, i can have the fun of upgrading at my own pace and budget, until i eventually get tothe X0. A really good bike which i'll keep forever!
Similar Products Used: giant iguana hardtail previously. Sticking to Giant.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: February 16, 2010
Strengths: Suspension, handling, weight of the frame.
Weaknesses: The bottom of the bike tend to be quite low when suspensions are loaded specially over trunks/branches. Mine came with not very good Avid Juicy 3 brakes.
Best bike I've had, the suspension is fantastic and the overall control is great.
Total weight is around 14kg without caring at all for weight saving. Two kgs could be easily removed by changing the fork and some of the components.
Bike Setup: Bought the full X3 bike as it was cheaper than the frame alone and came with a Float R which is nice a simple like me. Sold off cheaper bits and upgraded most of drivetrain, forks (reba air) and wheels and cockpit components.
a Weekend Warrior
from KUL, Malaysia
Date Reviewed: January 1, 2010
Strengths: Frame's Race Geometry and Maestro Suspension System
This frame is really good for those who loves to ride long distance XC and Climbs. I have yet to lock my rear suspension simply because I could not feel any bob at all for my 58kg weight. Most of the time for long climb sections, I was able to overtake several HT Recreational Riders easily and this frame worth every penny as it has made me a much better cyclist. Give it a try (with proper bike fitting) and you'll be amaze on how it could assist you to be better in terms of good power transfer and sharp handling. Never regret so far.
Bike Setup: Anthem X3 frame with Rock Shox Tora SL Solo Air, Full Deore Groupset,... etc.
a Cross Country Rider
from Rochester, MI, USA
Date Reviewed: June 13, 2009
Strengths: Best rear suspension design, same frame as the top end model, Fox fork and shock, decent components (other than rear derr. and shifters), comfortable and responsive geometry.
Weaknesses: Front tire - I had mine upgraded to a Nevegal, shifters and rear derr. - I had mine upgraded to SRAM X9. KLM did all this and gave me credit for the take off parts - awesome bike shop - talk to Ryan or Zack.
I am an automotive engineer that has spent my 12 years in suspension design. I completly over thought this purchase - and I could not be happier! I will use it mostly for trail riding and 3 or 4 races a year. I was concerned that rear suspension would make the bike feel unresponsive when compared to my beater hardtail. It did not, in any way. It is nimble, compliant and really fast!
Similar Products Used: Demo'ed an Anthem X1 and X2 on the trails, parking lot rides of GF x-caliber.
Bike Setup: Just getting it figured out, I am 5'9", 160lbs. Fork at 90psi, shock at 200psi, rebound set in the middle. Going to try 35psi front/40 psi rear for tire pressures.
a Cross Country Rider
from Orange County, Ca, USA
Date Reviewed: June 11, 2009
Strengths: The frame alone is ridiculously light! (The lightest aluminum FS frame that Giant has ever produced) Maestro Suspension system works very well and helps to eliminated dreaded pedal bob. Design looks very sleek and simple. Beefy downtube.
Weaknesses: In order to make the frame super light, Giant reduced the thickness of the aluminum and seems like it would dent easily. Although wouldn't be an issue if you do the riding it is intended for, and take care when transporting.
After searching for a replacement 4" frame, I found out about the Anthem X and just had to have one. I found the frame on ebay and built up the bike myself.
The Maestro System truly smooths out the rough stuff, and stays stiff when pedaling. To make things even more efficient, you can engage the propedal (which I only use on smooth surfaces or long/gradual climbs).
The frames alone weigh just over 5lbs, which is pleasantly light, yet kept very stiff due to Giant's hydroformed tubing. Changes over previous models include a 71 deg. headtube (slightly slacker over the twitchy 08 and earlier models.) You also get 4" of suspension vs. 3.5" over previous years.
This has to be one of the best all-around 4" full suspension XC frames on the market today.
Strengths: Great suspension, fox RL fork and RP2 shock.
Very light for this price range. great for a beginner XC racer on a budget.
Weaknesses: Race face Ride XC crank... Had major chainsuck. Using a file and some sandpaper on the pick up rivets quickly took care of the problem.
Wish it came with tubless wheels
Great bike that's great for the price- light, strong, and fast. This 4 inch suspension seems endless. This bike is perfect for any one looking for a nice bike at a great price. upgrades can be made down the road if parts brake or become worn.