I’ve been a long-term mountain biker, riding off-road for close on twenty years, but until late 2012 my bikes had all been hardtails. I’d debated the pros and cons of going ‘fully-sussed’, but I could never quite see the benefit of that extra complexity and potential more weight, especially on the trails and rides that we find around Wiltshire and Bristol. How wrong could I have been…
First off, the Anthem is a 26er (26 inch wheels) – I’ll tackle the thorny subject of 26″ versus 29″ vs 650B wheels in another post, but suffice to say that after some extensive research the 26er option ticked the most boxes for me.
Secondly, bearing in mind that neither of my last two hardtails have been particularly lardy and have been fairly pared down XC-type bikes (a Saracen KiliPro and a Marin Eldridge Grade), the weight of the Giant cam as a real suprise… it felt feather-light in comparison. I know that compared to some carbon weight-weenies, the Giant carries some extra pouns and a better specced Anthem would be lighter, but nevertheless the X3 is a suprisingly light bike.
Thirdly, just prior to the Anthem arriving I’d managed to get some decent rides under my belt, so I felt as though I was carrying a good level of fitness when I went for my first group ride. The first few hills were pretty easy and the biked loped off ahead of the others, which I put down to that extra training, but it was across the Malmesbury Common (one and a quarter miles of gentle uphill blasting on a muddy bridle path) that the bike showed it’s spirit… it ripped across the Common like the proverbial stuff off of a shovel, absolutely staggering.
I’m now totally converted to the pros of a full-suss MTB for fast cross-country (XC) rides… the downside is that it requires more cleaning, getting a proper wash after every ride.