2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 1

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Giant Anthem 27.5

Two years ago we rode the Giant Anthem 29 and liked it a lot. This year Giant is going all in with 27.5 for their short and mid-travel full suspension bikes and has gone to great marketing and “scientific” lengths to justify the change. Is it all that? We wanted to find out so checked out this light weight four inch Anthem.

I thought the Solo (there I go again) climbed really well but the Anthem practically levitated up the climbs. It was extremely light and the Maestro tuned mini ink suspension provided acceptable bump absorption while staying steady and bob-free. The only problem was it felt too XC to me…. Even old school XC, meaning long-ish stem, narrow bars, short front center, and steep head angle. You know, like a short travel 29er should feel, but the 29er had more wheel sticking out in front to help roll over the rough stuff and keep you feeling more centered “in” the bike. I just could never shake the feeling that the Anthem felt better as a 29er. I mean it did fine on the less techy climbs and descents but when things morphed into chunky mode it felt sketchy. I was begging for the Solo back at this point. And to make matters worse, it didn’t display enough of the big wheel magic that makes a 29er great on the smoother stuff either.

Otherwise, overall fit and finish were acceptable, lateral stiffness was good enough, and its pedaling efficiency was good. I suppose with a 120mm fork, wider bars, and bigger tires it might gain some “trail” credibility but as it was it just didn’t do it for us. A 27.5 Trance and Reign make sense…. This didn’t.

Maestro works.

These Avid brakes had more engagement and hissed and squeaked when applied. The XT’s on the 5010 were much better.

This 1×11 drivetrain had some adjustment/set up issues and didn’t shift as cleanly as the 5010 either.

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About the author: Kent Robertson

Kent Robertson (better known to Mtbr forum users as KRob) is just a guy who likes to ride. A lot. Kent’s 52 and has been riding mountain bikes for almost two decades, though he says his love of two-wheeled conveyances began when he was 5. His favorite trail type is any, be it fast and flowy, steep and chunky, or jumpy and droppy. Even a mellow bike path cruise with his wife makes him happy. “If I’m on two wheels it’s a good day.” Kent calls Ely, Nevada, home, but he’s ridden all over the western U.S. from Moab and Fruita, to Tahoe and Oregon, to a bunch of places in between. And while Kent focuses on the ride more than the bike, he’s ridden and tested a ton of bikes and knows what makes for a good ride — and a good bike. You can read more from Kent on his personal website, www.stuckinthespokes.com

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  • Craig Manning says:

    Great job Kent! It was great to hook up with you again this year. Sorry I couldnt make it out there on tuesday. The 5010 was a great all around bike. I could see that as being a great all rounder. I really enjoyed the Anthem 27.5 clearly as an XC race bike though. One thing I want to mention. XX1 and XO1 are incredible drivetrains but for some riders there may not be enough range in the ratios to satisfy everyone’s needs. I know SRAM has gone on record to say that 1×11 isnt going to replace 2×10 and it wasnt meant to. The Anthem had a 34 tooth front ring, Bootleg doesnt have any really steep climbs and I found myself wanting an easier gear but on the other hand, I would spin out a 34/10 on a fast XC course.

    • KRob says:

      Thanks Craig and thanks for riding with me Monday. It was good seeing you again and I enjoyed your input. After getting back on some of my normal trails this week I got wondering if I overstated the 1×11’s range…. although with bikes that light I don’t think there’s much I couldn’t climb in a 32×42 and I rarely ever spin out in 36 x 11 on my chilli so 32 x 10 should be close. Although this view may only apply to me. I’ll have to get the gear inch calculator out and do some figuring before I commit to the upgrade.

  • Evan says:

    Pivot Mach 6 wins!!!!

  • Liberty555 says:

    Great review. It’s refreshing to get the sort of review you’d get from a mate rather than the superlative laden stuff you get elsewhere. Honest and to the point. More like this please.

  • Ben says:

    Cheers for reviews, where is the mach 6 did you demo?

  • Mark says:

    ‘All Mountain Bike Tests’ is the title, but I just saw reviews on XC/trail bikes in the 100-125 mm category. Will part II include at least a token AM bike?

    • KRob says:

      I guess because the bulk of my test rides have been AM bike in years past, mtbr titled the feature the same as previous years. You’re right, mostly XC/trail bikes this year with a few stretching into the AM category (Enduro 29, Bronson, Mach 6) in part two.

  • RJ says:

    How did these bikes compare to the Turner Burner??
    Get a chance to ride one for direct comparisons?
    or maybe you can remember from before to give us an idea?

    thanks for all the effor

    • KRob says:

      Here’s my response to a similar question in the Turner forum about comparing the Mach 6, Bronson, and Burner.

      “krob – always enjoy your impressions from Interbike. now the question: can you give us your thoughts on the Burner vs Mach6, Bronson, etc.? thanks!”

      Tough call there. I’d say they are all pretty close. It would come down to your preference (or lack thereof) for carbon, suspension type, and subtle geometry differences. I will say that dw-link on both the Mach 6 and Burner and the VPP on the Bronson offer nice controlled, plush action in the rough and efficient bob-free climbing on smoother stuff. I’d give the nod to the dw-link though.

      The Bronson is very close in suspension feel as well. It might not be quite as active while climbing square ledges but like I said in the review, I do not detect any pedal kickback.

      Geometry is a bit lower and slacker on the mach 6 compared to the Bronson and you notice that some. The mach just seems like it loves to run and is set up for the descent, although there was nothing really wrong with the climbing from the little I did either.

      The Burner seems to fall in between the two of them geometry wise (I haven’t actually looked at the numbers recently to compare) with low bb and 67 HA IIRC and feels like it falls nicely between the two.

      If I were buying a bike in this category I’d have a really tough time deciding. ….. and you know I’d have to throw the Warden in the mix as well when it came time to purchase. Good bikes all.

  • jgray says:

    If you look at the picture of the 5010’s top tube from above, you visually see why 5010 replaced S0l0…

    • KRob says:

      Yeah, I didn’t even catch that it *didn’t* say SOLO when I first looked at it due to the similarity in the font. It wasn’t until I overheard the techs calling it a 5010 that I took a touble take and noticed the change. Very clever of them. Still don’t like the new name.

  • Ron says:

    I am 65 years an started biking 9 years ago. I read everything from your sight to educate myself. All that I have seen is that the bikes keep getting better and the prices keep going way up. How does a average person young or old buy any of the bikes that you keep reviewing. I ride the western frontier at Snow Shoe Mountain and I have to rent them because I can’t afford $4000.00 and up for a good average bike. What can I do

  • Ben Permuy says:

    Very good review I just picked up my Solo from the bike shop about a week ago and have put in about 50 miles on it since, it’s a blast to ride very fast and responsive excellent components and looks sharp could not ask for anything more for the price. I have been looking and tested several bikes in this category and finally decided on the Solo this was the right choice for me. I have a 29er in a small frame and have never felt one with the bike the 29 in tires and small frame did not work for me. I am 5’6 and just could not find anything that fit me right. I was able to fit perfect on a medium frame size thanks to the awesome geometry of this bike.

    • Epacheco says:

      Ben, was the Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 one of your choices? I’m debating between the 5010 and the Anthem. I’ve ridden the Anthem and was very impressed on it’s swift climbing and the way it responds when pedaling. Can you give me some insight which way to go?

  • johnny D says:

    Seriously Matt, you must be a nob. The guy has clearly explained his background and his credentials and by the look of it they are are a shitload more impressive than yours. Thanks for the feedback Krob. You were telling me the things I was looking for. Lookout bank account…im diving in

  • Dan says:

    Really enjoying these (presumably) unpaid, unbiased, and honest reviews from Krob. My God, how refreshing, real criticism, where have you been the last 10 years! None of this, forget last years bikes, these new models are all awesome, endlessly repeated, year in and year out. What a load of absolute BS. Let’s call a spade a spade, they can’t all be equally good, and some are downright average. To always suggest all these new bikes are as good as each other devalues your currency as a review site and confusers your readers. You read Pitchfork because you know they’ll bag the latest Beck album, whether you agree with it or not, it’s always interesting to read an alternate, but not necessarily contrarian opinion. Keep the honesty coming, much appreciated!

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