2015 Giant Anthem Advanced SX

Bike: 2015 Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5

MSRP: $5,575

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: Here

Complete Build: Here

Build Overview:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01
  • Brakes: Avid Guide RS
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RL
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch RT DebonAir

Wheels: 27.5”

Travel: 120mm

Reviewer Info: 5’8”, 160 lbs.

Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada

Tom Collier reviews the Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5, Blister Gear Review.
Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5

The Caveat

Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from that wretched hive of filth and villainy that is Las Vegas.

The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.

Having said that…

Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.

Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it takes days to really get everything running just right. Furthermore, differences like tire selection and tire pressure can have a huge effect on how a bike rides, and we generally don’t have the chance to get to tinker with those variables too much.

So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trail. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Giant Anthem Advanced SX.

The Intro

Enduro racing has done a lot to change bikes recently. More and more bikes are shipping with slacker head angles, lower bottom brackets, wider bars, etc. – changes that make them more competitive on descents without adding weight and hindering climbing performance. Still, while you can tackle climbs on most enduro bikes, and while some are better on the way up than others, none of them make climbing fun.

With hot temps and scorching sun, I was getting pretty tired of the climbs on our test loop on the second day of the Interbike demo, and I made an uncharacteristic choice for my last ride of the day. Instead of grabbing Giant’s latest edition of the Reign, which now is more tailored to descents and enduro racing, I grabbed the Anthem Advanced SX 27.5.

The Build

Giant’s Anthem and Anthem Advanced feature 100mm of travel up front, whereas the Anthem SX and Anthem Advanced SX are fitted with a RockShox Revelation fork with 120mm of travel; they’re the most decent-oriented models within Giant’s Anthem series of XC/Race bikes. And while the Anthem SX has an aluminum frame, the Anthem Advanced SX borrows the carbon frame of the Anthem Advanced, so it’s still quite light. (We’re working on confirming the total bike weight, but I believe it’s right around 26 lbs.)

The Anthem Advanced SX’s rear end only offers 100mm of travel (like the Anthem and Anthem Advanced), but it also sports an upgraded, Rockshox Debonair Monarch RT shock, knobbier tires, wider rims, wider bars, a shorter stem, and a Giant-branded dropper post.

My hope was that these tweaks to the Anthem Advanced SX (over the regular Anthem models) wouldn’t do much to hurt its climbing ability, but would let it rally better in rough terrain and on descents. The Anthem Advanced SX also piqued my interest because it looks a little like another bike I’ve spent quite a bit of time on, the Santa Cruz 5010, which I’ll draw some comparisons to here. The 5010 is quick on climbs and flats, but remarkably capable on descents (for bike in its travel class).

Tom Collier reviews the Giant Anthem Advanced SX 27.5, Blister Gear Review.
Tom Collier on the Anthem Advanced SX, Boulder City, NV.

The Anthem Advanced SX’s wheels are Giant’s house-brand P-TRX1 Composite WheelSystem Rims (27mm wide and with 28 spokes).

The rims are clad in a Schwalbe Nobby Nic in the front, and a Racing Ralph in the back. The lightweight, minimally knobbed rear tire, the similarly light and moderately knobbed front tire, and the carbon rims mean there isn’t significant rolling weight that needs spinning up to speed on the Advanced SX. I can’t speak to the durability of the wheels, but it was nice to see a relatively wide rim spec’d on this bike. And I don’t mind their 28 spoke count, but I don’t love it either; 32 spoke rims are easier to find when you need to make a quick swap, and they’re a bit stiffer and only marginally heavier.

The bigger air can on the Rockshox Debonair Monarch RT shock helps increase small bump sensitivity, and the Revelation fork is stiffer than the SID spec’d on the standard Anthem. The bars are 730mm wide, which is pretty standard on a trail bike but on the wider side for an XC bike, so the width seems appropriate for this ride. The Anthem Advanced SX’s stem is 70mm long, which again strikes a nice middle ground.

The drivetrain on the SX is the SRAM’s X01 which, like the more affordable X1 system we’ve reviewed, performed well. I was similarly happy with the Avid Guide RS brakes.

It’s great to see that this bike is set up with a dropper post, as it dramatically improves its downhill capability. However, while the cable-actuated 100mm Giant post works reasonably well, I disliked its setback, and would prefer a straight post with a two-bolt style clamp. The dropper post’s lever is decent, very similar to KS’s, Thomson’s, and Specialized’s past dropper levers. I do think a longer, 125mm post on the Medium size bike would be nice, and I’m sure some taller people would even like to see a 150mm post on the bike.

The Fit

I’m 5’8” and I chose to take out the Anthem Advanced SX in a size Medium. The bike’s reach is 421mm, (16.57”) and the stack is 565mm (22.24”). The Anthem Advanced SX’s moderate 68.5° head angle and short, 431.8mm (17”) chainstays help to keep its wheelbase in check at 1107.44mm (43.6”).

My torso is a bit long for my height, and I definitely prefer longer top tubes to shorter ones, so I really liked the way this bike fits. It’s long enough to be comfortable on climbs and provide decent stability through the rough, but short enough to still be quite nimble / flickable, as I’ll say more about below.

Next Page: The Ride

7 comments on “2015 Giant Anthem Advanced SX”

  1. I just got my adv SX last week… rain snow and ice everywhere here in MD… 1st thing I did was go tubeless, remove the dropper AND seat ( I stole a Contact seat post and Tundra2 off my 2013 Advanced 29’er) and removed the stock bar for my Giant banded SLR carbon bar.. Bike was 26.2 lbs out of the box, I’m hoping it’s closer to 24lbs now. I did order a Crank Bros Cobalt 11 seat post with a 20mm setback, but a 0 setback showed up… I may actually try the 0 set back out.. as I just put 13 miles in on snowy roads and notice my but was way forward on the saddle the whole time.

        • I’m interested in your thoughts, comparing Anthem 29er(what I have now) to SX ( what I’m thinking of getting). My only reservation is that I like the 29″ wheel size I have now. I’ve never ridden 27.5. Is the difference very noticeable?

          • I will say 1 huge pro to the 29er is the confidence it gave me while decending.. the 27.5 climbs faster and has gobs more traction at the rear wheel, the frames aggressive ride position allows you to use this traction to float the lite front wheel over roots rocks and waterbars when climbing (initially, I had to learn how to settle the front wheel down) on flats the 27.5 accelerates faster out of a corner… the new Sx is super rigid yet extremely plush, that said, I’m gonna miss my 29er, I’m hooked on the new SX..

  2. Right now I’m trying to choose between the Anthem SX and the 5010, so your article is really helpful! I am close to your size (5’7″), and I’ve tested medium frames for both bikes. They both ride great, but I was a bit bothered by the shorter reach on the 5010, and the smaller stand-over height on the Anthem SX. Did you have the same issues? I’m wondering how much geometry differences might play into the Anthem’s better climbing ability (vs other factors like travel or weight).

    • Hi Jeff,

      I do find a medium Santa Cruz 5010 to be short for me. They just updated it though and made it longer, so take a second look. I don’t tend to worry much about standover height, so I can’t say that I noticed an issue on the Anthem SX. If I’m doing things right I’m never straddling the top tube.

      I’d peg the climbing difference as almost entirely due to the shorter rear travel on the Anthem.

      The most critical point is to find a bike that fits you well. If one of the two is a better length and lets you run the stem length you want I’d suggest leaning strongly that way.

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