On paper, the giant Anthem might be the most traditional XC bike in our test. It has the least amount of travel, the steepest angles, and a very aggressive cockpit. Out on the trail, however, it doesn’t feel so traditional. Its suspension characteristics are superb, the Fox Live Valve works wonderfully, and the bike is incredibly fun to ride. So stick around to see how the Anthem does it.

Giant Anthem Geometry and Details

Like all the other bikes in our test, the Anthem uses a flex stay design. However, it is the only bike in our test that uses electronically controlled suspension. Fox Live Valve might be a large portion of the magic sauce that makes the Anthem’s suspension feel so good. We’ll get more into that in the ride impressions section.

The Anthem rolls on 100mm of rear wheel travel and a 110mm fork. That’s the least amount of travel in our test by a fair amount. It also has the steepest head tube angle at 67.5°. The reach is on the longer side for our test, but the wheelbase is the shortest. It also has some of the shortest chainstays in the test, keeping the handling quick and snappy.

The cockpit is ultra-aggressive with a negative rise stem, which of course, I flipped for some added handlebar height. I’m not about to kid myself and think I’m climbing so fast that I need the super-aggressive riding position. The handlebars are dead flat, too, with a somewhat odd back sweep to them. I found it difficult to find a comfortable handlebar potion on this bike. If this were my bike long-term, I’d likely be looking at replacing the cockpit with something more comfortable. But to each their own, especially when it comes to cockpit setup.

Giant Anthem Review


The Anthem finds itself in the zippy and quick category when it comes to climbing performance. It’s fast, responsive, and feels very XC in that regard. My favorite thing about the bike is its suspension feel. I think Live Valve allows Giant to naturally let the suspension be more active, providing a good amount of traction and comfort when needed without feeling slow on smoother climbs. Live Valve firms the otherwise active suspension up to keep you as efficient as possible no matter the terrain. Not only does it keep the bike more efficient, but it also improves your body position by keeping more weight over the front wheel. When things get bumpy, rough, and loose, the suspension opens up, providing the traction you need. 

I ended up preferring the “climb” Live Valve setting. It keeps the shock pretty firmed up while leaving the fork open. This does two things that I like. It helps with efficiency by firming up the rear while improving body position on the bike by letting the fork sag into its travel more. All in all, I think the Anthem has the best suspension characteristics in our entire test.  

The body position on the Anthem is rather aggressive and forward-leaning. It feels very traditional in that regard. Personally, I’d prefer something a little more relaxed, but that’s probably because I’m slow and have no intentions of winning the next XC race. That said, the forward posture on the bike helps keep the front end down and tracking straight. It makes technical climbs and tight corners easy to navigate. 

Overall on the climbs, the Anthem is one of the best in the test. Its suspension is the star of the show.


The Anthem surprised me by how much fun it was on the descents. It wasn’t nearly as XC and unforgiving as I would have imagined going into this. Again, the suspension quality is superb. As I mentioned earlier, it seems as though Live Valve allowed Giant to leave the suspension a little more active. When it comes to the descents and Live Valve is largely inactive, the suspension feels pretty forgiving. Especially when you consider there’s only 100mm of it, the bike feels really good in small chatter as well as bigger compressions. 

The Anthem’s handling characteristics are unsurprisingly on the sharp end. With the steepest head tube angle in our test, the bike felt rather quick and nimble. Between the head tube angle and shortest wheelbase in the test, the Anthem wasn’t the most stable or confident descender. It did, however, pick its way through tight lines and sharp corners well.

The stock cockpit was the biggest factor for me on the descents. I don’t love overly wide bars, but the 760mm bars with the strange back sweep didn’t do the bike’s capability any favors. I found them to be too narrow. 

Overall on the descents, the Anthem falls somewhere in the middle with a good balance between uphill and downhill performance. The suspension is easily some of the best in the test. 

Who is the Giant Anthem for?

I think the Anthem is going to be one of the best bikes in our test for someone who actually wants to race XC. It dabbles less than the others in the downcountry and trail worlds. It’s plenty quick and efficient for serious XC racing. With a different cockpit setup, I think the Anthem could start to sneak into that downcountry category, especially with its suspension doing such a good job of smoothing out bumps on the trail. So if you want to race XC but don’t want a full-squish bike that feels more like a hardtail, I can happily recommend the Anthem.

XC Showdown Award

Best Suspension

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