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Giant has unveiled a long-anticipated first: A women’s full-suspension 29er, the Anthem X 29erW (AX29W). Designed with input from Giant pro Kelli Emmett, it’s a female counterpart to the Anthem X Advanced 29er, the company’s most successful full-suspension bike, a score that Giant contributes to the bike’s versatility and affordability.
The brains at Liv/Giant—the newly formed women’s cabal at Giant who conceived this bike—put a premium on what they call the 3F (Fit, Form, Function) philosophy. “We wanted this bike to have all the benefits of a 29er while also accommodating the needs of a woman rider,” says Abby Santurbane, Liv/Giant product developer. “Women tend to have a lower center of gravity and less upper body weight, so they don’t push the bike into the corners the same way men do. They want more standover height for confidence and control over technical terrain. But they also want a great ride. We wanted to dial in this bike to deliver all that.” And they wanted to do it at a price female riders could afford.
To accomplish that they shortened and sloped the top tube, while nudging the head and seat tube angles up by only a half a degree compared to the men’s Anthem. The head tube is also slightly longer and the front-end features Giant’s tapered OverDrive steerer tube to increase steering precision. Similarly, the company stiffened the rear by outfitting the bike with their PowerCore oversized bottom bracket and chainstay area, which features an 86-millimeter wide BB and beefy downtube. The cranks are shorter (170 mm on the XS, S, and M bikes; 175 on the L) to prevent toe overlap. And the AX29W is dressed with women’s components including lighter wheels, narrower handlebars and a women’s-specific saddle. Unlike the men’s Anthem, which is now available in carbon, the AX29W is constructed from aluminum. It delivers four inches of rear-wheel travel through Giant’s Maestro suspension.
We got our first impression of the AX29W on Southern California’s famed Backbone Trail, a 27-mile ride that features 4,000 feet of climbing, fast swooping singletrack, tricky technical ups and downs as well as some scary-fast fire roads. The AX29W handled them all admirably.
At first pedalstroke, I was struck by how light and responsive the bike is. When you say go, it does, with enthusiasm. The bike holds speed well and is very nimble. The relatively steep head tube makes it quick to respond, so I had to tone down my handlebar input a bit to keep it in line. But once I did, the AX29W responded reliably. I enjoyed every advantage of the big wheels and never thought twice rolling down steep rocky pitches.
Some personal quirks: I felt a bit more “on” the bike than integrated into it, so next time I would increase sag about 5 percent to sit a little deeper into the travel. Likewise I swapped a longer stem on the bike to sit a bit less upright. One wish: That the folks at Giant found it in their hearts to pony up with a carbon model. The alloy ride was slightly harsh though by no means punishing. I would definitely recommend running the bike tubeless to take off the edge.
Most of those are adjustments easily made, however. The first big bike rolled out of Liv/Giant’s door is a light, speedy, race ready model that will help inspire confidence in timid riders while giving racer gals the leg up 29ers provide.
Details: For now Giant offers two Anthem X 29er W models. The Anthem X 29er 0 W comes with a RockShox Reba RL fork with QR15 thru-axle, a SRAM X7/X9 drivetrain, Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes, and Giant’s PXC29 2 alloy wheels for $2,950. The Anthem X 29er 4 comes with a RockShox Recon Silver 29 fork, Shimano Deore drivetrain, Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes and Giant’s PXC29 2 alloy wheels for $1,925. Sizes range from XS to L.