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Downhill Bikes

Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0

Majestic balance and performance from an old favourite

Majestic balance and performance from an old favourite makes it more than your average downhill bike.

 

Giant have made many good downhill bikes since the iconic ATX 1 of the late nineties. They have been regularly successful, most notably the world championship win of Danny Hart in Champery 2011, but of the many versions of their flagship downhill bikes they have frequently been labelled with a privateer tag. Great specification and price and all-round good ride.

Those days have gone. This bike is a winner. And this is a serious contender for one of our favourite downhill bikes of the year so brilliantly well have they tackled angular aspects that many brands have failed to achieve. The aluminium version got our attention a couple of seasons ago and more recently the pace and silence of team racer Marcelo Gutierrez on the run has proven this bikes capabilities in no uncertain fashion in 2015.

This is a seriously refined bike.

Suspension/Chassis

There is much talk. Giant speak of their “fully active” Maestro suspension system within a “superlight, stiff and strong composite mainframe.” In fact they say its the lightest composite downhill frame that Giant have ever produced. They say they are industry leaders in composite performance. You can read it about Maestro here, all about the frame building here but both Maestro design and carbon weave count for little if the overall chassis system – that delicate balance of wheels/chassis/damper – is not in sync.

But hell have they put together a beautifully balanced bike, the stiffness and flex of the Glory is exceptional offering a genuine whole bike ‘feel’ the x factor of bringing together all the elements into a whole. Something that so many bike brands have failed to master. This bike is an absolute gem.

And they’ve actually done so with what are quite average dampers. Up front the Rockshox Boxxer Team is a good fork but there are better in the Marzocchi, Bos and the Fox 40 and its brother the Boxxer World Cup, which would be an ideal upgrade option. The rear Vivid RC2 again is a good damper but it tops out and knocks like most of the ones we’ve had this year. How would an Ohlins perform on this bike we wonder?

 

The point here is you can get better dampers for bikes the same kind of money. But it’s the whole system that counts for more than those individual products. Let’s take a quick look at some of the componentry.

Specification

By chance or not the Glory comes with some of the finest componentry of 2016. And whilst the damping quality of Sram might have been usurped by Fox and co there is absolutely no getting away from the fact that some of Sram’s other bike parts, both the Sram Guide Ultimate Carbon brakes and Sram X01DH gearing are the best in class this year. By some margin they rule. Move to the wheelset the DT Swiss EX471 also happens to be our favourite, and what we believe fastest and strongest downhill wheelset this year. Oh and Giant’s own Contact SLR DH bar is one our favourites too.

 

Feeling

You might be thinking that we’re not heavily fussed about the Sram dampers, but that would be getting the wrong idea slightly. Yes there are slightly better units available but ultimately you’ll be charging through the same rock gardens at roughly the same speed as a fork and damper combination that could potentially cost you three times more in price. A Boxxer Team is around £650 on some Uk websites whereas a Fox 40 is closer to £1500. That said, an upgrade to Boxxer World Cup would be a nice touch on the fork.

But more than this, the dampers, wheels and frame flex/stiffness characteristics work exceptionally well together. And when we swapped out to other brand dampers we slightly lost the vibe of the Glory and hastily bolted the BoXXer/Vivid back on. There is a silence to the bike and a pace to the bike and a real balance and simpleness to the ride that really stands it apart from so many other downhill bikes. It is exceptional. And yet simple.

Another part of what they have done so incredibly well is work the numbers in geometry. It is one of the biggest size large bikes currently available and only a few brands that produce XL bikes get any bigger. In fact the Demo, Session, V10, Wilson, M16 in size XL all have smaller reach (a rough indication of size) than the large Glory. And it feels so balanced to ride, in fact only the Specialized Demo in XL but with a shorter chainstay feels better in proper downhill conditions and the Ohlins plays a part in that too. But in terms of that size we had riders from 5’ 9” to 6’ 2” loving the dimensions. Plus the Gory is fast everywhere. Did I mention we absolutely love it?

Limitations

It could be argued there are not enough sizes of the Glory but maybe when a company has such magic numbers you don’t need such a range. It’s a tricky one. The only other fault we can possibly find is the Vivid damper topping out.

Verdict

A joy to ride with not a bolt out of place. Giant might well be trying to win the hearts of privateers with the Glory in some of the other specifications but with this front end carbon bike the performance is up there of the very highest quality. But then I guess so it should for over five thousand pounds. It competes with many bikes but when we look at the best downhill bike that all the brands can offer we’ve only managed to find better in the Specialized Demo in performance terms. But that’s nearly two thousand pounds more.

Why so good then? It simple, fast, silent, balanced and easy on your body. We are mostly talking basics here. So many brands that make downhill bikes think they have it dialled. Ride the Glory and all becomes clear how crucial it is to get chassis flex/stiffness, damper tune and wheel build working in unison.

£5299

www.giant-bicycles.com

 

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