This week the Giant demo trailer is in town getting ready for two big demo's this weekend. The Wheel Cyclery is hosting the Saturday event at Wyco. Shelter 9 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
First impressions during the first mile. Suspension feels very plush and soaked up the first section of rocky trail that I hit. The large OverDrive 2 steerer is very stiff and the steering is precise. I could not believe how precise it was. I was carving turns like a mad man. One other thing I noticed was how easy I could wheelie and lift the front end over obstacles when required. I personally like to use a little riding technique and lift the front end which is not very easy (at least for me) on a 29er. On my 26er I can wheelie up on anything. The 27.5 felt really nimble and quick handling.
My initial set-up of tire pressure, fork pressure and sag were very close to what I would run. Usually test riders only last a short time, but I had all day and wanted to get the bike setup as close to what I would run if I owned it. I rode about 10 miles then came back in to make a few adjustments. I lowered the psi in the tires 3 pounds so for the remainder of the ride I ran 25 front and 27 rear.
After a short break and a few adjustments I headed back out for another hour of riding. With each mile I started to get more comfortable and confident. I hit every technical section of Smithville Lake several times to get a good feel for the bike. I purposely hit every rock and root that I could find. The Maestro suspension handled everything with total control and predictability. I ventured out to the logs at Smithville to see out the 27.5 would fair. Since coming back from injury I have had problems rolling over big logs. With my 29er I felt a lot more confident than my 26er. The angle of contact on a 29er does make a difference especially compared to a 26er. I was very happy with how the 27.5 handled the big logs. Rolled right up over all thee sets of them including the large tree before you hit Neal's. On the downside the front end stayed straight and did not flex.
When I am on I can really rail the turns at Smithville and today was a special day for me. Above all else, the new Giant Anthem 27.5 really shined in the corners. I felt like I could do no wrong today and felt like I was on rails. Part of the great handling comes from a lower bottom bracket. I was a little concerned and did hit a couple of rocks with my pedals, but once I got used to the bike and the speed I was able to carry I was able to time my pedal strokes to avoid hitting any further rocks/roots.
What is the best wheel size? It is all just marketing hype? I can only speak from my experience. While it may not roll over root and rocks like a 29er, it does just fine and maintains momentum very well. The Anthem turns like no other bike I have ever ridden. You can really whip the bike around, the 27.5 wheels spin up super fast and the Maestro rear suspension is so predictable and smooth that you hardly notice the rough stuff . Bottom line is that size does mater and for me Anthem 27.5 is the best of all worlds.