Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Armchair Rocketship Pilot. Riding the Anthem X29.

Over the weekend I was able to spend time just riding the new bike and getting the settings dialed. I have also managed to get an accurate weight of the bike stock and as it will be for racing with my Stans 355 wheelset. I thought a good ride around Bunya and Gap Creek in the single track would help to get the shakedown started on familiar trails with no excuses on my behalf. I know these trails pretty well so it was all about the bike.
First to some long awaited numbers. My medium Anthem stock off the showroom floor weighed in at 12.17kg with Shimano XT pedals. Thats a little higher than some of the reported weights getting around and even more than the weight I got at the shop. I have changed the saddle and grips to my preferred units but the weights here made no discernible difference either way. I am a bit surprised by the difference in the weight I got in the shop of 11.9kg but that was a pretty quick weight while only holding the scales and not hanging them properly. Foolish me, I thought it wouldn't matter too much. With my Stans wheels the weight comes down to a respectable 11.7kg. Not too bad.
I won't go into the specifications as you can get them off the net. I'll also put it out there that I do have a great relationship with Cyc'd for Bikes and Giant and that obviously I am grateful for the support they have both given me. Having said that I will also try and be honest and true in my evaluation of the bike. 
First the negative. The wheels are heavy. Not stupidly heavy, but still pretty weighty for a bike designed for XC racing. The wheels are still considerably lighter than last years model and a DT Swiss rear hub is a very smooth and reliable addition. Nice, loud and positive. I am non committal about the Crossmarks on this bike. They were consistent but not confidence inspiring.
I have set the fork up the same as my XTC with 80psi and then I have messed around with the external adjustments. There are so many ways to tune the Fox RLC fork that I was bamboozled for a while until I just started making changes and riding and noting the differences and whether I liked it or not. Hardly scientific but I ended up with 90psi and the preload at about half on the dial. I like the rebound pretty snappy and thats  how I have it set now. So how was it? Bottomless travel and stiff. I enjoy the feel of the Fox F-29 on my XTC and the RLC version gives more adjustments and easier tuning. 
So some riding. I rode the single track in the Gap Creek reserve to check out the suspension and handling. My first test was on Death Adder. There are some really nice technical sections that I could open the shock up and test the bump eating abilities of the anthem. I hit the first rock garden and threw caution to the wind. I bashed through it and was up the other side after a little pinch without even drawing a breath. Pretty impressive.  The true test came later on Dingo though when I cleaned the climbs that are towards the top of the trail. Anyone who rides there will know the climbs I mean. They are tricky. I probably only clear the two climbs 1 in 3 times I ride them. I was able to carry more speed into the corner and punch it through the first pinch and then the rear wheel just stuck as the rock slab of the second pinch reared and was duly dispatched with just a little holler of triumph. I thought that was really fun, then I pointed the thing down. Holy shit.
The Maestro system.
I haven't owned a dually for a while and boy did it show. You don't feel trail chatter, you don't get bounced off line and you don't need to choose the smooth line and you can pick the fast line. I got to the bermed corners around half way down and got my mojo on. The rear compressed into the corners and lowered the centre of gravity which made the bike feel stable and let the tyres just drill in to the corner. A little more body english was required to get the bike over to take the next corner but the result was the same. In deep and fast. Well, fast for me.
There are a few things I should mention breifly that only when I went back to my XTC became apparent. The 3 x 10 XT gearing is smooth. Yep, the hype said so but even through all the muck and crud I threw at this bike it never even looked like missing the shift. The Avid Elixir CR brakes are great. You can adjust the pad clearance and lever reach. I like them a lot. They are a bit noisey when wet but hey, thats life. 
There are a lot of people with opinions about 29ers being slow in single track. I want to point out that just as there are a multitude of 26 inch bikes available and not all of them are awesome in single track, so it is now with 29ers. Some of them though are awesome. Pick the bike for the purpose. The Anthem is a capable cross country bike with comfort to spare. It handles single track beautifully and while there are quicker bikes out there, I think you will be hard pressed to find a bike that will see you doing it in more comfort especially for the price range. Spend some time, set the bike up right and enjoy a very capable bike with a great spec and price Win,win.
It's all just good dirty fun.
I can't wait to get it on a 24 hour race.......

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