- Bike Checks
It’s official. The downhill bike that Danny Hart, Andrew Neethling, and Marcelo Gutierrez have been racing all season will be available very soon.
From the start of this redesign project, Giant’s goal was very straightforward. They wanted “to help DH riders go faster.” The Glory 27.5 has been tweaked and tuned to do just that. In fact, during the first test session that Danny had on the bike, he shattered his previous timed record on a San Romelo course he’d trained on for four years prior. Initial timing results were very positive for Andrew and Marcelo too, but Giant had some work to do to make the bike a bit more comfortable and natural feeling. Two years, four revisions, and several podiums later, the bike is now ready for the public.
Giant says the Glory 27.5 is a race bike first and foremost, for everyone from privateers to Pros. The top of the line model even comes with close to the same components that Giant’s Factory Off Road Team uses.
At the heart of the bike is an all-new ALUXX SL aluminum frame. The radically hydroformed tubeset keeps things light without the added material and welds associated with gussets. The re-shaped downtube is bit more rounded with smaller diameter tubing than the previous generation.
While we haven’t seen a carbon Glory prototype yet, we’re willing to bet that one isn’t far off given that they’ve proven the geometry and dialed in the suspension with this new aluminum model. Giant likes to thoroughly test their bikes with the help of their Pro athletes, so it could be a long ways off production if/when we do see one. In the meantime, know that the complete build weight of the aluminum Glory 27.5 0 before you is just 35-pounds for a Medium without pedals. That’s very impressive.
The bike still relies on the Maestro suspension system to deliver its 8-inches (203mm) of travel. Just like the new Reign 27.5, the Glory 27.5 also uses bearings in the upper shock mount to reduce initial stiction in the system and improve small bump performance.
Giant says that some riders picked up on a problem with the old 26-inch Glory where the shock hit a bit of a dead spot mid-stroke and was unable to deal with repeated square edge hits at speed. Giant used a longer shock on this new bike as well as some suspension tweaking to resolve the issue.
Giant will no longer use their 1 1/2 to 1 1/4-inch Overdrive 2 headtube system. Instead they’re moving back to the original Overdrive headtube (standard 1 1/8 to 1 1/2-inch tapered) in favor of user convenience.
After a few years of seeing it done at the races, Giant also rerouted cables so they follow the top of the downtube, not the bottom of it where they were previously more vulnerable. They remain external for ease of maintenance in a race scenario. New integrated cable guides near the headtube double as fork bumpers.
Aesthetically the new frame looks a good deal better thanks to smoother curves and a nicer graphics package.
Again, Giant worked with their Pro riders to dial things in. Comparing old versus new it quickly becomes clear that the geometry changes vary greatly between the sizes. In general, the bike now has a longer reach, longer wheelbase, improved standover, 0.5-degree slacker head angle, and 0.2-inch (5mm) shorter chainstays. Giant doesn’t provide bottom bracket measurements in their geo charts so we can verify, but they also claim the BB height has been lowered by 0.6-inches (14.5mm) - a pretty massive change. Top tubes take a hit, however, and are now shorter by 0.4 to 0.7-inches across the size range. This was likely the result of making room for larger wheels at full compression.
While the majority of our time at the 2015 Giant launch in Pemberton, British Columbia was spent on the new Reign 27.5, we did squeeze in three quick shuttle runs on a Glory 27.5 0. The trail we were able to ride was just a few minutes long and lacked anything super steep, super rocky, or ultra high-speed. It could easily be ridden quickly on a trail/enduro bike like the Reign, but the Glory had the upper hand through a series of sustained rock and root sections, some of which were off camber. Dirt conditions were only slightly dusty with plenty of loam to grab hold of in most corners.
Our 5’10” tall tester chose a size Medium bike, which actually felt a tad short coming off the Medium Reign just hours before. A look at the geometry charts reaffirms the notion, but only in a relative sense - the Medium Glory is still well within the acceptable range for a downhill bike. The new Reign is just really long. The difference between the two is odd considering the two are from the same brand.
It’s also interesting to note that the Medium isn’t situated perfectly between the Small and Large, with a much bigger gap up to the bigger size. We feel like ideally the spacing would be more even so riders on the cusp of sizes could make a smother transition. As it stands we wouldn’t consider the Large to overcome the slightly compact feel of the Medium. It'd certainly be too big.
On smoother sections the bike was quick to respond to pedal inputs and accelerated well when pumping the terrain. Like most slack bikes, handling was best when up to speed and not diddling around. The same was true for the suspension.
Smashing through repeated rough bits at medium speeds exposed a bit of an unsettling twitchy feel as the rear end of the bike seemed to dance around beneath us, and the issue couldn’t be fully resolved with just three runs to tweak rear suspension settings. Could this be worked out with more time? Probably, so we'll look to get more time on the bike in the future.
The larger wheel size felt like a small benefit through a few sustained rough sections as the bike maintained speed well without having to fight to earn it back. How does the move from 26 to 27.5 impact riders that don’t want to race but would rather throw some whips and just have fun? We’d need more time on it in a bike park with a good variety of trails to really feel things out, but the bike was easy enough to jump, lay over in the air, and manual when called for.
The Glory 27.5 0 build kit presented no issues with many top performers all doing their task well. For a bike made to go fast on steep terrain, however, we would like to see a 200mm rear brake rotor in place of the 180mm that comes stock.
Giant will sell two of three Glory 27.5 models in the USA - the decked out Glory 27.5 0 at $6,600 and Glory 27.5 2 with a budget build at $3,000. Pricing and availability may vary internationally.
Visit your local Giant dealer or www.giant-bicycles.com for more details. The Glory 27.5 will be in shops in late September or October.