Review by Sean “Griz” McClendon // Photos by Ian Collins and Griz
Now in its third production variation and built around proven advice from Giant Factory Off-Road racers Danny Hart and Andrew Neethling, the 2013 Giant Glory 0 meets world-class demands with new geometry, a sharp look, and X0 components. We’ve been eager to become familiar with Giant's Maestro Suspension design and feel out the new slacked out 63.5-degree head angle. In a carbon crazed world the Glory 0 remains aluminum at 36.4-pounds out of the box. We like this accomplishment. While Hart's UCI World Championship title may not attract autographs at Supercross, it certainly brings a lot of credibility to a bike. After nearly three months aboard the Glory 0, let’s confirm credibility as we walk you through the ride.￼
Glory 0 Highlights
- Aluxx SL Aluminum Frame
- 26-inch wheels
- 8-inch travel Maestro Suspension
- 1.25 to 1.5-inch OverDrive tapered headtube
- 63.5-degree head angle
- 13.5-inch bottom bracket height
- ISCG mounts
- 17.5-inch chainstays
- 150mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
- Weight: 36.4-pounds with pedals
- Available in small, medium, and large (tested)
- MSRP $6,200
"Hey, that's the bike that won Rampage!" Correct, the Giant Glory has credibility as a big mountain sled, too. For 2013 the geometry has been tuned to thrive on steep, chunky terrain as we often see on the UCI World Cup downhill circuit and Where the Trail Ends. Over the past few years, Danny Hart and his mechanics helped Giant evolve the Glory into something more suited for Danny’s attacking style. Lucky for all of us, those same geometry numbers are now available to the public.
What specifically has changed? Well, for starters, the headtube angle has been slackened from 65.5 to 63.5-degrees. The bike has been lengthened a bit, and the bottom bracket has been lowered. The changes were made to create a more stable bike at speed. Giant also integrated their unique OverDrive headset into the frame. Last but not least, a reminder of the Glory’s World Championship pedigree is emblazoned on the top tube and headtube. Considering the build kit, this bike is a great deal for privateer racers and hardcore enthusiasts with KOM dreams. 36.4-pounds at $6,200 provides an excellent cost-benefit to the competitor.
On The Trail
We got to know the Glory 0 on the steepest, fastest and roughest terrain in California, all the while gradually bringing her up to that Vet pace. Our first ride we felt like we were on a bike that could do work, and the raked head angle and low bottom bracket inspired confidence immediately and felt better with each ride. That said, this isn’t a bike you can just throw a leg over and be on your way, but rather one you’ll need to take the time to get to know. Surprisingly, coming over from a dw-link bike to the Maestro suspended Glory 0 took several hours of ride time to really feel well acquainted.
In getting to know the bike, it was clear that the race oriented geometry of the Glory 0 demands technique from the rider. Keeping the hips unlocked, weight low and evenly displaced between the axles is key. Once your technique is down pat, the Glory will carry you through rock gardens, corners, hucks, chucks and everything else you want to accomplish just as quickly as any other bike.
We were also impressed by how light the bike feels. In fact, this bike is so light it sometimes feels nimble to the point of twitchy. There’s a reason why Danny Hart can occasionally appear raggedy in his race runs (aside from his ridiculous speeds). Once we felt at home on the Glory, the light weight and incredible stiffness were really apparent. Acceleration feels effortless and abundant, and when you apply power to the pedals the bike is snappy in response with minimal energy waste. It was also pleasant noticing how well the bike accelerated from pumping. The front end is easy to lift with minimal fatigue on the body, and jumping requires no strain on the rider either. It is an effortless task to find flow on such a light bike, making the task of pumping transitions painless.
Steep chunk and falling onto hard corners feels natural with the 63.5-degree head angle, low bottom bracket, and stiff chassis inspiring confidence. Having the front axle ahead of your chin also compliments the active performance of Maestro Suspension, resulting in a stable bike that loves to carve steep lines and blast off into the lower atmosphere.
Diving into corners feels best with the full-body approach, and the relaxed head angle works out to be a great thing when you bring your chest down. We noticed it was critical to lead through corners with our head, keeping our chest low and pressure firm on the inside grip to keep the front wheel tracking in corners. With our hips unlocked, the rear end was easy to control and very playful under the outside foot in drifting situations. Overall, this bike requires the rider to stay relaxed. Extra tension only complicates the Glory riding experience.
We have a before and after story surrounding the stock RockShox suspension. Why? Mostly because our test bike came with some hours on it and the suspension felt like it needed love during every ride.
Up front, the stock 2013 BoXXer World Cup felt sticky and rode high in the travel. This caused the front wheel to push, especially in tight berms, which led to a few incidents where we had to pick ourselves up off the ground. Fresh seals, properly aligned crowns and servicing the air spring likely would have solved this symptom.
Out back, we found that the original 2013 Vivid R2C rear shock lacked a wide enough range of adjustments to compliment the Maestro Suspension platform as best as possible. Even with a (soft for us) 400-pound spring, the shock didn’t offer much small bump compliance, demanding lots from our legs and increasing fatigue. Pedaling over chatter and absorbing harsh square edges seemed to be compromised as well. Breaking loose in corners with brake bumps was constant but never unmanageable thanks to the new geometry, which gives the bike a “sled like” feel. After being advised to speed up the low speed rebound, we adjusted to 9/14 clicks on the RockShox Vivid R2C and started tracking a bit better. The rear shock felt best on a 400-pound spring with 5/6 clicks of compression, 9/14 clicks of beginning-stroke rebound, and 5/6 clicks of ending-stroke rebound. This setting gave the bike some small bump compliance and tamed down the occasionally harsh kick from the rear end on large square edge hits.
Unable to squeeze the performance we wanted out of the taxed stock setup, we made the swap to the recently released 2014 Vivid R2C and BoXXer World Cup. This immediately brought the bike to life, allowing us to really feel how the Maestro Suspension platform could perform.
This before (unmounted) and after (mounted) change made a big difference.
With fresh suspension in place, the Glory 0 finally settled in high-frequency compressions while changing direction or in a straight line. Feeling very planted with less energy being transferred into the legs, we're convinced the 97% of riders that can’t do what 3% of us can will benefit from the new RockShox rear shock. Heavy compressions felt fluffy, traction was increased and the bike had predictable pop. Pedaling efficiency greatly benefitted from the new Vivid R2C over chatter and everywhere in between, leaving no complaints in the pedal performance department. The Maestro Suspension remained exceptionally active under pedaling and braking forces. All said and done, the new suspension completely transformed the bike's performance, giving us the strong impression that the bike works best with freshly serviced parts and/or the new version of the rear shock with its added features.
Regardless of the shock that's in place, Giant's Maestro Suspension design has a near vertical wheel path until the final 25% of its travel when the wheel arcs forward toward the rider. When you reach that final 25% in rear wheel travel, the Glory ramps into a firm kick that propels the rear end and rider forward. This sequence taxes the legs and leads to fatigue, so you’ll have new motivation to put that gym membership to use. Riders with functionally strong legs will dominate this bike.
The stock Glory 0 build mimics the top tier Giant Factory Off-Road Team bikes, leaving little to be desired, and we get the full SRAM X0 treatment in the spec department. Avid's four-piston X0 Trail brakes have plenty of stopping power and crisp feel without feeling domineering. The SRAM X0 carbon cranks are stiff, light, and durable enough to handle the punishment of downhill. The 10-speed SRAM X0 drivetrain worked well in conjunction with the MRP G2 guide to protect the 36-tooth sprocket, but was missing one crucial thing - a clutched derailleur.
DT Swiss manages the wheel department with EX-500 wheels wrapped in 2.5-inch Schwalbe Muddy Mary rubber. These wheels come with quality DT 240 hubs and will likely last awhile if you’re lighter than 175-pounds, but think of them as race wheels and you won't be too caught off guard when they dent. We ended up testing on Maxxis, Bontrager and Specialized tires with treads better suited for our SoCal dry ice. Who can really expect tires named Muddy Mary to work well on sand paper?
Giant supplies OE bars, stem and grips, which feel surprisingly good. The bars may feel narrow to riders that are positive on the ape index. The OE stem is adjustable from 45mm-55mm in length, giving plenty of adjustability for rider preference. Due to rider preference, we ended up swapping the combo to an Answer stem, Deity Dirty 30 bars, and Sensus Swayze grips. At 5-foot 10-inches, we rode the stem at 45mm for the majority of testing, giving the cockpit a neutral feel and aiding our adaptation to the 63.5-degree head angle. Eventually, we moved the stem to 50mm and really liked the change as the bike felt more stable with our body weight more evenly displaced.
Topping things off, RockShox covers the suspension department with a BoXXer World Cup fork up front and Vivid R2C coil shock in the rear.
Things That Could Be Improved
In downhill, your brakes are like an artery - have complications and you may end up in the emergency room. With this in mind, we can’t figure out why the Glory 0 has brake and shifting cables routed in harm's way along the downtube. A stone crimped our brake line near the bottom bracket while in pursuit of Strava glory, proving the necessity for revised cable routing. The simple addition of a 3M adhesive mount on the topside of the downtube provides a quick and easy solution to the problem, allowing you to reroute the rear brake and shifter cable out of the danger zone. This fix is used by the Giant Factory Off-Road Team and Giant's own Nate Riffle.
Long Term Durability
This is always tough to predict, but luckily Giant has an encouraging track record in product durability. Aside from chips in the paint from shuttle abuse and a chain that rattled worse than a terrorist popping off an AK-47, no damage was sustained through the three month duration of our test. Right off the bat, we'd suggest wrapping the drive side chainstay. The pivots wore well but don’t be surprised if you have to Loctite the top shock bolt to keep it from self-extracting. Giant offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of their bikes, so if anything out of the ordinary ever does fail you'd likely be covered. As of the conclusion of this test, our confidence is high when it comes to the long term durability of this bike.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Did the Giant Glory 0 confirm its rainbow stripe capabilities? Yes, this bike wants to haul the mail. If you’re looking for performance on steep, rugged terrain, the Glory will giddy-up-and-go. Mimicking the Giant Factory Off-Road Team bikes, the Glory 0 is capable of handling world-class demands out of the box. The 2013 geometry adjustments really allow the bike to reach entirely new speeds. The Glory's Maestro suspension platform works well when the shock is well-serviced, remaining active when on the pedals, in a tuck, or on the brakes.
Rolling on a 36.4-pound downhill bike eases the task on the body, but be sure to stay loose. If you ride it tight expect the bike to feel a bit twitchy. A rider that can keep a relaxed state on the Glory will find that she’ll work effortlessly with you. Even a rookie will feel safe inside the cockpit of the Glory as long as they remember to unlock their hips and keep their head down.
Bottom line - backed by rainbow stripes and Rampage gold, the Giant Glory 0 is a top performer once you get to know it.
Visit www.giant-bicycles.com for more info.
Bonus Gallery: 13 photos of the Giant Glory 0 in action
About The Reviewer
Sean "Griz" McClendon is back, ladies and gentlemen. Following a major crash during the 2010 USA National Championship Pro downhill race, he put in the hours and fought his way back to health and the fun that is two wheels. Griz has ridden for a number of the USA's top teams throughout his racing career, testing prototype frames and components along the way. Motivated by the mantra "whips don't lie," you'll often find him perfecting his high-flying sideways aerial maneuvers while living the #pinelife.