I have utilized this bike in Oregon at flowing and fast trails at Blackrock Mountain, and at wide-open and dusty trails at Mt. Ashland. I always tried a harsher and clunkier rental Glory at Whistler. From the very start, this bike puts you in attack mode. I'm 6'2" and on a large frame I'm comfortably over the bike, balanced and at home. That's what i noticed first; this bike's huge downtube and headtube junction inspire confidence and instill a laid-back attitude. The geometry was updated from earlier years to be more aggressive and race worthy, but I would note that this bike still feels like an absolute couch. There are no distractions on this bike; get on and ride. The shock and linkages are hidden from view, and from dirt and debris, don't worry there. You won't. On smooth and occasionally flatter trails at Blackrock (the green trail there) I noticed no real issues with handling. The head angle is slack for sure, but this bike feels like it's being pulled ahead, as if one of your buddy's towing you behind his 2-stroke. Things get really fun when the trail turns nasty. I find myself seeking out the chunkiest lines I can through rock gardens and root patches. The stability of this bike's suspension is inspiring. It wants to take care of you, so let it. If you relax enough, you'll be down the gnarliest chutes in no time. Pedaling is surprisingly efficient on this bike. Giant's Maestro suspension platform is obviously great on smaller bikes, but on eight inches? There will always be some bob, but the Glory cooperates when pedal-mashing is required. Braking in the rough stuff is not a terrible experience either. The rear wheel tracks great under braking forces, but the suspension can get bogged up a bit if it reaches mid-travel. Be light on the braking bumps and it won't be an issue. Blackrock Mountain bike park has been a great place to test out the agility of this machine, with tight and unrelenting berms, frequent jumps and tables, and finicky drops. The Glory's stability on land absolutely translates to stability in air (and sea if it's been raining the week before). This bike excels on big drops, rolling in or not. Bigger jumps are also treated well, but on smaller jumps the longer chainstays can make themselves apparent. Make no mistake though, this bike is playful. It has encouraged me to hit stupid lines and every lip I can find, and rarely ever felt sluggish in it's rear suspension. And on top of that, I probably don't even have optimal suspension settings. The longer chainstays may affect slow speed and finer handling, as well as manual-ability, but they translate to superior stability and confidence. In summary I will say that this bike is for those who want a balanced platform that creates a well-rounded riding style. The Glory loves sailing over gaps and smashing drops, but it is also confident in rocky chutes where the rear wheel leans back and carries you down gently. As far as downhill bikes go, this one is the most ready for diverse conditions. You have a trail in front of you, the Glory wants to lay waste to it.
With its well-rounded nature comes certain short-comings. For starters, braking in steep and rocky chutes can stiffen up the rear wheel to the point that hardtail-handling skills are brought back to memory. If you can be confident and rail the descent you'll be fine and the wheel will stretch out and take care of business. While the bike is very fun to toss around the trail, it can feel a bit too monster truck-like. Manuals are not easy; the chainstay length is already long and the Maestro design stretches it out further. This creates stability, but also station-wagon handling at times. At high speeds I would take no notice, but lining up slower berms can be a little less fun. If your usual trails are wide open, don't worry about this. It'll probably even help. The paint on the downtube of my bike has a couple tiny scrapes, so take care. My biggest qualm with this bike is that the cables (THE F*CKING BRAKE CABLE) are routed underneath the downtube. Above the front wheel. The waterwheel of a front wheel. Avoid razor blade thin gravel. I haven't had issues with this however, but it is concerning. The cables below the bottom bracket also make a clicking type of noise when setting the bike into its sag.
After three years of riding this bike, and knowing it has been surpassed by it's 27.5 wheeled and carbon counterpart, I can say that this bike will remain valid for a long time. The steeper Glories remained on the trails for a long time, and I still see them often. I think Giant aimed for a bike that fit any type of downhill rider, and if you're not new then you know how many different types there are. Giant hit the mark too, creating a gravity platform that is cozy and relaxed, but prepared to attack steep terrain. If you're looking for a used bike, pay attention to the Glories. They are refined machines, and will take care of you.