2015 Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0 (discontinued)

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0
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Tested: 2015 Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0

Rating: Vital Review

by Evan Turpen

The Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 is Giant’s first foray into the carbon downhill bike market. Although they were a few years late to the carbon downhill bike game, in doing so they avoided critical wheel size and geometry changes before locking things in with expensive carbon molds. Retailing for $8,520, the Glory Advanced 27.5 0 (tested here) is their top spec’d version and is nearly identical to the bike raced by the Giant Factory DH Team. The same bike that in its debut season more than proved its capabilities under factory rider Marcelo Gutierrez who managed multiple career best finishes (3rd place at Fort William, 5th at Mont Saint Anne, and a 5th at the World Championships in Andorra). So can a $8,520 race machine that helps transforms top downhill racers into podium

by Evan Turpen

The Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 is Giant’s first foray into the carbon downhill bike market. Although they were a few years late to the carbon downhill bike game, in doing so they avoided critical wheel size and geometry changes before locking things in with expensive carbon molds. Retailing for $8,520, the Glory Advanced 27.5 0 (tested here) is their top spec’d version and is nearly identical to the bike raced by the Giant Factory DH Team. The same bike that in its debut season more than proved its capabilities under factory rider Marcelo Gutierrez who managed multiple career best finishes (3rd place at Fort William, 5th at Mont Saint Anne, and a 5th at the World Championships in Andorra). So can a $8,520 race machine that helps transforms top downhill racers into podium finishers turn mere mortals into downhill rock stars? Read on to find out if the Glory Advanced was worth the wait...

Glory Advanced 27.5 0 Highlights

  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 203mm (8.0-inches) of Maestro rear suspension
  • Advanced-Grade Composite main frame with ALUXX SL aluminum rear end, aluminum links, and sealed cartridge bearing pivots
  • RockShox Vivid R2C rear shock, 9.5x3.0-inches with 350-pound steel spring, medium rebound tune, and light compression tune
  • RockShox Boxxer Team front fork, 200mm travel, Charger damper and Blue (firm) coil spring
  • DT Swiss 240 hubs (150x12mm rear, 110x20mm front) 32-hole, laced to EX 471 rims with DT spokes
  • 2.35-inch Schwalbe Magic Mary tires, DH casing, wire-bead, and VertStar compound
  • SRAM XO1 DH Drivetrain
  • MRP G3 Mini Carbon Chainguide with 34-tooth SRAM X-Sync Narrow/Wide Chainring
  • SRAM Guide RSC Brakes with 200mm front rotor, 180mm rear rotor and organic pads
  • Giant Overdrive Tapered Headset (made by FSA)
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
  • $8,520 MSRP

Geometry

Initial Impressions

Out of the box my first impression of the Glory is that it’s a very solid bike. The carbon front triangle has great flowing lines from the oversized headtube all the way to the bottom bracket with plenty of reinforcements in high stress areas. It is clean looking, VERY color matched and at around 36-pounds the bike is in the competitive weight range for a World Cup race bike. The cockpit and controls feel spot-on with the only hiccup being that for a size Large bike the rear spring feels a bit soft for my 175-pound weight.

On The Trail

Once on the trail and pointed downhill, three things became immediately apparent. Silence, confidence, and cornering. The bike is darn near dead silent without any modifications. A combination of the XO1 DH drivetrain, aluminum back end that has plenty of room for the chain to slap around, and a well thought out integrated chainstay protector. This makes riding an absolute joy with the lack of noise.

The geometry and suspension feel is planted and confidence inspiring with a firm and supportive fork, slack head-angle, long reach, and low bottom bracket height. The cornering is superb as well with the front to back balance making fast cornering a natural, almost effortless effort. You really feel “in” the bike while riding.

On my first ride, spurred on by this extra confidence, I hit a very sketchy step-down that up to this point I had only dreamt of. Something that I felt few Pros would even attempt in a race, let alone all by themselves in the woods for fear of being stranded with an injury. It was a racer huck with a minuscule blind sniper landing. By my second try I had it dialed and crossed that one off the list (albeit the landing was so harsh it was a solid bottom-out front and rear). It was one of those lines that just because you’ve done it successfully, doesn’t mean you should continue to push your luck, but this bike begs you to keep pushing.

For being quite long and slack the bike still remained playful and balanced. Having an almost identical amount of travel front and back gives the bike predictability and balance that I’ve rarely experienced in a downhill bike. I found myself trying to emulate Marcelo’s powerful riding style and found that this bike really opens up the doors for line choice. It absolutely loves to hop over the braking bumps, arc inside or outside of the big holes and ruts. Where other bikes seem stuck in the main line, this bike seems to excel spending time out of it. A very precise and very fun feeling bike.

The top of the downtube cable routing and integrated fork bumpers are well thought out, very nice and clean. Tire clearance with the meaty Magic Mary’s is good too, with roughly half an inch clearance all around at the tightest spot on the chainstay (there’s gobs of clearance everywhere else). The rear shock is also completely out of harm's way of roost and rocks tucked within the front triangle. Overall the bike seems like it would handle mud and adverse weather better than most out there without any big pockets for mud to collect and clog up.

Throughout the three months of reviewing this bike it was ridden on a variety of terrain by myself and a couple other riders of varying heights. Lift-accessed weekends, shuttle runs, and hike runs summed up the review period. I would have loved to have raced it, but that wasn’t in the cards for this review. Suspension and cockpit settings were fiddled with small amounts here and there but eventually the two most major changes were upping the rear spring rate to a 400-pound spring to better match the fork and create a more supportive feel to the bike and experimenting with a 30mm length direct mount stem. There were zero complaints about the geometry of the bike from anyone who rode it. I could however foresee riders taller than 6’2” preferring a longer reach and wheelbase. If you’re excessively tall the largest size available (a 461mm/18.1-inch reach) might not be enough for you.

Suspension performance was very good on small to medium sized bumps. The Maestro suspension combined with the Vivid R2C rear shock created a very supple feeling and carried speed well over trail chatter. When the bumps got real big and chunky it felt like the bike would tend to get a little hung up. It also felt as if there should have been a little more progression built into the suspension to slow things down as the bike reached full travel. Interestingly enough, once I swapped the rear spring to the firmer 400-pound spring this was much less noticeable (a sign that I may have been hitting the end of travel more often than I thought with the softer spring causing it to hang up). Braking didn’t really seem to have any negative impact on the rear suspension since it didn’t seem to either compress or extend it. And as for the stiffness of the frame, I never had any complaints about the bike being too stiff or too flexy in any area. The Boxxer Team front fork was a reliable performer, but never seemed to excel in the way I had hoped it would. I think that internal shim-stack tuning combined with fresh fluids and seals could have given it a better chance of impressing, but out of the box it was just okay.

Things That Could Be Improved

Brakes: The SRAM Guide RSC brakes are far from my first choice for a downhill brake. Combined with the less powerful organic pads and the 180mm rear rotor, late braking was no longer an option. Marcelo runs the more powerful Code calipers with full 200mm rotors front and rear. This bike should come with those instead.

Pedaling: The Maestro suspension combined with a (small for downhill) 34-tooth chainring created an excessive amount of anti-squat in the rear suspension. So much so that the rear suspension actually extended with every pedal stroke creating a bobbing sensation. It was a chore to pedal at anything less than a high cadence sprint where the suspension would rise up and stay there between pedal strokes. Again, Marcelo runs a 38-tooth chainring which would reduce this negative characteristic. I feel that this bike should have the same. Gaining a little weight and losing some ground clearance is something I would have been more than willing to compromise for better pedaling performance.

Rear Axle: The Glory Advanced has a 150x12mm rear through-axle that is bulky and requires multiple tools to remove. I’d much rather see a clean tooled Maxle DH type rear axle that threads into the drive-side dropout for easier removal of the rear axle and to free up space for the rear cable housing. Currently the rear axle nut is directly in the way of the cable housing where it curves down to the rear derailleur creating a tight kink.

Shock Mounting: Although I applaud Giant for eliminating DU bushings that can wear quickly and cause additional friction in the suspension, the removal of the rear shock to change the spring and/or swap the shock is a huge pain even for an experienced mechanic. Compared to other bikes where you simply remove two shock bolts and remove your shock, you have to partially disassemble the rear linkage pivot (since the shock is mounted to this pivot) and there are a number of spacers that will promptly fall out if you aren’t careful. Reinstalling the shock is even more of a pain since you now have to hold and align multiple spacers, the shock, and your pivot bolts to put it all back together again. I would strongly suggest a redesign of these spacers and pivot hardware to be captive which would greatly reduce headaches while removing and installing the shock. I couldn’t imagine the frustration of losing one of these spacers while trying to swap a shock or spring at a race, thereby rendering your bike inactive.

Tires: I love Magic Mary tires for most downhill terrain, but on a bike that seems to be concerned with saving weight I much rather would have seen the Super Gravity casing version of these tires spec'd. These would have dropped well over a pound of total rotating and un-sprung weight off of the bike, greatly improving performance in all areas without sacrificing much in terms of flat resistance. Again this is what Marcelo runs on his personal race bike and what I prefer to run as well. In addition these tires can be set up tubeless on the EX 471 rims to further decrease weight and increase performance. Tubeless valves and tape should be included.

Long Term Durability

Everything on the bike seems solid. The DT Swiss hubs are known long term performers and the EX 471 rims showed no signs of quitting their jobs any time soon. Rockshox suspension is plenty reliable although I did notice one of the Boxxer’s dust wipers starting to weep oil towards the end of this review (a sign that service is most likely due). The carbon chainguide is questionable as to long-term durability due to typically reduced impact resistance, although it didn’t break during this review. Overall the frame seems to be built more with long term durability in mind than ultra-lightweight. I can’t foresee any drastic problems arising long term.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0 is a high-end downhill race bike that is an absolute joy to ride. Very playful and balanced, yet stable and confidence inspiring. For $8,500 I still would have wished for a more dialed spec similar to Marcelo’s personal race bike. With the addition of more powerful brakes, tubeless Super Gravity tires, a larger chainring, and some suspension fiddling, you could really unleash the Glory’s true potential. The handling is superb and the geometry is spot-on. Most people will overlook the pedaling performance of a downhill bike anyway. Overall the Giant is a great option for those looking for a high-end race machine or simply a fun, fast, and quiet ride for the bike park.

Visit www.giant-bicycles.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 15 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last nine years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most.

Specifications

Product Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0
Model Year 2015
Riding Type Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L View Geometry
Size S M L
Top Tube Length 22.4" 23.0" 24.4"
Head Tube Angle 63° 63° 63°
Head Tube Length 4.1" 4.1" 4.3"
Seat Tube Angle 55.3° 63.6° 63.6°
Seat Tube Length 16" 18" 20"
Bottom Bracket Height
Chainstay Length 17.3" 17.3" 17.3"
Wheelbase 47.5" 48.0" 49.5"
Standover 28.5" 28.3" 28.4"
Reach 41.0 cm 42.6 cm 46.1 cm
Stack 59.5 cm 59.5 cm 59.9 cm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Advanced-Grade Composite with Internal Rear Swingarm Cable Routing and Integrated Fork Bumper Cable Guides
Rear Travel 203mm
Rear Shock RockShox Vivid R2C
Fork RockShox Boxxer Team
Fork Travel 200mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered OverDrive
Headset
Handlebar Giant Contact SLR DH Carbon, 800mm x 31.8mm
Stem Truvativ Holzfeller Direct Mount
Grips
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC, 200mm Front / 180mm Rear Rotors
Brake Levers SRAM Guide RSC
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 DH Trigger, Rear Only
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 DH, Type-2
ISCG Tabs Yes
Chainguide MRP G3 Mini Carbon
Cranks SRAM X01 DH Carbon
Chainrings 34 Tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP
Pedals N/A
Chain KMC X-11 SL - DLC
Cassette SRAM X01-DH, 10-24 Tooth, 7-Speed
Rims DT Swiss EX 471
Hubs DT Swiss 240s
Spokes DT
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary, Evo Wire, Vertstar 27.5" x 2.35"
Saddle fi'zi:k Tundra M3
Seatpost Giant Contact SL Zero Offset
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12mm x 150mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts No
Colors Composite/Blue
Warranty Lifetime Frame for Original Purchaser
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous
Price $8,500
More Info Giant Website

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