OK, so after some seat time on my local single track after getting everything finished on the build up I wanted to give some feedback for anyone thinking about the new Anthem 27.5's and are, like myself, going to throw a bunch of money at it.
I only got a few rides in before I started stripping it down to replace parts, and I mean pretty much everything, only thing left from stock is the fork and rear shock I believe. The size large Anthem 3 was about 30# when I picked it up, was fine out of the box and if I was a newish rider I'd have been pretty pleased leaving well enough alone for a while but....
The result as it sits now is just under 23.5#, I think it was 23.35# on the LBS Park hanging scale, and when I buy a new SID up front that number will obviously drop a bit more. The Recon Gold SL that comes stock is really pretty nice, nothing fancy for internals but it works fine and can actually be modified to run 120mm by removing spacers if you want to experiment with that. I may do that myself in the next week or so as I wouldn't mind taking a degree out of the head angle and increase the bottom bracket a bit, I've had to adjust my riding to account for pedal strikes which I haven't had to worry about for a few years.
The bike is fast, wheelies over obstacles easily, handles high speed turns and switchbacks like its on rails, and is very comfortable to ride. Having no lock out on the stock Monarch R I was thinking I'd want to ditch it but I've been really pleased with the lack of pedal bob and the generally stiff feeling of the ride while pedaling flat out on singletrack. You sort of forget you are on a full squish bike until you need it and even then the Maestro suspension is pretty subtle. The only issue I'm having is that after every ride I come back and notice the red rubber ring on the Monarch is almost off the piston, I am maxing out the rear shock and have been increasing the air pressure with each ride.
While the stock fork is pretty nice I'm still not in love with the Monarch R in the rear. I had a HV Monarch RCT3 on my 650b Nickel and loved it, easy to set up and worked great, but the R is a little cumbersome to tune. As I am ignoring the sag and increasing the air pressure I am constantly fiddling with the rebound. At 135# having the rebound at the half-way point was good, but every time I'd add another 10# of air it would be all off. 135# good in the middle, 145# the middle sucked and I was running several notches slower, then today at 155# I stopped and went up a couple notches over mid-point, crazy. Plus, at my weight of about 230# I know that Monarch is a ticking time bomb that I'll need to replace soon. The Recon is the current crop of single air forks from Rockshox and while it is easy to set-up and ride I do miss being able to play with the dual air settings to fine tune the ride, but I'm a suspension junky so you know....
The build I did was very similar to what I was running on the 650b Nickel but I'm running X01 carbon cranks with type 2 rear der and Absolute Black direct mount no-drop chain ring. I have had NO dropped chains as that AB chain ring works great, but I keep having to fiddle fart with the X9 type 2 and the shifter. Today it was ghost shifting bad just street riding to the trail and after adjusting the hi and low setting a bit adjusting the barrel on the shifter seemed to have worked about 90% but I'm going to take it back to the shop to get the experts to tune it for me.
I am really pleased with all the parts, I tried some new stuff and allot of stuff I've run before but it works great for a really light package.
Comments on the ride and the complete bike. The bike feels really fast, I haven't wired my cateye up yet to see if its a "new bike" placebo effect but it feels really quick. The frame is responsive to steering input without being twitchy, the riding position is very comfortable, and did I mention its fast. Steering input is very light and centered, for whatever reason there are a couple of right hand sharp turns that I am able to go through allot faster with less brake than on any of my previous rides.
And speaking of brakes, I am really glad I didn't go with Shimano XT icetechs again, I think it would have been too much immediate power that would overwhelm and possibly unsettle the bike in high speed corners where you just want to scrub a little speed. On this bike I used the new X) trails with 160mm rotors and so far I am really happy. The rear suspension doesn't get busy under hard breaking while giving steering input, never feels like you are overloading the rear, eliminating allot of slip in the rear tire, so you feel more confident braking later and getting on the throttle quicker. There is no brake/pause/steer/pause/pedal-out type of crap in high speed turns, its allot more fluid, no drama.
Another thing that stands out to me is how the bike feels small under me, but in a very good way, you always feel in control instead of feeling like you are along for the ride. The bike really just kind of disappears under me after a few minutes.
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