The Giant Glory 0
World Championship Performance
The Giant Glory downhill race bike was thrown into the limelight last
fall when team rider Danny Hart annihilated the field at the Downhill World
Championship. At an event that is usually won by thousandths of a second, Danny
and his Glory decimated the field by putting a demoralizing 11.6-second gap on
the second-place finisher. Could the production version of the Giant Glory
deliver the same performance and confidence that Danny’s bike possessed? There
was only one way to find out, so we loaded the Giant Glory into Big Red and
headed to Northstar-at-Tahoe for a downhill thrashing.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Giant Glory 0 is for downhill racing. It could be pressed into
service as a bike-park bike, because it does not have the super-slack geometry
of many downhill racers. But don’t be misled; this is not a bike that you will
ever pedal up a mountain or take for a casual trail ride. It is a serious
downhill race weapon.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The frame is constructed from Giant’s Aluxx-SL aluminum alloy and is a
perfect example of modern metal work and tube manipulation. There are no welded
gussets or, for that matter, straight tubes. All of the tubes are hydroformed
to maximize strength and stiffness while cutting down on weight. The tube
diameters are massive, giving the bike a mean, burly look. Giant’s dual-link
Maestro suspension design delivers 8 inches of rear-wheel travel.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The full-Shimano Saint group always provides performance eye candy. We
were stoked to see a 7-inch brake rotor spec’ed on the rear. It saves a bit of
weight and doesn’t over- power the rear end. High-end suspension products from
Fox include a 40 RC2 fork and DHX RC4 coil shock.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Ergonomics: Saddle up for the Glory,
because this bike is all business. The profile on Giant’s 29.5-inch-wide
Contact AM handlebar feels natural. The width provides plenty of leverage while
not being so wide that you have to worry about clearing tight sections. The
bars are nicely mated to Giant’s Contact DH stem, which allows a good amount of
cockpit-length adjustment. The Fizik Tundra 2 saddle’s minimal design didn’t
snag our shorts.
all downhill race-bike suspension, setup is a relatively long and, some would
say, never-ending process. This fork and shock combination has such an
incredible range of adjustability that you cannot set it and forget it. We went
with 30-percent rear suspension sag, very little low-speed compression and more
high-speed compression to keep the bike riding high in its travel under
successive, hard hits. We followed the recommended boost-valve pressures and
set the bottom-out control in the middle. Up front, we were happy in the 20- to
25-percent sag range, with a small amount of low-speed compression and more
high-speed compression. This allowed the fork to maintain some small-bump
sensitivity while still being able to handle serious impacts. Our
recommendation will get you to a happy medium of sorts, but unless you are
willing to experiment and keep meticulous notes, you probably won’t get all the
performance that this bike is capable of. Suspension adjustment on a downhill
bike is complicated.
Cornering: The Glory has no problems
in the cornering department. The 65.5-degree head tube angle provides
stability, but the bike is nimble enough to quickly and easily change
direction. The Contact AM bars provide great leverage to help keep the front
end glued to the trail. The Maxxis Minion (front) and DHR (rear) tires hook up
great in a variety of conditions. They really shine on Northstar’s loose,
gravelly and rocky downhill runs.
Descending: Blasting downhill is what
the Glory is all about. Its geometry isn’t as slack as some of the newer
downhill race bikes, but the Glory proves that newer isn’t always better. The
8-inch Maestro suspension is great for smoothing out small chatter and
absorbing big hits and drops. The Glory will suit a wide range of skill levels.
Newer riders will appreciate the 14.5-inch bottom bracket height since it
provides excellent clearance, but, honestly, we can’t imagine a rider who would
not progress on this bike. Regardless of skill level, the bottom bracket height
is a great compromise between a low center of gravity and enough clearance. On
larger, square-edged bumps, chain-slap resonates through the chainstay. The
noise was noticeable on descents, and needs to be addressed. If your downhill
racecourses have a lot of jumps, the Glory will prove to be a major advantage.
This bike was made to be launched and remains very stable and maneuverable
during take-offs, flights, and landings.
Pedaling: Giant’s Maestro suspension
design offers a natural pedaling platform without a noticeable sacrifice in
small-bump compliance. When we had to sneak in some pedal strokes on flatter
terrain, we were impressed with how well the Glory pedaled. It is remarkably
efficient for all the travel and hardware tagging along.
Braking: The Maestro suspension
just works, plain and simple. It did not fail to impress us when we got on the
brakes hard. In large braking bumps, the suspension remained fully active and
kept the tires in contact with the ground. Our Shimano Saint brakes worked
flawlessly. They are a long-standing wrecking crew favorite.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The component spec on the Glory 0 is awesome. This is a race-ready
machine built for speed. We would recommend using a chainstay protector to cut
down on chain-slap noise and help protect the bike’s finish. Since the head
tube angle is on the steeper end of the spectrum for downhill bikes, we lowered
the fork stanchions so that approximately 2 millimeters were exposed above the
top crown. This gives a slightly slacker head tube angle and also raises the
bottom bracket height.
Whether you are a World Cup downhill racer or a novice, the Glory is an
absolutely incredible machine. It does have a steep price tag, but that price
turns out to be an incredible value compared with trying to build a similarly
equipped downhill racer from the frame up. Regardless of your skill level, the
Glory is ready out of the box to inspire confidence and take you to the next
level. Just ask Danny Hart.
Reprinted from the January 2012 issue. Like us on Facebook