Looking for a mid-range, high quality, good performing mountain bike? Then you’ve come to the right place. The Giant Fathom 2 has been updated for 2018 and is ready to take the trail by storm. Well-respected brand, Giant, has been producing bikes since 1972 and each year they channel riders’ feedback through to their development team so they can continue to up their game.
The Giant Fathom 2 is in the hard tail category of mountain bikes as it has no rear suspension. This is not necessarily a disadvantage while, although your legs will tire more quickly from having to act as the suspension, the payoff is that you will get more feedback from the trail underneath your wheels. It helps improve your overall cycling ability as you learn the best way to position and angle the bike and your stance for maximum efficacy.
The Giant Fathom 2 2018 features a sleek ALUXX SL-grade aluminum frame with some internal cable routing. The SL grade is the intermediate of the ALUXX range and boasts the 6011 alloy which has a high performance strength to weight ratio. The weight is kept down thanks to the double butting forming method that preserves its strength. The forming methods include the patented PressForming, WarmForming and Fluid Forming techniques that use injection of high-pressure air to manipulate the tubes instead of customary methods that yield more cumbersome frames.
It maintains the popular 2017 model’s 67 degree head angle giving you an aggressive attack posture. The seat post is operated by a Giant-branded contact switch with a standard 30.9 mm diameter. Sporting a full travel of 120 mm this gives you a lot of freedom to really go all-in on those tricky climbs.
The overall look of the frame is one that is clean and modern with well-considered design as you would imagine from this brand.
Fork and suspension
One of Giant’s unique selling points when it comes to the Fathom 2 is its SR Suntour Raidon XC LOR DS fork with OverDrive. The OverDrive uses an oversized fork steerer-tube technology and oversized headset bearings which all collaborate to produce incredible steering stiffness and sharpness. The tapered head tube further improves the firmness of the front end, resulting in enhanced steering control. The Suntour also features low speed compression and rebound adjustment but it’s the impressive 120 mm travel that comes to your aid as it soaks up the heaviest and most sudden changes in terrain. It also features a lockout which we find to be one of the better ones on test and is operated by a satisfyingly solid-operating blue switch.
Sizes, rims and tires
Coming in four sizes: small, medium, large and extra large, the Fathom 2 is suitable for people of heights 5’3” to 6’4” with inside leg measurements of 26” to 37”. As of early 2018 this mtb will only ship with one color scheme: a matte gray finish with neon orange lettering.
The Fathom 2 comes with the proprietary Giant SC-2 wheelset incorporating a 21 mm inner width and Giant Performance Tracker hubs.
The exceptionally good Maxxis Ardent 27.5” tires are 2.25” wide and have as good a traction as you might anticipate. These are supple 60 TPI tires which exhibit low rolling resistance and large blocky side knobs that give good points of contact when cornering in loose dirt. Being tubeless the Ardents are naturally puncture resistant and don’t require as much air pressure as a regular tire. These EXO tires are resistant to cuts, scuffs and abrasions and will give you a long operating life. Topping this off is that they are the folding type where Kevlar is used instead of wire in the bead. This has the advantage of increasing the strength of the tire walls while simultaneously losing the weight associated with the conventional type.
There is a Shimano-fest going on with the drivetrain. The shifters, derailleur and cassette are all from the Shimano Deore range. The cassette is the awesome 11×46, 11-speed model that changes up and down gear flawlessly and with precision. It comes with the KMC X11-1 chain fitted as standard and this is a solid performer too. The chain bedded in quickly and we didn’t notice any jumping on test; the shaped and pinned chain rings being the same size. Although not as light as the pricier chains on the market, this cold forged steel model is a reliable alternative.
While topline speed and stability are often forefront in prospective buyers’ minds, the brakes are definitely worth a mention. These are the amazing Shimano BR-M365 hydraulic discs which have excellent – and controlled – stopping power. The front brake is 180 mm and the rear brake is a 160 mm disc. They give steadfast performance in most of the situations you’ll encounter. As with all brakes, wear them in gradually and experiment with braking under different conditions before really putting them to the test.
The riding experience
The first word that comes to mind with this mtb is fun! On cross country off-roading this bike gives you a good deal of confidence with its handling and the feedback from whatever surface you are on. It performs well in damp conditions although if it enters very muddy ground the brakes can foul. This concern affects all bikes though to be honest. In the wet or the dry the Fathom 2 is a sure-footed performer which does its best to put a smile on your face.
The Giant Fathom 2 is without a doubt one of the best mountain bikes out there, especially for the money. It has a can-do attitude and capabilities of a much more expensive bike. If you were a fan of its 2017 predecessor or know of someone who raves about them then why not get in on the action with this updated model? It has the same great attributes of the 2017 iteration with just enough subtle tweaks and enhancements to give it (and you) the edge.