We've tested Giant's AnyRoad CoMax, the carbon composite version of its AnyRoad gravel bike with good on-road manners and bags of clearance for muddy conditions.
The AnyRoad CoMax is the top model in Giant’s growing range of gravel bikes. With its strange looks, fat tyres and more relaxed geometry, this machine and its type occupy a strange but undoubtedly growing place in the market somewhere between endurance and cyclo-cross bikes.
Although born out of a demand in the US where gravel roads and fast, dusty trails are more commonplace, we’re seeing an emerging interest in them on this side of the pond. Whether they offer anything over cyclo-cross bikes on Britain’s muddier byways and rutted farm tracks is still up for debate but that won’t stop manufacturers pushing them out.
While most of Giant’s range is constructed from aluminium, this top model has been built using its carbon-fibre composite technology.
The AnyRoad’s frame tends to attract comment: particularly the kink in the top tube, which sends it down to meet the seatstays some way down the seat tube. Giant pioneered compact frame geometry in its road bikes for a more rigid frame with lower overall weight. The AnyRoad’s design has the same effect, albeit in a less conventional form.
The head tube is tall and the reach quite short, resulting in quite a high riding position. As with the frame, the AnyRoad’s fork is carbon-fibre composite, although it has an aluminium steerer. Both the frame and fork have a huge amount of clearance, so they can easily take wide tyres and avoid mud clogging.
Watch our cyclocross bike buyer’s guide
The AnyRoad CoMax comes with a Shimano 105 compact chainset coupled with an 11-32 tooth cassette, giving a vast range for faster riding on-road and for negotiating steeper and more difficult terrain on and off-road.
Giant makes its own wheels and the AnyRoad’s P-X2s come with quick-release hubs with sealed bearings and tubeless-ready rims. The tyres are Giant’s own too and are 32mm wide. They have a central section with a very low-profile tread, augmented by more substantial side lugs. Braking is provided by TRP Spyre mechanical discs.
Unusually Giant provides bar-top levers in addition to the standard Shimano brake shifters. This is a welcome addition as it provides an alternative braking position, which I found useful on longer, more shallow descents.
With its relatively narrow tyres and limited tread, and a top-end gear range which matches most
endurance road bikes, the AnyRoad can be ridden fast on-road with little rolling resistance. It rides well on unfinished farm tracks too, with enough volume in the tyres to even out bumps.
On typical UK bridlepaths it’s a slightly different story. There’s significant loss of traction on muddy sections due to the lack of tyre tread. I dropped the pressure to around 40psi, at which the tyres still rolled well on road, but offered vastly improved grip on the soft stuff. At this pressure I was able to progress well even on properly muddy paths, although this did expose me to a risk of pinch-flatting when the rims bottomed out on rockier sections (fortunately I didn’t). The wide clearances are also an asset and clogging was never an issue even on the stickiest paths.
Giant has managed to hit a sweet spot with the AnyRoad CoMax: a carbon frame with quality components at a price below £1,500. There are some nice extras like the bar-top levers too, although hydraulic braking might be a better
option for its lighter action and is increasingly appearing on bikes at around this price.
Giant’s own-brand components, which finish off the build, are of good quality too. The Giant saddle sits on a carbon seatpost and the shallow-drop alloy bars are well wrapped to provide cushioning against vibrations. The company’s own-brand wheels are certainly a match for branded products.
It may be a bit of an ugly duckling, but it does its job very competently and is an efficient and
comfortable bike to ride on the road, with the wider tyres adding comfort without much additional rolling resistance.
It’s also a fun bike to ride off-road and is well-equipped to deal with British winter conditions. It would definitely benefit from more aggressive tyres for those looking to explore muddier routes and there’s plenty of scope to increase tyre width without impacting on mud clearance. Although not a light bike, the AnyRoad’s wide gear range makes light work of steeper slopes and it’s easy to shift your weight around on technical
terrain due to the short reach and upright ride.
For a go-anywhere machine, the AnyRoad is a good option and with its mudguard eyelets is even ready for winter commuting duties.
A nice-riding all-rounder good for UK on and off-road conditions although more aggressive tyres would help off-road handling