Bike Test: Giant Reign Advanced 1
With its new 2015 lineup, there’s no longer any doubt about Giant’s commitment to the 27.5-inch “tweener” wheel size. While many companies are steering the 26-inch bike into extinction, Giant is taking it a step further as its 29-inch bike offerings begin to fall by the wayside; however, the new Giant Reign didn’t simply receive a new set of shoes. It introduces a longer reach and wheelbase paired with a slack, 65-degree head angle to create a machine that feels most at home when peripheral vision begins to blur. As we have learned to expect of any bike Giant puts out, the new Reign was designed with the speeds of tomorrow in mind. We had the opportunity to send it down some rocky descents during a rip-roaring trip to British Columbia last summer but have been eager to put some extended miles on it in order to confirm its claim as a top-tier enduro machine.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1 we tested is for aggressive enduro riders who put their bikes to the test but aren’t necessarily looking for the podium finish. With a more modest parts spec than the well-dressed 0 model, it provides nearly all the same features for somebody who wants more of a daily driver. The Reign is built for tackling the big line and making short work of the most rugged terrain, all in a package that’ll crank out the flat sections with efficient ease. While it’s easy to get caught up focusing on its descending prowess, it’s no slouch on the climbs and is made for riders who want to earn every foot of their rides.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Lightweight and stiff, the carbon construction of the main frame creates the lightest Reign ever produced at 5.84 pounds for a medium frame. Not too shabby considering it includes the weight of an asymmetrical ALUXX SL aluminum rear swingarm for increased strength and durability. The 6.3 inches (160 millimeters) of Giant’s Maestro suspension utilizes four pivot points to remain fully active regardless of the conditions thrown at it. The Reign’s rear dropouts are convertible between both 142- and 135-millimeter axle standards in order to provide additional versatility, while its 86-millimeter-wide bottom bracket delivers the stiffness demanded while ripping through corners with speed.
WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE?
The retro color scheme of the new Reign depicts its background as a cutting-edge machine with history to back up its claims of glory. An oversized downtube makes it apparent the Reign feels at home being railed into corners where frame stiffness is crucial. Supple and dependable, the RockShox Pike RC fork is a welcome sight on any aggressive bike we test, while the dual-position feature is a must in certain regions where climbs often resemble walls. Spec’ing a 200-millimeter brake rotor up front, Giant seems focused on cutting down on the prevalence of rotor-burn scars.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The Reign is definitely a longer-feeling bike than most we’ve ridden. The additional 30 millimeters of reach over its predecessor left most test riders believing the bike was one size bigger than the sticker said. Overall, the Reign has a very open and natural feel to it.
Climbing: The Reign has legs to climb with the best of them. The Maestro suspension does a fantastic job of hiding how much suspension the bike actually has. The platform feels firm and delivers power to the ground efficiently. We found the RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair shock to provide the precise amount of give required to remain hooked up to the trail, rather than locking out completely and leaving us skipping up the climbs. We encountered the only hiccup on the technical climbs of Sedona, where the low bottom bracket had us dodging rocks with our pedals.
Cornering: With the revamp of the Reign’s frame design and custom 46-millimeter-offset RockShox Pike RC, Giant spent a lot of time focusing on how the new bike handled. It certainly paid off, as the Reign handled tight technical trails with ease. The bike had no issues dancing through corners and felt stable while doing so. While we were initially disappointed with how the Reign initiated corners, we quickly realized it pushes riders to put more weight over the front and puts them in a position where the greatest amount of control and traction are possible.
Descending: The Reign was born for relentless descents that test every ounce of a rider’s ability. The slack 65-degree head angle, low 28.1-inch standover height and long top tube create a very balanced and stable descending machine. The Reign wasn’t afraid to charge headlong into unfamiliar sections of trail and pull through whichever line we pointed it down. Its Maestro suspension did an excellent job of finding a balance between soaking up the rough stuff and still remaining playful. When we encountered rock gardens, the Reign allowed us the option to either knife through or jump their entirety without reserve. On the flip side, the more technical and twisty the descent, the more we realized the Reign inspires confidence on any type of downhill.
Braking: On a bike in this price range, we would prefer to have our index fingers on Shimano XT brakes, but the Shimano SLXs weren’t a deal-breaker. Whether G-ing out the travel in the pocket of a high-speed corner or skipping across the tops of bumps, the Maestro suspension remained active and left us holding the reins.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Reign Advanced 27.5 1 comes with an all-around solid parts spec; however, if we were looking to gain even more performance out of it, we’d look into upgrading it with a lighter wheelset and more powerful brakes. Both performed well throughout the test but left a little to be desired in terms of refinement.
The geometry of the new Reign places the rider in a more stretched-out and open position than many more traditional bikes. Our primary riding tip for getting the most out of the Reign would be to really get over the front end, as it positioned us better for ripping through corners.
With the price tag being above $4000, it’s safe to say the Reign Advanced 27.5 1 is a bike for dedicated and experienced riders. Considering this, some components, such as the Shimano SLX groupset and Giant P-AM2 rims, may need to be upgraded. For these riders, we’d suggest the more expensive but very well-spec’d $5975 aluminum-framed Reign 27.5 1.
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