The Giant Reign has been in existence for 15 years, evolving every few seasons to keep up with mountain biking's ongoing evolution. The latest version now rolls on 29” wheels, which shouldn't come as a massive surprise, but it is still slightly humorous to look back at the images that Giant once published to promote 27.5” wheels as the one wheel size to rule them all...
Of course, that ended when the short travel Trance 29
was released last year, and now the focus is on the new Reign 29. It was designed to meet the needs of the Giant Factory Off-Road team's Enduro World Series racers, or anyone whose trail preference trends towards the gnarlier side of things.
Giant Reign Advanced 29 Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 146mm / 160mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 65° head angle
• 439mm chainstays
• PF92 bottom bracket
• Alloy models available
• Price: $3,000 - $9,000 USD
The 27.5” Reign had 160mm of travel, but the new Reign 29 has a bit less – 146mm to be precise. That's paired up with a 160mm fork up front, which gives the bike a 65-degree head angle.
There are three carbon models of the Reign 29, with prices ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 USD. Aluminum models start at $3,000, and there's also an alloy SX model that gets a coil-sprung shock and a 170mm fork.Frame Details & Suspension Design
The Reign Advanced models are carbon from tip to tail, except for the aluminum lower link. The overall shape is quite similar to the Trance 29, especially the swingarm, which is braced on the non-drive side. Giant's Maestro suspension design is in place, which uses two co-rotating links to attach the swingarm to the shock.
There's a stubby little seat mast that extends above the top tube with a two bolt seatpost clamp. Thankfully, the advent of dropper posts means that those bolts won't need to be adjusted much, but I'm not sure why they didn't just go with a simple single bolt design. On the topic of dropper posts, the size large and XL bikes get posts with 150mm of drop, but the smaller sizes only have 125mm; it'd be nice to more drop for all sizes, especially now that there are a number of worthy 175 and even 200mm options on the market.
MRP chainguides with bash guards are installed on all models, which is a nice touch. Dropped chains are relatively rare these days, but rocks haven't gotten any less solid, so it's nice to have a little extra protection in order to avoid trashing a chainring or mangling a chain.
Giant tested three versions of the Reign 29 during the development process. The first iteration had a shorter stroke shock, and slightly less travel, but that didn't end up giving them the ride feel they were looking for. The next version was closer to what they wanted, but Giant's designers ended up tweaking the kinematics a bit more before settling on a shock with a 60mm stroke shock. The frame has a 16.6% leverage rate progression, which should allow it to work with either an air or coil-sprung shock. Geometry
The Reign 29 has a 65-degree head angle, which would have been considered slack a few years ago, but is now fairly typical for bikes in this travel bracket. The seat angle has been steepened considerably compared to the 27.5” Reign, and now sits at 76.8-degrees for all sizes.
It's the Reign's reach numbers where things get a little interesting. A small measures 428mm, a medium measures 455mm, and then there's a whopping 38mm jump up to the size large that checks in at a sprawling 493mm, followed by the XL at 515mm. I'll get back to that sizing jump in a bit, but it does mean that some riders could find themselves scratching their heads when trying to figure out what size to go with.Models
I spent two days on the Reign 29 Advanced Pro 0 model, which retails for $9,000. That hefty chunk of change gets you SRAM's X01 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, Factory-series Fox 36 Float fork and X2 shock, along with Giant's TRX-0 carbon wheels and EXO+ casing Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II tires.• Reign Advance Pro 29 1:
This is the model that caught my eye, and not just because of the carbon frame's sparkly black and grey paint scheme. There's a SRAM GX 12-speed drivetrain, Code R brakes, Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and X2 shock, plus Giant's alloy TR-1 alloy wheels with a 2.5" Maxxis DHF EXO+ and a 2.4" DHR II EXO+. $5,000. • Reign Advanced Pro 29 2:
Carbon frame, SRAM NX, RockShox Lyric Select+, RockShox Deluxe Select, Shimano MT520 brakes. $4,000.• Reign 29 2:
Alloy frame, SRAM NX drivetrain, Shimano MT520 brakes, RockShox Yari RC, RockShox Deluxe Select+. $3,000.• Reign 29 SX:
Alloy frame, SRAM NX drivetrain, Code R brakes, 170mm Fox 36 Performance Elite, DHX2 Performance Elite. $4,000.
Revelstoke, British Columbia, served as the launching pad for the new Reign 29, a location with no shortage of incredible mountain views and long, rugged descents.
The Reign 29's steeper seat tube angle is a welcome change compared to the 27.5” version. In addition to creating a more comfortable climbing position, it also plays a role in reducing the amount of suspension movement – there's less leverage on the shock when your weight is situated above, rather than behind it. Seat angle aside, even when standing out of the saddle the Reign 29 is a calm climber, and I never needed to flip the Float X2's compression lever to the firmer position.
There was one issue that surfaced on some of the bikes at the launch – under hard pedaling, typically in the easier gears used for climbing, the rear brake rotor would contact the pads with a subtle 'thwing' noise. The frame didn't feel overly-flexy at all while riding, and the super-scientific "grab the rear wheel and pull it back and forth" stiffness test didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary, but it's something that's worth further investigation.
At 5'11” (180cm), I typically prefer bikes with a reach somewhere in the 460 – 480mm range. Top tube length also plays into the equation, but reach is a good place to start when it comes to modern bike sizing. With the Reign 29, I'm in right in between sizes – the seated pedaling position of the medium felt a little cramped, and on the large I had moments where it felt like the long front end made cornering and slower speed maneuvering more difficult than necessary.
Now, I don't mind a long wheelbase, especially on a gravity-oriented bike, but if more stability was the goal I think it would have been better to get that by slackening the head angle rather than stretching out the reach even further. That being said, the bike's sizing looks more typical for the small, medium, and XL sizes, so riders taller and shorter than myself will probably have a much easier time than I did.
The long reach aside, the Reign hasn't lost any of its ability to devour bumps and plow through natural hallways filled with roots and rocks. The Float X2 and Fox 36 combo is a formidable suspension package, and while 146mm isn't the most common amount of travel, I never had any harsh bottom outs or moments where I felt like I wanted a few millimeters more squish.
It's easy to see how the Reign would make a good enduro race bike – despite its length it doesn't feel sluggish once it's up to speed, and it'll reward an aggressive rider who can push it at a higher pace. There are a few quirks that are worth looking into, though; we'll get one in to see how it fares in a long term test.