These days, it's rare that a revision of a bike model isn't accompanied by the tagline “longer, lower, slacker,” but with the new Giant Reign 'longer' is the only one of those words that applies. That's largely due to the fact that the previous model was ahead of its time when it was launched in 2014, with geometry numbers that would still be considered modern today.
With a 65-degree head angle, the previous generation of the Reign was slack enough to meet the needs of Giant's pro enduro racers, but they found themselves wanting to push its already generous reach numbers even further. The result is a new frame with reach measurements that are 15mm longer than the previous version, a design change intended to make the bike even more stable at high speeds. The lineup includes two models with a carbon front triangle and an alloy rear end, and three full aluminum models.
Giant Reign Advanced Details
• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm
• 65º head angle
• Trunnion mount shock
• Carbon front triangle, alloy swingarm
• Full aluminum versions available
• Boost hub spacing
• Size: S, M, L, XL
• Price: $5400 - $8200 USD
Along with the slightly revised geometry, the 2018 Reign now has Boost spacing front and rear, and a trunnion mounted shock that delivers 160mm of travel. Giant was able to reduce the bike's leverage ratio, which means that lower air pressures are required for air shocks, a welcome change over the previous model. There are also two coil sprung models in the lineup, complete with a handlebar mounted lockout.
Similar to the Giant's shorter travel Trance
, the Reign now sports a forged carbon fiber upper link, while the lower link is still aluminum. Making the switch to carbon allowed Giant to shed some weight from the frame while also adding stiffness. Thanks to the trunnion mounted shock, the upper link pivot's location now sits slightly lower in the seatube, creating more room for longer travel dropper posts.
The top of the line Reign Advanced 0 pictured above retails for $8,200, with a build kit that includes a 160mm RockShox Lyrik RCT3 fork, a Super Deluxe coil shock, Guide RSC brakes, and X01 Eagle drivetrain, and a DT Swiss' alloy EX 1500 wheelset. That price does seems like it's on the high side to me – after all, only the front triangle of the Reign is carbon, and it's spec'd with a house brand dropper post, seat, and handlebar. The alloy Reign SX could be the standout workhorse of the new lineup – it has an alloy frame, 170mm Lyrik RCT3, coil Super Deluxe, and a Shimano SLX 11-speed drivetrain for $4,000 USD. Geometry
A size large Reign now has a reach of 473mm, an increase of 15mm over the previous version. That increase, along with the use of a 46mm offset fork (compared to the 'typical' 42mm offset) gives the bike a wheelbase of 1,232mm, which is certainly on the longer side of the scale compared to other bikes in this category.
Fork offset has been a hot topic recently, with several companies releasing bikes that feature less offset, a move in the opposite direction of what Giant did with the Reign. The increased offset was present on the previous version of the Reign as well, a design decision that's intended to give the bike quicker steering than its 65-degree head angle would suggest. It's an interesting move, especially considering how many bikes are on the market now with 65-degree head angles and forks with 'regular' offset; I'd be curious to ride the bike back-to-back with a 42mm offset fork to see how much difference there really is.
Giant chose Santa Caterina di Valfurva, Italy, as the location for the launch of the Reign, a small mountain town surrounded by steep valleys and tall glaciated peaks. The trails were a mix of tight switchbacks, rocky straightlines, and twisty, wooded sections – a good mix of terrain to begin getting a feel for the updated bike.
It took me a little bit to get used to the position of the dropper post lever and the remote lockout; there were a few times when I went to drop the seat down, but inadvertently ended up pushing the lockout with my thumb instead. That's because I'm used to having my dropper post lever located where the remote sits, but I eventually retrained my brain and was able to consistently hit the levers in the right order, and by the end of the two riding days I barely had to think about it.
The Reign is a decent climber even with the rear shock fully opened, but there is a little extra motion when you're standing up and cranking. That's where the lockout comes into play, and it wasn't long before I found myself hitting it even for short, punchy climbs to take advantage of the additional pedaling support. It's not a lockout in the strictest sense of the term – there's still enough compliance to allow the rear end to take the edge off of hits, and if you do happen to forget to unlock the shock before dropping in it's not going to rattle your fillings loose.
I was a little surprised to see that the Reign's seat tube angle didn't get any steeper to go along with additional reach. 73-degrees is on the slacker side of things, which creates a more stretched out climbing position, especially for taller riders who run their bikes with a lot of post showing. Kevin Dana, Giant's Off-Road Category Manager, said that they did experiment with a steeper seat angle, but found that they preferred the seat position with the slacker angle on steep descents – riders were getting more tire buzz (between themselves and the rear tire) with the steeper seat angle. Mountain bike geometry does require compromise, and in this case it appears Giant placed priority on the bike's downhill performance.
The plush Super Deluxe Coil / Lyrik suspension combination provided loads of grip, and the bike tracked very well, pitter-pattering over sections of trail that were covered with a thick layer of baseball-sized rocks without any harshness. It's easy to find speed even without stomping on the pedals – pumping into a corner or over a roller kept the Reign charging forward, and it never felt like it was getting hung up on the multiple awkward rock sections that I rode through.
There were a couple times when I found myself wishing the Reign had SRAM's new Code brakes rather than the Guide RSCs. They didn't pump up or fade, but I did need to hang on tighter on sustained steep sections than I would have with the more powerful Codes.
I was especially impressed by just how energetic the Reign felt on the descents – even with the extra length that's been added to the front end and the coil-sprung shock, it's still easy to pop up and over rocks and roots at the blink of an eye. That pep made it easier to navigate through some of the more awkward rocky sections of trail, along with tight switchbacks, the calling card of European riding – they didn't feel any more difficult than usual. While there's no denying that this is a long bike, I didn't have any trouble with slow speed maneuvering.
The new Reign certainly hasn't lost any of its downhill prowess, and the updated suspension layout makes its 160mm of travel feel better than ever. This is a bike that can be a big, rock smashing brute when necessary, but it's also capable of dancing through tighter sections of trail with a surprising level of finesse. As usual, all of this comes with the caveat that these are just initial impressions – two days of riding is enough to get a good idea of how a bike handles, but not enough to suss out all the quirks, or to comment on long term durability – that'll have to wait until we put in more miles on a wider range of terrain.