First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 99
The Reign has been around for over ten years already. It’s already enjoyed a long, er, reign as Giant’s all-mountainy model but this year it’s pretty much a new bike, apart from the name. For 2015 the wheels have grown by an inch and a half to the de rigeur 27.5in. You would expect the move to bigger wheels to come with a few tweaks to the frame, but Giant clearly decided that it wanted to change pretty much every length and angle on this year’s model. In a nutshell (surprise, surprise) it’s longer and lower. If that’s not enough detail then try these numbers on for size – the bottom bracket height is 320mm (or ‘low-slung’, if you prefer), the head angle has been slackened off a couple of degrees to 65° and the wheelbase has gained an extra 5cm (119cm on the medium frame). The chainstays have actually become shorter while simultaneously accommodating bigger wheels – what sort of black magic is this?
The head tube has gone mainstream – Giant’s Overdrive 2 system with its fat 1 1/4in top bearing has been replaced with the more widely used 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in – a bonus if you like swapping stems around and don’t have a box of stems handy for 1 1/4in steerers.
Out back there’s 160mm of floating pivot Maestro suspension with a RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 at its core. This is matched up front with a RockShox Pike. The DT Swiss wheelset has a 15mm axle on the front and 12x142mm through-axle on the back. The Reign comes with a Reverb, a SRAM X1-based 1×11 drivetrain and SRAM Guide brakes, with 200mm front and 180mm rear rotors.
Aesthetics are clearly a subjective thing, but if you combine the first and third best colours in the world ever then you’re probably onto a winner. In fact, orange is represented in no less than four different shades here – what’s not to like about that?
The internal cable routing certainly adds to the visual package, but while the colour scheme may turn some heads the low-slung and slack geometry make it look purposeful.
I’ll be honest, I found my first ride on the Reign at Coed y Brenin slightly underwhelming. It handled everything without any fuss – it just seemed to be lacking a bit of verve. So it was interesting that Strava revealed I’d ridden pretty much every descent quicker than ever before, that day – interesting mostly because it didn’t feel that I’d been going quickly. Hmmm…
I was pretty sure that I hadn’t suddenly acquired mad skillz overnight, so this needed further investigation. I set about finding gnarlier trails to point it down. There is a definite emphasis on ‘down’ here. You can pedal it uphill – flick the Monarch into climbing mode, put the fork down to 130mm travel, push down on the pedals and it goes uphill, but that’s not really what this bike is about; it’s about getting back down – and it does so with supreme confidence.
Lean it into the turns and it will zip around twisty singletrack without a care in the world. Point it down steep, rocky terrain and it eats it up effortlessly. It’s basically a mini-downhill bike that you can actually ride uphill. Nothing fazes this bike. It gives you the confidence to try lines that you’ve never done before. It flatters your abilities.
The low bottom bracket does mean that you get a few pedal strikes, but that’s an acceptable trade-off for the stability and sure-footed handling it delivers. Be warned though – if you switch to a less capable bike after getting accustomed to the Reign, it will end in tears. Anyone who says ‘it’s not about the bike’ is on drugs.
- Frame // ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminium, 6.3in/160mm Maestro Suspension
- Shock // RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir RC3
- Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Position Air, 130-160mm travel, 15mm thru-axle, Giant Custom 46mm Offset
- Hubs // DT Swiss Spline XM 1501 WheelSystem, 15mm front, 142×12 rear
- Rims // DT Swiss Spline XM 1501 WheelSystem, 15mm front, 142×12 rear
- Tyres // Custom Schwalbe Magic Mary (front) Hans Dampf (rear), both 27.5×2.35in Snakeskin Trail Star w/Race Guard
- Chainset // SRAM X1 Alloy crankset, 32T w/MRP AMG
- Front mech // n/a
- Rear mech // SRAM X1, Type-2
- Shifters // SRAM X1 Trigger 11 speed
- Brakes // SRAM Guide RS, 200mm/180mm rotors
- Stem // Truvativ Holzfeller
- Bars // Giant Contact SL DH, 800mm
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth
- Saddle // fi’zi:k Tundra M5, MG rails
- Size tested // M
- Sizes available // S, M, L
- Weight // 29.4lbs (without pedals)
- Tester // Ali.
|Product:||Reign 27.5 1|
|From:||Giant UK, giant-bicycles.com|
|Tested:||by Ali for|