Tested: Giant Reign 2

Let’s skip the features of the new Reign for now (click here to get the lowdown on features with the new model) and talk more about how it goes in the dirt.

Our first ride on the Reign was a big loop that would take in just about any style of trail, from steep rocky chutes, flat drops, fast flat turns, double jumps, switchback climbs, the whole lot. We aimed to recreate what you’d encounter in a classic enduro race, pretty much.

Upcoming sub $4K 160mm travel 27.5″ wheel bike shootout! This Giant Reign will go up against the Merida One-Sixty 800 and the Norco Range A3 this summer, stay tuned for our full video review.


Go time!

From the moment we hopped on, we felt the apparent length of the bike, for a medium size the front hub axle felt a very long way away from you, and the steering reflected that with that trademark wandering front end. It’s a familiar feeling that occurs on long and slack bikes, with the front wheel flopping side to side as you turn the bars. Sitting back in the saddle the seat tube angle also felt very laid back, putting you right behind the bottom bracket. We knew it was going to be long but didn’t expect it to feel like we were riding two sizes up.

Two wheels a long way apart. Long bike = stability in spades.

We adapted our steering inputs to keep the front wheel pointing where we wanted and pedalled out to the dirt where we very quickly found out that it takes a lot of effort to keep up to speed on the flatter sections, no major surprises there. Then as the speeds trickled up, we had a moment where we didn’t feel like we were going that fast, but the trail was whizzing by very rapidly. When the first proper descent came along, it was then that we began to turn it up a notch and let the Reign come into its own. We expected it to be a ripper descender, but we didn’t expect it to make us feel invincible!

27.5″ wheels, 160mm of travel, aggressive geometry and meaty tyres are a recipe for serious shredding!

On the Reign you have so much bike in front of you to move around and let the bike move around underneath you, the bars are wide, the stem is short and the top tube super-long so it promotes you to get over the bars and attack the turns with all your might, weighting the front tyre and pushing it into the dirt the stability is simply remarkable.

Like using a bit of bod language, and letting the bike dance about beneath you when situations get a little hectic? The Reign likes that too.

The stumpy headtube allows the rider to achieve a low bar height if so desired.
The frame looks to have provisions for the upcoming FOX Live Valve system with battery mounts and sensor mounts integrated into the frame.

We dropped into a particularly fast chute of large boulders, and old creek bed, with no real apparent line we put trust in the stiff forks and stable cockpit to get us through and pounded our way to the bottom. That’s how it wants to be ridden, hard.

It’s at the bottom of the descent that the mood shifts down a notch as you realise that you have to climb. There’s no way to sugarcoat it; this Reign isn’t the best at climbing. If you race up the climb, hammering out of the saddle with the shock locked out, it’s not too bad, but a tired rider sitting down makes for a laborious task to get to the top.

The Reign’s Maestro suspension is ultra plush, so don’t expect spritely pedalling with the shock unlocked.
The stout little carbon link driving the trunnion mount shock.

The rear shock has two compression modes, on or off, which is better than nothing but we can imagine how the higher Spec Reigns with greater adjustments (a middle setting like on the RockShox Deluxe RTC3) would help you pedalling the flatter trails with the bike still settling into the travel to achieve suitable geometry.


Stop complaining about the climbs; you’re boring us.

What are we whining about, there has to be a tradeoff for descending ability and Giant have clearly done their homework with the input from guys like Josh Carlson to position the Reign above the Trance in the realm of epic descenders. It has 160mm of travel, use it!

We did see the Giant Factory Off-Road Team race their Giant Trances at the less challenging rounds of the EWS series, proving that the Reign is made for charging hard, getting loose and pretending you’re on a downhill bike.

Check out our review of the 2017 Trance Advanced here: 140mm travel Giant Trance review.


The parts.

For the dollars it’s mighty dialled, the cheapest of the Reign range, the Reign 2 has you covered with a careful selection of robust parts. If you’re keen to get rowdy and push the limits of product durability and strength you should feel confident, in our minds, the components are well up to that task. The Shimano Deore drivetrain worked great for us, a far sight from the Deore from past years, and the chain guide and bash guard kept the chain protected and snug on the Praxis chainrings all the time.

Shimano brakes, big rotors, we found them very ample.

The fork and shock are proven performers and smooth operators, and the rims feel tough and are nice and wide to give the tyres a great shape and loads of volume.


What would the more expensive Reign 1 do better than the Reign 2?

For an extra 1800 bucks the bright red Reign 1 scores a few worthy upgrades, notably the remote lockout shock and SRAM Eagle drivetrain which would lift it’s climbing game tenfold. The fork goes from the Yari to the Lyrik which uses a more sophisticated damper for more composure, and the brakes are going to withstand longer descents with less fade of power. Then there are the lighter carbon frame models… Anyhow, we digress.


What we liked.

  • Tidy rig. The new Reign range is the best looking yet, not just the colours but the finish and graphics are slick. The logos are minimal, and colour matched suspension parts rounds out a beautiful looking bike. The pivots, linkages and rear axle are low in profile, flush and well-thought out.
  • Tubeless ready. The tyres are ready for tubeless, and the rims come taped up with tubeless rim strips and two little bottles of tubeless sealant are included, not something you could say about many other brands.
  • Maxxis tyres. The Maxxis Shorty up front is super aggressive, we thought the spiky profile would have only suited soft soils, but on drier gravel and loose-over-hardpack grounds it dug in and hooked up nicely.
  • Descending. Oh boy, it’s fast, like a mini Giant Glory that you can pedal back up.

    The spiky Maxxis Shorty tyre on the front, amazing bite.

What we didn’t.

  • The on-off rear shock lockout. We’d trade anything for a middle setting that we could leave it in for flatter descents and technical climbs.
  • Hard as a rock saddle. Not our cup of tea, sorry!
  • Meandering climbs. Grit your teeth and bear it, it has to be done.
  • Firm, so firm.


Yay, or nay?

We did find the Reign 2 to feel bigger and a lot more to manage on flatter singletrack and slow climbs than we expected, but on the flipside we also found it to be one of the most confident high-speed descenders of recent times despite it being the entry-level model at a very reasonable price.

Giant offer the Trance for riders who want to pedal everywhere and spend less time cursing on the climbs, we’d seriously consider a test ride on both models. But of course the Trance doesn’t go absolutely bonkers for the descents like the roomy, long and slack Reign does.

Like shredding as hard as what you see on TV? Don’t care how long it takes you to pedal up, beats walking or shuttling? The Reign is burly, loves a pounding and isn’t afraid of much.

We’re not done yet, the Reign will go up against a Norco Range and Merida One Sixty in a sub $4K shootout, so stay tuned!

Flow’s First Bite: Giant Reign 2

The new longer and lower Giant Reign is here, and we have the base model $3799 Reign 2 on review. Excuse me; this is supposed to be the base model…?

While it does sit at the bottom of the range of the Reign lineup, on paper, the Reign 2 is everything one could wish for when it comes to hard enduro riding. The 160mm travel Reign scores some chassis updates for 2018, a notch up the aggressive parts scale, and a very sleek new paint job.



The new Reign is a real looker with a clean finish, cool graphics and aesthetics.

2018 brings updates, what are they?

Longer, lower. The decision to stretch out the reach and wheelbase even further was a request from the factory enduro racing team, making this bike really appeal for those who prefer a lot of bike in front of them when speeds get high. What does that mean for us mere mortals though, will it be so big it’s too much to handle, or will we change our attitude on the trails and begin to ride with reckless abandon with a renewed sense of confidence?

Much longer in the reach, time to ride off the brakes!

The suspension gets a few small tweaks, most notably the upper shock mount and linkage. The new trunnion mount shock is driven by a very tidy little one-piece carbon rocker arm, and the result is the shock uses a longer stroke in a smaller package. Lengthening the shock stroke while maintaining the 160mm of travel has enabled the frame designers to run a lower leverage ratio to let the shock react more to smaller bumps.

Sweet one-piece carbon linkage on all the Reign models, even this one.

How’re the parts for the cash?

From where we sit, the Reign 2 is pretty dialled for $3799. The Yari fork is a solid performer, we already know that, and we’re stoked to see wide rims with super meaty tyres and a single ring drivetrain.

160mm RockShox Yari, smooth and solid performers.
Praxis Works cranks, MRP guide and a Shimano Deore drivetrain.
Maxxis Shorty tyre, miniature DH tyres!

The new Giant Contact Switch dropper post remote feels super light to actuate, and it even comes with tubeless sealant to seal the tyres. It’s very much ready to go.


Shootout test time! What’s it going to be compared to?

We’re aiming to have the Reign 2 up against a few other new-for-2018 bikes in a sub $4500 160mm travel 27.5″ wheel shootout. We’re talking; Norco Range A3, Specialized Enduro Comp 27.5 and the Merida One-Sixty 800. So, stay tuned for the ultimate entry-level enduro bike showdown!

Let’s ride.

So, stay tuned for the ultimate entry-level enduro bike showdown!

 

Fresh Product: Giant XTC Jr 1 Disc 24

We wish we had a dollar for every time an old timer says  to us something along the lines of “Gee whiz, that’s nothing like the bike I had as a kid!”…

Giant’s 2016 range is as complete as ever, and no one is left out for good options.

Fresh and ready for summer is the 24″ wheel Giant XTC Jr 1 Disc 24, for $459 it scores some real features for serious hooning about.

Giant XTC JR 25
Lookout, a Giant XTC for the grommets is coming to do a big skid on your lawn.

An aluminium frame keeps weight down to 13.8kg and unsightly rust away, as does the wheels which will give the bike a lighter handling when it gets rolling. You’ll find rack mounts, so fitting a rack to carry loads for the newspaper run or school commute is a snack.

21 gears with a wide range from Shimano will be there when the legs are tired and hills are steep, and a guard will protect the fragile parts when all the crashing happens.

Giant XTC JR 20
Shimano twist shifters, 21 speeds. 21 settings of awesome.
Giant XTC JR 18
Control centre of shred.
Giant XTC JR 10
Aluminium wheels keep weight down, and rust away.

Disc brakes are a big bonus, in more ways than one. Probably best at keeping any maintenance to a minimum, they also deliver powerful braking in any weather, ideal for mad skids all the time on anyones plush lawn.

The Tektro cable disc brakes are simple to work on, we had this set running sweet in no time at all. With the brake cables running inside full outer casing, they’ll stay slicker longer and easier to pull on with small hands.

Giant XTC JR 28
Tektro cable disc brakes, pretty cool for a kids bike!

You can’t do sick jumps without some good shockies! Up front a suspension fork gives you 50mm of bounce when off road, but can be locked out to make it easier when cruising the smoother streets looking for trouble.

Giant XTC JR 21
50mm of gutter jumping good times.
Giant XTC JR 12
Orange and yellow, safe on the roads, rad at the skate park.

Giant XTC JR 1

Bang for your buck, but also pretty sorted for those details that make it ride well and stand the test of time, the XTC Jr 1 Disc 24 is worth a look.

For more details, and other kids bikes from Giant, click here to hit up their Australian site.

 

Tested: Giant Reign 27.5 1

Giant have really stepped it up a notch with the latest Reign, everything about it speaks the right lingo to the booming new-school crew of hard trail riding and enduro racers. From the bike’s geometry, to the choice of the most popular components, confirming to us that the folks at Giant have their ears to the ground about what riders really want.

The $5699 aluminium framed 27.5 1 (27.5 denotes the use of 27.5” size wheels) is one of four Reign models available here in Oz. They start at $3499 for the base version and top out at the Advanced 27.5 Team 0 with the composite frame for $7699 (click here for our first impressions of the flagship model).

Giant Reign 2

Giant Reign 21
How’s the length on this one!

[divider]Build[/divider]

The first thing you’ll notice is the wild mango explosion paint, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen from Giant in the past, actually we like all the 2015 Reign paint jobs they seem to talk to the new crew with a touch of retro flair. Especially with the colour matching highlights on the rear shock, fork and hubs, it’s very on-trend.

The frame is made from Giant’s ALUXX 6061 aluminium, with a wide array of tubing shapes and well thought out cable routing. Up close the finish is very neat, the welds and details are absolutely perfect, no surprises though coming from the well established industry giants.

Giant Reign 17
Beautifully crafted aluminium with a lick of bright paint.
Giant Reign 25
27.5″ wheels compliment the bike’s near downhill performance.
Giant Reign 27
Giant’s Maestro suspension uses a floating pivot system, and it strikes a balance between all the crucial areas that determine its burly but still very versatile attitude.
Giant Reign 22
The rear shock is offset in the frame, making space for the drivetrain and a solid lower linkage.

The cable routing is neatly carried inside the front end, but we experienced a tough rattling noise from the RockShox Reverb hose inside the frame when riding along, nothing that can’t be silenced with a bit of foam stuffed into the frame.

Their Maestro floating pivot suspension is used across the whole Giant range, and for good reason – it allows the engineers behind the bike to really nail the balance of pedalling performance, suspension suppleness and active rear braking. All the hardware stayed tight the frame displays stellar lateral rigidity, which greatly boosts confidence when riding hard.

Interestingly the shock sits off-centre in the frame away from the drivetrain, creating more space for the drivetrain and the lower linkage and the top shock mount pivots on a sealed bearing in place of a bushing, further reducing any unwanted stiction in the rear shock’s stroke.

Giant Reign 5
A cartridge bearing keeps the upper shock mount feeling smooth and stiction free.

The Reign is from the long top tube, short stem club with a medium size frame stretching you out over a 62cm top tube. The rear chainstay length is on par with many bikes of this suspension travel size at 434mm.

And of course keeping in the theme of the Giant brand, the wheels are 27.5”, with no 29er option. Simple to understand from a consumer point of view across the board, and thankfully Giant are sticking to it.

[divider]Spec[/divider]

What Giant have done really well here is dressing the frame in the most suitable components around, so you could pull it out of the box and ride it hard, straight away, or race it competitively without making one single modification to the parts. It’s so well rounded and complete that we struggled to find a spec choice that we’d rush out to make, if we did have to pick something perhaps a handlebar with greater back-sweep would be a nice upgrade down the track, but that modification is not going to change your life.

The bars are also a whopping 800mm wide, so unless super wide bars are your thing or your shoulders are so broad you turn sideways to walk through doors, you may want to look at trimming a couple centimetres off the ends for quicker handling and clearance from those trees that don’t move out of your way. Bar width is certainly worth customising, it’s a quick modification and can make a lot of difference.

Giant Reign 24
Yes, 800mm bars. Too wide for some, but at least you can cut them down easily. We ran ours at 760 to suit the tighter trails.
Giant Reign 16
SRAM X1, seriously feels a lot like the premium XX1, but without the price tag.
Giant Reign 26
200mm rotors for SRAM Guide brakes, that translates to a LOT of stopping power.
Giant Reign 14
An upper chain guide and bash guard is fitted for ultimate security and peace of mind, no dropping of chains will be possible on this rig. No drag or extra noise at all.

The tyres are ideal for this bike and a crowd favourite. Essentially downsized downhill tyres, the Maxxis Minion/Highroller combo is also set up tubeless with the supplied rim strips and valves. This excellent rubber is responsible for much of the Reign’s confident cornering ability.

Giant Reign 10
A Maxxis Minion, popular on downhill bikes and in a smaller 2.3″ size they are ideal for the Reign, and love to be leant over on a variety of surfaces. Riiiiiiiiip!

It may only be the second tier price point option in the Reign line, but it features the premium fork and shock from RockShox, a nod towards the priority of quality suspension from Giant. The RockShox Pike uses the two-stage air spring system that allows you to toggle between two travel modes, on this one you can drop the fork down from 160mm to 130mm of travel. We’ll come back to this later, but it had a very positive impact on the bike’s versatility.

A RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost keeps in the SRAM theme and worked perfectly during testing, they really are the industry standard right now. And the SRAM 11 speed drivetrain completes the package with category dominating performance.

[divider]Ride[/divider]

No doubt about it, the Reign 27.5 is a whole lot of bike. The bike’s overall length and slack angles are about as subtle as a train smash; just standing still it looks huge and with the forks so raked out in front of you it feels like you’ve just sat on a regular downhill bike.

Taking a quick look at the frame geometry, with a 65-degree head angle, 620mm top tube and 434mm chain stay we were sure to expect big things when descending but notice a trade off everywhere else. Well, we were pleasantly surprised and after a couple rides we were absolutely flying on the trail.

Giant Reign 1
The Reign rewards riding with the brakes OFF!

The notion of short rear ends on bikes is a real buzz topic in the scene right now, a shorter chain stay (the measurement taken between the bottom bracket and rear axle) will bring the rear wheel closer to the bike’s centre, helping with the agility and snappiness of the handling, especially in tight turns. The Reign won’t make any promises of a category leading geometry, rather it aims to make the most of the generous travel, meaty tyres and stable cockpit to give the rider maximum confidence when the time comes.

You’ll need a fair bit of gravity and rough terrain to make the most of the Reign, and even on our roughest trails we were nowhere near the limits of such a burly bike.

Descending was a blast, letting the brakes off and attacking rocky sections we found ourselves letting it really hang out, wildly hammering over anything in our path with less care for line choice. We began to focus less on seeking smoother lines, or areas of traction and just going for the fastest and most direct line, trusting the bike with real confidence. Such a long top tube would let the bike move around underneath you like a mechanical bull at your 21st party, but with a strong and open stance and determination we were able ride out the loosest riding we’ve done in a long time.

Giant Reign 29
A sturdy frame, and 160mm of travel will let you punch it down terrain like this, confidently.

Sure, the trade off to such impressive descending is that you have a big bike to get back up the climbs, but what made it all so much easier was the fork’s Dual Position adjustment via the dial on the top left of the crown, dropping the fork down to 130mm of travel lowered the bars, sharpened the head angle and allowed us to really get up out of the saddle and right over the bars for an efficient climbing position. Combine that with a flick of the rear shock’s compression switch and in all honesty, it didn’t climb too badly at all!

Whilst the Dual Position feature in the RockShox Pike really takes the bike’s versatility to the next level, you do lose a certain amount of goodness that makes the non-adjustable Solo Air forks so impressive. The Solo Air fork can be tuned with the Bottomless Tokens to achieve the right level of progressiveness you’re after, whilst the Dual Position is not adjustable that way. The fork was a little soft under the brakes and would dive a little more, so we ran a few extra clicks of the slow speed compression to let the damping hold the fork up in its travel. In saying that, what the Dual Position brings to the table in terms of the lower climbing position is well and truly worth it unless you’re after the best descending fork option a Solo Air Spring can be sourced from a RockShox dealer.

Weaving through flat and tight singletrack (once we cut the bars down) required a bit of muscle to keep momentum, but the meaty tyres and supple suspension meant you didn’t have to exercise much finesse or caution to find rear wheel traction on loose terrain, just can engage the legs and power your way up anything.

The bike’s overall weight is pretty good too, considering its burliness!

As an enduro race bike, the Reign would be a killer option, especially with such a hardy and reliable parts kit fitted as standard. We’d also happily pop some 2.5″ tyres and race this thing downhill, it’s certainly up for it.

Adam Craig
Giant Factory Racing’s Adam Craig getting buck wild in the Rotorua EWS on the Reign Advanced.
tim-1
Giant Australia rider Tim Eaton often chooses to race the Reign over his DH specific Glory, that’s saying a lot about the bike’s descending ability!

Giant Reign MAsthead

[divider]What are your alternatives?[/divider]

The 150-160mm travel category is loaded with exciting new bikes right now, the mountain bike market is experiencing a massive boom off the back of the rise of the whole enduro thing. The Reign sits at the burly end of the spectrum, for an alternate option there is the Specialized Enduro, Trek Slash, a Norco Range Intense Carbine 29, Polygon Collosus N9, a BH Lynx or the Orbea Occam to name just a few…

The Specialized Enduro in both 29″ and 650B wheel sizes is a fan of the tighter trails and its super-short rear end is a real trademark trait (S-Works 650B review). Norco’s Range is available in a carbon frame for $6000 and we’ve been doing a long term test on the one (Norco Range 7.2 review). Trek’s Slash is one that borderlines trail riding with enduro racing (review here), and the Orbea Rallon is a from lesser known brand with a unique twist, and on a budget (review here). For a real steamroller bike, the 29″ wheeled Intense Carbine 29 is a pretty burly ride (review here).  How about the alien-like all mountain assassin from Polygon (review here) or the swoopy BH Lynx (review here), so many options.

[divider]Verdict[/divider]

If you’ve got the terrain, the will to let the brakes off and don’t mind lugging a bit of extra meat around the trails, the Reign is up for anything. It gobbles up hard riding like a starved sumo wrestler with a sushi roll.

The Reign certainly sits proudly at the robust end of the all mountain/enduro bike spectrum, it may be worth looking at the more do-it-all Trance if you are seeking a bike to have more of an equality between the ups and downs.

We’ve loved our time on the Reign, it’s a bloody courageous steed that fears very little, it just needs a pilot with the same attitude to make the most of it, who’s up for it?