On Test: Giant Reign Advanced 1

Every so often a new bicycle gets launched that causes a stir and when news first broke of the new 27.5" Giant Reign the world took notice. Enduro racing was already in full swing and most manufacturers had a bike pitched at Enduro racing, but very few had a bike designed and build around this form of racing. A Large Reign Advanced 1 has just been introduced into our long term fleet.
Giant Reign Advanced 1 3.jpg

The new Reign and Reign Advanced fully embrace longer, lower and slacker geometry. With feedback from the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, the Reign was shaped into the trail monster it is today. Giant worked with RockShox on a custom Pike to overcome some of the negative effects a super slack head angle can have on pedalling and climbing. They built three different Pikes with varying offsets and tested them with Adam Craig (team rider). Following feedback from him and the rest of the Off-Road Factory Team, they settled on a Pike with a 46mm offset, an increase of 4mm over the "standard" Pike. In short, the greater offset reduces trail which helps offset the increase in trail due to the slacker head angle. You can eat your cake and have it after all!

Giant Reign Advanced 1 4.jpg

The use of a carbon front triangle on the Reign Advanced has allowed Giant to drop the weight to a claimed 2260 grams (without shock), making it the lightest Reign the company has ever produced. The Reign makes use of Giant's Maestro dual link suspension layout, which uses a rocker link mounted on the seat tube and another link that curves over the bottom bracket to join the rear swing arm to the front triangle. The frame features an integrated downtube protector and can take a full size bottle in the front triangle. 434mm chainstays help keep the length of the wheelbase in check, although at 1217mm for our Large, the Reign should be super stable at high speeds.

Giant Reign Advanced 1 2.jpg

Spec highlights are numerous and will most likely end up with me listing the full spec here. The Advanced 1 comes dripping in kit from Rockshox, with a Monarch Plus DebonAir and Pike RC Dual Position (130mm-160mm) doing suspension duties. All models in the Reign line-up except the Reign 2 (base aluminium model) come standard with a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper. The internal routing of gear cables and brake hoses keep things clean and neat. The drivetrain and brakes are Shimano's highly rated SLX groupset in a 2x10 configuration.


[spec_list_row='Frame']Advanced-Grade Carbon / ALUXX SL Rear, 6.3"/160mm Maestro Suspension[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Fork']RockShox Pike RC Dual Position Air, 130-160mm travel, 15mm Thru-Axle, Giant Custom 46mm Offset[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Shock']RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir RT[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Handlebar']Giant Contact SL DH, 800x31.8mm[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Stem']Truvativ Holzfeller (40-60mm)[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Seatpost']RockShox Reverb Stealth, 30.9mm, 125mm (M-XL) 100mm (S)[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Saddle']Giant Contact, Upright[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Shifters']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Front derailleur']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Rear derailleur']Shimano XT, Shadow+[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Brakes']Shimano SLX [F] 200mm [R] 180mm[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Brake levers']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Cassette']Shimano HG50 11-36, 10-speed[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Chain']KMC X-10[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Crankset']Shimano SLX, 24/38 w/ MRP 2x Guide with bash guard (AL backplate)[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Bottom bracket']Shimano Press Fit[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Rims']Giant P-AM2[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Hubs'][F] Giant Tracker w/ 15mm Axle, / [R] DT Swiss 350 142x12mm, 32h w/ SRAM Maxle TA[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Spokes']Sapim Race, double-butted, black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Tyres']Custom [F] Schwalbe Magic Mary 27.5x2.35" Snakeskin Trail Star w/ Race Guard [R] Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5x2.35" Snakeskin Pace Star w/ Race Guard[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='Weight']13.9kg all in[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row='RRP']R 49,999[/spec_list_row]


Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 06:11


(Deon), Jun 29 2015 06:20


Mongoose!, Jun 29 2015 06:47


(Deon), Jun 29 2015 07:17


Iwan Kemp, Jun 29 2015 07:18





You guys have a way with words. You cut me deep...

Steven Knoetze (sk27), Jun 29 2015 07:26

Jury is still out on that colour though.........

Otherwise I can't wait to hear more on the ride.

Iwan Kemp, Jun 29 2015 07:40

Jury is still out on that colour though.........

Otherwise I can't wait to hear more on the ride.


Looks much better in the flesh. MUCH. But I'd assume even so it won't be to everyone's liking.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 07:41

Jury is still out on that colour though.........
Otherwise I can't wait to hear more on the ride.

Dude. The pics do not do it justice. In person, the colours are AMAZING.

It's safe to say that the jury is back in, and the verdict is Sharp, fresh and poptastic

Iwan Kemp, Jun 29 2015 07:43

Dude. The pics do not do it justice. In person, the colours are AMAZING.


I (conveniently) blame the camera.  :ph34r:

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 07:44

I (conveniently) blame the camera. :ph34r:

I'll blame the use of Full Auto...

On a DSLR...

Steven Knoetze (sk27), Jun 29 2015 07:57

I'll wait till I see it then. Still an amzing bike, lots of good reviews.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 08:08

I'll wait till I see it then. Still an amzing bike, lots of good reviews.

You coming down to CT any time soon?

Iwan Kemp, Jun 29 2015 08:39

Here's one from The Hub's Instagram account (Keep in mind there's a dash of filter on this one)



Steven Knoetze (sk27), Jun 29 2015 08:51

You coming down to CT any time soon?


I wish, moving to Pretoria in a month.

Hairy, Jun 29 2015 09:11

Saw this bike in the  flesh yesterday and can only say that the colour in real life is just really so much nicer.


The bike looks great and I can only assume rides like a dream .....

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 09:16



When I got the mail from Iwan, late Friday afternoon, all it said was "Iwan's Priority #1: Leave the office immediately to collect said Reign otherwise it will be too late."


To say I was jealous is a peach of an understatement. What I did not expect, however, was a followup message saying asking if I wanted to ride it for 2 weeks, as he had work commitments and wouldn't be able to get onto the trails. 


Picture a fat kid in a cupcake factory. Yes. That's right. The jubilation could not be withheld. I was gonna Make It Reign™


When I picked it up on Saturday afternoon from Cycle Factory Store (who had, as always, built up the bike spectacularly) before taking it through to Iwan for the "On Test" photos (my DSLR, his Full Auto wizardry - his camera battery had died) all I could think of was how wrong all the internet pundits had been when describing the paint scheme as "puke green", "camo" and various other not-so-flattering colours. It was, to be honest, resplendent. To this day I have only found one set of photos that does it justice, and that is on the MTB MAG test shoot. 




On Sunday (yesterday) it got its maiden ride. Together with Raydek, Marko35s and his little whippersnapper, we hit up Contermanskloof and Bloemendal on what turned out to be a brilliant day for riding (apart from the wind)


After a few tweaks to the Monarch Plus Debonair and Pike RC Dual Position (with what I am sure is a duff shock pump) I managed to find a happy-ish yet sub par medium with pressures with the sag in the rear set up to just over 35% and 25% at the front. I would have tried to get it to 30% on the back, but my shock pump only goes up to 300psi, and the shock can accept up to 350psi (note to self - get better shock pump)


My initial impressions of the bike itself were OMF that's light! Bear in mind though, that up until 2 months ago I was riding what could only be described as a behemoth. 


No adjustments have been performed on the stock build, so it still has tubes in the tyres, a 2x10 drivetrain and all other standard fittings. IOW - it still has weight to spare, and with a bit of fettling I reckon it can shed at least another 1.5kg (wheels, tyres, tubes, front derailleur etc) to make it a proper trail shredder.


On to the ride though. With my shock pump acting up, I was expecting a bit of a pig on the climb thanks to the higher amount of sag in the rear. How wrong I was. With the compression set in the "mid" (trail, to you CTD guys) there was a hint of bob, but nothing that couldn't be fixed by a smooth pedalling style (which I tried, but ultimately failed at) However it still climbed brilliantly. With a bit more pressure in there, I reckon it'll be good to go. I've made a mental note to fix that tonight when I get home. The only other full sus bike that I've ridden in this segment that pedals this well is Iwan's old MOJO. 


When I flicked it to the "Firm" setting (Climb, again for you fox followers) there was a distinct sharpening of the response to my pedalling, and I found myself climbing with far less wheezing than I've come to expect. The fact that I ENJOYED the climb was another revelation. Those of you who have climbed Conters know that there aren't any tight switchbacks, technical sections or anything resembling a technical challenge, but in that climb the bike handled itself well, with no complaints in the uphill switchbacks, no floppy steering or anything resembling a light front end. It behaved itself remarkably well. One thing that I did notice is a pretty low BB, and a few pedal strikes, but I attributed that to A: My lack of skill B: My lack of skill C: The low pressure in the rear (for my weight) D: My lack of skill.


Once we got to the top, we decided to take the Blue Route down, and then make the small climb back up to the Kloof section. That would test the bike's abilities (and my lack thereof) on various different terrains. Fast and flowy on the blue route, and a bit more technical on the Kloof section, with a few jumps, stepped sections, loose rocky areas and drops thrown in for good measure. 


I flicked it into the Open setting for the descent, and put the Reverb Stealth all the way down. My first impression of the bike on the way down, as I put the power down, was that it was suuuuper stiff. That carbon front end really made its presence felt, and I was able to get off the mark a bit faster than I normally do. After that though, and without pedalling at all, I made the second realisation. This thing gathers speed. FAST. Far faster than my admittedly limited skillset would normally allow for, but it felt as if it were begging me to just let it run. I decided then and there that I would call it Ricky Bobby. Shake 'n Bake, baby!


On the blue section of trail, it gathered speed super fast. It felt composed, super compliant and just plain comfortable to be riding. The turn ins were on point, and it goes where you point it. At this point though, I still hadn't got to the correct suspension settings, so it was feeling a bit off on the jumps and drops. It'll take a while for me to get them to where I like them, but for now I was just getting to know her. And she was rewarding me already - the speed that this bike carried over the chunder and in the technical sections was just amazing, and I could just let go of the brakes and let it handle all that came ahead. It's something that I'll have to get used to - a bike that pushes me, tries to help me find my limits and expand them, rather than me trying to find its limits. 


Moving on to the short climb between the Blue Route and the Kloof, I again switched the M+ to the Firm setting, and though I was absolutely poked by this point, it was far easier to climb than it ought to have been on something this big. Again - completely composed on the tighter switchbacks here, and not once did I feel as if the extra travel was making me suffer. It still felt tight, whilst my legs felt like jelly.


Taking it down the Kloof was very interesting indeed. Back in to Open. I remarked previously on how this bike just seems to float over the chunder, and my experience here just confirmed that feeling. Not once did it feel uncomposed, not once did I feel out of control, and not once did I feel as if the bike would let me down. It just floated over everything. What I'd imagine Bruce Lee would have said to many students who tried to take him on. Hmmm.. Nice try. Next please? Those rutted rocky stepped sections? Hmph. Whatever. Drops? All day, thanks. Jumps? And? You were saying? Why don't you whip me, ffs. Come on, just try it. You can do it. You can, I promise... Take me faster, please. Please... You can do it... 


The trundle down to the coffee shop was again met with glee. It's not a technical section at all, and having just one slightly off camber right hander (next to the jump - forgot about that one) means that it doesn't have a lot to tax a bike & rider, but still - down the jeep track it felt super composed and just wanted to go faster. And faster, and faster. Flick it back into the Firm position for the remainder of the jeep track back to the coffee shop, and it shot ahead like a bullet. 


From there (after coffee) we went to Bloemendal to check out Lombards Terra, and I finally started playing with the rebound and compression settings on the fork and shock to try and get them dialled in. Lombard's Terra is a fast, flowy, bermed section in Bloemendal, great for sessioning and getting some flow in to your ride. With a couple of slightly technical sections thrown in to the mix, it's a fun ride. Again, the bike handled it with perfection. I was starting to feel comfortable on it (something that takes a while given how little I've been riding lately) and whilst my lungs were begging for release from this torture, the bike was begging for more. On the jumps on the final sections, I again realised that this bike loves to be airborn. Again - that word. Composed. It's been used a lot, but it's truly how it felt. 


When we got to the bottom, I had one thought on my mind. "WOW! I love this bike!" I have a feeling that the more time I spend with it, the faster it'll push me. It FELT effortless. It WANTED more. I wanted more. If this is the stuff the new generation of long travel All Mountain bikes are made of, the world is going to be a very, very fun place to be. 


Shake n Bake, baby... 

Iwan Kemp, Jun 29 2015 09:24

:thumbup:  :clap: , but also  :eek:

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 09:41

More to come.... Hopefully Conters tomorrow. 

Brawler, Jun 29 2015 10:03

And then some Rhodes Mem so I can have a go :D :D

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 10:12

And then some Rhodes Mem so I can have a go :D :D

Maybe this weekend. It's a bit difficult to get there in time unless we do a night ride... And the OH is training for squash... 


Or - maybe... Actually, fuggit. Rhodes mem tomorrow. PM for deets. 

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 10:22





Hairy, Jun 29 2015 10:24

Hey Fatty :P, did you have strava on for the ride :P


Thanks for the ride report

Chavo, Jun 29 2015 10:27

Saw this bike at Contermans yesterday. Awesome looking machine!

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 10:29

Saw this bike at Contermans yesterday. Awesome looking machine!

Who were you? 


And yes, it is!

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jun 29 2015 10:29

Hey Fatty :P, did you have strava on for the ride :P


Thanks for the ride report

no I didn't, unfortunately. I will next time though.