Review: Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1

When the new 650b Giant Reign was announced, its "out there" geometry had me intrigued. Giant certainly didn't hold back and I was very eager to see how this bike performed out on the trails.

The Frame


The new Reign and Reign Advanced fully embrace longer, lower and slacker geometry. Doing some research, I discovered that the Reign's 65° head angle and 1,217mm wheelbase is an exact match to the Intense Uzzi - a park bike with 180mm of rear wheel travel! For even more perspective consider this: the 2015 Reign as tested here is slacker and has a longer wheelbase than a 2013 Giant Glory downhill bike.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 12.jpg

 

Fortunately, short chainstays (434mm) help to keep the length of the wheelbase in check and assist with fast handling and flickability through tight trails. The short chainstay length was in part achieved by using a single-spar rear swingarm, while the Trance 27.5 uses the split-spar design. With this “tighter” design, Giant managed to shave off over 5 millimetres without sacrificing tyre size clearance.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 17.jpg

 

To overcome some of the negative effects a super slack head angle can have on pedaling and climbing, Giant worked with RockShox to develop a custom Pike. They built three different Pikes with varying offsets and tested them with Adam Craig (Giant 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 resulting from the slacker head angle.

 

The carbon front triangle on the Reign Advanced has allowed Giant to drop the frame weight to a claimed 2260 grams (without shock), making it the lightest Reign they have ever produced, and lighter than some XC and trail frames. An alloy rear triangle is still used as it adds very little weight, improves durability and helps keep the price down.

 

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.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 13.jpg

 

The frame features an integrated downtube protector, fits a full size bottle in the front triangle and internal cable routing (with a single port on each side of the head tube) keeps lines and routing clean.

 

Components


Component highlights are numerous. 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 (the base aluminium model) come standard with a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper.

 

Fork:
The fact that Giant equip a Pike right through the range shows that they are serious about the Reign's intended purpose. No corner-cutting here. The Dual Position (130-160mm) Pike RC on the Advanced 1 adds to the bike's versatility. It's unfortunately not possible to tweak the fork's progression with RockShox's bottomless tokens but I felt that this fork seemed to need it less (for my liking anyway) than fixed travel models. The advantage of having a dual position is that it lowers the front end making the bike more manageable as an all-day bike.

 


Giant Reign Advanced 2.jpg

Giant Reign Advanced 16.jpg


Shock:
The rear features Giant's Maestro Suspension and RockShox's Monarch Plus DebonAir RC3. To match the supple movement of the shared lower linkage and bottom shock mount axle, Giant uses a cartridge bearing at the top of the shock rather than a standard solid-state bushing. This, paired with the shock's tune, results in a super plush initial stroke with great control and consistency through the mid stroke.

 

As a testimony to the level of attention to detail that went into the new Reign's design, the shock sits off-centre to the non-dive side, creating more space for the drivetrain and the lower linkage and the top shock mount pivots.

 

Handlebar & Stem:
A 31.8mm diameter Giant Contact SL DH handlebar comes in a super wide 800mm. Great to see the forward-thinking employed here - if it's too wide cut it down to your liking, no need to buy an aftermarket bar. The stubby stem complements the wide bars and again saves money on aftermarket purchases.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 4.jpg

 

Drivetrain:
The 2x10 drivetrain and brakes are Shimano's highly rated SLX groupset with a XT Shadow+ rear derailleur. Shifting was solid and functional. The bike ships with a chain retention device, but on a big hit bike like this, I prefer a 1x drivetrain with some sort of Narrow / Wide chainring to keep the chain in check.

 


Giant Reign Advanced 7.jpg

Giant Reign Advanced 6.jpg


So the drivetrain was upgraded to a Praxis 10-speed Wide Range Cassette (11-40) and a 30T Praxis Narrow / Wide Chainring. It's a relatively inexpensive upgrade and adds to the bike's all-mountain nature.

 

Seatpost:
A bike like this wouldn't make sense without a dropper post and thankfully it comes standard with a RockShox Reverb Stealth. We've had one of these on a number of bikes and it always gets the job done.

 

Wheelset:
The P-AM2 rims are laced to a Giant Tracker hub in front and a DT Swiss 350 in the rear. These would be my next upgrade on this bike. The new breed of wide rims have spoiled me for sheer grip and traction, and I'm sure the Reign (read me) will benefit as well.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 10.jpg

 

Tyres:
Often a new bike is let down by it's factory fitted tyres - not here though. The Reign Advanced 1 comes standard with a 2.35 Schwalbe Magic Mary (Trailstar, Snakeskin, Double Defense) in front and a 2.35 Schwalbe Hans Dampf (Pacestar, Snakeskin, Double Defense) at the back. They offer great levels of grip and the double defense, Snakeskin sidewalls provide good security.

 


Giant Reign Advanced 14.jpg

Giant Reign Advanced 8.jpg


Full specifications:


[spec_list][spec_list_row=Sizes]S,M,L,XL[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Colours]Green[/spec_list_row][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="2015 RRP"]R 49,995 (only Small & Med left in stock)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="2016 RRP"]R 67,500[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]

 

On the Trail


When heading out for the first ride you need to forget what you know about 160mm bikes and about bikes with a 65° head angle. The bike's side profile doesn't help either, as its stance is long, slack and menacing. It looks like the neighbourhood dog that is up to no good; ready to tackle whatever you have to throw at it with an evil growl.

 

Let's start with how the Reign climbs. Too good - as easy as that. Surely a bike with these numbers shouldn't be able to climb it's way to the top. Yes, unless you previous bike was a Morewood Mbuzi, you are not about to KOM the climbs, but chances are you will have plenty of personal bests. The Monarch Plus climbs best with a flick of the lever to add some platform. Fortunately it doesn't try to change the bike into a XC slaying hardtail. It adds only enough to help without feeling that it interferes or alters the bike's character.

 

When the trail gets steep, it helps to drop the fork to its 130mm setting. Although it's not essential and I always feel it's better to counter the head angle with technique. With the fork fully extended, it wasn't as difficult as expected to keep the wheel down and pointing in the right direction. It's not as effortless as a Trance or Anthem, obviously not, but not nearly as much effort as one would expect thanks in part to the custom off set Pike.

 

On flat or rolling sections you may as well be on a Trance SX with only the grip and weight of the tyres giving away that you're on a bigger bike. The long top tube provides some much needed breathing space on a bike that's intended to be your one bike.

 

Giant Reign Advanced 1.jpg

 

Climb the bike to the trail head and that evil growl returns. It will happily carve trails all day long and proof that this is no ordinary "mini DH" bike. That being said, it is a lot of bike if you're planning on riding mostly flowy, smooth single track. You will need a fair bit of gravity and rough terrain to get the most out of the Reign.

 

Tackling rough terrain is a joy and allows the bike and the sum of its parts to shine. Shine bright like a diamond. I can't recall ever riding any bike that felt as capable when the going gets rough. Grip, traction, composure and vigour are all non-issues allowing you to focus on hanging on and picking your next line. Hammer it ride in and ride out and you will get the most out of this bike.

 

The Pike / Monarch combo come to life when ridden hard, offering class-leading control. One tweak I can suggest is to play with the spacers in the shock to aid progression and mid-range travel - especially if you're an aggressive or heavy rider. Getting the bike to feel balanced was a simple task, helped by the "neutral" feel on the bike. Even though the Reign was the first of the new breed of Enduro bikes that I have tried, it felt familiar from the off.

 

Verdict


The Reign's neutral feel and confidence inspiring handling will help bridge the gap for riders looking to push into the next frontier. This is by no means an average bike for the occasional rider. Yes, it will smooth obstacles in your path, but if you're not planning to hammer your bike down treacherous terrain until your lounges and legs burn, then chances are you will not get close to this bike's limit.

 

The almighty RockShox fork and shock, the bike's suspension design, wide bars & stubby stem, dropper post and clever geometry tweaks all playing their part to create a beast of a bike. Think of the Giant Reign Advanced as an engineering feat.

 

Pros

  • Depending on what you're after, this is a very capable all-round bike and could be your one, true one-bike
  • Top end suspension
  • Arrives kitted out as a bike like this should. Upgrades will be purely personal preference
  • Represents excellent value for money
Cons
  • Makes you question your riding!
  • J.R.A. (Just Riding Along) is no longer good enough




104 Comments

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 09:50

BAZINGA. 

 

There's my baby

raptor-22, Nov 30 2015 10:09

at 2260gr for the frame its only 340gr heavier than a Anthem Advanced frame without rear shock...

 

That can't be right

 

 

or the Anthem is built like a tank :)

Bibi, Nov 30 2015 10:09

this is a rad frame for sure 

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 10:31

at 2260gr for the frame its only 340gr heavier than a Anthem Advanced frame without rear shock...

 

That can't be right

 

 

or the Anthem is built like a tank :)

17% more material - sounds about right for the bracing and extra length. This thing is light for what it is... 

sakkiebomskok, Nov 30 2015 10:35

Very good review man. Spot on. have one thing to add, which you probably didn't get to test... I've had my reign for more than a year now and the custom offset on that fork isn't an advantage. I fact i put a pike rct3 with no offset on and the handling is much better. It also climbs better if you get your bar height, and suspension tune right. It felt "too long" around corners to me with the custom offset. I am 115kg with gear so maybe that plays a role. But now, with 2 tokens in the fork at 87psi and a few bands i the back with 200psi and some thicker oil and rebound tuning it now works like nothing i have ever ridden.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 10:41

Very good review man. Spot on. have one thing to add, which you probably didn't get to test... I've had my reign for more than a year now and the custom offset on that fork isn't an advantage. I fact i put a pike rct3 with no offset on and the handling is much better. It also climbs better if you get your bar height, and suspension tune right. It felt "too long" around corners to me with the custom offset. I am 115kg with gear so maybe that plays a role. But now, with 2 tokens in the fork at 87psi and a few bands i the back with 200psi and some thicker oil and rebound tuning it now works like nothing i have ever ridden.

Something I thin we forget witht he rider tuning etc. The okes that test ride these bikes and formulate teh best offsets ride at levels far above anything we ourselves can manage. At that speed, I'm sure the 46mm works. At our speed... yeah. 

 

Same weight as me, and It's got the max amount of bands inteh rear (electrical tape up to the max level) and I'm slowly getting her there to where I'm happy with the settings. 

 

But dayum - does she pick up speed FAST. With the adjustments to the rear can, it's now far poppier and just wants to get airborne. My take on it is that the bike is pushing me to get better and faster, beyond my comfort zone. I can feel it egging me on. I just don't yet have the fitness to allow her to run the way she wants to. 

raptor-22, Nov 30 2015 10:44

Very good review man. Spot on. have one thing to add, which you probably didn't get to test... I've had my reign for more than a year now and the custom offset on that fork isn't an advantage. I fact i put a pike rct3 with no offset on and the handling is much better. It also climbs better if you get your bar height, and suspension tune right. It felt "too long" around corners to me with the custom offset. I am 115kg with gear so maybe that plays a role. But now, with 2 tokens in the fork at 87psi and a few bands i the back with 200psi and some thicker oil and rebound tuning it now works like nothing i have ever ridden.

 

 

 

Ever driven a rally car slowly? It won't handle and the gear change is crap.

 

get it going faster and suddenly you realise why you were born

Hairy, Nov 30 2015 10:52

Ever driven a rally car slowly? It won't handle and the gear change is crap.

 

get it going faster and suddenly you realise why you were born

classic

Raydek, Nov 30 2015 10:57

Ever driven a rally car slowly? It won't handle and the gear change is crap.

 

get it going faster and suddenly you realise why you were born

 

Love it!

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 11:10

Ever driven a rally car slowly? It won't handle and the gear change is crap.

 

get it going faster and suddenly you realise why you were born

Even more apparent in an original mini. Those things were born to have their necks wrung. SUCH fun cars to drive. 

Duane_Bosch, Nov 30 2015 11:12

I've got the Ali version. I completely agree with the true one bike synopsis.

 

I rode that actual bike at a shuttle day and there's a HUGE difference between the medium (which I have) and the Large. Anyone thinking about getting one of these should swing a leg over one. They are long bikes. My medium Reign has the same reach as my GT Fury and is only an inch or so shorter ITO wheelbase. And the GT is one of the longest DH bikes you can get.

 

I think of it as the poor mans Nomad. Truthfully I should never have bought a Reign. I've got a DH bike so having a 65 degree HA 160mm bike is a bit of a waste. I should have got a Trance. But that's no indictment on the bike. 

 

I struggled to like the bike initially. I'd spent a dirty weekend on a VERY well sorted Rocky Altitude and was totally in love with that. The reign felt like a DH bike by comparison. I added 3 bottomless rings in the rear and 1 token to the front. I run the rear a little harder than recommended but that's only coz I hate pedal bob. The front I also run a little harder than recommended with the pike 5 clicks away from fully open. I used to open and close the fork for climbing and descending but the dropper, rear and fork was just too much admin.

 

Of the other Reigns I've done the parking lot test on one in particular feels VERY good. I Might copy that setup and put in another token up front and another ring on the rear just for that extra ramp up feeling.

 

I'm not fully happy with the suspension setup just yet but In my opinion it's the perfect bike for a guy who likes gravity but can only have one bike.

 

I'd have NO problem taking it to the Alps. The only Mod I'd make would be a bigger front chainring coz you aren't "earning" your turns.

 

The standard equipment is more than adequate and any upgrades would purely be down to personal preference. Mine I've thrown on some Hope M4's, Saint 203 Rotors, Renthal bar, 1x10 and a fizik saddle purely for aesthetics.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 11:20

That would be Brawler's reign you're talking about. Yeah. Trying to get it close to that.

 

Granted, when you rode this one it was set up kaaaaak. Way too much pressure in the front, and I was playing with the rear and it had too much pressure int eh back. Got it FAR more to my liking now. With the tape mod it ramps up so damn nicely... 

 

 

Of the other Reigns I've done the parking lot test on one in particular feels VERY good. I Might copy that setup and put in another token up front and another ring on the rear just for that extra ramp up feeling.

NicoBoshoff, Nov 30 2015 11:32

35% increase year on year on the RRP?  Is the bike different in spec for 2016?

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Nov 30 2015 11:35

35% increase year on year on the RRP?  Is the bike different in spec for 2016?

there was a $350 increase on the US price due to the Full XT m8000 treatment (and downgrade of shock to RT, as well as an increase in the ZAR/USD exchange JUST as the new stock was priced. Those 2 factors played havoc with the pricing. 

 

I did the calcs when the new price was released, and confirmed that it's solely down to that. 

 

EDIT: It's actually priced BETTER than in the states atm, due to the forward pricing that this batch has. USD price is $5,200 which at the current rate comes out at R74,700

 

So at R 67,500 you're actually getting it at below $ retail on the PREVIOUS version... $4,698 instead of $5,200 (2016) vs $4,750 (2015)

Raydek, Nov 30 2015 11:56

 

 

I'm not fully happy with the suspension setup just yet but In my opinion it's the perfect bike for a guy who likes gravity but can only have one bike.

 

 

This was a problem I had as well... Just couldn't get it feeling right... But finally I have sorted it, 4 tokens up front at 70psi and it runs oh so nicely.

 

Also did the electrical tape thing in the back and run at 300psi, feels really good allround now. Oh, also Reign 2 ali.

raptor-22, Nov 30 2015 12:05

"electrical tape thingy" .....?

 

explain please

Raydek, Nov 30 2015 12:11

"electrical tape thingy" .....?

 

explain please

 

You basically use electrical tape wrapped around the shock under the air can instead of the official volume reducing rubber bands, creates the same result.

sakkiebomskok, Nov 30 2015 02:50

Ever driven a rally car slowly? It won't handle and the gear change is crap.

 

get it going faster and suddenly you realise why you were born

so you have tried the bike with a non offset pike then?

raptor-22, Nov 30 2015 02:56

so you have tried the bike with a non offset pike then?

 

 

No but the principle is familiar to me. (karts, XC bike, Trail bikes I've owned). Everything has a performance window and it's seldom going to be perfert straight off the shop floor

 

When ever I see a bike has been developed by a team rider, then immediately I think ok that guys weighs 20Kg less than I do, os going to be travelling xxkm/hr faster tham through a bend/berm etc and I start thinking about what that means for how I need the bike to be set up.

Personally I don't see how I could ever get the maximum out of a Reign and would lean more toward the Trance.

 

So I can understand how fitting a different offset (in this case a std offset) would benefit Joe Soap instead of the custom offset fork which was developed to go as fast as possible. I'm never going to get the bike anywhere near to its performance potential

nonky, Nov 30 2015 03:01

35% increase year on year on the RRP?  Is the bike different in spec for 2016?

 

ALL 2016 bikes are that much more than 2015 models.  Say thanks to the esteemed custodians of our economy and the Chinese slowdown.

 

However, if SA gets downgraded to sub-investment grade (AKA "junk"), ALL BETS ARE OFF (as they say in the movies) and the ZAR may go into freefall.

Iwan Kemp, Dec 01 2015 07:17

Very good review man. Spot on. have one thing to add, which you probably didn't get to test... I've had my reign for more than a year now and the custom offset on that fork isn't an advantage. I fact i put a pike rct3 with no offset on and the handling is much better. It also climbs better if you get your bar height, and suspension tune right. It felt "too long" around corners to me with the custom offset. I am 115kg with gear so maybe that plays a role. But now, with 2 tokens in the fork at 87psi and a few bands i the back with 200psi and some thicker oil and rebound tuning it now works like nothing i have ever ridden.

 

Bikes and suspension are designed to be more and more plush and to give excellent small bump performance. This does mean one have to dial it to your liking and to ensure it doesn't dive under load. Pike's tokens make it easy enough, though.

 

35% increase year on year on the RRP?  Is the bike different in spec for 2016?

 

Yip, like others have said that's the R/$ for you. I still think it represents excellent value for money. Building a frame up with those parts will cost you close on double. Carbon frame alone would be R40k +

 

When ever I see a bike has been developed by a team rider, then immediately I think ok that guys weighs 20Kg less than I do,

 

...

 

 

True and what I was trying to get at in the review as well. I felt with this bike even more so than some others I've tested recently. You really not to get on with it to get near the bike's limits and where it's in it's element. Great bike that's an absolute blast to ride.

Stryder, Dec 01 2015 07:53

Aaah, those pics alone have sold me.

NicoBoshoff, Dec 01 2015 07:58

ALL 2016 bikes are that much more than 2015 models.  Say thanks to the esteemed custodians of our economy and the Chinese slowdown.

 

However, if SA gets downgraded to sub-investment grade (AKA "junk"), ALL BETS ARE OFF (as they say in the movies) and the ZAR may go into freefall.

All 2016 ranges are 35% more expensive?  No they're not. 

NicoBoshoff, Dec 01 2015 08:04

Yip, like others have said that's the R/$ for you. I still think it represents excellent value for money. Building a frame up with those parts will cost you close on double. Carbon frame alone would be R40k +

 

Sorry, but no.  The ZAR only has so much to do with it.  Other brands have reflected ZAR-linked inflation and have a 15% year on year increase to show for it.  The bike itself is more expensive in USD base.

 

Furthermore, it'll be a cold day in hell that I concede that R70k is "good value for money" for a bicycle.  Relative to other overpriced, overmarketed, overhyped bikes?  Sure, a bargain.  In actual terms compared to, oh I don't know, a motorvehicle?  Don't make me laugh.

 

The bike industry is too busy backslapping itself to realise it's becoming a joke.  Seriously, Lacondeguy's sentiments on enduro find application.

Iwan Kemp, Dec 01 2015 08:11

Sorry, but no.  The ZAR only has so much to do with it.  Other brands have reflected ZAR-linked inflation and have a 15% year on year increase to show for it.  The bike itself is more expensive in USD base.

 

Furthermore, it'll be a cold day in hell that I concede that R70k is "good value for money" for a bicycle.  Relative to other overpriced, overmarketed, overhyped bikes?  Sure, a bargain.  In actual terms compared to, oh I don't know, a motorvehicle?  Don't make me laugh.

 

The bike industry is too busy backslapping itself to realise it's becoming a joke.  Seriously, Lacondeguy's sentiments on enduro find application.

 

Yeah, I'm relating that to other bikes with similar spec and build. Ys, R70k is a lot of money, but I'd rather spend R70k on a bike that represents good value for money than spend R120k for one with the same parts, just because it's "boutique". I'd also rather buy a R70k bike than a motor vehicle of similar value to go ride single track on.