Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Andy Lloyd.
It’s possible that you are thinking ‘6” Reign 1 or nearly 7” Reign X’, the former coming complete and the latter frame only. It’s a tough call, for the slightly longer travel X has a 3cm lower standover height, is only 1cm longer and barely a degree slacker. The big difference is in its ability to host a 160mm fork so much better and also being able to hold a chain device running a more up to date 1×10 set up. It’s a tough, tough call, and now that I’ve ridden both the X is a lot of bike that can be built up light, but the angles and shape on our test bike are simply superb too.
Not many of these around, an aggro angled 150mm, at a good price, with good sizes and a sensible build. It’s been a few years since we rode Dan Atherton’s modified Reign that was lower and slacker, now the production bike features those numbers, and…well I guess they have a certain World Champion to keep in trim these days. Danny (Hart) will certainly be spending some hours on this one over the winter.
Standover is usually an issue on a lot of size large bikes, not so on the Reign, it comes in with just enough room to drop the post and get into and out of shape at the drop of the shoulder. A good amount of length in the cockpit meant we were able to run a crazy short 35mm Easton stem and 740mm bar to give a super stable ride characteristic. Maybe lucky to a certain extent, the sizing allows for both climbing and descending, which is so important on a bike like this. Then there’s the detail. Tapered steerer, low centre of gravity…it begins well. Guys why no ISCG mounts? A 150mm bike like this just shouts to be single ringed, silent and lightened up.
And just as the limiting push fit bottom bracket will not allow tidying up this bike with a single ring and chainring, the scary collection of cables tends to clutter it too. Internal cable routing has certainly come of age and is somehow a necessity in this era of full all mountain engagement.
You just have to love the way Giant have bolted on some equipment that enables riders to have a real go at all–mountain riding however. At around the 32lb mark it’s not massively light, but then it doesn’t feature the highest end components. On this bike it doesn’t really matter for in the majority of places such as brakes, wheels, bits and pieces (I wont bore you with the mandatory bar/stem change chit chat) it’s all reliable stuff. Out of the box the Reign will gun down any trail challenge and kill the hills. I guess it’s not cheap, but relative to some of the bigger or so–called boutique brands this bike does give you a major foothold into the all–mountain/trail enduro set at a fraction of the price. Not so sure about the adjustable seatpost at first (it lacks the rebound control of some others), but hey it has not let me down.
Whilst Giant might have an excellent design in the Maestro system it’s not much bloody use without good damper support. The RockShox Monarch fitted to this was pretty rotten, given the potential this shock has for grip, yet it simply turned out to be an internal needle issue that was the root cause. That said the Reign has reportedly suffered weak damping for a few seasons, I’m guessing that the idea was to provide soft damping for the shop floor. One way or the other, a good shock shop will sort dampers out and we had the timely opportunity with the SRAM team visiting to bolt on a Monarch Plus to give a bit of robustness to make the most of this bikes undoubted ability.
Up front the Revelation goes about its business in its usual manner, yet still I wonder about the possibility of a Lyric or Fox 36 to push the bike even harder. It certainly has the chassis angles not far off the bigger travel Reign X. After only a few weeks the seals began to weep on the stock fork which now means we’ve had unreliability from nearly all the big brands this season.
150mm bikes with long fast low angles are surprisingly thin on the ground – the Trek Remedy or BMC Trailfox being the others up to the task in hand. Descending is what the Reign is best at but pushing the climbs is pretty painless too thanks to the good amount of space in the cockpit (we were lucky with the size as running a 35mm stem was no problem). Into corners tramping on, back on the gas the Giant excels in aggressive riding, and since the new Monarch was fitted the smoothness is unquestioned. It’s slightly irritated by a noisy and messy triple chainset (I’m now beginning to hate this set up on bicycles) it certainly doesn’t make a bike better.
Niggles aside, and back on the bank, the bottom bracket/chainstay/front centre position is made for balanced riding, it’s certainly one of those special bikes that allows this. Overall the Reign encourages you to tear down the trail with superb balance.
Messy cables in the bar area, an irritating triple chainset and faulty front and rear damper fail to hold back the Reign. It wants to go fast and rewards any rider that has that mindset. It simply has great balance between suspension support, grip and rider engagement. So it’s going to cost you a few hundred quid to upgrade, take the hit I say, and hell it looks like most shops are offering hundreds of quid of free kit with the bike anyhow. Get a RockShox Reverb, single ring it, and upgrade the shock and you’ll have a formidable all–round UK bike.
Reign or Reign X? The X is a lot of bike that will let you do far more riding both here, in the Alps and geared more for downhill, it could also be raced at enduro. For a general workhorse that’s snappy and fun to ride look no further than the Reign 1.
|Frame||Giant Reign, ALUXX SL–Grade Aluminium 6″ Maestro Suspension|
|Fork||RockShox Revelation RL Dual Air 15mm Thru Axle|
|Shock||RockShox Monarch RT High Volume|
|Handlebar||Giant Connect SL|
|Stem||Giant Connect SL|
|Seatpost||Giant Contact Switch–R|
|Saddle||Fi’zi:k Gobi XM Manganese Rails|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano SLX|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano SLX|
|Brakes||Avid Elixir 5 180mm|
|Cassette||Shimano HG81 11–36|
|Crankset||Shimano SLX 24/32/42|
|Bottom Bracket||Shimano Press Fit|
|Rims||DT Swiss E540|
|Hubs||Giant Tracker 15mm (F), Shimano Deore (R)|
|Tyres||Maxxis Minion DHF, Maxxis High Roller (R)|