With its bright colours and long, slack geometry the Giant Reign Advanced 1 is crying out for attention! We took the more affordable of the two carbon versions through the most varied bike regions that Europe has to offer. Here you can see how Giant’s evergreen performed.
The Reign has been decorating Giant’s portfolio for years now. It’s a bit like the Porsche 911 concept: through small changes and new materials, improving an incredibly competitive bike year after year. Same as for all other mountain-bike models, the Reign relies on Giant’s proven and patented Maestro Suspension Technology. The Reign comes with 160 mm of travel and features Giant’s own “Advanced Composite-Technology” carbon frame whilst the rear triangle is made of aluminium.
Spec of the Giant Reign Advanced 1
The spec of the Reign is consistent and solid, there were only a few details we felt the need to change. The fork and shock are from Rockshox, a PIKE RC up-front and a Monarch Plus at the back. Giant relied on good old Shimano quality for the drivetrain and brakes and opted for prime Swiss technology for the wheels: a set of DT Swiss M1700 SPLINE. New since 2016 in the Giant portfolio is their own-built Contact SL dropper-seatpost.
During our test, we modified the cockpit by fitting a shorter stem and a Renthal Fatbar Carbon 780/20 mm handlebar. We also converted the tires to tubeless and swapped the stock chainring with a 34 t version. As far as weight goes, we find the 13.8 kg to be reasonable for a downhill oriented enduro bike in an XL size.
Fork: RockShox PIKE RC Dual Position Air 160/130 mm
Rear shock: RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir
Brakes: Shimano XT 203/180 mm
Drivetrain: Shimano XT 1×11
Seatpost: Giant Contact SL
Stem: TRUVATIV Holzfeller 50 mm
Handlebar: Giant Contact SL DH RiserBar 800 mm
Wheels: DT Swiss M 1700 SPLINE
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary TrailStar/Hans Dampf PaceStar Evolution
Weight: 13.8 kg
Price: € 4,599
Geometry of the Giant Reign Advanced 1
With the geometry of the Reign, Giant clearly shows us where the journey is heading. A long frame, medium-long chainstays and a long wheelbase: we can predict that things will get rowdy just by looking at the numbers. The Reign has remained almost unchanged for years, yet its geometry is totally up to date. When the current version of the Reign was presented, it was almost considered a pioneer due to its extreme geometry.
|Top tube||584 mm||620 mm||640 mm||665 mm|
|Head tube||94 mm||94 mm||114 mm||124 mm|
|Chainstay||434 mm||434 mm||434 mm||434 mm|
|Wheelbase||1158 mm||1191 mm||1217 mm||1242 mm|
|Reach||409 mm||444 mm||458 mm||480 mm|
|Stack||577 mm||577 mm||595 mm||604 mm|
The Giant Reign Advanced 1 on the trail
The Giant Reign climbs surprisingly well. However, we recommend to activating the shock-damper of the Monarch Plus, as the rear-end tends to bob a little on steep climbs. Also, the Dual Position setting on the PIKE prevents the front wheel from lifting on steep climbing sections.
You just can’t ride the Reign slowly! The bike begs for high speeds and motivates you to ride the raddest, most direct lines. Hold on tight and go for it, the Reign will handle the rest. That’s no surprise, after all the geometry resembles the lines of a downhill bike. A slack 65° head angle and a long wheelbase (1.242 mm on a XL size) make for an incredibly stable and accurate handling. There is one downside though: The Reign is as playful as a stranded whale. Of course you can get it through narrow sections and quick turns, but the Reign requires a little more emphasis and confidence than other bikes in its travel class.
The suspension platform works exactly as you’d want it to work on a bike of this league, responding with sensitivity and reaching deep in its travel without feeling undefined. During our test we placed two volume spacers into the shock, to get more feedback in the mid-stroke and more final progression. This allows you to maintain a plush response from the rear-end without worrying about bottoming out. Even with strong compressions the rear-end doesn’t sink and allows you to carry good speed in berms and literally steam over any sort of obstacles.
We also fitted two bottomless tokens into the RockShox PIKE RC DPA, achieving the same positive result we had seen on the rear shock: more reserve in the travel and more progression in the mid-stroke. The downhill performance of the PIKE RC is undisputable, however on flatter trails we were really missing the low-speed adjustment that the RCT3 version offers. This prevents the much dreaded bobbing when standing up to pedal.
Our season with the Giant Reign Advanced 1
After spending a week riding in the “shadow” of the Mont Blanc with countless uplifts, the somewhat heavier system weight of the bike turned out to be a bit too much to handle for our XT brakes. That’s when we decided to swap the XT callipers with a pair of more powerful 4-piston Shimano Zee callipers and combine them with the stock XT levers. A small effort which resulted in loads more brake-power and decisively a more appropriate setup for this type of bike. Also the serial-Schwalbe tires struggled to match the performance of the Giant, buckling in berms and tight corners. The same tires with a Supergravity casing were the solution to our problem and we were finally able to unleash the bike’s full potential.
It’s also worth mentioning that due to the very cold winter conditions the dropper post eventually gave up. While washing the bike some humidity creeped into the cable housing and the remote got stuck; this meant the saddle was sinking all the time.
„After more than 1,300 km, a few trips to the Alps and the Vosges and a number of bike-park outings, our long term test bike has seen it all.“
When cleaning the bike after a week of bike-park action following the EWS in the French and Italian Alps, we noticed a few cracks in the paint, just underneath the lower shock mount. Supposedly this won’t affect the stability of the bike, so we kept riding the same frame until the end of our test. Straight away Giant promised us a new frame and thanks to its lifetime-warranty (for first owners) it would have been replaced without a complaint.
After a year with the Giant Reign we can confidently say that the bike is built for racing and high-speeds. The spec is well thought out except for a few minor details. Geometry and suspension are top-notch. If you’re looking for an agile bike this is probably not your optimal choice, but if you like getting rowdy on the mountains you’ll love the Reign— we certainly did!
For more information head to giant-bicycles.com
Words: Hannes Jansen Photos: Valentin Rühl