Our first reaction to Giant’s latest iteration of the Giant Reign SX was a pretty stunned “WTF?” The sight of the retro gear indicator on the Reign SX’s shifter totally threw us off guard, but as soon as we dropped into the trail we could put this throwback behind us and focus on sending it!
The Giant Reign SX is proof of Giant’s ‘evolutionary instead of revolutionary’ approach, and at first glance it doesn’t look like much has changed since the previous generation. It’ll take a knowing gaze to clock the adoption of a trunnion-mounted rear shock and slightly reworked spec. Getting up close with the Reign SX reveals that the geometry has also been brought bang up to date. While the former model was easily classified as modern with a long and slack design, now the Reign takes things even further for 2018 and goes even longer with an extra 15 mm on the reach. The head angle stays the same at 65°.
The Giant Reign SX in detail
For 2018 Giant have branched out and added the SX model, which is basically their more downhill-orientated version of the Reign with more front travel and a more heavy-duty spec. The Reign SX gets a RockShox Lyrik fork with 170 mm travel and a coil-sprung Super Deluxe rear shock with 160 mm at the back. Thanks to the more compact trunnion mount, Giant were able to improve the leverage ratio and create more space for the seat post in the frame. We had a size large frame on test with a 150 mm post, while the M gets a 125 mm post and the size S gets a 100 mm. Its Shimano SLX drivetrain clicks through the gears reliably. When it comes to the tires, Giant flexed serious know-how to equip the Reign SX with a wide 2.5” Maxxis Shorty up front and a High Roller II at the back. Plus, it’s even better to know that all the models now come tubeless right from the shop!
The negative side of the Reign SX are the SRAM Guide RS brakes, which aren’t powerful or stable enough for this bike to live up (or rather, down) to its potential. They have a tendency to fade pretty rapidly on steep descents and you’ll have to tug them with some force, even with the 200 mm rotor up front. In our eyes, Code brakes would be a more confidence-inspiring choice.
Fork RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Rear shock RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RT 160 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RS
Drivetrain Shimano SLX
Seat post Giant Contact S 150 mm
Stem Truvativ Descendant 40 mm
Handlebar Giant Contact SL 800 mm
Tires MAXXIS Shorty / MAXXIS Highroller II
Wheels Giant PAM-2 Disc
The geometry of the Giant Reign SX
|Seat tube||380 mm||431 mm||464 mm||496 mm|
|Top tube||600 mm||635 mm||655 mm||680 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||95 mm||115 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstay||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm|
|BB Drop||10 mm||10 mm||10 mm||10 mm|
|Wheelbase||1174 mm||1209 mm||1232 mm||1258 mm|
|Reach||424 mm||459 mm||473 mm||495 mm|
|Stack||575 mm||575 mm||593 mm||602 mm|
After the first test ride, we had more of an understanding as to why Giant had decided to mount a gear indicator on this bike. Think about fast-paced gnarly enduro runs, and you’ll realise that you’re usually gripping on so tightly and focusing on the trail that you’ll not be able to check what gear you’re in. But it’s different on this bike; it’s so surefire and smooth that even on the burliest bits of trail you’ll still be able to gaze momentarily to get the right gearing for the next corner. The Reign is like Aladdin’s carpet over roots and rock gardens, so if you’re after something that’s up for big downhills then this is the bike for you. While the previous generation of Reigns tended to stiffen up over big hits in quick succession, the performance of the 2018 model has really been elevated – partially thanks to the deployment of the coil-sprung rear shock.
The RockShox Super Deluxe is buttery smooth and compliant, giving back great ground feedback and support, especially if you want to send it off every ledge. The Reign’s cornering is also a highlight, with pretty astonishing balance despite the slack head angle and long reach. We reckon this stems back to the reworked (now bigger) offset of the RockShox Lyrik (46 mm instead of the more standard 42 mm), which means that Giant reduced what’s known as its trail by increasing the rake of the fork to push the front wheel forwards. A smaller trail (i.e. a bigger offset) lends the bike more agility in theory. In this instance on the Reign, the bigger fork offset translates to super-responsive steering and a nice dose of agility through the tight stuff.
Even with the muscle for hardcore descending (not to mention its 15.04 kg weight), the Reign is a pretty solid climber. The slack 73° seat angle meant we felt better having moved the saddle fully forward and activated the platform damping, which made a hell of a difference on long, gruelling climbs.
Think about everything its predecessor could do, and elevate it: that’s the reworked Giant Reign SX. If you’ve got your heart set on a bike that’ll turn the burliest descent into a flow trail, then this is the bike for you. Capable of EWS stages and bike park deployment, the Reign SX demonstrates great, smooth handling.
– Great suspension
– Brilliant handling
– Able to kill it on the descents
– Poor brakes
– Overly slack seat angle
For more information head to giant-bicycles.com!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer