Giant Bicycles sent us out their 2018 Reign Advanced 1 in October, and we’ve been riding it hard and quite often ever since. The bike retails for $5,510 USD, and can be ordered straight from Giant’s website or at a Giant bicycles dealer. One of the first things we noticed about the bike, (other than the wildly bright color) is that the build kit looked to be pretty on point given the price. Featuring a SRAM GX Eagle Drivetrain, FOX covering the suspension, and a few Giant branded stock parts, including the seat, dropper, bar, and grips (More on those later).
Details & Specs
• 27.5″ wheels
• 160mm travel front and rear
• Boost hub spacing
• Metric shock spacing with Trunnion mount
• Carbon Fiber front triangle
• Aluminum rear triangle
• Forged Composite upper rocker arm
• Sealed cartridge bearing pivots
• S, M (tested), L, XL sizes
The Giant house brand handlebars paired with the TruVativ Descendent stem have been a comfortable cockpit, and worth noting, the stock Giant grips actually surprised us with their level of comfort, though we eventually switched to our trusty Sensus Lites. The SRAM Guide RS brakes have proven to hold adequate stopping power, and a reasonable level of modulation. The bushings that the levers rotate on feature a touch of play in them that has become a bit of an annoyance, but isn’t an issue that affects their functionality.
The Giant Contact S Dropper functions quite well, and doesn’t fall that short from top aftermarket options. Featuring a paddle style lever it’s a part of the bike that could go without being touched, though we did throw on a 170mm RockShox Reverb when we tested out a Wolftooth lever. The Giant Contact SL saddle was the only real disappointing stock component, we found it to be quite uncomfortable, and stiff, swapping it for a SDG Duster. A note in regard to the bottle cage placement, Giant has included mounts for electronic shifting, capped with rubber, these forced Giant to push the bottle mount further up the down tube, limiting the room to stash a tall bottle for longer rides.
The Reign Advanced 1 is spec’d with the SRAM Eagle GX Drivetrain, which has proven to be more than substantial for the needs of most riders. Our rear derailleur may have a bit more play in it than the the XX1 tier, but it does its job nonetheless while providing crisp shifts and an incredible amount of range in a much more simple fashion than a 2X drivetrain would.
Taking care of things up front is the Fox 36 Performance Elite, featuring a FIT Damper with 160mm of travel. This fork is the same as the higher tier 36 Factory, sporting high/low speed compression and rebound, minus the gold Kashima coating. The fork is very supple off the top, and after an addition of one more volume reducer (the bike ships with one) we gained the additional bottom out resistance we were looking for. At the rear of the bike, the Trunnion mount Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock loses the high/low speed compression adjustment, in exchange for rebound, and a three way lever similar to their previous climb/trail/descend lever. The shock shipped with no spacer inside at all, which surprised us at first, because it didn’t dive into the travel all the badly, but we did feel the need to add a volume spacer, which got us where we needed to be in the realm of mid stroke support and progression at the end of the travel.
The tire choice on the Reign highlights the race oriented purpose of the bike, with a Maxxis Highroller II in the rear and a beefy 2.5 Shorty up front the bike means business. We found the tire spec to be great for Winter riding, the Highroller II isn’t a favorite, but it gets the job done, and the Shorty, though requiring a bit of extra pedal power, is a fun and welcome confidence inspiring tire in the steeps. Noteworthy is Giant’s inclusion of tubeless valves and sealant, though it arrives with tubes pre-installed. The DT Swiss E1700 30 mm inner diameter rims laced to matching Boost Hubs front and back, have been worry free wheels for the bike and have held strong, through some pretty rough trails and chutes we’ve ridden on this bike.
The Reign felt long to us for the first few rides – the reason being that it truly is long, sporting a lengthy 459mm reach for our size Medium. Taking a look at the rear of the bike, a 435mm chainstay also isn’t the shortest when compared to other modern long travel enduro bikes; rather it sits pretty safely in the middle of the road. The long nature of this bike makes it quite challenging to pull back into a manual, as it’s not the most playful, but the trade off comes when riding down steep and rough trails. Many of the top enduro race bikes are coming with slacker head tube angles than ever, but with a 73.0° seat tube angle, the Reign admittedly is a bit sluggish up hill. A 10mm BB drop sets the center of gravity nice and low, which caters to the balanced feeling of the Reign.
On the Trail
As most of our trail rides begin by spending some time going up hill, the reasonable weight of the bike, paired with locking out the rear shock, makes climbs possible, but lets make it clear that the bike is designed to hold the fastest times down the trail, not up. The Reign Advanced 1 may not have the sensitive handling of an F1 Car, but it definitely makes up for that by feeling like it’s a monster truck once pointed down. We’ve ridden a handful of really steep chutes on the bike, and by simply leaning off the back and trusting things, the Reign has yet to give us a sketchy feeling. The Maestro Suspension design is a proven suspension layout that has tackled the rough and the rocky bits much to our liking.
We found the Reign to be quite stable in the air, and with well set up suspension it seems to handle harsh landings and big hits with ease. Cornering and turns may be a bit harder to initiate than with a shorter bike, but when looking at most Enduro race tracks, the trade off for stability at speed and through technical and steep terrain far outweighs it’s lack of nimbleness. If you tend to land between sizes, give some thought to whether you like your bikes to fit a bit on the large or small size and follow through accordingly.
The 2018 Giant Reign Advanced is a bike meant for raw race tracks and rowdy terrain. It can get to where the decent begins, with just a bit more effort than the ‘average’ trail bike, and can brainwash your frustrations from the climb within the first 30 seconds down hill. If you’re a fanatic for wheelies and side hits, you’ll struggle a bit here and may want to consider sizing down as the bike’s not meant for small features. Bigger jumps, steeper trails, and maximum stability are the strong points of this bike, and we’ve enjoyed using them to let off the brakes, and tackle things with more confidence than in the past.
With a great price point for the very well spec’d Reign Advanced 1 model, we’d recommend this bike to anyone looking to only own one bike that they rip nastier local trails on, shred in a bike park, or begin to dabble with enduro racing with. The only caveat with this bike is that you’ve got to like neon, because this bike attracts a lot of attention.