’15 Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1

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If you’ve been following recent bike industry trends you know that the enduro segment is blowing up right now. The new 2015 Giant Reign platform is their take on what an enduro bike should be, and although they didn’t call it the Reign enduro that’s expressly what this bike is designed to do. Available in aluminum and carbon frames, we were excited to get our hands on the all new carbon Reign Advanced 27.5 1.

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Both Ryan and Matt had an opportunity to run the bike through it’s paces. Matt spent some quality time on the bike in Vermont while Ryan was lucky enough to take the bike on a two week romp in the dry jungles of Puerto Rico. Here is their first impressions a la Matt’s learned and technical perspective and Ryan’s ride it like you stole it and describe the bike in bro-bra-layman’s-terms take.

Says Matt:
The Reign uses Giant’s proven Maestro suspension with a Rockshox Monarch Plus Debonair out back and a custom offset Pike RC up front for just over 6″ of travel at both ends.  The Pike has been lauded as the best fork ever to hold a front wheel, and even in the OE configuration with slightly fewer adjustments it’s hard to argue.  Setup is straightforward, steering control is great. It just plain works.  The Monarch uses a dual chamber design reminiscent of another more popular air shock and offers an incredible range of spring tunability due to its remarkably high max pressure of 350 psi.

For initial shock setup I usually start at 200 psi for a consistent starting point, then slowly let air out to get the right amount of sag, but with this shock I ended up running what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of pressure to get the right feel.  In talking with local Giant rep Adam Ogden he reported similar findings so I felt like a little less of fat ass. Adam recommended setting up the shock “pound for pound plus 30%”, e.g. your weight plus 30% more air. After taking his advice we found the suspension felt correct.

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^We love the matchy-matchy color scheme on the frame and suspension components. Bonus points!

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^Thibault tests the suspension over some hellishly large roots.

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Says Ryan:

The bike felt super plush like the bikes we rode back in the day (2002 /Giant AC 1 for instance) except you can tell suspension has come a long way as there is little peddle-bob with this generation of Giant.

Matt:
The Pike setup was pretty straight forward and I found the right pressure by slightly undershooting the recommended pressure printed on the fork leg, which is the same as I run for my Solo Air SID and every other Rockshox fork I’ve ever ridden.

Ryan:
What Matt said.

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Matt:

The Shimano component blend proved that the SLX group may not be flashy but it does provide remarkably high quality performance with a moderate price tag.  Also of note are the Rockshox Reverb Stealth dropper post and Schwalbe tires- both pretty much standard issue for enduro and predictable performers.

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Rolling down the trail the first thought I had about the Reign is that the suspension was very fluid.  That’s not to say it’s necessarily inefficient under pedaling forces, but that’s really not what this bike is designed to do.  The bike stuck to the trail and smoothed out everything in its path.  The suspension is active- and that’s exactly what you want from a bike like this.  The head angle is pretty slack at 65 degrees and with the big travel/27.5″/650 b wheels made it feel like it was ready to be manhandled.  The Reign felt stable and predictable from normal trail riding pace to full throttle descending, though like any long travel bike it felt slightly unwieldy when ridden slowly.

Ryan:
Totlly agree with Matt. Coming off a 26″ wheel, I first felt that the bike rode like a size too large but as soon as I became accustomed to the larger wheels and had an opportunity to point the rig down hill I had an epiphany. This bike was one of the more stable platforms I have ever ridden. The jungle trails in PR are riddled with loose dirt, slippery leaves, massive roots, rogue coconuts, and baby-head sized rocks. This bike hammered with ease over all the terrain. And with the more active suspension, I felt it climbed over roots and rough terrain competently too.

Matt:
Of course you’re not buying a bike like this just to ride at a snail’s pace, you’re buying it to push the envelope to the best of your ability, and unless you have legit downhill racing chops you’re unlikely to be able to push this bike beyond its limit; it is smooth, stable and remarkably confidence inspiring in a very understated way.

Knowing we may not get the bike up to pro speeds we consulted with Giant team rider Seamus Powell to get his impression.

Seamus:
Incredibly Stable!! The bike likes and needs to be ridden full tilt to get the full enjoyment out a ride. It climbs respectably well for a long and slack trail bike. But saying that I wont be winning and hill climb challenge’s with it. Comparing to the Trance X 27.5 (last years race bike) it is a bit more confidence inspiring when laying the bike into corners and gobbling up rough terrain. sending drops with it I don’t even have to think. I don’t want to take away any street cred from the trance 27.5. But the reign was purpose built to send it. Being a tall rider 6’4″ I like the longer top tube the reign offers. It gives ample room to move and use my body to throw the bike around.

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This is a bike I feel confident taking to the bike park or slaying some gnarly Enduro tracks with. I don’t often get caught up in the techy jargon about the ultimate wheel size or head tube angle. I do have to say the way that Giant packages the 27.5 wheel, they really uses the wheel size to the full advantage. Weight savings, geometry etc. The first time riding 27.5 the noticeable difference over a 29er was the nimbleness in steep corners and the “flickable” nature of the bike.

Matt:
It’s not necessarily an efficient pedaler going uphill but it feels comparable to other bikes in the category like the Santa Cruz Nomad.  For this application you don’t want a rigid pedaling platform, you want suspension tuned for traction that eats square-edged obstacles for breakfast. No matter what anybody says you can’t have both without compromising one or the other, and this configuration is exactly right for its intended purpose- settle in on the climbs and hang it out on the descents.

MTBVT final impression:

The Reign is best suited to big descents and large obstacles like you’d find at Highland or taking every A line down from the top of Burning Spear at Perry Hill. Great price point for the quality. Excellent aesthetics. Thibault liked this bike so much he bought one for his daughter.

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