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Riding Giant's 2015 Reign 2 (By Go-Ride)

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11/19/2014 1:12 PM

You’ve seen the ride videos from Giant featuring Adam Craig and Josh Carlson. You know the hashtag #makeitreign. You’ve read the cycling press rave about the $8,000 Reign Advanced 1. Those reviews tell the same story: the Reign is a category-leading enduro race machine. It’s long, low and slack. It gobbles terrain like a DH bike, but also pedals uphill.

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For a trail bike, it’s really slack—65 degree head angle. It’s low in the bottom bracket—13.5 inches. The wheelbase seems ridiculously long for a pedal bike—from 45.6 inches on the small to a whopping 48.9 inches on the XL. But this is the new-world trail bike geometry, complete with super long effective top tube lengths—from 23 inches on the small to 26.2 inches on the XL. For those riding cramped cockpits, it may be time to make an adjustment—either size down or get used to riding longer frames.

But what about the aluminum frame? What about Giant’s $3,400 Reign 2? What do you give up when you pay less than half of what you’d pay for the flagship bike? While the complete Reign 2 in medium weighs just under 33lbs. (with pedals), how does that extra weight affect a bike meant for super aggressive riding.

At Go-Ride, two of our employees are riding the Reign. Kris built up an Advanced frame with some custom parts, and Joss is riding a mostly-stock Reign 1. But we also set up a run of rental bikes out of the bone-stock Reign 2, and Scott took one of our rentals out to chase Kris around on his Reign to get an idea of how the more affordable price tag translates to the trail.



Suspension
The Pike RC rides every bit as plush as the RCT3, while still offering the same high-speed support. Our biggest concern when looking at the bike in the catalog was the Monarch DebonAir RT, but it ended up being a very impressive shock during testing. It matches up with the Pike to provide a balanced suspension for an impressive amount of traction. While part of the traction comes from the bike’s layout, the suspension pulls its weight as well. In all, the Monarch DebonAir RT makes a great shock for a bike hitting the mid-three-thousand-dollar mark.

Wheels
Giant’s P-AM2 wheels aren’t light, but we have found them to be plenty durable under heavy thrashing. On the trail, the extra weight in the wheels make the bike more sluggish going up, but it still climbs way better than one would expect from a 33lbs. bike. Going down, the extra wheel weight doesn’t seem to affect the bike negatively at all.

Drivetrain
While the Deore crank arms are not the same cold-forged, hollow arms that you’ll find on the SLX, XT or XTR crank arms, we felt the Deore cranks held their own at top pace. The Reign doesn’t like to ride slowly. It likes it fast and rough, and we found these cranks had plenty of stiffness to respond to the terrain that the Reign likes best.

Brakes
Shimano’s Deore brakes differ very slightly from their more expensive counterparts. They don’t have ceramic pistons for maximum heat dissipation, but they still perform very well, especially with the 180/200mm rotor combination that comes stock on the Reign 2. Lever feel, power, and modulation are all so similar between the Deore brakes and Shimano’s XT brakes that we don’t think most riders could pass a blind riding test.

Dropper Post
We gotta give it up to Giant. They understand that any mountain bike above $3,000 needs to come with a dropper post. While Giant’s Contact post only has 100mm of drop, it has proven itself around our shop as one of the most reliable posts you can buy.

Controls
While it took Giant a long time to jump on the wide bar craze, the 800mm-wide Contact SL bar that comes on the Reign 2 is a perfect match for the bike. Combine it with a 50mm Truvativ Holzfeller stem and it makes the perfect cockpit for a bike with the Reign’s capabilities.

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Riding the Reign 2
There is no lack of traction, especially as the speeds get higher. At lower speeds, the extra wheel weight increases the sluggishness from the long wheelbase, which requires more work from the rider to put the front wheel in exactly the right spot when crawling down technical terrain. Our advice, don’t crawl. Point, shoot and hold on. The Reign is incredibly capable at speed, and the faster you go, the better the bike handles.

In the end, if you’re looking for a bike that climbs fast, this isn’t your bike. Due to the steep 73-degree seat angle, it climbs very well for what it is, which is a long, low, slack bike. However, if you want a bike that comes to life as the speeds increase, there seems to be no end to the traction that this bike can lay down. If you’re hunting for that kind of bike in the mid-three-thousand-dollar range, the parts hanging from the Reign 2 do not detract from the bike’s capabilities.

(Photos and Video By Ali Goulet)
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11/19/2014 1:58 PM

Good stuff, boys! Always rad to hear about how the performance of the super fancy carbon version translates to the most affordable model, especially with material and suspension changes.

If anyone is looking for full specs/geo on the Reign 2, you can catch them in the Vital Product Guide.

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11/19/2014 2:07 PM

We have been amazed by Reign 2 for that price!

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11/19/2014 2:42 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/19/2014 3:43 PM

They're not specific to the Reign 2, but Kris and Joss also have some initial thoughts on their respective Reigns. They've shared their initial impressions on our blawg. We spell it differnt because we don't update it as often as blogs. We're usually busy running a bike shop.

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11/19/2014 6:14 PM

Where in LCC are those trails?

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11/19/2014 7:16 PM

Semi-related(-ish) question:
How come the 2015 Reigns are super easy to get compared the 2015 Glory's?
Just walking in Queenstown, I see at least 10 new Reigns every day. They're everywhere.
But I've seen only one Glory in the 2 weeks I've been here (a demo
Bike).
Did they start producing the Glory later? Or is it just because they produce less Glory's, making them hatder to get?

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11/20/2014 9:03 AM

I have been seriously considering unloading my newly built, unridden Kona Operator Carbon and replacing it with a Reign Aluminum. The newest breed of long travel 27.5 bikes like the Reign are ridiculously capable and I don't fear the occasional bike park thrashing reducing the bike's life like I used to. Reading this just pushed me over the edge. I want to say thanks for this, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a fair bit of money making the swap, so instead: no thank you, Go-Ride meanies.

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12/3/2014 5:57 AM

I'm currently running a stumpjumper evo 29 and i am strongly considering making the switch to the reign. I really only have the wallet for one bike other than my bmx. I am an aggressive rider however i do typically ride solo and have to climb to the top of the mountain. I live in NE PA where the trails i ride are technica and rocky. Compared to the specialized do you feel there would be any issues with having the reign as my do all bike? Is it capabe of being the everyday bike used as a trail bike as well as a downhill/ freeride machine? From reading i'm sure it will be fine compared to the stumpjumper for the downhill/ freeride i'm more worried about the everyday pedaling. Any thoughts would be great. Thanks and great review!

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12/3/2014 3:18 PM

We can't really speak to the Stumpjumper Evo 29. No one at the shop here has ridden one, so we can't offer a direct comparison. It seems like a lot of people are getting pretty wicked on the Enduro 29, but we can't really speak to that bike either. As for the Reign, it is definitely a bike that can be pedaled up hill, but everything about the bike is aimed at the descent.

The more we ride this bike, the more we have learned that this bike really comes to life at speed. The Reign's length at the wheelbase is almost unprecedented for a trail bike, and with that comes traction and control at speed. On the flip side, the bike does not like to go slow. If you're prone to picking your way down technical terrain, the Reign can be a lot to handle. If you can sack up and plow through technical terrain, the bike will respond with aplomb.

Basically, if you want a DH bike that you can pedal up hill, the Reign is a great option. It's not gonna win you any XC races, but it's more than capable of making most transfer stages if you've got the fitness.

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12/3/2014 6:07 PM

Awesome thanks for the input. Honestly i ride pretty much balls to the walls however i typically ride from the bottom to the top. Trust me i'm no racer when it comes to uphills so i'm not worried about speed or strava times, i'm more worried about making it to the top and being able to pedal an xc loop before the downhill. I was considering putting a 150mm pike on my stumpy however i still dont think it will be what i want it to plus i dont want to be stuck on 29inch wheels. Although i've found them to roll nice jumping they feel a little big and bulky (coming from a bmx rider)... Thanks again for the input if i decide to do a reign i'll be sure to give you my feedback. have a good one.

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