2018 Giant Reign Advanced 0 Bike

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Making it Reign in 2018 | We Ride Giant’s Updated Enduro Machine

If it's lower, longer, and slacker you want, you've come to the right place.

Rating: Vital Review
Making it Reign in 2018 | We Ride Giant’s Updated Enduro Machine

The Giant Reign is one of the world’s best selling enduro bikes, and it’s been around in one version or the other for almost 13 years by now. Whilst the basic design concepts behind the bike have not really changed over the years, of course everything else has. Materials, geo, suspension, standards, components…mountain biking never stands still! So in the name of keeping up, we headed over to Italy last week to discover the 6th generation of the Reign. Lower, longer, and slacker seems almost like a foregone conclusion here, but if you want to know everything else there is to know about what Giant has come up with, all you have to do is keep reading.

2018 Giant Reign Advanced Highlights

  • 27.5 wheel geometry
  • Composite mainframe
  • New Advanced Forged Composite Technology upper rocker arm
  • Maestro

The Giant Reign is one of the world’s best selling enduro bikes, and it’s been around in one version or the other for almost 13 years by now. Whilst the basic design concepts behind the bike have not really changed over the years, of course everything else has. Materials, geo, suspension, standards, components…mountain biking never stands still! So in the name of keeping up, we headed over to Italy last week to discover the 6th generation of the Reign. Lower, longer, and slacker seems almost like a foregone conclusion here, but if you want to know everything else there is to know about what Giant has come up with, all you have to do is keep reading.

2018 Giant Reign Advanced Highlights

  • 27.5 wheel geometry
  • Composite mainframe
  • New Advanced Forged Composite Technology upper rocker arm
  • Maestro suspension technology
  • MegaDrive downtube connects the massive headtube and bottom bracket area for added frame stiffness
  • OverDrive steerer tube for front-end steering stiffness
  • PowerCore bottom bracket for pedaling efficiency
  • New trunnion mount shock with lower leverage ratio
  • Internal cable routing
  • Integrated downtube and chainstay protection
  • Boost 15x110 [F], 12X148 [R] hub spacing
  • ISCG05 tabs
  • MSRP: $8200
  • Availability: End of August 2017

Advanced Forged Composite, Maestro, MegaDrive, OverDrive, PowerCore, Metric, Trunnion, Boost…you’d be forgiven if you thought the brochure seems a little over the top when it comes to the old marketing lingo. How does all that mesh with what certainly looks pretty much like last year’s bike? The devil, as always, is in the details.

The 2018 Reign may appear like the spitting image of its predecessor, but Giant has gone over every aspect of the bike in a design process that started over two years ago. The result is a longer and slacker bike that utilizes all the latest standards and technologies to deliver what Giant calls the ultimate race bike.

Kevin Dana, Giant's senior off-road global category manager (and shredder!) delivers the run-down of the new bike.

Working with Giant Factory Offroad enduro racer Josh Carlson, the goal behind the new design was to create a faster and more forgiving bike that also climbs better than its predecessor. That sounds like a tall order perhaps, but one that Giant claims to have been able to fulfill. Starting from the obvious, the bike still utilizes Giant’s tried and trusted Maestro suspension layout, a floating pivot point multilink system that is designed to provide a stable pedaling platform whilst offering good bump absorption. For 2018, making use of a trunnion-mount metric shock allowed Giant to run a longer shock (for the same amount of rear wheel travel) which lowers the overall leverage ratio – this in turn creates a more sensitive suspension which is also easier to control and tune. Additionally, the trunnion mounted shock helps contribute to increasing the frame’s stiffness, whilst simultaneously allowing the seat tube pivot point to be moved down which maximizes seat post insertion depth. As you can see from the shots, the range-topping Reign Advanced 0 carbon bike we tested features a coil shock, as does the SX version (which also comes with a longer, 170mm fork), while the rest of the line-up will make do with air versions. All the shocks offer some form of lockout or pedaling platform, either remote controlled or on the shock itself. Travel remains at 160mm both up front and out back.

While they working on the rear suspension layout, Giant also took advantage of their “Advanced Forged Composite” technology that was recently introduced on the new Trance. This high-pressure molding process produces complex carbon parts that are lighter and stiffer than their aluminum counterparts, and it was put to use to create the new Reign’s upper rocker link. The rear triangle itself remains aluminum, a choice Giant made for two reasons: that part of the frame is particularly exposed to rock strikes and similar, while the complexity and shape of the part make producing it in carbon unnecessarily expensive for only a small potential weight gain.

Continuing our examination of the 2018 Reign, we find boost spacing, internal cable routing (including for the remote shock lockout on the relevant versions), and frame protection in all the right places. ISCG05 tabs provide a perch for a chainguide/bashguard, but there are no provisions for our old friend the front derailleur.

Geometry

The second and maybe most significant change for 2018 was made to the geometry. Working with the feedback of their racers, Giant stretched the new Reign until it became one of the longest bikes out there, size for size. Only mega-reach specialists Mondraker make significantly longer bikes, not counting exotics like Pole and Geometron. At 473 mm reach for a size L, the 2018 Reign is 15mm longer than its 2017 predecessor. To put that in perspective, the 2018 size M clocks in at 459mm, a reach number which some manufacturers would still call either L or even XL today. For the rest, a 65-degree head angle favors outright downhill performance over anything else, whilst a 73-degree seat tube angle contributes to a passable climbing position for making your way up to the next run. Make no mistake about it, this is what this bike was made for.

On The Trail

Setting up a coil shock is slightly more involved than checking sag and tweaking the air pressure, since any major adjustment here involves actually pulling the shock and swapping out the coil spring. For this 200-lbs tester we ended up settling on a 400lb spring, which saw us land at around 30 percent sag, give or take. For the rest of the suspension set-up, we fiddled a bit with the knobs and called it good to go.

The simplified user manual could read something like look ahead, point, and shoot.

We rode the bike during two days in the Santa Caterina area in the Italian Alps, guided by Matze and Tina from vinschgaubike.com. Starting our high alpine adventure on the rocky and sometimes quite exposed “Romanica” trail, we could immediately appreciate the incredibly supple yet supportive coil suspension. The bike has that “magic carpet” feel that you really only get with a coil shock, regardless of what the brochure might say about the latest and greatest air shocks. Up front, the excellent Lyrik is a great complement to the squishy smoothness of the coil out back. The simplified user manual could read something like look ahead, point, and shoot.

The second stand-out aspect of the new Reign is the geo. This 6’0 tester ended up on a medium (due to some availability issues), and that was just as well – many of the trails we rode are old, steep hiking trails and as anyone who has ridden this type of terrain can attest to, it can get tight and twisty in a hurry. In the fast and rough open sections of trail, the bike is amazingly stable and confidence-inspiring, while on the other side of that coin we found it to be quite a handful when the switchbacks start coming at you. You always want to match the bike to the kind of terrain you ride, and that is certainly true of the new Reign. A 65-degree head angle and a 1200+ mm wheelbase is not far off most DH bikes from just a couple of years ago, so it’s definitely worth asking yourself if you have the trails for it.

Giant not only made the Reign longer, they kept it low as well. Stack height and standover are both on the low side across the sizes, which left our medium test bike feeling a bit too low in the front when things got properly steep. That’s nothing a riser bar won’t fix though, and bumping the fork to 170mm is also worth considering if you find yourself in the same situation. EWS pinner Josh Carlson runs a 180mm on his Reign, for reference.

Josh Carlson giving 'er.
The faster you go, the better it works, and this is one machine that’ll have you questioning yourself long before your bike even breaks a sweat.

The second day of riding saw us spoiled – a helicopter whisked us up to the Schiazzera Lake and the start of over 2000 meters of descending. On the fast and open trails of this ride, the new Reign came into its own. The faster you go, the better it works, and this is one machine that’ll have you questioning yourself long before your bike even breaks a sweat.

The author ruining Sterling's shot in the name of Instagramming.

Coming in hot!
Best uplift evah bro!

Helicopter or not, we still managed to punch out a few climbs along the way as well, most notably a steep, 10-minute grind that really allowed us to evaluate the new Reign’s uphill prowess. Helped by a more supportive suspension layout and a reasonably steep seat tube angle, the bike put in a good showing here. The suspension still exhibits some bobbing under pedal power, but it is well controlled and more crucially, the bike does not sag into the shock excessively even when things get steeper. The pedaling platform lever eliminates most of the bobbing, and it can be used to offer more support on mellower trails as well (it is not a full lockout by any means). We ended up sliding our saddle forward by half an inch to leave us feeling more on top of the pedals, which was an improvement. We did not manage to weigh our test bike, but it felt surprisingly light when picking it up, and our uphill experience did not leave us feeling like we were carrying any unnecessary weight around. All in all, the Reign will happily put up with any amount of climbing you feel like taking on during a big day out, provided you are happy to sit and spin your legs.

In terms of components, there is not much to complain about on our $8200 USD top-of-the-line Advanced 0 model. A few comments and observations on our build kit:

The suspension is the star performer of this bike. The Super Deluxe Coil is amazingly plush, and offers great support and controlled bobbing when paired up with the latest revision of Giant’s Maestro rear suspension layout. The excellent Lyrik is a perfect match up front, short of maybe running an actual coil fork too. The only slight negative here is the remote lever for the shock – it is a bit fiddly to operate, and the release button has a hair trigger which renders it very sensitive to accidental operation.

SRAM’s Eagle X01 1x12 transmission performed faultlessly, and the Guide RSC brakes remained fade free even at the bottom of a long, steep burner of a fire road trail which left our rotors literally black and blue from the heat build up.

Giant’s own carbon handlebar was comfortable, and we applaud the decision to ship the bike with a full 800mm of cockpit to work with. Cutting is easy if you need to.

The Giant Contact S dropper post performed well for the short duration of this initial test ride. The lever is easy enough to operate, although we were once again confused by the decision to place the dropper remote on top of the handlebar with the shock’s remote lockout occupying the premium real estate vacated by the now defunct front shifter. We’d change this up, as the dropper post is a far more critical and far more often used feature, which deserves pride of place under your thumb. The S and M sizes feature a 125mm travel version, whilst L and XL get 150mm.

The DT Swiss EX1501 wheels with their 30mm internal width rims stood up well to 2 days of abuse dished out by the journalists and other riders in the group. If we have to offer up a complaint about something here, we’d gladly take a bit better engagement from the rear hub, but that’s about it. We’re happy to see Giant steer away from carbon rims even on this high-end build, we feel the aluminum rim is better suited to the abuse that is most likely in the future of any wheel sold in this category of bike.

The Reign comes with a Maxxis Shorty/HRII combo with EXO casing. Whilst we were pleasantly surprised by how well the Shorty gripped even on some of the harder, rockier trail surfaces (it is principally made for softer conditions), there were quite a few punctures in the group over two days of riding involving the rear HRII. If these types of rocky trails are your jam, you’d probably want to Double Down at least.

Build Kits, Pricing & Availability

There are two carbon models and three aluminum models in the line-up, as well as a carbon frame-only option. Most of the range will be available worldwide at the end of August 2017, with US pricing as follows (check your local dealer for region-specific pricing):

  • Reign Advanced 0, Carbon Blue/Silver: $8,200
  • Reign Advanced 1, Neon Green/Black: $5,400
  • Reign SX, Orange/Neon Yellow: $4,000
  • Reign 2,Blue/Black: $2,700 
  • Reign 2, Grey/Neon Orange: $2,700

What’s The Bottom Line?

Longer, lower, and slacker seems to be the name of the game these days, at least if you are looking to go faster. And that is exactly what Giant wanted the new Reign to do. It is unapologetically focused on carrying speed and maintaining control on the gnarliest and roughest race tracks in the world, while providing a comfortable enough climbing experience to make sure you have enough energy left in the tank for a big day out of earning your turns. If this sounds like your kind of riding, you should certainly put the new Reign on your shortlist. If twisty turns and tight tech are your jam, size down or look for a slightly shorter bike with slightly steeper angles.

More information at: www.giant-bicycles.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord and Sterling Lorence

Rate review: +1 Up Down
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Specifications

Product Giant Reign Advanced 0 Bike
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Freeride, Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 600mm 635mm 655mm 680mm
Head Tube Angle 65.0° 65.0° 65.0° 65.0°
Head Tube Length 95mm 95mm 115mm 125mm
Seat Tube Angle 73.0° 73.0° 73.0° 73.0°
Seat Tube Length 380mm 431mm 464mm 496mm
Bottom Bracket Height 10mm drop 10mm drop 10mm drop 10mm drop
Chainstay Length 435mm 435mm 435mm 435mm
Wheelbase 1174mm 1209mm 1232mm 1258mm
Standover 697mm 707mm 733mm 754mm
Reach 424mm 459mm 473mm 495mm
Stack 575mm 575mm 593mm 602mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Carbon front triangle, aluminum rear
Rear Travel 160mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RT, Remote, Trunnion Mount
Fork RockShox Lyric RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm travel, boost 15x110
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered 1 1/8" - 1 1/2"
Headset N/A
Handlebar Giant Contact SLR DH Carbon, 800x31.8mm
Stem TruVativ Descendant
Grips Giant
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC hydraulic disc: 200mm front / 180mm rear
Brake Levers SRAM Guide RSC
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 Eagle, 1x12
Front Derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle, 1x12
Rear Derailleur N/A
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide MRP AMG V2
Cranks SRAM X01 Eagle
Chainrings SRAM X01 Eagle, 34 tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP PressFit
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM X01 Eagle
Cassette SRAM XG-1295, 10x50 tooth
Rims DT Swiss EX 1501 Spline One wheels: 30mm inner width
Hubs DT Swiss EX 1501 Spline One wheels: XD driver body, Boost 15x110/12x148mm
Spokes DT Swiss EX 1501 Spline One wheels
Tires Front: Maxxis Shorty 27.5x2.5", 60 TPI, 3C, EXO, TR, tubeless
Rear: Maxxis High Roller II 27.5x2.4", 60 TPI, 3C, EXO, TR, tubeless
Saddle Giant Contact SL (neutral)
Seatpost Giant Contact S Switch, dropper post with remote
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions Boost 12x148mm
Max. Tire Size N/A
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Carbon Blue/Silver
Warranty Lifetime frame, 1 year paint finish and all other original components
Weight
Miscellaneous
Price $8,200
More Info

​www.giant-bicycles.com

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