Giant’s Reign is a prime of example of a confident but conventional-feeling 150mm-travel trail bike. The soft, supple ride and uptight cockpit dimensions are definitely focused more towards all-day rides than going gonzo down your local downhill track.
Ride & handling: Agile and responsive; rear shock needs careful setting up
With the Reign X taking up hardcore duties, the standard Reign definitely gets a more ‘soft roader’ feel. The lightweight frame still delivers smooth traction and confident control in an enjoyably responsive ride though, even with a narrow bar and very free moving shock to niggle about.
That smoothly mobile Fox rear shock adds instant comfort and very sensitive terrain following. In fact, unless you’re very accurate with your pressure setup you’ll be making regular use of the ProPedal platform damping lever to stop noticeable bounce in low rev/high torque situations.
That said, the easy movement of the rocker linkage is more visibly than physically noticeable, and even when it looks like it’s bouncing all over the place, the shock stroke marker ring tells a more balanced and controlled story. The Maestro suspension linkages react well to bigger hits too, with a smoothly progressive catch of big drops and large flat-faced impacts alike, as long as you’ve got the rebound damping set up right.
The easy shock mobility also makes the Reign a very responsive and agile feeling bike in terms of hopping and popping round on the trail. That’s all the more impressive given a relatively hefty 13kg (29lb) weight and tyres chosen for grip not rolling speed. Handling is well balanced between being confident enough to keep you on the attack and off the brakes, and not so radical it requires a special handling approach.
A week spent riding tweaked Reigns, on a SRAM test camp, underlined the massive confidence boost that a wider bar would add. A more accurately damped rear shock removed the soft feel that we attributed to rear end frame flex. At this price there’s money left for a new bar and a shock tweak.
Frame & equipment: Reasonable spec but new bar and shock tune would improve ride
Giant are very experienced alloy frame builders and it shows in the well-executed, efficient Allux frameset that’s impressively light for a 6in-travel machine. More hardcore riders will need to build up from the frame-only Reign X option if they want a screw-through axle and built-in chain guide mounts though.
While the Fox screw-through fork and Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre get spec off to a good start, the Giant Connect bar is way too narrow to really let the bike rip it up. The skinny DT rims give a worryingly pinch puncture prone and baggy tyre fit too. The Shimano/SRAM transmission works okay despite plasticky shifters and the Fizik saddle is a definite day ride bonus.
This bike was tested as part of What Mountain Bike magazine's Bike of the Year shootout. You can read the full feature in this month's mag, in shops now, and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.
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