Giant has a huge range of mountain bikes with 27.5in (650b) wheels – more than 40 of its models currently feature the middle-sized wheels.
It’s clear that Giant has committed to 27.5in, and the company has just released two of the most exciting bikes on the scene – the Reign 27.5, an enduro-focused ripper, and the all-new Glory 27.5 downhill bike.
The popular Reign platform was missing from the Giant range in 2014, but is now back and is the best it’s ever been. Featuring 27.5in wheels, 160mm travel and a long, low geometry, it’s designed to be stable and inspiring in demanding off-road conditions. It’s been developed in conjunction with team enduro riders Adam Craig and Josh Carlson.
Two models of Reign are available – the Reign 27.5, which is based around an aluminum frame, and the Reign Advanced 27.5, which utilises Giant’s Advanced Composite Technology on the main frame.
We got to ride the Reign Advanced for two days at the launch in Pemberton, British Columbia on some seriously demanding terrain, and found it hard to pick holes in the impressive new design.
Check out more of our Giant 2015 coverage.
With a brand new frame design, the Reign Advanced uses an ALUXX SL rear swing-arm and a super strong and light Advanced Composite front triangle that has a tapered head tube and internal cable routing.
Giant’s Maestro Suspension system links the front and rear ends, and offers a responsive ride without suffering from the effects of chain tension or braking. Giant has also included a bearing on the upper shock mount, which dramatically improves small-bump sensitivity – to the degree we had to check if our rear shock was too soft!
The Maestro suspension system works well. It not only resists pedal induced movement, but works very well under braking
The Reign is substantially longer than the old 26in model – the cockpit is 30mm longer, and it now has a 65-degree head angle, which, combined with the roomy 47.9in (1,217mm) wheelbase on our size large model, really helps plant the rider’s weight between the wheels.
In testing, Giant found that the slacker head angle in combination with the bigger wheel size didn’t quite offer the characteristics it wanted, so it worked with RockShox on a custom fork crown offset of 46mm – a conventional Pike offset on the 27.5 fork is 42mm.
Although the build was based around the top Reign Advanced 27.5 0 Team model, our test bikes had some spec differences compared to production bikes – such as the lack of SRAM’s new Guide brake, which would have complemented the bike perfectly.
The spec on this bike is a no-nonsense SRAM setup, and features a RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Position fork, Monarch Plus Debonair RC3 shock, Reverb Stealth post and SRAM XX1 drivetrain.
There are two Advanced models with a composite frame, and two regular aluminum-framed models.
Initial ride impressions
The first thing that struck us about the Reign is how light it feels for something so plush and slack - Giant claims it weighs 4.98lb (2,260g) without shock, for a size medium frame.
With sag dialed in, the rear-end feels incredibly plush, thanks to the combined efforts of the bearing in the upper shock mount, and the slick Debonair shock. The rear-end is one of the most active-feeling we’ve felt, and even when pushing the rear end hard in to turns, it doesn’t have any noticeable flex.
The rear end is compact, light and very stiff
The roomy wheelbase is one of the best things about the Reign. The XL frame size wasn’t available on the launch, but we could ride the large comfortably without feeling like our body weight was too far forward or back.
The head angle does feel very slack at first, but combined with the fork offset and wheel-base, it makes for a great feeling bike.
The Reign is a competitive bike, and with both alloy and carbon models available it’s a surefire winner for many riders.
Pricing is to be confirmed, and we’ll follow up with a more detailed First Ride review soon.
The 27.5in wheeled Glory is a great-looking bike. It has had a lot of development put in to it in order to create a fast ride, but also to make sure it feels fun, nimble and stable to ride.
The head angle sits at 63 degrees, and the bottom bracket height is at 14.5in. The rear-end is actually 5mm shorter than its 26in wheel predecessor, and the front centre is 32mm longer through all sizes.
The Glory looks fast even when it’s stationary. Super low and slack geometry will make short work of the roughest courses. We'll have more on this bike soon
We’re currently out riding the Glory in Whistler Bike Park and will report back soon with our initial impressions of the ride and the full lowdown on this impressive new race bike.