First Impressions: Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1

Video overview of Giant's capable new all-mountain bike

By Brice Minnigh
Video by Rupert Walker
Photos by Sterling Lorence

Giant Bicycles has really stepped up its game this year in the longer-travel department, launching a completely redesigned 6-inch-travel Reign that was built around 27.5-inch wheels. The company spent the better part of two years making sure the new Reign meets the needs of its fastest enduro racers, and after spending hundreds of hours of trail time on it, we think it’s a bike you should know about. Check out our new overview video:

In terms of geometry, the Giant Reign’s angles are largely reflective of a modern all-mountain machine. The sensible 65-degree head angle instills confidence on steep descents and rock rolls, while the 73-degree seat angle allows for a comfortable climbing position. The 17.1-inch chainstay makes the bike snappy and maneuverable.

One other notable change to the new Reign is the retirement of the proprietary OverDrive 2 steerer tube sizing. OverDrive 2, which featured a .125-inch increase in the upper section of the tapered steerer tube, was designed to increase stiffness at the handlebar. Though the standard may well have increased stiffness, for the consumer it meant a diminished ability to personalize one’s cockpit. With a shortage of companies making parts to accommodate the increased width at the top of the steerer tube, buyers were often limited to the headset/stem/fork combo that came stock with the bike. For a rig that is designed for enduro/all-mountain-minded riders, the renewed freedom of choice is likely to be a welcome development.

After a year-long hiatus from Giant's mountain-bike line, the Reign has been reincarnated into a longer, lower-slung trail slayer with a slacker head angle and shortened chainstays.
After a year-long hiatus from Giant’s mountain-bike line, the Reign has been reincarnated into a longer, lower-slung trail slayer with a slacker head angle and shortened chainstays.

Sporting 27.5-inch wheels and a carbon front triangle with sleek lines, the new Reign has been redesigned from the ground up with feedback from Giant Factory Team racers such as Adam Craig. Giant says it held off on launching the Reign 27.5 until now because its designers felt that it needed some fundamental tweaks before it would be ready to take on challenging enduro courses all over the world.

“As we got further into its development, we changed it a lot from what the original Reign was,” said Silas Hesterberg, the man responsible for overseeing the bike’s long-awaited rebirth. “We made it longer, slacker in the front and shorter in the back, but there was so much trail in the front end that we felt gave it cornering characteristics we weren’t happy with.

“This was almost two years ago, so we ended up working with RockShox and built three different Pike forks with different offsets and just blind tested them with Adam (Craig) and our factory team and got their emotional responses. After testing all of the forks, all of their feedback was in line with one of the forks, so we pursued one with a custom offset. This Pike has a 46-millimeter offset, whereas the standard offset is around 42 millimeters. This was when we knew we had a home-run product.”

Bike's editor Brice Minnigh recently spent three weeks riding the new Reign all over British Columbia, from the high-alpine singletrack around Revelstoke to the loose-and-techy descents of Pemberton—even capping it off with a few days in the Whistler Bike Park. After such daily abuse on such a wide variety of terrain, it's safe to say that this bike is a highly versatile all-rounder.
Bike’s editor Brice Minnigh recently spent three weeks riding the new Reign all over British Columbia, from the high-alpine singletrack around Revelstoke to the loose-and-techy descents of Pemberton—even capping it off with a few days in the Whistler Bike Park. After such daily abuse on such a wide variety of terrain, it’s safe to say that this bike is a highly versatile all-rounder.

During the 2014 Interbike Outdoor Demo, we got a chance to ride the reasonably affordable Reign Advanced 27.5 1 on the rocky trails of Bootleg Canyon, Nevada, and this version—which retails for $4,750—really offers a lot of bang for your buck. Coming equipped with a RockShox Pike fork, a RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair RC3 shock, a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, Shimano SLX brakes and a drivetrain composed of SLX cranks and a Shimano XT rear derailleur with Shadow Plus, this bike is ready to rip straight out of the box.

With an array of parts like this, there is little pressing need for most riders to make any immediate upgrades, which means that $4,750 actually represents one’s overall all-in cost for an all-mountain machine that is ready to take on some of the world’s most challenging trails without compromise.

More Giant Reign news:

First Impressions: Giant Reign and Glory 27.5

Video: “Make It Reign” – Giant’s new 27.5 weapon