Giant Reign X0
Price Range: $3,600- $5,560
Weight: 31.7 lbs
+ Fox TALAS 36 Fit RC2
+ DT Swiss EX 1750 wheels
+ Joplin Seatpost
The Reign X received a facelift this year. We thought it looked fine just how it was, but you know how these bikes are these days. So Giant's stalwart 6.7-inch all-mountain platform shed a pivot bolt, lost 1.5 pounds, picked up a tapered headtube and added a Maxle through-axle this year.
The top-end XO kept largely the same components, though the bike does sport a new TALAS fork and light, reliable DT Swiss wheels. The Joplin post is nice, too, though it's no longer the only game and some riders might want more than it's 3 inches of travel, especially on a bike as capable as the Reign. The tires weren't favorites, but that's an easy part to change.
Even without carbon fiber or black magic, the bike weighs a respectable 31.7 pounds Equally voodoo-free is Giant's Maestro linkage, which pedaled actively and climbed supremely well. We also loved having a big brand with a good reputation and warranty support behind such a cutting-edge bike. But anyone who weighs more than 190 pounds take note: you'll need a frighteningly high rear shock pressure to get the a right sag, and even then performance never felt completely dialed. Clydesdales best opt for a coil shock.
Once the suspension was dialed, however, there were no complaints about the ride. With the TALAS dropped, climbing was comfortable. The bike could be set up soft and butter to float over rock gardens, or stiffer for a responsive jumping machine. The Reign did it all. It was a fun and nimble descender that also excelled while climbing. In many ways, this is the definition of an all-mountain bike.
Bottom line: Big brand reliability and small brand innovation.