Pineapple regularly makes the list of Americans' least-favorite pizza toppings. Perhaps it's not on your list, but imagine for a moment it was. Now imagine you're presented with the perfect pizza. Maybe the best you've ever had. But somewhere on there is one single chunk of pineapple. Does that make it a bad pizza?
This mythical pizza, as we'll see, is the perfect metaphor for the 2018 Giant Reign. Its 160 millimeters of travel would place it in the shallow end of enduro, yet its geometry puts it deep in the deep end. It stretched nearly an inch this year, making it the longest-wheelbase 27.5-inch bike in the garage. It's also nearly the slackest. It's an intriguing mix that could be the perfect all-rounder.
Except there's that one pineapple: it's got a 73-degree effective seat-tube angle. Granted, seat angle has only recently become a talking point, but each tester who climbed on the even longer-travel but more uprightly saddled Devinci Spartan, Santa Cruz Nomad or Specialized Enduro had an easier time getting power to the pedal uphill.
None of us blamed the Maestro linkage. It has evolved to be as good a balance of active and supportive as most dual-link platforms out there. And the use of a trunnion-mount rear shock allowed Giant to lower the Reign's leverage ratio. It also allowed them to significantly shorten the seat-tube length for better standover and longer droppers. And the spec on our Advanced 1 was remarkably solid, including Fox's DPX2 shock and HSC/LSC 36 fork.
Once we started descending, the updates to the new Reign came together. Our test laps included multiple steep rockrolls and one straight-but-chunky brakeless tunnel of love that got more and more treacherous as its obstacles became concealed by the falling autumn leaves. But the Reign didn't care. It floated through the minefields as if it had more travel than advertised. Without the extra gushiness or ride height of longer legs, the Reign was incredibly good at taking care of business, but we could still boss it around. And in that context, the slack seat angle made some sense. This bike was developed with Giant's enduro race team in mind. If the comfort and control of a more rearward saddle positions could gain them a second on the downhill, it would be worth 10 minutes on the uphill.
To each their own. Though our testers may have ordered it a little differently, the new Reign could have exactly the right toppings for you.
Q&A with Devin Dana, Giant global category manager—off-road
In what ways has the Maestro linkage evolved in its 12 years out in the world?
Maestro linkage hasn't evolved that much for most of its life up until the release of the model year 2017 Trance and Anthem platforms, in which Giant utilized a forged composite manufacturing process, which allowed increased strength, reduced weight and improved suspension performance by way of reducing side-loading on shocks through increased overall stiffness. This improvement actually improves shock performance, and reduces stiction and seal wear.
The travel numbers of the Reign and Reign Advanced might make it seem conservative by today's standards, but its geometry numbers are pretty aggressive. Who is this bike for?
I wouldn't consider 160 millimeters of rear travel to be conservative for an enduro bike; seems about par for the course. And of course, the chassis is designed to play nice with a 160- to 180-millimeter fork depending on your local geographical terrain, something that's oft overlooked by many. Everyone has differing terrain, and the Reign is designed to meet the varying needs of aggressive recreational to professional riders worldwide. For many, a 160 rear and 160 to 180 front bike is simply overkill for where they regularly ride, as evidenced by the growing trend of short-travel trail bikes.
Ok, enough softballs. We were left scratching our heads at the 73-degree seat angle. Across its lineup, Giant seems to be sitting out the steep seat angle revolution. What do you see as the advantage of slack seat angles and the disadvantage of steep ones?
Revolution? It's more like a trend, however, it's all really about personal preference. In the case of the Reign, Giant happens to have a suspension system in Maestro that allows the bike to effectively sit at the top of its 160-millimeter travel stroke better than just about anything out there, which actually allows the rider a more efficient pedaling position than many similarly equipped bikes.