Bike: 2015 Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1
Size Tested: Medium
Complete Build: (Here)
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX / XT
- Brakes: Shimano SLX
- Fork: RockShox Pike RC
- Shock: Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
Travel: 160 mm
Reviewer Info: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada
Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from that wretched hive of filth and villainy that is Las Vegas.
The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.
Having said that…
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.
Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it takes days to really get everything running just right. Furthermore, differences like tire selection and tire pressure can have a huge effect on how a bike rides, and we generally don’t have the chance to get to tinker with those variables too much.
So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trail. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 1.
Giant’s Reign was one of the first bikes to really make a mark on the long-travel-but-still-pedalable segment. It was a departure from the ultra burly freeride bikes of the early 2000’s, and was more of a long travel trail bike that could take some abuse. The Reign developed something of a cult following, and while it wasn’t the only early member of the “all mountain” category, it was certainly one of the most popular.
Fast forward to the present, Giant is throwing its weight behind the 27.5” wheel format, and it comes as little surprise that the Reign is now shod with ‘tweener wheels. The 2015 Reign comes in four flavors: two with aluminum frames, and two “Advanced” models with carbon frames.
They range in price from the $3,400 Reign 27.5 2, to the $8,250 Reign Advanced 27.5 0 Team. The Reign Advanced 27.5 1 I rode is the lower-end carbon model, and the second least expensive Reign model.
The Reign Advanced 1 sports a carbon front triangle mated to an aluminum rear triangle. Like most of Giant’s full suspension bikes, the Reign Advanced 1 features their Maestro suspension design with 160 mm (6.3”) travel. The Maestro design uses two parallel links and bears some similarity to a DW-Link frame.
Suspension duties on the Reign Advanced 1 are handled by Rockshox, with a Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair rear shock, and a Pike RC in the front. Both on this bike and a few other bikes I’ve ridden, these units performed very well; they’re very supple off the top end, they offer fantastic mid-stroke support, and they don’t easily get overwhelmed on the occasional huck to flat.
Besides the suspension, the Reign Advanced 1 comes with a smart mix of parts that make for a bike that rides nicely without breaking the bank. Shimano’s SLX brakes perform as well as their much more expensive brethren, but are still pretty reasonably priced. It’s also nice to see Giant spend some money where it counts, building the Reign Advanced 1 with a Rockshox Reverb Stealth dropper post and some decent tires: a Schwalbe Magic Mary in the front, and a Hans Dampf in the rear.
The Reign Advanced 1 falls decidedly at the long and slack end of the spectrum, in line with some of the extra burly “enduro” bikes out there that are essentially mini-DH bikes. The Advanced 1 sports a 65° head angle, and on the Medium size bike I rode, a lengthy 1191mm (46.9”) wheelbase. That’s longer than pretty much every other bike in this category, including the GT Sanction, the Santa Cruz Nomad, the Yeti SB6c, and Kona Process 153 and 167.
While the chainstays on the Reign Advanced 1, at 434mm (17.1”) are pretty average, the top tube is also a long 620mm (24.4”) on the bike I rode. While Giant doesn’t list the reach on the 1, it looks like the reach comes in somewhere right around 444mm (17.5”).
So yeah, the Advanced 1 is a long bike. I’ll get into how this really affects the riding characteristics below, but the geometry numbers do make Giant’s goals with the bike pretty clear; it’s primarily intended for plundering steep, nasty trails.