[Editor’s Note: When our reviewers aren’t out testing various frames and forks and whatnot, what do their own personal builds look like? The Bike Check series asks some of our riders to detail their setups, and explain why they’ve chosen these particular frames and components. We’ve heard from Marshal Olson, Noah Bodman, Kevin Bazar, and Joe Hanrahan. Now it’s Jeremy Benson’s turn.]
Jeremy Benson: 6’0”, 175 lbs.
Ride Style: Former XC racer. Long XC trail rides are my passion these days.
Frame: Giant Reign XO, Size Large, 6.7 inches of rear wheel travel. Aluminum.
I currently own a 2012 Giant Reign XO. I bought this as a complete bike from Giant through one of my employers. I went with the Reign XO because I was looking for a bike with six inches of front and rear travel that weighed around 30 lbs. My bike weighs 31 lbs.
One of the nicest parts of any Giant frame is the Maestro suspension design. It pedals really well (especially using ProPedal on climbs) and is incredibly plush on the descents. After my previous Giant bike, I knew that I wanted another, in large part due to the suspension working so well. My Reign XO frame also has an Overdrive 2 headset and tapered headtube, which coupled with the fork’s tapered steerer have really made for a stout and beefier front end.
Wheels: DT Swiss EX 1750, Giant Special Edition (all black color scheme).
I wouldn’t have chosen these wheels, but they came spec’d on my bike. Though I must say the only disappointing thing about these wheels so far is that I prefer to ride tubeless so had to convert them. They are lightweight and so far have proven themselves to be very durable. The DT Swiss hubs work very well, and the star ratchet system in the rear freehub engages quickly and has been trouble free so far. The front wheel has a 20mm thru axle, and the rear wheel has a 12×142 rear thru axle. The rear thru axle is something new for me, and I think that it really tightens up the rear triangle and therefore the entire ride.
Suspension: Front: 2012 Fox Talas 36 (recently converted to Float 36)
I really like the Fox 36 forks. They are more expensive, but I find them to be much more durable than the 32mm forks. Somehow I broke the Talas feature inside of my fork, so when it was warrantied, I asked for Float internals because I don’t actually use the Talas. I find Fox forks to require routine maintenance to function properly, but when taken care of, they are your best friend.
Rear: Fox DHX Air 5.0. I’ve had DHX air shocks on the last three bikes that I’ve owned. I haven’t ridden a better rear shock, so I am sticking with it.
Brakes: Avid Elixir 9, 180mm rotors front and rear
These brakes offer good stopping power and user friendly features. Unfortunately, my set of Elixirs are the loudest brakes that I have ever used. At no point since I’ve owned these brakes have they been quiet. Otherwise, I think they function very well; the noise is a bit hard to take though. Switching to Organic brake pads has helped reduce the noise problem, but not completely alleviate it.
Drivetrain: 2×10 SRAM XO rear derailleur and cassette. SRAM X9 front derailleur and shifters. SRAM 2200 Carbon Cranks with 36-22 chainrings.
This bike is my first foray into the world of 2×10. As a former “I ride everything in my middle ring” guy, it has taken a little getting used to with the new gear ratios, but after a few months I am very happy with the new setup. SRAM makes great drivetrain components. I’m very happy with my XO rear derailleur, and the XO cassette is almost a work of art. My X9 shifters function perfectly and pair up nicely with my Avid brake levers with the Matchmaker feature.