The 2009 frame, while sticking with the tried and tested Maestro suspension, opts for a welcome slacker head angle than in previous incarnations. We measured 67° on the money. As with all Giants the build quality and finish of the hydroformed frame is top drawer and it rides stiff and solid throughout. The Reign has a long wheelbase, and like the Mongoose, a longer chainstay and shorter front triangle than the Prophet and the Pitch. Our usual comment about the seat-tube kink holds true, you’ll need to hack a good few inches off the post for steep descending. We’re also still trotting out our standard gripe of bars and stem being too narrow and too long respectively, and a too tall headtube for an all-mountain attitude.
The Reign comes stock with a large volume Fox RP2 can and the suspension is very supple; braking and small bump swallowing is nearly up there with the Pitch’s FSR design, but the Giant doesn’t carry speed as well. It tracks the terrain better than any DHX Air fitted Reign we’ve ridden. On the flipside this travel can feel a little wallowy in the mid-stroke and if set up for rider weight back, with more sag than recommended, as we prefer, then the pedal clearance is restricted during climbing. The Marzocchi 44 Fork is light and plush but suffers the same lack of compression damping and diving issues we found on the similarly-equipped Teocali, with the added bonus of making annoying top-out noises to boot. Setting the 1-5 setting compression adjuster to its maximum still didn’t offer us enough control or platform to press against. The 15mm axle is stiff enough but not quite as secure and flex free as the 20mm Maxle on the Pikes.
This latest Reign 2 frame could well be the best performing yet. The rear suspension now moves better than on previous incarnations we’ve had and, as ever, the Giant still climbs with ease. The long wheelbase gives stability and with the Maestro design being one of the stiffest systems out there this makes power transfer direct and positive. With the suspension working well at the back it’s a shame the Marzocchi fork isn’t quite so capable. It has a very plush action but we needed more damping to support us when descending and to use the fork to pump the terrain.
The tall headtube is still forcing the front end too high on the Reign. This affects out-of-saddle cranking and makes the rider feel a little too removed from the trail. We fitted a 70mm stem and added sag, but the overall balance still seems to be a little front heavy with those longer chainstays, especially standing up.
A larger size will address the front to rear rider weight distribution and we reckon a taller rider is going to get a more balanced position. With the frame being so solid and well built it may be best suited to bigger riders. The shock pressure will be higher so less issues on climbing, body position will be more rearward and the longer front triangle will make for a more centred and neutral stance.
Giant seems to be closer than ever to nailing the Reign down and this is the best riding model so far. The head angle tweak is a welcome improvement on the well-built frame. The longish chainstays and 155mm stack height still leave us a little upright and unconnected to the terrain though. A larger frame will balance the riding position better, so for a taller rider the Giant may well be just the ticket.
However with other bikes on test here having hit the nail so squarely on the head in every way, the Giant is just left lagging slightly behind, especially as it’s hamstrung by the poor damping performance of the Marzocchi forks.
NEED TO KNOW
Frame: Aluxx SL,
Fox Float RP2, 152mm
fork: Marzocchi 44, 140mm
sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
weight: 13.9kg (30.6lb)
Mbr rating: 8