Giant's Reign still rules the kingdom of enduro
One brand with its ear to the ground is Giant, its top-end Reign Advanced 0 proving best in class in our coil-sprung enduro bike test. And it wasn’t just the Reign’s unmatched ability to track the terrain that impressed us. This bike is perfectly proportioned, so it instantly puts you in the most commanding riding position. Also by marrying a carbon front end with an alloy rear triangle, Giant has achieved the perfect blend of stiffness and flex. Taken together with the dialed geometry, race-ready build kit and that pitter-patter suspension response, the Reign 0 is one of the most forgiving enduro bikes we’ve tested.
The 2018 Giant Reign Advanced 0 has class leading sizing and geometry plus a race-tuned coil shock and revised suspension linkage.
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Giant has simply hit the refresh button on the Reign for 2018. Get past the homepage however, and you quickly realise this is a complete reboot.
Giant Reign Advanced 0 review
First up, the sizing has changed; Giant opening new carbon moulds and adding 15mm to the reach measurement on all four frame sizes. As such, the reach on the size L jumps from 457mm to a rangy 473mm. It’s worth noting though, that the Reign Advanced 0 tested here only come in S, M, L in the UK, so if you need an XL you’ll have to settle for the next model down.
The alloy rear triangle is new too. It’s now Boost, with more tyre clearance than before too. And there doesn’t appear to be much of a weight penalty with the mix of materials either, as the Reign is way lighter than a full carbon Santa Cruz Nomad and almost as light as a Mondraker Dune Carbon, even though it has heavier tyres than the latter.
One area where the Giant Reign has always excelled is small bump sensitivity, a trait that resulted in unparalleled levels of grip. That’s largely due the shock being mounted on bearings at both ends to eliminate friction. Well, the new Reign retains that setup but gets a longer stroke trunnion mounted Super Deluxe RT shock that lowers the leverage ratio by 7.5per cent to yield more consistent damping on longer stages. It also has more support built into its signature Maestro suspension, where the upper link is now a one-piece carbon construction. The end result is a 160mm bike that’s super sensitive to bumps but pedals more efficiently, offers more support for slamming turns and doesn’t wallow when grinding up steep climbs. It’s not as ruthlessly efficient as the Nomad on the gas, but you’ll rarely feel the need to use the handlebar mounted remote lock out on the Super Deluxe RT shock.
Balancing travel and support is the latest Charger II damped RockShox Lyrik RCT3 fork. It’s super sensitive of the top but it also has the mid-stoke support to really let you charge into steep, technical descents with the confidence and commitment usually reserved for pro riders.
One area where the Giant loses a little ground to the Santa Cruz is in the contact points. The 800mm carbon bar has a great profile but it could do with more rise; we had to run all 25mm of spacers under the stem to get the bar high enough. And while the Contact SL saddle is comfortable, we got our shorts hooked on the two protrusions at the rear of the saddle. Then there’s the 150mm drop Giant Contact S Switch post. It functions perfectly, but the 170mm RockShox Reverb on the Nomad is more appealing. We’re nit picking though, as the only thing we’d change of the bat is to fit sintered pad to the Guide RSC brakes for more bite.
The build kit is sorted though and Giant has really nailed the wheelset. Ditching the carbon wheels from last year for 30mm DT Swiss EX1501s and swapping to Maxxis tyres gives the bike more grip while generating less rider fatigue in every situation. You also get the added bonus that an alloy rim will dent, rather than crack, dramatically increasing your chances of finishing the race on the same set of wheels and avoiding additional time penalties.
There’s a calmness to the ride quality of the Reign that very few bikes can rival. The combination of frame flex, the unmatched suppleness of the rear suspension that’s enhanced further by the coil shock, and the geometry that needs no adjustment combine to provide a bike that’s easy to ride, and ride really fast. Yes, the graphics are dull, and Giant’s corporate image is a bit stiff, but this bike is engineered to the highest standards and always keeps it cool, even when you lose yours. It’s like the silent assassin that never misses and always avoids unwanted attention.
What’s new for 2019?
“The most significant difference is the “professional spec” suspension that the 2019 Reign Advanced 0 receives. With direct input from Giant’s EWS riders, the 2019 bike gets size-specific compression/rebound tunes on its DVO Jade Coil shock and 170mm DVO Diamond D1 fork—meaning riders will be able to experience the exact same suspension performance as Giant’s Factory Off-Road Team members.” Andrew Juskaitis, senior product marketing manager, Giant Global.
Winning our Enduro Bike Test two years in a row the Giant Reign has an undisputed pedigree. So it’s fair to say that we were a little nervous when Giant announced that it was changing its winning formula. Our concerns proved unfounded though, as Giant has retained the superb sensitivity of the suspension, the balanced geometry and the forgiving flex in the frame. By increasing the sizing, and adding a longer stoke shock with more support in the linkage the 160mm travel Reign Advanced 0 is better than ever and by far the best race bike in this test.