For 2013 the Giant Reign 1 had a significant makeover. It still sports 150mm of travel but the addition of ISCG tabs on the BB, a chain device and an own-brand dropper post make it a far more sorted all-mountain proposition.
After years of asking, the Giant Reign finally gets ISCG tabs for mounting a chain device. The irony is that this development comes just as the industry has adopted Type 2 and Shadow Plus rear mechs that partially negate their requirement. By switching from a press-fit BB shell to a traditional threaded design, Giant has been able to squeeze the tabs on without a wholesale change to the lower link of the Maestro suspension. Sizing and geometry has not changed from last year and it’s worth bearing in mind that the down tube measurement (the distance from your feet to your hands) on the size M Reign is easily the shortest on test.
The open-cartridge Fox Evolution series 150mm fork is the cheapest model on test, but it offered really good performance. The Talas adjuster lets you drop the travel to 120mm, lowering the handlebars and moving your weight forward for climbing. Out back, the Fox Float CTD shock means you can toggle between Climb, Trail and Descend suspension modes.
DT Swiss-made E540 rims are laced with forged butted spokes and are plenty tough, but are easily the heaviest wheels on test. The stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evos come in the more expensive rubber compound, but we found them too condition-specific to be great all-rounders.
Shimano’s 2×10 SLX chainset and gears are bombproof kit offering superb performance. There is class-leading crank stiffness, identical to their more expensive XT siblings, and the MRP chain device sports a taco-style bash guard to protect the chainrings from rock strikes. However, we did have a couple of instances where the chain got stuck down inside the granny ring, requiring five minutes of muscling to yank it out, so the back plate of the chain device probably needs spacing correctly.
A custom 1 1/4in steerer tube on the Fox fork offers a stiffness advantage, but also requires an oversized Giant stem. If you want a stem length shorter than the stock 70mm, you’ll have to order one from a Giant dealer. Giant’s own 100mm dropper post is a decent unit when functioning correctly, but the cable gets contaminated with grime easily, making the lever action incredibly stiff.
Winching up technical, slippery climbs, the Giant Reign 1 has amazing traction and a climbing prowess that belies its heaviest-on-test status. The pedalling action really digs the rear wheel into the ground and it’s easy to clear rocky steeps and tricky sections. The flipside of this is that the Reign can feel wallowy and unbalanced under hard cranking on flat singletrack or descents.
Even with quick-release rear dropouts, the Giant Reign 1 frame feels extremely stiff, and there’s a real solidity at both ends that inspires confidence when you’re pounding down through rocks and roots. The suspension eats up the square-edge hits and affords good cornering grip, but there’s a ‘floaty’ quality through berms, jumps and twisty singletrack. There’s basically no suspension pop or damping punch to push back against, which leaves you a touch disconnected from the terrain, and combined with the heavy wheels it can leave the Giant feeling a little sluggish and laboured.
Giant has nailed the component spec and clearly moved the Reign 1 into more hard-hitting all-mountain territory for 2013. Its twin-link Maestro frame design is bomber-solid but the suspension response prioritises comfort over speed and lacks poise when pushed hard. Delivering grip in spades, the Reign 1 is a decent all-rounder with great bump-swallowing capability but lacks the urgency of the Canyon Nerve AL+ 9.0 and playfulness of the Specialized Stumpjumper. Some riders will love it for its muscle, but its weight and suspension characteristics are definite drawbacks.
MBR rating: 7
Frame Aluxx SL grade fluid-formed aluminium
Suspension Fox Float CTD BV, Fox Talas CTD Evolution with OverDrive 2 steerer
Wheels DT Swiss E540 rims, Giant P-series hubs, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo 2.25in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano SLX 2×10-speed
Brakes Shimano SLX, 180/160mm rotors
Components Giant OverDrive, Giant Contact Switch, dropper post
Sizes S, M, L
Weight 13.65kg (30lb)
Size tested M
Head angle 67.3°
Seat angle 70.1°
BB height 354mm
Front centre 700mm
Down tube 655mm