Giant has applied the same magic that transformed the Trance into a truly capable trail weapon last year to the new 160mm Reign. That means a switch to 27.5in wheels, a longer, lower and slacker geometry and a choice of carbon or aluminium frames from the outset.
The big news (well it’s not that big really) is that Giant have moved the new Reign onto 27.5in wheels, up from 26in of last year’s bike, just as they first did with the 140mm Trance last year. Giant is fully committed to this wheelsize it would seem, even phasing out 29ers across most of the range, so there’s less choice, but a better concentration on the middle wheel size.
The whole Enduro racing scene is really driving the development of 160mm bikes and we’re seeing some really capable bikes hitting the market at the moment. Some of these brands are also making full use of sponsored enduro riders, Giant leaned on Adam Craig and Josh Carlson when developing the new Reign to get the sort of feedback that should ensure this is a bike that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its main contenders in this category.
“Our goal was simple, to help DH and enduro riders go faster,” says Giant Global Off-Road Category Manager Kevin Dana. “We worked closely with our Giant Factory Off-Road Team riders to design, develop and test these new 27.5 bikes in the most demanding off-road terrain and conditions. After two years of development, testing and fine tuning, we’re confident that both the Glory and Reign 27.5 platforms are the most capable and advanced DH and enduro bikes in the market.”
Something that will please many people, and us especially, is the phasing out of the OverDrive 2 (with a 1.25 – 1.5in tapered steerer) that made replacing stems such a pain. In its place is regular OverDrive which uses a 1 1/8in tapered steerer, so you’ll be able to fit any aftermarket stem. Thanks Giant.
Aside from the wheelsize change, Giant have worked hard on the geometry. The new Reign has a longer wheelbase and lower centre of gravity compared to the old 26in-wheeled model. To deal with some of the handling issues that can occur when slackening the head angle, Giant have uses a custom fork offset of 46mm that they say “optimizes handling with the new wheel size.”
The aim with the longer offset is to shorten the trail to improve handling and steering responses. Trail is the horizontal distance from where the steering axis hits the ground in relation to the centre of the front wheel contact patch. Draw a straight line through the head tube to the ground, and measure that distance to a horizontal line descending from the axle, and you have trail. A slacker head angle will produce increased trail, so increasing the fork offset shortens the trail.
Giant aren’t the first company to dabble with custom fork offsets, Gary Fisher’s G2 geometry for 29ers also uses a custom fork offset.
The main talking points of the new bike are the 65.1 degree head angle, 435mm chainstays and 1,220mm wheelbase, 340mm bottom bracket, 711mm down tube and 785mm front centre, all measurements taken from a size large.
For the first time Giant will offer a full range of aluminium and carbon models (usually they deliver the former first and follow up the second year with a plastic version). There’ll be four frame sizes from S to XL. Claimed frame weights are 2.26kg for a carbon frame (size medium) and 2.46kg for the alloy model. The carbon model will uses an aluminium swingarm.
The 160mm (6.3in) travel is delivered via a 200mm shock with a 57mm stroke, using Giant’s tried-and-tested Maestro suspension platform. Both frames features internal cable routing with a water bottle mount and stealth dropper cable routing. Out back is 12×142 thru-axle setup but it’s convertible to a regular quick release setup.
At the moment there are few details on what models will be coming to the UK. The bikes pictured are the Reign Advanced 0 Team (black/blue) and Reign Advanced 1 (green/yellow). The pricer Team bike gets specced with a RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Position Air 130-160mm-travel fork, RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair RC3 rear shock, DT Swiss Spline One wheelset with Schwalbe tyres and a SRAM XX1 11-speed drivetrain with Avid Guide RSC hydraulic disc brakes.
The green bike meanwhile gets a RockShox Pike RC Dual Position Air 130-160mm-travel with RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair RT rear shock, Giant P-AM2 rims laced to Giant Performance Tracker / DT Swiss 350 hubs and Shimano SLX / XT 10-speed drivetrain with Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes.
The new Reign also, we reckon anyway, looks damn good. Well proportioned lines and smooth curves, the geometry sounds good and and we’re intrigued to see what impact the longer offset fork has to the handling. And the paint jobs on the new bikes look really hot. Giant bikes haven’t always been the best lookers, but that’s no longer the case with the new Reign.