Giant’s engineering team completely overhauled the Reign Advanced for 2023 with a frame redesign that has now moved away from the somewhat ‘freeride’ style geometry numbers that the Reign has adopted in the past, and instead they set out to create a purebred, no-compromise enduro race bike!
Reviewer // Blake Nielsen Photos // Matt Staggs
Let’s get straight to the point, does it seem like they’ve hit the brief and how much ‘speedier’ is the bike now compared the previous versions?
Right from the very first time I rode this new redesigned bike it was evident that Giant have gone down the route of making a pure race machine (which was just proven by Luke Meir-Smith’s recent Enduro World Cup win!) And although the general shape of the frame and suspension looks a little similar to previous year models, that’s where the similarities end. The new bike is a built for speed and efficiency, not only while descending but under the pedals as well. I was blown away by how well the new bike felt, Giant have done a great job on all fronts, the way that the new Reign behaves on rough descents is unlike any Giant I’ve ridden before, super planted and stable as it tracks through the chop of the trail.
The frame lines of the new model appear much more striking than in years past, especially that sculptured head tube formation. How does the bike look and feel in the flesh and what’s it’s finish detail like?
What we’ve come to see from Giant especially in recent years is that they place a lot of focus on the attention to detail of their carbon frames and as a result they’re right up there with the highest quality frames money can buy. This new Reign is a great example of that. Not only does the new design itself look fantastic, with some unique lines flowing from the headtube and down throughout the frame but the carbon finish, paint quality and overall mechanical quality of fasteners and frame parts all over the bike are up there with the best of brands out there. While there isn’t anything about the new Reign that is particularly ground-breaking, they have nailed all of the essentials of a modern enduro bike.
Whilst the Reign has maintained its signature Maestro suspension design and 29” rear wheel across standard specs, the new redesign has seen the bike receive a significant travel increase (14mm) which means the bike now pumps out 160mm in the rear end. How much difference does the extra travel make when you’re riding it out on the trails?
The rear travel increase is a huge part of the new attitude that the new Reign brings to the trails over its predecessor. In the past Giant have struggled to keep a good balance between effective chain stay length and travel length with their longer travel bikes due to their Maestro link having to lengthen as travel increases. Giant have been tweaking this over the years and have hit the nail on its head with the newest iteration.
The jump up to 160mm rear travel has well and truly put the Reign into the category where nothing will phase it.
Other key upgrades built into the new bike include adjustable geometry and internal frame storage. Give us a run-down of those fresh features and some of the other little details that have jumped out at you?
As mentioned, Giant have gone down the route of adding internal frame storage within the downtube via a hatch into their MTB models as they get released in the last few seasons. The system they have designed is incredibly effective, not the biggest opening but one of my favourite hatch door and latch systems. A first for any Giant model is the addition of a mullet-able rear end via a flip chip, this was a welcomed option and a step in the right direction from as the feature is gaining popularity across so many brands now.
Given that this model that you’ve been testing is the mid-spec level in the new Reign Advanced line-up, how does its overall weight and balance feel?
With a full carbon frame and wheelset, this black beauty is light! Giving a super light feel out on trail, in some rougher instances it almost felt a little too light, but this will feel different from rider to rider.
The balance of the bike feels fantastic, with a nice central riding position it’s comfortable in all scenarios, bombing down trails or climbing back up them.
Now even though the Reign comes spec’d with 29” wheels front and rear as standard Giant claim that the bike is also ‘mullet’ compatible right out of the box. How have Giant managed to achieve that?
Like many brands, Giant have gone the simple yet effective route for converting between rear wheel sizes by using the flip chips at the back of the rocker link to the top of the chainstay to keep the suspension behaving as normal and raising the bottom bracket slightly when swapping from the supplied 29inch rear wheel over to a 27.5inch. In a matter of a few minutes the conversion can be done!
The 2023 Reign line-up comprises of several models with carbon alloy frames, which all mirror the same geometry, give us a quick run-down of how wide the current range is?
From the entry Reign 2 at $4399 to the $14,999 Reign Advanced Pro 0 there is a huge spread of spec options, all of which see the travel and geometry updates for the new model year. Giant have always been known for being one of the better value for money brands on the market, while staying true to the brick-and-mortar way of selling bikes rather than saving on overheads etc to potentially bring costs down, they are still fantastic value, while seeing their quality increase in my opinion over the years too.
Observing you out on the trails riding this bike one thing that was immediately very noticeable is how incredibly quiet the bike tracks along the trail. Is that something you notice as the pilot?
Absolutely, there is a fantastic internal cable management system within the downtube of the Reign, this utilises the insert in the downtube for the frame storage and keeps things super snug and dead quiet from that front. There is something about the carbon in this bike (and the latest Trance X that I tested last year) that can’t quite put my finger on, but there seems to be less noise in general that resonates through the frame and who doesn’t like a quiet bike!?!
How would you describe the new Reign’s personality up, down and along the trails?
The new Reign is a speed machine, it’s always hinting that you can hit that section that bit faster next time around. It feels a lot more refined than previous models and is on par with the leaders in the category as far as performance goes. Whilst the Maestro system isn’t the most pedal efficient, overall, the bike does climb well thanks to its overall weight and a super comfortable seated position, there really hasn’t been anything that has jumped out at me negatively or let me down out on the trails, all of the changes have been really positive and well executed.
What type of rider is this bike going to really suit?
The new Reign really suits a rider who is motivated by the lure of going faster. Not necessarily a racer but someone who is eager to push their limits time and time again. With Giant being such a powerhouse of a manufacturer and this bike being developed with their Enduro pros it’s obvious that will handle anything you can throw at it and come back for more.
Frame // Advanced-Grade Carbon throughout
Travel // 170mm front, 160mm rear
Wheelsize // 29” (mullet compatible though)
Spec // Fox 38 Performance Elite fork, Fox Float X2 Performance Elite shock, SRAM GX Eagle 12x drivetrain, Shimano SLX brakes, Maxxis Assegai and Minion tyres.
Sizes // Small – XL
Price // Carbon models start at $6599 and $8999 as featured here.