Giant Reign 2
The first thing we noticed aboard the Reign was its geometry. With a 459mm reach and 435mm chainstays, the sizing of our medium bike felt spot on, encouraging a great position on the bike and feeling well-proportioned when out of the saddle. The next thing that became apparent was the bar height. Even with all of the available steerer spacers stacked under the stem, we couldn’t get the own-brand bar to sit as high as we’d have liked. This isn’t a big issue to fix, though.
There’s 160mm of rear wheel travel, courtesy of Giant’s twin-link ‘Maestro’ suspension system, which drives a Rockshox Deluxe RT shock. Tweaks for 2018 ensure this offers more support than the previous iteration. This means things feel sprightlier uphill and down, where you no longer have to fill the shock with volume spacers to make it use its travel in a controlled manner. It also means that, even with the additional stability from the geometry adjustments, this year’s Reign feels livelier and more playful.
The supple back end still tracks every contour with ease and helps keep the impeccably-chosen tyres glued to the dirt. Like Nukeproof, Giant haven’t cut corners when it comes to rubber choice, slapping a Maxxis Shorty on up front and a High Roller II at the rear, both set up tubeless – possibly the ultimate UK all-rounder combo. While the Giant rides well at speed, it lacks the composure that the top contenders here exude. It’s also noisier, so needs some time taken to quieten down chain slap and cable rattle. The gappy freehub is also noticeable when you’re trying to get on the power quickly out of turns.
While the Shimano Deore brakes are punchy enough on flatter trails, they lack the power needed on steep, long drags. Coupled with the Yari fork, which isn’t quite as forgiving as the pricier Lyrik found elsewhere, this meant we found it hard to avoid hand pain on lengthy descents. Although we’ve picked holes in the Reign’s spec, what’s on offer is still impressive for the price, and we’re massive fans of the updated geometry and suspension feel. A switch to a higher-rise bar would make an instant difference.