Many know me for my undying devotion to the dw-link! What most people do not know is the (Maestro-equipped) Giant Reign finished a close second. Had it not been for a few minor pedaling and weight issues, I would be riding one today.
When news came that Giant’s unofficial theme for 2010 was “lighter and more efficient”– let’s just say I took notice!
While I am quite pleased with my current bikes, I have been PATIENTLY waiting for someone to build a 6” frame that suits MY (very specific) needs!
What are those needs? 6” travel, 67-degree head angle, LOW center of gravity, lightweight, nimble, razor-sharp handling… I’m basically looking for something that handles like my 5” bike and descends like my 7” bike.
The Giant Reign comes in two flavors. The standard model boasts 6” of travel, a 68 degree head angle, and a 73.5 seat tube angle - ideal specs for a bike that excels at both AM and (all day) XC riding. The Reign X boasts 6.7” of travel, 67 degree head angle and a 72.5 degree seat tube angle. The more aggressive geometry of the Reign X is geared towards riders who seek additional descending capability.
The heart of the Reign X is the acclaimed MAESTRO suspension. The easiest way to explain the design is by using the 4-2-1 principle. Four pivot points (i.e. red dots in the picture) plus 2 strategically placed rocker arms create 1 floating pivot point. Giant claims the end result is a suspension that neutralizes braking and pedal forces while remaining fully active throughout its entire range of travel.
Specs: Fox Talas 36, Fox DHX 5.0 Air shock, Crank Brothers Joplin-R Adjustable seat post, Avid Elixir CR brakes, SRAM XO rear derailleur, DT Swiss EX1750 wheels…
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Warranty: Lifetime frame. One year on components.
Weight: 30.2 pounds
New for 2010
One of the issues I had with previous models of the Reign X was the heavy (and ugly) pierced down tube. For 2010, the Reign (Faith and Glory models) switched to a Co-Pivot design. The benefits of this change are: a cleaner look, high strength, simplicity as well as a half-pound reduction in (the Reign’s) frame weight!
Another notable change for 2010 is Giant’s liberal use of hydro-formed tubing. This cost-effective method of “metal shaping” allowed designers to build a frame that is lighter AND stronger than bikes made with standard tubing. In layman terms: stronger in areas that need it, lighter in areas that don’t!
Yet another change for 2010 involves (of all things) the head tube. For years, the industry standard was 1.125.” As bikes grew, 1.5” head tubes became more commonplace. Realizing the benefits of both sizes, frame and fork makers decided to combine the two. In theory, a tapered head tube is stronger than a 1.125” design but lighter than a 1.5” design. The best of both worlds!
What do I think of the changes?
Climbing: As long as I remained seated and pedaled smoothly, the bike climbed EXCEPTIONALLY well - so much so that I did NOT bother reducing travel (even on the steepest or sandiest of climbs). I did not notice any bob. The rear tire had tons of traction. Where I was less than impressed was on standing climbs. To many, this is a non-issue. For those of us who “mash” the pedals, the geometry and long legs can tire a rider on extended (standing) climbs!
Comfort: I immediately felt comfortable on the Reign X. I was expecting an overly raked, slow and sluggish freeride bike. What I got was a bike that can only be described as “lively.” On the flats, the Reign X behaved like my 5” bike. So confused was I that a riding buddy checked-to-see if the Talas fork had been (accidentally) lowered to 100mm! Even after he inspected the fork, I re-checked to make sure I was not riding at 4 or 5" mode. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Cornering/Handling: In a word - AMAZING! The first thing I noticed was how “balanced” the bike felt. No matter what I did (or how I leaned), the bike always kept me comfortably over center. While it may sound cliché, the bike “disappeared” below me. There is no doubt in my mind the LOW center of gravity played a role in how the bike handled!
Descending: No matter the circumstances (i.e. low speed, high speed, rocky, super steep) the Reign X handled everything with absolute ease. The bike felt light. It felt stable. The rear wheel felt planted. I never once veered off line. Cliché #2: It felt like I was riding on rails!
Rather than attaching the wheels to the frame via a standard quick-release, Giant opted to use a 20mm front axle and 12mm Maxle-Lite for the rear. The end result is a noticeable improvement in overall stiffness.
Braking: I was BEYOND impressed! The rear end remained fully active under all braking conditions. I felt supremely confident in all conditions. Much of this “confidence” was due to the 180mm Avid Elixir CRs. First time using these brakes – 100X better than my Juicy 7s!
Interrupted Seat Tube: If there was one thing about the 2010 Reign X that truly concerned me it was the interrupted seat tube. Would I be able to lower/raise the seat to my liking? It only took a few minutes to realize the Joplin seat post had everything under control.
Cable Management: Most manufacturers deal with cables by welding tabs to the top tube and chain stays. Giant has taken a different approach. They prefer to route cables under the bottom tube. Secondly, the rear derailleur cable is routed inside the chain stay. No doubt this arrangement “looks” clean. My main concern is how dirt, dust and rocks will affect cables that are mounted on a down tube. Thumbs up to Giant for thinking outside the box...
What didn’t I like about the bike?
I would start with the DHX Air shock. Maybe it wasn’t set-up correctly (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t)… What I do know is: I would have preferred a coil.
Saddle: The Fizik saddle was less than comfortable.
To say I was impressed with the 2010 Reign X would be an understatement. If asked what I liked most about the bike, it would be how well “it all” came together. Every bend, component, pivot and tube is on the bike for a reason- and it shows. Anyone in the market for an aggressive (do-everything) bike would be wise to add this frame to his or her very short list…