First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

First Ride

Giant Reign Advanced 29

Words by Justin Serna | Photos by Nic Hall

The Giant Reign has definitely reached an iconic status after 15 years of service. Although Giant hasn’t historically offered that lust-worthy image or boutique vibe in the past, they are swinging big with their latest offerings. Giant has given the Reign updates over the last decade, but they’re usually received as being too little too late. Furthermore the brand’s bikes were hindered by lackluster graphics and paint. In short, the Giant Reign has always been a solid bike but never really set the world on fire – until now.

As the former owner of a 2017 Reign Advanced 0, I couldn’t wait to ride the latest version of this newly minted classic. The 2020 Reign is shod with 29-in wheels, which is slightly ironic after Giant’s push to promote 27.5-in wheels the last several years. Without beating that horse to death we’ll just say that we’re glad Giant has embraced 29ers with their new bikes, like the Trance 29 we rode in the Italian Alps last year. While the new Trance was impressive for an all-around trail bike, more aggressive riders, like Giant’s enduro athletes, were looking for something a bit more capable on rowdy terrain.


After nearly two years of R&D and testing three distinctively different versions of the Reign 29, the engineers at Giant concluded that sometimes less is more. The end result is a bike with larger wheels and less travel. Giant reduced the Reign’s travel from 160mm to 146mm. Up front however, Giant opted to keep a 160mm fork to give the bike a 65-degree head tube angle, something that certainly makes the bike more than capable.

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

GIANT REIGN ADVANCED 29 DETAILS
The Reign Advanced is now entirely carbon except the aluminum lower link. Giant continues on with their Maestro suspension design, which consists of a floating pivot point multi-link system claimed to create a “near-vertical” axle path and a linear spring curve. The revised kinematics give the frame a 16.6% leverage rate and will allow you to run either an air or coil sprung shock. The detail of seat tube length that has plagued some brands has been addressed by the engineers at Giant. They have moved the seat tube pivot forward to create extra insertion depth for dropper posts allowing riders the ability to fully insert their post. The included MRP chainguide and bash guard are also nice additions and show the bike’s true intentions.

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

MODELS
The Reign 29 is available in three carbon models ranging in price from $4,000 to $9,000 USD. There are two aluminum models, the Reign 29-2 at $3,000 and the all mountain slayer, Reign SX equipped with a 170mm Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and , DHX2 Performance Elite shock at $4,000.

• Wheel size: 29”
• Travel: 146mm / 160mm fork
• Maestro suspension design
• 60mm stroke length on a trunnion-mounted shock
• Boost axle spacing front and rear
• Downtube and chainstay protection
• Internal cable routing
• 29×2.5-inch tire clearance
• 44mm (FOX) or 42mm (Rock Shox) offset fork
• 36-tooth max chainring
• Standard water bottle fits inside of the frame
• FOX Live Valve compatible with frame mounts
• Weight: 28.9-pounds (13.1kg, Advanced Pro 29 0, size medium, no pedals)
• Lifetime warranty on frame
• 65° head angle
• 439mm chainstays
• PF92 bottom bracket
• Price: $3,000 – $9,000 USD

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

GEOMETRY UPDATES
For 2020, the Giant Reign 29 gets bigger wheels as well as some much needed geometry updates. While keeping the same 65-degree head tube angle, the engineers steepened the seat tube by 3.8-degrees, bringing it up to 76.8 degrees. This greatly improves the climbing position on the bike. The overall length of the bike has grown in all but the size small and the reach has been extended on all sizes ranging from 428mm on the small to 516mm on the XL. The increased front-center numbers are easily managed by the shorter 44mm offset fork.

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0
First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

THE DIRT
Whistler Bike Park’s “Top of The World “ was my choice of test tracks, with ample amounts of steep rocky descents, incredible mountain views and long twisted singletrack, this would be the Reigns proving ground. As I mentioned before, I am the proud owner of a 2017 Reign Advanced and have been fortunate enough to ride Top of the World on it several times. I knew that I would have a direct comparison of the previous iteration of the new Reign and couldn’t wait to compare.

Suspension set up was a breeze on the top shelf Reign Advanced Pro 29 0. At this point in the season I am quite familiar with the 160mm FOX 36 Grip 2 fork and set it up identically to the other forks I have run this year with 80 psi, and a few clicks on the High
and Low Speed knobs. With the fork set the rear shock was even easier to lock in. After starting at the Giant-recommended 30% sag, I increased the sag to 35% and decreased the sag to 25% attempting to find that perfect balance. As with most bikes in this category, I believe it truly depends on the type terrain you are riding as well as personal preference. In the end I settled on just a bit over 30% sag for riding in the bike park. I started with the shock right in the middle, following Giant’s suggested settings for compression and rebound. By the end  of the day, I only deviated a few clicks here and there from the initial set-up.

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

One of the biggest take aways from this review is the balance between the FOX 36 Grip 2 fork, the 2020 FOX Float X2 and Giant’s suspension kinematics. The short gravel road climb from the upper section of Top of The World to the new, all I can call it is “Techy-Flow” section right at the tree line is a perfect spot to test for pedal feed back and to my delight, the new Reign only had the slightest bit of pedal bob at a full sprint in the open mode. Gone are the days of excessive volume reducers and high air pressures to get the bike to pedal somewhat efficiently.

Surely a bike that had such a sound pedaling platform was going to suffer on the descents. With some apprehension I cautiously navigated the steep rocky pitches that welcome you to the 7,160ft Whistler Peak but with every passing slab of granite and bike swallowing hole, I began to gain more and more trust in the Reign 29 and the suspension set up. I felt confident blindly attacking the rowdiest sections of Whistler’s first stage of the Enduro World Series. The new Reign 29 allowed me to roll over rocks and through holes that would have eaten up the previous 27.5 model. I was able to choose whether to float over obstacles or drop my heels and hold on tight. The new Reign felt nimble and quick but remained stable and allowed even a guy with moderate skill to attack a world class trail.

First Ride: Giant Reign Advanced 29 0

THE WOLF’S FIRST THOUGHTS

While the move to bigger wheels and less travel would seem to imply the new Reign 29 might be more of a trail bike, I found Giant’s Reign Advanced Pro 29 0, to be more than adequate when the going got rough. Simply put, this bike has balance and is both quick and stable. The combination of a functional factory tune on the rear shock and great kinematics make this bike much more than just a race bike. The new Reign 29 differs from many enduro race bikes in that it has uphill capabilities that many don’t. Getting to the top isn’t simply feasible, it is enjoyable.

While the Reign is definitely being raced by the Giant Off-Road Team, it could also be ridden by your average weekend warrior on their local trails or even thrown into the rigors of a day in the Whistler Bike Park. I was completely blown away at how well 146mm of travel could handle some of the gnarliest DH tracks in the park all while being able to pedal to the top of any trail with ease. The Giant Reign 29 should be on anyone’s list of bikes to check it if you’re looking for a capable all mountain machine.

To learn more, visit Giant-Bicycles.com.