Incredibly, Giant’s Reign is now more than 15 years old, having launched in 2005. It’s been continually updated as trends and wheel sizes have shifted, though.
The SX model tested here is the cheapest entry in the 2021 Reign line-up and the only one with more dynamic-feeling 650b wheels.
Boasting an ‘amped up’ 180mm of fork travel and a coil-sprung shock, it should appeal to bike park riders as well as enduro racers.
Giant Reign SX frame
The aluminium chassis is hewn from Giant’s own alloy blends. The brand makes so many bikes it actually owns its own aluminium plant and, as you’d expect, weld and finish quality are both very high. Plus, with a carbon fibre upper shock link, the frame is also super-light.
Giant’s Maestro suspension is a twin-link layout with short upper and lower shock links. Increasing the shock stroke by 2.5mm has allowed it to pump up the travel to 160mm on this model (compared to 146mm on the 29er Reigns), and the SX also uses a coil shock to bump up the aggro factor.
The dual-compound Maxxis Minion DHF isn’t as grippy as the pricier 3C version.
Giant Reign SX geometry
The geometry across the four sizes is labelled as ‘modern enduro’, but numbers such as the 464mm reach on the large size are actually pretty conservative in today’s market.
Standover height is taller than on plenty of the Reign’s rivals, too, which means you notice the frame more between your thighs. As a bike-park-ready machine, though, not being super-long is likely to improve manoeuvrability.
|Seat angle (degrees)||72||72||72||72|
|Head angle (degrees)||64||64||64||64|
|Seat tube (cm)||38||43.1||46.4||49.6|
|Top tube (cm)||60.3||63.8||65.8||68.3|
|Head tube (cm)||9.5||9.5||11.5||12.5|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.6||4.6||4.6||4.6|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||4||4||4||4|
Giant Reign SX kit
This SX build is decent value. The Yari fork shares the same chassis and stiffness as RockShox’ award-winning Lyrik, but uses the cheaper Motion Control damper, which is alright but way less smooth and controlled than the top-tier Charger 2.1.
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Praxis’s Wave chainring design doesn’t like UK mud and the 34t size specced here may contribute to poor pedalling.
Out back, the Super Deluxe Coil shock is extremely supple and fluid, but offers just one tuning parameter – rebound damping.
One glance will tell you there’s no dropper post here. It’s likely a purely cost-cutting exercise, but I felt its absence, and it’s extra annoying when the alloy post doesn’t even slam fully into the frame to help you with the jumps and downhill action the SX is intended for.
The Deore brakes and gears work brilliantly, though, and are a sensible price compromise, despite being heavier than pricier Shimano gear.
Praxis’s Cadet cranks are stiff and solid, but their Wave chainring design is flawed for UK conditions, grinding and clogging in mud.
Giant Reign SX first ride impressions
Giant’s Maestro suspension is very active and cushioned, with a floaty feel that erases stutter bumps, but it’s marginally too easy to smash through all the squish on the SX, even with a coil shock that definitely wasn’t undersprung for my 82kg weight.
There’s a ton of traction at the back, but one flipside of the suspension being so active and supple is a lot of bob when pedalling – evident both when you’re twiddling circles uphill in an easy gear or stomping on the cranks to accelerate hard.
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RockShox’ Yari fork isn’t a match for the smoothness of the rear end, however – grip, tracking and front tyre security are noticeably diminished over equivalent bikes with forks containing a Fox GRIP or RockShox Charger damper.
While the Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre has a decent tread, Giant has specced the dual-compound version, and its harder rubber (compared to the triple-compound option) is also a bit too lively in the wet, considering the rowdy intentions of the SX.
While the SX has supple suspension, rides quietly and is light for the cash, the overall package didn’t blow me away.
The Reign’s poor manners under power feel more a consequence of a slightly egg-shaped and inefficient pedal cycle, rather than anything to do with rider weight or the lack of a shock lockout. This is excusable, given that the SX is designed for destroying the descents and being tough enough to get hucked within an inch of its life, all for a fair price.
However, when other bikes for this much cash pedal a lot more effectively and are as capable in rough DH terrain or when hitting jumps, it does become a drawback.
Another bugbear is the lack of a dropper post. Even if half your riding is uplifted or pushed up, there are still inclines to be pedalled up to access different trails, so it’s a pain.
While the SX has supple suspension, rides quietly and is light for the cash, the overall package didn’t blow me away. The steering is a little floppy and less neutral than on some bikes with equivalent travel, and it never quite feels like the long-travel park bike it’s pitched as, or one that encourages you to get especially wild.
Ultimately, it sits on the fence between a regular enduro rig (which is likely more efficient at getting about) and a chuck-it-about gravity shred-sled like Canyon’s Torque, on which you can haul ass and send every jump in sight.
Giant Reign SX early verdict
A value-packed, tough all-mountain bike, but not really a freeride machine despite the SX tag, and let down by its lack of dropper and poor pedalling, which detract from its performance