Thanks to mother nature and her on again off again winter, many of the more popular downhill trails in the Comox Valley are under a blanket of snow. From a few inches to a few feet on Forbidden Plateau to over 27 feet on Mount Washington, it won’t be too long before at least some are open for your shuttling pleasures.On Monday I stopped by Mountain City Cycle in Courtenay and took up an offer to test ride the 2010 Giant Reign SX. While the snow limited my choices, I had some trails both new and old where I could let ‘er rip!
The Reign SX is the flagship of the Reign X series of bikes by Giant. The Reign X series utilizes the Maestro suspension platform with 6.7 inches of travel, as compared to the 6” Reign series. This bigger travel comes with coilover rear shocks, larger head tube and beefier stanchion forks. It sits just under the Faith 7” and 8” Glory series bikes. Series pricing for the Reign X ranges from $2399 to $6359 with the SX fitting in at $4089.
Out of the Box
Maestro Technology has been the flagship technology used in Giant’s full suspension frames for about 5 years. It works on the 4-2-1 principle creating suspension which is compliant to small bumps but still has large bump capacity. The design includes a unified rear triangle, 2 linkages and 4 pivots. The design is simple enough to maintain at home, and the low shock placement keeps at least the large frame capable of fitting a full size water bottle.
“The three core benefits that set Maestro apart are the result of careful placement of four key pivot points that neutralize both pedaling and braking forces, yet allow the suspension to remain fully active over all types of terrain.”
The aluminum frame SX is finished white with black, silver and blue accents. Frame sizes range from XS (15”) to L (20”).
Suspension duties are from Fox front and rear with a Fox 36 Vanilla tapered steerer with 160mm travel, a 20mm thru axle and rebound adjustment. The rear is a Fox DHX RC2 coil shock.
SRAM and Race Face components abound with a low rise Atlas bar clamped to a Diabolus D2 stem. X9 shifter and rear derailleur works with an 11-26 9spd rear cogset. Race Face Atlas FR 36tooth front crankset is combined with a MRP G2 chainguide. Avid Elixir 5 brakes provide stopping power. A Fi’si:k Flash saddle is clamped to a Giant Connect SL seatpost.
Wheels are Sun Ringle Equalizer 32h with 20mm front and 12mm rear Maxle equipped hubs. Kenda Nevegals complete the package.
Giant Bicycles of recent have shown a very high level of finish both through their manufacturing process and graphic layout. This bike is no exception. From the tapered head tube to the sweeping curves of downtube, this bike is easy on the eyes. Nicely gone is the pierced downtube of early Maestro suspension designs. This is thanks in part to the use of hydroforming which allows complex curves to be formed in various tubesets.
The low rise bar keeps the rider in a fairly aggressive position, and good standover is provided with the curved top tube. Access to the coil for preload duties, and the various adjusters for the Fox DHX 2 shock are easily accessible with it’s downward position.
I was happy to see a bottle holder on this larger size frame with plenty of room for a large bottle if you preferred for more all-mountain rides.
I was a bit concerned by the 11×26 rear cassette. The SX is definitely setup for the bike park and keeps climbing limited even though the maestro suspension is quite capable of doing so. People interested in more climbing to their destination but the security of a chainguide would be quick to swap for a 32 on the front and a 11-32 rear. It can be noted that the other models of the Reign X series do come with shifters and larger range cassettes. Commonplace with the increasing production of adjustable seatposts is cable tabs for remote adjusters.
The Maxle rear end and 20mm quick release front end help keep toolfree wheel removal possible while maintaining a solid connection.
On the Trail
After a quick check of sag and air settings it was time to head up Forbidden to put this bike through its paces. We had to push through snow to the head of the trail. Through the pedally sections of trail, the bike was only hindered by the low gearing as it showed minimal bob even though I was standing while pedalling.
The trail was a series of short flat benches before some nice steep rocky sections. Once the bike was pointed to the steeper and rougher trails it really started to shine. The braking was unhindered by the suspension movement. The low and short bar position kept the bike nicely close at hand while the longer top tube keeping the turning radius sharp and the shifters safely away from my knees.
Near the end of the ride I dropped into Puntledge Plunge. This washed out roadbed is a great test of the capability of the suspension with lots of rocks, drops and loose gravel. The fork was solid in its duties, the rear suspension showed full use of the travel while I didn’t notice it bottoming out, and the braking was up to the task without any feeling of fade.
One minor issue that arose was the top clamp of the seatpost. I tightened it up twice but still the seat would rock back when I sat down with any pressure. Back at the shop they had seen similar issues with the clamping on the Giant Connect SL post, so hopefully a remedy can be found.
Giant has a broad range of bikes based on the Maestro suspension platform. From the Anthem to the Glory, there are many bikes to suit the full range of uses. In the Comox Valley we’re lucky with lift access machine built trails, flowy all mountain descents and more. Other than the choice of cassette, this bike is well suited for many of the steeper valley trails.
The Maestro suspension seemed well suited to the task. It performed without much complaint, and without any need for on the fly adjustments. A good suspension should work well without your noticing. It was only on inspection that I was able to see the complete travel that was being utilized during the ride.
I haven’t had the chance to ride a 1.5 or Tapered head tube with 36mm single crown fork. I have to say I was impressed by the solid feel and good directional stability. I can easily look at going for a single crown fork in the future.
Who is this bike best for?
The Reign SX can fit well for the rider who is looking for occasional rides on the lifts, more often shuttling than riding up and maybe has a light xc full suspension bike or hardtail. People preferring to climb up may look at the Trance or Reign series and those hitting the bike park more often may look to the Faith or even Glory lines.
If a front derailleur is more important but the larger travel of the Reign X is intriguing, check the X0-X2 versions which have the Race Face Atlas Shift Guides.
Trek Scratch, Marin Quake, Norco Shore, Specialized Demo 7,
About the author
Colin has been riding mountain bikes since the mid 80′s. Through the years he has been an avid racer, rider, advocate and more. Currently a chiropractor in Cumberland, he enjoys the varied trails of Vancouver Island. Colin is a lead organizer for the 2010 Island Cup Mountain Bike Series and works with the BC Bike Race on the medical team.