Review: Randy King
Photos & Video: Doug King and Randy King [Coming Soon]
We who live more than a day’s drive to Moab have a choice to make as we prepare for our pilgrimage: Ship the faithful rig that you know like an extension of yourself, or rent a dream machine / fun wagon while you’re in the mountain bike playground? My vote: rent the dream. On my last trip to Moab I rented a Giant Reign 1 for four days of tecchy riding on the rocks, sand and ledges – a.k.a. the gnarl.
Picking a bike built for the style of riding you’re seeking ups the fun factor. Back east I ride a trail bike, a Trek Fuel Ex 9. In Moab, my brother and I seek out the ledges and technical terrain and ride the rocks. We’re not big hucksters, but we do seek out rougher lines and push our personal limits on the gnarl. The Giant Reign 7 is purpose-built for those all-mountain kinds of days.
Friends, you do not want to realize too late that you brought a knife to a gunfight. Not two hours after my first pedal stroke in Moab, I questioned whether I was in over my head. We had climbed Amasa Back and then taken the extension out to Pothole Arch. From there we completed our loop via Rockstacker and Jackson trail. Less than 200 yards into Rockstacker is when my serious questioning began. The trail dropped over a six-foot-high rock. I almost lost it trying slide down this beast with my bike. Dig dropped in on his older Reign, rolling down the grippy sandstone. Ah, I had brought a gun. I got back on the Reign and committed to be a worthy rider – or at least to remember that I had the firepower for the task at hand. We proceeded to tackle one of the most technically fun trails ever. Rockstacker and Jackson drop down the side of the Colorado River rim on the opposite side of the river from the infamous Portal Trail. Exposure, ledges and slots abound. The Reign was stable on serious steeps, and handles drops precisely – a key when dropping onto a narrow, exposed trail. The Fox suspension performed as I have come to expect of Fox, very competently.
The Giant Reign 1 is a well-designed, well-kitted all-mountain rig. Hung with a Fox DHX Air 5 shock and a Float fork with through-axle, the bike can mix it up with the gnarl. However, it also climbs well for a beef-cake. Getting it up Amasa Back and Bartlett’s Wash was not as much of a chore as I had feared. In fact, it climbed well. The Maestro suspension design has aged well and is efficient under pedaling forces.
The Reign’s components and drivetrain held up well to a week of hard riding and less than tender loving care. Even after an almost total submersion in the creek at the bottom of the Jackson trail, a tumble or two on Killer B trail, and plenty of little ledges and hasty down shifts, the Reign remained in good working order. It did everything you’d expect of an all-mountain bike, and had that extra bit – it was a fun bike to ride.
The Reign is an all-round performer, which is just what I want in an all-mountain bike. Suspension platforms and design can hide heft and make riding a 6-inch (150MM) travel, 30-pound bike up the hill easier. And when the trail turns downhill and the rocks and ledges are coming fast, the Reign will make you happy that it is not too knife-like. It blasts through rough terrain. On the legendary Porcupine Rim descent I powered over the babyheads and off of small ledges, confident that the Reign could make up for minor mistakes on my part.
I liked the Reign. In Moab I loved the Reign. While I don’t know that I’d want to push the extra pounds around for every ride on the local trail system at home, I miss not having that firepower at my disposal when I’m out in the big mountains and it is time to go downhill. And when I go back to Moab, I’ll rent again … It may just be another Giant Reign.
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