Bike

TWENTY SEVEN.FIVE

Source: Travis Engel pushes the Giant Reign Advanced 1 to the max on Down Dogger within Marquette’s Noquemanon South Trails network, this year’s Bible testing base camp.

GIANT REIGN ADVANCED 1 I $5,400

All-mountain travel, enduro geometry, downhill focus. Riders ready? Watch the gate ....

PINEAPPLE REGULARLY MAKES THE LIST OF AMERICANS’ LEAST-FAvorite pizza toppings. Perhaps it’s not on your list, but imagine for a moment it was. Now imagine you’re presented with the perfect pizza. Maybe the best you’ve ever had. But somewhere on there is one single chunk of pineapple. Does that make it a bad pizza?

This mythical pizza, as we’ll see, is the perfect metaphor for the 2018 Giant Reign. Its 160 millimeters of travel would place it in the shallow end of enduro, yet its geometry puts it deep in the deep end. It stretched nearly an inch this year, making it the longest-wheelbase 27.5-inch bike in the garage. It’s also nearly the slackest. It’s an intriguing mix that could be the perfect all-rounder.

Except there’s that one pineapple: it’s got a 73-degree effective seat-tube angle. Granted, seat angle has only recently become a talking point, but each tester who climbed on the even longer-travel but more uprightly saddled Devinci Spartan, Santa Cruz Nomad or Specialized Enduro had an easier time getting power to the pedal uphill.

None of us blamed the Maestro linkage. It has evolved to be as good a balance of active and supportive as most dual-link platforms out there. And the use of a trunnion-mount rear shock allowed Giant to lower the Reign’s leverage ratio. It also allowed them to significantly shorten the seat-tube length for better standover and longer droppers. And the spec on our Advanced 1 was remarkably solid, including Fox’s DPX2 shock and HSC/LSC 36 fork.

Once we started descending, the updates to the new Reign came together. Our test laps included multiple steep rockrolls and one straight-but-chunky brakeless tunnel of love that got more and more treacherous as its obstacles became concealed by the falling autumn leaves. But the Reign didn’t care. It floated through the minefields as if it had more travel than advertised. Without the extra gushiness or ride height of longer legs, the Reign was incredibly good at taking care of business, but we could still boss it around. And in that context, the slack seat angle made some sense. This bike was developed with Giant’s enduro race team in mind. If the comfort and control of a more rearward saddle positions could gain them a second on the downhill, it would be worth 10 minutes on the uphill.

To each their own. Though our testers may have ordered it a little differently, the new Reign could have exactly the right toppings for you.—Travis Engel

PIVOT MACH 5.5 PRO XT/XTR 1X $6,200

Nimble handling, stock 2.6-inch tires and a vastly more supple suspension feel make this 27.5er shine on technical terrain.

THE FOX FLOAT FACTORY DPS EVOL IS A GOOD BOINGER IN ITS OWN right, but compared to the burly Fox 36 on the party end of Pivot’s newest Mach 5.5, it looks undergunned. But once we stopped looking and started riding, we immediately noticed a whole new level of rear-suspension sensitivity and suppleness.

There’s only 140 millimeters of travel out back, but you wouldn’t know it. The Mach 5.5 is active and linear-feeling, and when combined with 2.6-inch Maxxis Rekon and Minion tires, is deceptively deep-feeling. This makes the bike excel at pedaling through undulating techy bits, where it seems to make chunky rocks and root balls disappear underneath it without any noticeable pedal feedback. On climbs, however, that extra-active, linear suspension could be an energy drain—an unexpected attribute coming from Pivot, whose bikes are normally rocket ships uphill. It sits up and becomes continually more efficient as you start laying the power on, though. It’s laggy and slow if you’re laggy and slow, but picks up when you do, which is great, except that it sort of feels as though it’s forcing you to go hard instead of inspiring you to. Of course, the shock has a ‘Medium’ setting, which makes the bike more efficient.

Testers described the Pivot’s descending ability as, “Feels best at speed,” and “Lively and maneuverable at speed.” Compared to the Ibis Mojo HD4, which also uses dw-link suspension, comes with a

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