EBA Bike Review: Giant Reign E+ 0 Pro
GIANT REIGN E+ 0 PRO
As arguably the biggest bike maker in the world, Giant has no shortage of resources when it comes to creating a full bike line. In fact, their capacity for extensive R&D and production is so large that, in this age of e-bike comeuppance, they are able to capably produce two full bike lines—one traditional and one with pedal assist.
Giant recently invited us to the launch of their new enduro-style e-MTB, the Reign E+, at the Les Gets resort in the French Alps. This bike is the electric version of their Reign 29 Enduro pedal bike, but instead of 29-inch wheels, they outfitted the e-version with 27.5+ wheels and tires.
Since Giant has its own factory, they even make their own aluminum alloy, which they call ALUXX SL-grade aluminum. The Reign E+ is made of this material in all levels of this bike. The 0 model sits at the top of the line with two lower-priced models—1 and 2 versions—and different colorways available.
The bike offers 160mm of travel in the front, thanks to a Fox 36 Float Factory fork and 170mm in the rear, via a custom-tuned Fox Float X2 shock. Head angle on all sizes is 64.5 degrees.
This top-level bike comes with a SRAM’s electronic XO1 Eagle eTap AXS drivetrain specially optimized for e-bikes. It is ultra-fast and ultra-precise. Continuing the wireless wonders on this machine, a SRAM Reverb AXS dropper post was included and so responsive that we didn’t realize it was wireless for the first couple of hours. There is zero delay; it responds just like a mechanical one. Travel ranges from 100mm on the small frame to a whopping 170mm on the XL-size frame.
SRAM X-Sync Eagle cranks drive the 1×12 setup that spans 11-50T, giving this bike the ability to climb anything short of a tree.
Wheels are a very nice set of tubeless Giant E-TRX 27.5-inch carbon wheels that are optimized for e-bikes and mounted with Maxxis tires. Braking is provided by SRAM Code R brakes, and the front rotor is a massive 220mm that provides equally massive stopping power.
“Even by the end of the first ride we were taking hairier parts of the trails than we would normally.”
Really wide, tree-catching 800mm bars are attached to a short Giant 35mm stem. Because of the tubeless setup, the handlebar ends have built-in tire plugs, a really nice addition.
Like their e-MTBs before, Giant stayed with the Yamaha PW-X motor, which they brand as the Giant SyncDrive Pro. This year they have used the PW-X2 motor, which has a very interesting tweak. It has been significantly revamped to provide much better support at any cadence level. They actually designed it to provide support all the way up to 170 rpm. Why? No rider will likely ever pedal at that high of a cadence, but that’s not the reason. By changing that parameter, it can efficiently deliver up to 50-percent greater support at 100 rpm. It’s a noticeable difference. The second advantage here is that the motor is around 15-percent quieter than the original PW-X.
Instead of going with a stock Yamaha battery Giant designed their own, a 500-Wh internal battery made of 21700 cells instead of the smaller 18650 cells, allowing for improved power delivery and cooling. The bike comes with a 6A charger, which charges the pack significantly faster than most 4A chargers. It is also a smart charger, which monitors the cells inside and can provide less power to keep batteries healthy.
Instead of using a key, Giant designed this to use a Torx T25 wrench to make battery swaps quicker. There’s a range extender available as an option. It sits in a bottle cage and plugs in, offering 250 Wh, or about 50 percent more range. The battery also has a USB-C port, should you ever want to charge your phone or other devices.
The display/controller is Giant’s own RideControl ONE, like the Trance E+ and StanceE+ have, but this now offers one additional LED and one additional control. If you toggle the assist level all the way to off, then go one more button, press down and you enter Yamaha’s new Smart Assist. Similar to Bosch’s e-MTB mode, it provides more or less electric-assist power based on the rider’s own torque input. The harder you pedal, the more power you get from the motor. It’s very intuitive. They’ve built-in sensors to notice when you’re on a slope to help inform the assist level.
Different than Bosch’s e-MTB mode, however, is getting to it. Bosch replaces Sport mode entirely, so you can’t lock into that mode anymore. Yamaha’s Smart Assist is located at the bottom of the modes, so you shift down to off, then press the down button once more. It’s great if you want to stay in that mode, but if you decide you want the full beans in the middle of a climb, you have to shift the motor off, then up three to the highest mode. It can make hill climbs harder.
The RideControl One features ANT+ and is compatible with Garmin devices and many others for GPS, HRM and more.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Reign E+ is designed for experienced, aggressive enduro and downhill riders that demand confidence-inspiring performance and want the best and the latest in component technology, both from the motor and the rest of the electronic parts. It also helps to have a healthy bank account.
We started off taking a ski lift up to the middle of the mountain, then climbed much higher. We wanted to try all the modes, but we found that Smart Assist is truly the best mode—set it and forget it. Steeper hills automatically give you more assist.
With a fairly upright 76-degree seat tube, climbs are easier because of where your weight is centered. Overall riding position is fairly neutral.
Giant chose the French Alps for their bike launch specifically for the wide range of terrain experience. There was every kind of riding—from the pastoral singletrack between the electric fences separating the cattle from us to rocky, rooty technical descents to riding through the pump track. This bike handles it all in stride. The grip on the Maxxis High Roller II tires match the bike’s capabilities perfectly and kept everything predictable in mud and in loose dirt.
The Reign E+ has very forgiving handling, which allowed us to ride faster and more confidently over everything. Pulling up the front end was a little harder, but with so much travel in the front, we rolled over just about everything anyway. The suspension is lively, and small-bump compliance is really good.
The bike took everything we threw at it and never bucked us off. Even by the end of the first ride we were tackling far more challenging trails than we normally would feel comfortable riding.
The Reign E+ is easily one of the most fun enduro e-MTBs we’ve yet ridden. It absolutely performs, and with their Maestro suspension and that much travel, it inspires confidence for riders of any level. Smart Assist is amazing, and the new motor really does provide better assist than the previous generation, and it is quieter. Smart Assist does seem to maximize battery range as well.
The price tag is what many would expect to find on a lighter carbon-framed bike, but such are the financial hits that the high-end components require.
Giant didn’t have a working range extender when we tested the bike, so we didn’t get to try that, but we also never needed it. With thousands of feet of climbing per ride, and miles and smiles, we never drained a battery.
2020 GIANT REIGN E+ 0 PRO
Motor: Giant Syncdrive Pro (Yamaha PW-X2)
Battery: Giant EnergyPak Smart 500 Wh, lithium-ion, with
optional 250Wh EnergyPak
Charge time: 3-4 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (U.S.), 25km/h (E.U.)
Range: 20-45 miles
Drive: SRAM XO1 Eagle eTap AXS, e-bike synchronized
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Controls: Giant RideControl
Fork: Fox Float Factory 27.5+, 170mm, Grip2 damper, Boost 110x15QR, e-bike optimized
Rear shock: Fox Float X2 Factory, EVOL large-volume sleeve, 2-position lever, 205×62.5mm, trunnion mount
Frame: ALUXX SL-grade aluminum, 160mm Maestro suspension system, Boost 148x12QR, Giant EnergyPak Plus range extender compatible
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5×2.6” front/Maxxis High Roller II 27.5×2.6” rear
Weight: 53.3 lb.
Color Choice: Chameleon Green/Gold
Sizes: S, M, L, XL