The fit is spot on. I'm 5'10" and I'm riding a medium. While this is a pretty average height and bike size for a dude, I have a hard time feeling comfortable on most trail bikes. With a 50mm stem and nice, wide bars I often feel bunched up. The Reign X's slightly stretched top tube feels a little more like a comfy DH sled and less like grandpa's upright sidewalk slayer. Now I don't like to be all stretched out and hunched over, but I do like a little room to breathe up in the cockpit. Too high a bottom bracket height can compound the bunching effect by forcing me to sport a towering seat height. The Reign X offers a 13.6 inch BB height, which is nice and low for a bike with 6.7 inches of rear wheel travel. This means my seat height relative to my crank arms gains a little less altitude. With my taste in bar and stem, and my seat at full mast I don't feel like a clown riding a tall bike in a 4th of July parade. Another expectation I have for my bikes is that the chainstay remain on the shorter side for aggressive cornering and for a predictable balance point when the front wheel touches nothing but air. At 17.1 inches, it's chainstays get the job done. Did I mention the 67 degree head angle? Spot on, there is no better head tube angle to aggressively ride trails. Score four for fit.
The ride quality is top notch. To me, a good trail bike should have three strengths inherent to its ride quality. Efficiency in pedaling, a lively suspension feel, and all-around stability. With its Maestro suspension platform, Giant knocks the first two out of the park. As I took the bike out for the first trail ride I realized one thing right off the bat; the suspension doesn't require much adjustment. Set the shock at 25 to 30 percent sag, dial in your favorite rebound feel, and turn the pro-pedal off. Its as simple as that. Uphill, downhill, flat pavement to the beer store, it doesn't matter. The suspension design provides the pedaling platform and consequent efficiency I'm after. Often times when a bike relies on chain stretch for its platform, pedaling can feel dead and the ride can feel unlively. Not so here. The Reign X is a lively one. Like to bound down the trail like the Duke boys cuttin' loose from ole Roscoe P. Coletrain? You got it. If you put the energy in, it's gonna give it right back. Get creative because all of a sudden the trail in front of you becomes a little more interesting. Remember the video game Excitebike? Yep, this is the real live version. Add in the stability of an over-sized and hydro-formed aluminum tubeset, some stout wheels, wide bars, and thru axles front and rear, and you've written yourself a recipe for progression.
As far as a parts spec goes, I cheated a bit. I chose to purchase the frame-only kit and add the parts I've hand picked over many years of field testing. Highlights include a Fox 36 Float, Shimano XT 9spd drivetrain, MRP G2SL handling the retention duties up front, and Hadley hubs laced to DTSwiss rims rounding out the trim. For a dropper post, I'll go with the 6 inch KS Lev as soon as it becomes available.
No bike is perfect, so now is the time to expose it's short comings. So far I can only find three. First, the frame was designed to be used in conjunction with Giant's new 1.25 inch tapered steerer standard called Overdrive 2. This standard has yet to catch on and most likely won't. This means Giant wants you to use a very rare steerer and proprietary stem combo. BOOOOOO i say. Luckily, with its frames, Giant sends along a conversion upper headset assembly to allow your frame to accept a 1.125 inch (or inch and an eighth for the radperson) tapered steerer. Phew, bullet dodged. Now we're back to endless fork and stem choices. The second shortcoming would have to be the tall stack height up front. While the head tube length itself isn't overwhelming, the INCH tall top race is way too thick. If Giant would've spec'ed a thinner top race (something around the normal 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch), the total height would have been much more respectable. I think I can remedy this by using a thinner top race from another headset made by the same manufacturer. The number three shortcoming really caught us off guard when we went to put the whole bike together, and therefore needs to be mentioned. The Reign X uses a 12x135mm Maxle thru-axle to secure the back wheel to the frame. Giant chooses not to send this part with the frame-only kit. If you buy a complete bike then you have nothing to worry about but if you choose the frame-only option, be prepared to purchase a Maxle. And I warn you, they are hard to find locally. Luckily they are easy to order ahead of time from an LBS parts supplier like QBP or BTI, through your local bike shop of course.
Look to Grassroots Cycles and the Giant Reign X if you're fixin' to add some excitement to your 2013 riding season. And may it start sooner than later!