2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
18 Sep 2020

Giant is ready to unveil its new high-performance 29er full suspension bike - the very capable and forward-thinking Trance X Advanced Pro

The not-so-minor details

Product

2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0

Price

$11,499 AUD

Weight

13.5kg

Positives

- The gorgeous carbon frame
- Fantastic new-world geometry
- Descending stability with climbing proficiency
- Live Valve adds efficiency & responsiveness
- Low weight for such a capable bike

Negatives

- Live Valve adds complexity and cost
- Those damn rattly brake pads!
- Carbon wheels and bars increase trail buzz
- Slow engaging freehub

Wil Reviews The 2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29er

With Giant having released the alloy Trance X 29 only a month ago, it will come as a surprise to literally nobody that there is now a carbon model to go with it. One of the worst kept secrets of 2020 was the result of one of the worst events of 2020 – a global pandemic. Thanks to restrictions that numerous countries enforced in order to grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone seems to want to ride a bike now, and bicycle sales have gone absolutely gangbusters as a result. Bike shops are run off their feet, and distributors are running out of stock, as they patiently wait for factories to produce new bikes for eager customers. The original plan for Giant was to release both the carbon and alloy Trance X models at the same time. But since the alloy bikes had actually landed, and dealers were so desperate for stock, the decision was made to bring the release of the alloy Trance X forward.


Watch our video review of the 2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 here!


We scored a world exclusive first test on the alloy Trance X 29 2 last month, and came away thoroughly impressed with its future-forward geometry, burly build kit and technical trail proficiency – both on the downs and the ups. Since then, I’ve been riding around on this carbon version, the flagship model, the cream of the crop, the 2021 Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0. While the launch doesn’t have quite the same punch given the Trance X platform has already been announced, there is still plenty to get excited about here.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Having released the alloy Trance X a month ago, Giant is now finally ready to unveil the carbon version. And what a beaut it is!

Hold On, What’s The Trance X?

Ok let’s rewind a bit. If you’re wondering what the heck the ‘X’ is all about, then it’d be worth having a read of our review of the alloy Trance X, where you’ll find the full back story, geometry chart, along with specs and pricing for the alloy range.

To recap though, the Trance X is Giant’s newest 29er full suspension platform. It’s equipped with a 150mm travel fork and 135mm of rear wheel travel, which sees it slotting in between the existing Trance 29 and the Reign 29. While the label seems to have fallen out of favour of late, it’s what you might call an All Mountain bike – not quite a short ‘n’ nippy trail bike, nor a big burly enduro race bike, but something that sits in between.

To provide some context, here’s a quick comparison of the basic numbers between those three bikes;

  • Trance 29 – 130mm fork & 115mm rear travel, 66.5° head angle & 74.5° seat angle
  • Trance X 29 – 150mm fork & 135mm rear travel, 65.5° head angle & 77.2° seat angle
  • Reign 29 – 170mm fork & 146mm rear travel, 64.6° head angle & 76.4° seat angle

While there is clearly some overlap, the Trance X 29 is likely to be the most versatile option for most riders. It also possesses the most progressive geometry we’ve seen from any Giant mountain bike to date, though it’s also quite contemporary alongside the competition – we’re talking the Trek Fuel EX, Specialized Stumpjumper, Orbea Occam, Cannondale Habit, Yeti SB130 and Santa Cruz Hightower.

Gosh That Looks Mighty Tasty

Doesn’t it just? We reckon this has to be the best looking Giant mountain bike to date. Well, excluding the 2000 ATX oneDH, obvs.

It’s refreshing to see Giant adopt a near logo-free aesthetic, and on our test bike, a very jazzy paint job that we hear is made from recycled and dehydrated peacock feathers. Like the latest Reign 29, the Trance X Advanced Pro features smooth, flowing lines throughout its full carbon fibre chassis, including the prominent cheek bones where the top tube meets the big head tube junction.

It doesn’t just look nice – it’s also quite a bit lighter than the alloy Trance X. To be more specific, the frame is 682g lighter, a substantial drop of 25%. Claimed frame weight is just 2,498g with a Fox Float DPS shock, which is very impressive, and not far off XC race bike territory.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The Trance X Advanced Pro gets a full carbon fibre chassis, 150mm up front and 135mm of rear travel via the Maestro suspension design.

The one-piece composite rocker link is shared with the alloy Trance X, as are the new double sealed pivot bearings. A small but nice touch is that the titanium hardware for the central rocker link pivot has been anodised black to match the alloy hardware used elsewhere. Whereas the alloy Trance X only gets one titanium bolt on the non-drive side, the carbon frame gets titanium bolts on both sides, supposedly to beef up stiffness between the swingarm, rocker link and seat tube.

Geometry is identical to the alloy Trance X, and you also get a nifty flip chip in the rearward rocker pivot, which allows you to lift the BB by 10mm and steepen the angles by 0.7°. There’s also generous frame protection throughout, with a very soft 30a durometer rubber employed for the ribbed chainstay protector to help dampen chain noise. The same tacky rubber is used to line the frame’s belly, while an inconspicuous 3M clear plastic sticker covers the upper length of the downtube to protect the paintwork against rock strikes and tailgate shuttle pads.

The frame is well protected with thick rubber armouring underneath the belly of the downtube, and a ribbed chainstay protector that’s designed to dampen chain slap.

What Carbon Trance X Models Are Coming To Oz?

In addition to the two alloy models, Giant will be selling three carbon Trance X bikes in Australia with prices starting at $6,599 AUD. Those three bikes will all get the same full-carbon frame – Giant is no longer doing hybrid carbon/alloy frames. It’s either all-alloy or all-carbon.

You’ll find hookless carbon rims spec’d throughout, along with an excellent Maxxis tyre combo – a 2.5in Minion DHF up front and a 2.4in Dissector on the rear. Each model gets a 1×12 drivetrain, 780mm wide bars, and 4-piston brakes with a bigger 200/203mm rotor on the front.

Read on for a closer look at the spec and pricing of the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 range, followed by our ride impressions of testing Giant’s new high-zoot, Live Valve-equipped rock gobbler.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The top-end Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 comes stock with the Fox Live Valve suspension system, along with a Shimano XT groupset and a Fox Transfer dropper post.

2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 135mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float Live Valve, Factory Series, FIT4 Damper, 44mm Offset, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2 Live Valve, Factory Series, 185x55mm
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 1, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/XT 30T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT 4-Piston w/203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact SLR Trail Riser, Carbon Fibre, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, Length: 40mm (S/M), 50mm (L/XL)
  • Seatpost | Fox Transfer, Factory Series, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & Extra-Large
  • RRP | $11,499 AUD
2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 1
For nearly four grand less, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1 ditches the electronic suspension in favour of a Fox 36 GRIP2 fork and a Float DPX2 shock. This might be the pick of the bunch when it comes to the performance-for-dollar ratio.

2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 135mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, GRIP2 Damper, 44mm Offset, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series, 185x55mm
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 2, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 30T Crankset & 10-52T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM G2 R 4-Piston w/200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact SLR Trail Riser, Carbon Fibre, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, Length: 40mm (S/M), 50mm (L/XL)
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & Extra-Large
  • RRP | $7,699 AUD
2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 2
At less than seven grand, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 2 comes with exactly the same carbon chassis as the top-end models, a RockShox suspension package, and SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 shifting.

2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 2

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 135mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox Pike Select, DebonAir Spring, 42mm Offset, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select, 185x55mm
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 2, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 30T Crankset & 11-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano MT520 4-Piston w/203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact Trail Riser, Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, Length: 40mm (S/M), 50mm (L/XL)
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & Extra-Large
  • RRP | $6,599 AUD
2021 liv intrigue advanced pro 29
Liv is on the 29er trail party too, with the release of its new Intrigue Advanced Pro.

And There’s A New Liv Intrigue Too

Liv Cycling, Giant’s sister brand, has also announced a new premium carbon fibre 29er trail bike – the Intrigue Advanced Pro. The concept is the same as the Trance X, with the Intrigue 29er bringing progressive big-bike geometry into a mid-travel package. However, the chassis, geometry and suspension are unique to Liv, with the Intrigue also featuring a little less travel – 125mm at the rear and 140mm up front.

There will be three carbon Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 models coming into Australia, with prices mirroring the carbon Trance X range. These three bikes will join the existing alloy model, creating an impressive array of women’s specific 29er trail bikes.

The new Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro features 29in wheels, a 140mm travel fork and 125mm of rear wheel travel, which is all built around a premium carbon fibre chassis with women’s specific geometry.

2021 liv intrigue advanced pro 29 0

2021 Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 125mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float Live Valve, Factory Series, FIT4 Damper, 44mm Offset, 140mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2 Live Valve, Factory Series
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 1, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/XT 30T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT 4-Piston w/203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact SLR Trail Riser, Carbon Fibre, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Fox Transfer, Factory Series, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S/M), 150mm (L)
  • Saddle | Liv Sylvia SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium & Large
  • RRP | $11,499 AUD

2021 liv intrigue advanced pro 29 1

2021 Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 1

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 125mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, GRIP2 Damper, 44mm Offset, 140mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 2, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 30T Crankset & 10-52T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM G2 R 4-Piston w/200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact SLR Trail Riser, Carbon Fibre, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L)
  • Saddle | Liv Sylvia SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium & Large
  • RRP | $7,699 AUD

2021 liv intrigue advanced pro 29 2

2021 Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 2

  • Frame | Advanced Grade Carbon Fibre, Maestro Suspension Design, 125mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox Pike Select, DebonAir Spring, 42mm Offset, 140mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select
  • Wheels | Giant TRX 2, Hookless Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.5 WT Front & Dissector EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4 WT Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 30T Crankset & 11-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano MT520 4-Piston w/203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Giant Contact Trail Riser, Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero SL
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium & Large
  • RRP | $6,599 AUD

Testing The Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29er

At 175cm tall, I’ve been riding a Medium Trance X in both alloy and carbon variants. This bike is quite generously proportioned thanks to Giant’s geometry modernisation program over the last couple of years. Highlighting that progression, frame reach has grown from the Trance 27.5 (435mm) to the Trance 29 (442mm) and now to this Trance X (456mm). It’s now a decently long bike, and for those who normally like to upsize, I’d be taking a closer look at the numbers before making any assumptions.

During my first ride, I found the riding position didn’t feel quite the same as the alloy Trance X, even though they both have a 40mm long stem. Turns out it’s because of the handlebar profile. Giant has built a new carbon bar called the Contact SLR, which features slightly less backsweep (7° vs 9°), which squares up the grips a touch. It’s apparently very light at less than 200g, while still having passed Giant’s in-house test for its DH handlebars.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The Trance X features 780mm wide bars and a 40mm stem on our Medium test bike. The reach is decent on this bike too – if you’re used to upsizing, take a close look at the numbers on this one first.

Tyre & Suspension Setup

Kudos to Giant for offering a genuine tubeless ready setup. The rims are pre-taped and valves are installed from the factory, and you get two bottles of sealant included with the bike. Just remove the valve cores, squirt in some delicious tyre milk, and you’re ready to roll. Having already dissected the Dissector on the alloy Trance X a few weeks back, I did slip a tyre insert into the rear wheel for a bit of necessary rim defence against our tenaciously rocky test trails. Tyre pressure was setup at 20psi front and 23psi rear.

Despite the Fox Live Valve trickery, this is quite an easy bike to setup. You just need to ensure the Live Valve controller is switched off, then setup the rear shock with 30% sag – exactly the same as the alloy Trance. I needed 190psi inside the shock to support my 68kg riding weight, and set the rebound damping halfway (12/24 clicks).

Fox’s handy guide on the fork lowers is an excellent place to start. I ended up with 78psi inside the air spring, and the rebound damping as suggested (11/19 clicks).

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0 fox live valve
Despite the Live Valve trickery, the suspension is easy to setup.

Geometry On This Bike Is Sorted

Easily the best attribute of the new Trance X is its progressive geometry. The head angle is sufficiently slack at 65.5°, and along with the healthy reach and 438mm chainstay length, the long wheelbase helps to anchor this bike to the trail. It’s terrifically stable when descending, especially with the chunky Fox 36 and big 2.5in Minion up front.

Despite the brawn, it also delivers a fantastic climbing position thanks to the steep 77.2° seat tube angle. I noted this during my time with the alloy Trance X – even though that is quite a heavy bike, it still climbs exceptionally well. With your hips placed further forward over the cranks, you’re able to drive the pedals with more power with less wallowing from the rear shock.

Being quite a bit lighter, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 has even stronger climbing chops. Confirmed weight is just 13.5kg for our test bike (weighed without pedals), which is a 1.5kg drop over the Trance X 29 2.

Add in the efficiency-boosting Live Valve suspension, which keeps the fork and shock firm until you encounter a bump on the trail, and the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 scoots up the climbs with impressive alacrity given its muscly exterior. The Dissector is a smart choice for the rear tyre, as it’s quite a bit faster rolling than the Minion DHF, and it’s 100g lighter too. The compact 30T chainring is a welcome choice too, providing practical low-range gearing.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The Trance X is built for riding properly technical trails – be it climbing or descending.

Chip Flippin’

If technical climbing is on the agenda though, flipping the geometry chip into the High position is definitely recommended. It’s an easy process to do trailside with a 5mm hex key, and Giant has ensured that the difference is great enough that you can really feel the change between the two settings.

At one of my local trail networks, which features a lot of smooth hard-packed singletrack in between sections of abusive rock gardens, I flipped the geometry into the High position partway through a ride. This lifts the BB by 10mm, which gets you considerably more pedal clearance, and it also steepens the seat tube angle to 77.9°, which helps to push more of your bodyweight onto the front tyre. It’s noticeable on the climbs, and I found myself clipping the granite a lot less. But it’s equally noticeable on the descents.

The flip chip lifts the bottom bracket height by 10mm, while steepening the head and seat angles by 0.7°. Unlike some of the more subtle geometry adjusters found on other bikes, the change is immediately noticeable on the trail.

Railing through fast high-speed berms and pumping along machine-built flow trails, the Trance X can feel a bit laboured when you’re in the Low position. What makes it very stable when bombing rough descents, also makes it harder to move off-line through high-speed corners, particularly those with a radius that tightens past the apex. While the Trance X is a better handling bike everywhere else, it’s on these sorts of trails where the Trance 29 still holds a slight advantage, with its shorter chainstays and steeper geometry giving it a more nimble and poppy feel during rapid changes of direction.

Flipping the geometry chip into the High position does improve things on the Trance X though. Thanks to the sharper head angle and more forward weight distribution, the steering becomes more direct and responsive. In fact, I ended up preferring this setting for 90% of the trails that I took the Trance X on. Unless I was going properly steep and deep, I never felt like the 66.2° head angle was too steep in the High position. That’s the beauty about it though – the flip chip gives you useful trail-tuning capability for adapting the bike to the terrain.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
In the Low geometry position, the Trance X is a riot to ride flat-out on rough and rowdy descents.

Live Valve Is Smarter Than You

One of the other prominent attributes of the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 is of course the Fox Live Valve suspension. We’ve had plenty of experience with Live Valve before, and the system remains unchanged since it was introduced in 2018. If you’re not familiar with how it works, our tech feature and video review is very good place to start.

In a nutshell, Live Valve is an automated suspension system that’s designed to improve pedal efficiency. It’s a bit like the Specialized Brain damper, but the valve is controlled electronically, making it significantly faster and smoother.

There’s a sensor on the fork and one at the rear axle to measure bump forces, while a three-axis accelerometer in the control unit under the top tube determines if you’re climbing, traversing, descending, or jumping. The system constantly analyses those inputs while you’re riding, and determines whether the suspension should be in one of two settings: open or firm. The default position while cruising along is firm. When you encounter a bump that’s big enough to trip the fork sensor though, the system flicks the suspension from firm to open in about three milliseconds. That response time is apparently 100 times quicker than the blink of a human eye. Needless to say, Live Valve is faster than your thumb will ever be on a remote lockout.

Live Valve relies on a sensor on the fork and at the rear dropout to measure bump forces, along with a three-axis accelerometer inside the control unit where the battery pack is. The system knows whether you’re climbing, traversing, descending, or even jumping. How creepy!

It’s Adjustable, But Not That Adjustable

The firm setting is pre-set by Giant at the factory. It isn’t a lockout, but rather a heavy dose of compression damping that firms up both the fork and shock to improve pedal efficiency and resist weight shifts when you’re pedalling out of the saddle. The open setting is adjustable though – there’s a 3mm hex key at the top of the fork damper and on the underside of the shock’s piggyback reservoir. For maximum plushness, I left this dial wound fully open.

Once you’ve turned the system on, you can select between five settings on the Live Valve control unit. Five is the firmest setting, and one is the softest setting. To put it simply, the higher the setting, the bigger the bump needs to be before the system will open up the fork and shock. However, each setting actually has a range of parameters that Giant’s design team has already determined for you. Unfortunately Fox is still yet to unveil an app or any software that could allow the user to alter these parameters, which is a shame given there’s so much tuneability in the back end.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Turn the system on, select your preferred sensitivity setting, and ride. There’s no lever-flipping or knob-twisting required here – Live Valve takes care of all that for you.

Fox recommends starting out with setting two, and that ended up being my preferred setting. The platform in setting one is a little too easy to overcome, which makes the system somewhat redundant. I found settings four to five were too firm for my local trails, which have quite a lot of technical climbing features, where I couldn’t guarantee that the fork would open up to absorb the terrain in front of it. If the Live Valve setting was too firm, the front wheel could occasionally be knocked off line in these climbing scenarios where an open fork would absorb the hit and carry on.

Does It Work?

It certainly does. It’s worth noting that even with Live Valve on, the fork and shock still settle naturally into their usual sag position. This is because the air spring is unaffected – Live Valve is only changing the compression damping between firm and open. Once you’re at sag though, you can feel a strong platform engage. On smooth terrain, the Trance X is noticeably more efficient under pedalling inputs, but the biggest improvement is how it resists weight shifts – whether you’re moving around the cockpit or leaping out of the saddle for a quick stab at the pedals.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The Maestro suspension design is already quite efficient under pedalling, but it’s the Live Valve system’s ability to stay firm under weight shifts that really enhances climbing.

If I was playing close attention while riding along in the bush on my own, I could hear and feel the Live Valve crack open in the fork when the front wheel encountered a rock or root on the trail. It’s quite discreet though, and the valve opens so quickly that there’s almost no lag. If you’re riding with others though, you’ll soon forget it’s even there. And you’ll laugh as you remember fondly about the days you used to ride down a descent having accidentally left your fork and shock locked out. That doesn’t happen with Live Valve, so you can forget about having to toggle compression levers and remotes.

Once heading up a steep incline, the improvement to the Trance X’s dynamic geometry becomes clear. Rather than sagging deeper into its stroke, the shock holds firm, helping to maintain that steep seat angle for longer. It also helps to prevent the cranks from getting too low to the ground, and even in the Low geometry position, I found myself clipping pedals far less than I did on the alloy Trance X. If you’re on a continually rough section though, the shock will open and sag enough that the Trance X’s low BB becomes more noticeable – so the geometry flip chip remains an effective tuning tool.

The improved efficiency is welcome on long-distance rides, particularly those that involve a lot of traversing across mixed terrain. I tried out a lighter wheelset and faster-rolling tyres on the Trance X, and with the geometry chip in the High position and the Live Valve system set on a firmer setting, it makes for an excellent all-day trail bike that is both comfortable to ride and efficient to pedal. I wouldn’t race XC on it, but certainly for the odd long-distance event or multi-day stage race, you’d be well served here.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
When descending, the system is designed to keep the fork and shock open for longer, giving you all the travel you need when you need it.

But Is It Worth It?

While Live Valve is very clever and extremely responsive on the trail, it isn’t necessarily the golden ticket to everyone’s trail riding nirvana.

For a start, the system does rely on a bump threshold to open up the fork and shock. Anything under that threshold, and the damping stays in the firm mode, meaning if you’re not riding with enough vigour to trip the sensors, you’ll feel more of those smaller bumps compared to a fully open system. Of course you can turn Live Valve off, but at that point you’re carrying around some very expensive electronics for no reason.

And on that note, the cost for all that performance is high. This bike is nearly four grand more than the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1. While the Live Valve system is only a portion of that price difference, it’s still a big contributor to the $11,499 AUD price tag. Also, I suspect that many riders will actually prefer the more supple performance and adjustability of the GRIP2 fork damper and Float DPX2 shock that comes on the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Live Valve may remove lockout levers and cables, but it replaces them with a myriad of electric wires and bolt-on sensors.

While the system has proved to be robust, there is of course more complexity. While Fox has worked hard to eliminate the need for remote lockouts and the associated cables, paradoxically, it has added clutter elsewhere due to the extra wires and sensors of the Live Valve system. These require careful management, because they do flap about and make noise otherwise. Giant’s rubber cable ports aren’t terribly secure either – the right-side head tube port is currently struggling to stay in place with a brake line, dropper cable and Live Valve wire passing through it.

You’ll obviously need to remember to recharge the battery, and it lasts long enough that it’s easy to forget. I got through a month of testing on one charge, only for the battery to die on me on the final test ride. When the battery does go flat, the system thankfully reverts to the open mode. The battery also takes up some potentially valuable real estate. While I was able to fit a tube in front of the battery, there’s not much room for anything else – riders who like to strap all sorts of crap to their bikes are going to be a bit limited here.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Things get a bit crowded with a water bottle, a tube strap, and the Live Valve battery pack.

Ultimately whether Live Valve is worth it to you will largely come down to how much you prioritise pedalling efficiency, and how much you currently fiddle with compression dials and lockout levers. But it isn’t just about efficiency, as the Live Valve system offers handling advantages – the improved climbing position being a big one. However, the way the fork stays firm and high in its travel makes for a really planted feel through high G-force corners, and the added platform helps the whole bike to build momentum while pumping through berms and rollers. It responds really well to that kind of spirited riding on feature-rich terrain.

2021 giant trance x alloy vs carbon
We’ve tested both the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 (left) and the Trance X 29 2 (right).

Alloy vs Carbon Trance X

Having ridden both the Trance X 29 2 and now the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0, how do the two bikes compare?

As well as being 1.5kg lighter overall, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 also has considerably lighter carbon wheels – the TRX 1 wheelset is nearly 600g lighter than the stocky hoops on the alloy Trance X. That results in more zip on the climbs, and the stiffer carbon rims give it more rapid acceleration along with sharper handling too.

The flip-side is that the carbon Trance X is noticeably less compliant overall than its alloy counterpart. Part of this is due to the stiffer carbon wheels, though the 35mm diameter carbon bars also transmit a lot more feedback through the grips. I actually ended up with numb palms at the bottom of some particularly long and rough descents. If this were my bike, I’d be looking at a more flexible handlebar, preferably of the 31.8mm diameter variety.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
35mm diameter carbon bars are wickedly stiff. Too stiff for my liking.

Furthermore, while the suspension is excellent on the carbon Trance X, the FIT4 damper isn’t quite as supple as the GRIP damper found in the cheaper 36 Rhythm fork – even with Live Valve switched off completely. More aggressive riders may prefer the supportive feel and high-speed control of the FIT4 fork, but I missed the buttery action of the GRIP damper.

The caveat to all this is that I’m a relatively lightweight rider at 68kg. Someone closer to 100kg is going to have a different experience to me, and some riders do prefer that really snappy and crisp ride quality you get with a stiff carbon wheelset. But having tested both bikes, I found there to be a considerable difference in comfort and compliance that it’s worth mentioning.

Personally, if it were my money, I’d buy the Trance X 29 2 and look at upgrading it with a lighter set of wheels. If the allure of the carbon frame’s lower weight and smooth lines is too much though, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1 would be the value-pick of the bunch, particularly if you favour smooth and active suspension performance over the Live Valve’s automated pedal efficiency.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0 carbon vs alloy fit4 grip
Despite the vast difference in price, complexity and efficiency on the trail, I preferred the buttery-plush performance of the 36 Rhythm fork on the alloy Trance X.

Component Highs & Lows

As you’d expect for a mountain bike costing north of $10K, the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 is finished to a really high quality. The new rubber armouring is a great addition, and the luscious paint job seems to be a lot more durable than the paint used on last year’s carbon Trance 29.

This was my first experience with the 2021 Fox Transfer dropper post, and I have little to say other than it performs like the previous Transfer and looks fabulous with its Kashima coated upper tube. The new clamp mechanism looks a bit overkill, but it’s got a much broader range of adjustment and the bolts are way easier to access and adjust with a multi-tool. Giant’s new Romero SL saddle is a comfy perch, and with a broader platform and more padding, I suspect it’ll be far more popular with the broader population than the previous Control saddle.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Giant’s TRX hookless carbon rims are nice and wide, but they do transmit more trail feedback compared to alloy rims.
2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
Some silencing hacks are required for the finned brake pads. We sound like a broken record here, but Shimano really needs to sort this noise out.

The Shimano 1×12 drivetrain worked without fuss, though there was a bit of rubbing from the MRP chainguide in the 51T sprocket. The finned brake pads exhibited the usual rattle that has plagued Shimano’s 4-pot callipers for a couple of years now, and while it improved slightly after spreading the pad springs out, it’s a genuine annoyance on a bike that is otherwise pretty quiet on the trail.

You can get some spoke-pinging from the wheels when you’re really smashing into stuff on the trail, and as mentioned above, the carbon rims do transmit more trail buzz than an alloy equivalent. Given their hard-charging intentions and wide rims, they’re a pretty respectable weight though (1,861g confirmed), but the slow 24pt engagement results in noticeable lag at the pedals. I’d much rather see the TRX 0 wheelset spec’d on this bike with the faster DT Swiss Star Ratchet freehub mechanism.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The Trance X is a seriously capable All Mountain bike that successfully straddles the gap between the Trance 29 and the Reign 29, while offering more versatility.

Flow’s Verdict

With its progressive geometry, mid-travel suspension and enduro-inspired build kit, Giant’s new Trance X is a seriously capable bike that will cover a broad spectrum of riding styles. It wallops downhill with confidence and stability, but it’s also a terrific technical climber thanks to the steep seat angle, low gearing and high-grip rubber. The geometry flip chip is also a welcome addition to the platform, adding real-world trail-tuning versatility for dialling in the riding position and handling for your chosen terrain.

The top-end Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 that we’ve had on test here is a seriously high end piece of kit, and gear freaks are likely to fall in love with the automated efficiency and platform delivered by the Live Valve suspension system. I’d really like to see more tuning options from Fox though, especially for controlling the fork and shock’s Live Valve function independently. And there’s no denying that the Live Valve hop-up adds considerable complexity and cost. But if you’ve got the cash to wax and you’re after the one bike to do-it-all with short-travel efficiency and big-travel stability, then it doesn’t get much more versatile than this.


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