Giant Trance X 29 2 Review | Giant’s all-new Trance X is its best trail bike yet

The not-so-minor details


2021 Giant Trance X 29 2


$4,499 AUD




- Big-trail and big-speed ready
- Excellent new-school geometry
- Impressive technical climbing abilities
- Trail-tuning flip-chip
- Supportive & smooth suspension


- Fork has already developed bushing knock
- Creaky saddle
- The heavy wheels

Wil reviews the 2021 Giant Trance X 29

Big news from the bike brand with the big name, Giant has an all-new full suspension mountain bike for 2021, and it’s called the Trance X. Equipped with a 150mm travel fork and 135mm of rear travel, the Trance X is a chunky 29er trail bike that will be squeezing its way into the Giant lineup in between the current Trance 29 and Reign 29.

To see what’s new and how it all performs on the trail, Giant sent us out two bikes – the alloy Trance X 29 2, and the carbon Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 – to put to the test on our local trails. Here we’ll be going into our ride experience with the alloy bike, but you can also see our review of the carbon model here. Either way, this isn’t just the most contemporary Trance we’ve ever seen from Giant, there are no doubts it’s the most exciting too. And we reckon it’s going to prove to be a very hot competitor for the likes of the Trek Fuel EX and Specialized Stumpjumper.

Watch our review of the 2021 Giant Trance X here!

Pairing mid-travel suspension with progressive geometry isn’t exactly new, but it is for Giant. The result is an entertaining trail bike that climbs and descends steep, technical terrain equally well, without the numbing ride quality that longer travel enduro bikes can often suffer from.

giant trance x 29 2021
The Trance X is back and it’s all-new for 2021 with more travel, and the most forward-thinking geometry we’ve seen from Giant.

The Trance X is back! What’s changed?

Who here remembers the old Trance X 29er from 2013? You know, the one that looked like it had been rammed into a wall? At the time, it was the longest travel 29er that Giant had every designed, with a humongous 120mm of travel at both ends. However, it was only available for two years before Giant famously shelved its 29er offerings altogether in favour of exclusive adoption of 27.5in wheels.

Despite its short shelf life though, the Trance X 29er had a huge impact – we remember seeing them everywhere at the time, and these days it’s not uncommon to see those polished silver and white frames still being battered around the trails.

Remember the original Giant Trance X? That bike had a huge impact during its short lifespan, but things have moved on a lot since then.

Aside from the name and the fact that it also has 29in diameter wheels, the new Giant Trance X thankfully shares nothing in common with that old bike.

For a start, it looks a zillion times better. While it’s still curvy, the curves are more gentle, with much longer frame geometry allowing each tube a bit more breathing room.

Overall it looks a lot like a mini Reign 29er, with similar lines shared between the two. Of course it also features the Maestro dual-link suspension design, with a single-piece compression moulded composite rocker link driving the trunnion-mounted rear shock. Rear travel is only 11mm shorter than the Reign 29 (135mm vs 146mm), and the fork is also pretty close too (150mm vs 160mm).

And then you see the angles.

2021 giant trance x 29 2 wil
The Trance X features a 150mm travel fork combined with a 65.5° head angle. The seat angle is also the steepest we’ve seen from Giant.

Properly progressive geometry

Giant has obviously had its eye on current geometry trends, and while the new Trance X isn’t exactly breaking any boundaries, it is pushing towards the edges, particularly for a brand that has historically stood on the conservative side.

Out of the box the Trance X’s head angle sits at 65.5°, and reach goes up to a very generous 519mm on the XL frame. To keep the climbing position in check, there’s a steep 77.2-77.93° effective seat tube angle. That last number is a big improvement over the current Trance 29 (74.5°) and it’s also steeper than the Reign 29 (76.8°). See what we mean about this being progressive?

2021 giant trance x 29 geometry
2021 Giant Trance X 29er Geometry

Adjustable flip-chip

Furthermore, the geometry is adjustable on the Trance X. This is new for Giant, and it’s very much a welcome addition for the trail rider that wants to tune the handling according to their trails and riding style.

The geometry flip-chip is discreetly located in the rearward pivot on the rocker link, which you can access via a 5mm hex key. You’ll have to do both sides, but in my experience it’s a quick and easy adjustment to make on the side of the trail.

The Trance X will come from the factory setup in the Low position, and flipping it into the High position will steepen the head and seat angles by 0.73°, while lifting the BB height by 10mm. This is a more substantial adjustment compared to the Fuel EX’s flip chip (0.5° & 7mm) and the Stumpjumper (0.5° & 6mm), so you can expect to feel more of a difference between the two settings.

The geometry flip-chip is discreetly located in the rearward pivot on the rocker link, which you can access via a 5mm hex key.

Also worth noting is that adjusting the flip chip does have a slight impact on suspension performance, since the leverage ratio becomes slightly lower when you flip it into the High position. All things being equal, this will make the rear suspension feel a touch firmer, which should match the higher BB and steeper angles.

Battle armour

Also new for the Trance X is a soft, low durometer rubber used for the downtube belly armour and chainstay protection. Both rubber panels feature a rippled pattern that supposedly improves its ability to absorb impacts and deaden sound.

Further big-hitting credentials include the clearance for up to a 2.5in wide rear tyre, ISCG 05 chainguide tabs, and low-profile thru-axles front and rear. The frame itself boasts shapely tubes and large junctions, with a tapered head tube up top and a 92mm wide PF92 bottom bracket shell. Despite the low-slung top tube and Maestro suspension design, there’s still room to fit a water bottle inside the mainframe.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
Generously lathered rubber armouring features a textured and ribbed profile for increased impact absorption.

For our Medium test bike with the tyres setup tubeless, it clocked in at 15.02kg on the Scales Of Broken Dreams™. That is kinda chunky.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
To dampen chain noise, Giant has followed cues from other brands with a shapely chainstay guard.

Giant Trance X 29 price & specs

Giant will be offering five Trance X 29 models in Australia for 2021. The two cheaper models are built around an ALUXX SL hydroformed alloy frame, while the other three feature a full carbon Advanced Pro frame. For pricing and specs on the carbon models, head here.

Worth noting is that since the Trance X is an addition to the Giant lineup. That means the current Trance 29 will continue to be available for 2021, where it will coexist alongside the new Trance X.

2021 giant trance x 29 3
The cheapest Trance X 29er features a SRAM Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, a RockShox 35 fork and Maxxis Wide Trail rubber.

2021 Giant Trance X 29 3

2021 giant trance x 29 2
The Trance X 29 2 moves up to a Fox 36 Rhythm fork and a Shimano SLX drivetrain.

2021 Giant Trance X 29 2

There’s a new women’s specific Liv Intrigue too

But wait, there’s more! Giant’s sister brand Liv also has a new full suspension bike to unveil, which is simply called the Intrigue 29. As its name suggests, it’s a 29er version of the existing Intrigue 27.5, though that’s kinda downplaying the fact that this is Liv’s first ever 29er trail bike.

The Intrigue 29 is based on the Trance X 29, and it also features the Maestro suspension design with the new geometry flip chip. The two frames are different however, with the Intrigue featuring women’s specific geometry and fit. It’s a touch steeper with a 65.8° head angle (Low) and the reach has been brought in a bit. The suspension travel is a bit shorter too, with the Intrigue 29 featuring a 140mm fork and 125mm of rear wheel travel.

Only one Intrigue model is coming into Australia for 2021 – the Liv Intrigue 29 2.

2021 liv intrique 29 2
The Intrigue 29 is the first 29er trail bike from the women’s specific brand.

2021 Liv Intrigue 29 2

2021 giant trance x 29 2
We’ve had some killer rides on the Trance X 29 2 so far, which has taken no time at all to make its mark on our local trails.

Testing the 2021 Giant Trance X 29

The bike I’ve been testing is the Trance X 29 2, which features a Shimano SLX 1×12 drivetrain, 4-piston brakes, a Fox 36 Rhythm fork, and Giant-branded finishing kit.

Our test bike arrived prior to the official release, so I’ve been able to get a load of riding on it. That’s given me plenty of time to get a solid impression of what this bike is all about, how it compares to the existing Trance 29 (a bike we know very well here at Flow), and what it’s capable of.

It’s not particularly light

I will start by saying the Trance X 29 2 isn’t exactly what you’d call light. For our Medium test bike with the tyres setup tubeless, it clocked in at 15.02kg on the Scales Of Broken Dreams™. That is kinda chunky. Though not totally unexpected given ‘The Fattening‘ we’ve witnessed amongst the trail and enduro market over recent years, with brands choosing to spec big-stanchioned forks, wide rims and burlier tyres. On top of that, as frames get longer and slacker, of course there’s more material there too.

In the case of the Trance X, there’s quite a lot of mass to be found in the wheelset, which is made up of basic Shimano MT410 hubs, straight-gauge spokes, brass nipples and Giant’s own AM rims. Confirmed weight for the relatively basic hoops is a DH-worthy 2.46kg. That’s heavy! If you owned this bike and wanted to throw money at an upgrade, you could drop a serious amount of weight by going to a lighter wheelset.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
The Maxxis Dissector appears to an increasingly popular OEM choice, and it’s a smart option for the rear of the Trance X. It’s quick rolling and lively, seeing the back end drift-n-catch through fast, loose turns.

Going up!

Despite the weighty wheels, the Trance X climbs well. Like, surprisingly well. Giant has played a clever trick by spec’ing a Dissector on the back, rather than the oft-chosen Minion DHR II that typically pairs with the Minion DHF up front. The Dissector may have less braking bite, and it may also be rounder and driftier in loose conditions, but it is also quicker rolling than the DHR II with noticeably less drag. But that’s not only it.

The Trance X’s climbing zest is borne from that steep 77.2° seat angle, which centres you nicely between the wheels, putting your hips and knees further over the bottom bracket. As soon as you’re moving uphill you notice the difference compared to the slacker 74.5° seat angle on the Trance 29. In comparison, the new Trance X is more efficient and more comfortable. And because your body mass isn’t levering off the back of the bike so much, the shock doesn’t sink into its travel as much, and that helps to maintain that nice steep seat angle for longer.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
The effective seat angle comes out to nearly 78-degrees in the High position, helping to centre your weight between the wheels.

Combined with the long wheelbase, low gearing and active suspension design, this bike is a seriously good climber. By that I don’t mean on smooth fireroads where you do feel the weight, but on actual singletrack climbs. The sort of technical ascents where you need to negotiate tricky turns, rocky ledges and narrow gaps. In these situations it’s an absolutely brilliant climber, with an excellent seated climbing position and gobs of grip generated from the supple Maestro suspension linkage and trunnion-mounted Float DPS shock. In fact, on the very first ride I managed to clean one horribly steep climb that I’ve only ever been able to clean on an e-MTB. It was thoroughly satisfying, and a glowing endorsement of the Trance X’s technical uphill chops.

Those who like to stomp and dance on the pedals may wish to engage the blue compression switch, but for seated climbing I left the shock wide open, allowing the rear tyre to continue driving for traction.

Eye-watering good times

While I didn’t expect the climbing proficiency, I did expect the Trance X to go downhill well. And you’ll be happy to know that it does. The suspension is active, the Maxxis Wide Trail tyres are well-connected, and the big Fox 36 chassis gives a stout and dependable front end. While it may be the cheaper Rhythm model, the GRIP damper offers a supple and thoroughly active ride, keeping the front tyre stuck down. Most will enjoy the responsive feel, though bigger and jumpier riders will likely benefit from adding a volume spacer or two for added support.

2021 giant trance x 29 2 wil
It doesn’t take long for the Trance X to feel comfortable going flat-out over chunder.

Giant recommends you setup the Fox Float DPS shock with 30% sag. For my 68kg riding weight, 160psi was the magic pressure. There’s flexibility to fit a smaller or larger volume spacer inside the large volume EVOL air can, but I found the progression out of the box to feel great, with no harsh bottoming to speak of. There’s decent support to the back end, which means the Trance X never gives off that sluggish vibe that bigger travel, heavily damped enduro bikes can suffer from. It’s got a sporty, poppy vibe to it, and that encourages you to seek out the fun lines, imaginary lips and transitions.

While the long wheelbase and low BB give usable stability on the descents for keeping up with longer travel folk, I did find I was smashing both the pedals and the MRP bashguard regularly on the first couple of rides. In the spirit of science, I flipped the geo chip into the High position, which instantly made a difference. Pedalling through ugly, technical rock gardens was a lot easier, thanks to the added 10mm of clearance below my flailing pedals.

Certainly for more natural rutted-out singletrack, the High position is the way to go. Though given how quick it is to adjust the geometry, and how noticeable the difference is, it offers a genuine trail-tuning tool for those who wish to exploit it. I’d happily drop it into the Low position for a long weekend of bikepark-style riding at Bright, before flipping it back to High for my local trails.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
There’s only 135mm of travel out back, but it’s managed well, and it provides a nice and lively feel compared to squishier big travel bikes.
2021 giant trance x 29 2 wil
For a mid-travel 29er, the Trance X has quite a wide performance bandwidth.

Any issues so far?

Within the first ride the Fox 36 developed some very annoying bushing knock. This is likely due to poor tolerances between the upper tubes and the internal bushings, which results in a knocking sensation that feels just like a loose headset. It isn’t totally uncommon, and it does happen to forks over time as the bushings wear. It is totally unacceptable for it to happen within the first 15km of riding though, and very disappointing from Fox. Thankfully such an issue would be covered under warranty as a manufacturing defect, but it’d be nice if it didn’t happen at all.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
The 36 is a great choice for the Trance X, but unfortunately our test bike has already developed bushing knock in the lowers. That’s unacceptable on a $4,500 bike.

Our test bike has also developed a persistent creak in the saddle, which is equally irritating given the rest of the bike is so quiet and smooth. The saddle is Giant’s new Romero model, and hopefully the creaking is an isolated issue with our test bike, as it’s pretty comfortable and likely to be a popular update over the previous Contact saddle.

The only other hiccup I encountered is that I’ve already managed to put a nasty snakebike in the Dissector. I wasn’t running particularly low pressures, but it does only have the standard EXO casing, and at 937g it is on the lighter side given its size (the front tyre is 1,036g for reference). With the Trance X offering some serious go-fast capability for a bike with only 135mm of travel at the rear, I feel that I was coerced into going a lot faster than I should have been. Yes, I’m blaming the bike for encouraging such a reckless, spontaneous, and horrendous made-up transition on one particular descent, which caused said snakebite.

Anyway, you’ll work out pretty quickly if the Trance X wants you to put a more aggressive rear tyre on it, or perhaps a tubeless insert for a little more protection.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
The Romero is a new off-road saddle for Giant. Ours is quite creaky though.

Giant Trance X vs Trance 29

We were already fans of the Trance 29er, which showcased some of the most progressive geometry we’d seen from Giant when it debuted back in 2018. It did so in a tight little 115mm travel package that punched well above its weight, resulting in a riotously lively ride on snaky singletrack. For riders who wanted more fun and more capability than an XC bike could offer, but still wanted something that was efficient and involving to ride, the Trance 29 has been quite the thrilling option.

So how does this new Trance X compare to the existing Trance 29?

giant trance 29 1 trx 1 xcr 0 carbon wheels
The Trance 29 will carry on alongside the Trance X, but we suspect most trail riders will gravitate towards the X.

Well obviously it has more travel – 20mm more at each end. And the Trance X has a Fox 36, rather than the skinnier Fox 34 found on the Trance 29. Of course the bigger suspension brings more capability and comfort on rough terrain, but it’s really the geometry that separates these two bikes. The Trance X is notably slacker and longer, which helps to increase high-speed stability, giving more security when things get steep and hectic. And with more suspension in reserve, it’ll keep chewing the trail for longer.

Where it gets a little confusing is the fact that it also climbs better than the Trance 29, a direct result of that much steeper seat angle and longer wheelbase. Yes there’s more suspension between you and the trail, but the more central riding position helps to boost efficiency and balance. The rougher the conditions and the more technical the climb, the better the Trance X gets.

Geometry is all about compromise though, and one bike can’t do it all. The Trance X isn’t quite as sharp on really tight singletrack and on flatter terrain compared to the Trance 29, so it isn’t as nippy. But I’d say that’s about it. The Trance X is otherwise a better and more capable trail bike in every way.

2021 giant trance x 29 2
Giant has fully embraced all the modern trends with the new Trance X, and that sees it stepping ahead of many of its competitors.

Flow’s Verdict

Giant has introduced a belting addition to its full suspension lineup with the Trance X. Pairing mid-travel suspension with progressive geometry isn’t exactly new, but it is for Giant. The result is an entertaining trail bike that climbs and descends steep, technical terrain equally well, without the numbing ride quality that longer travel enduro bikes can often suffer from.

The thrashers and smashers will likely still choose the Reign 29 for pure enduro racing duties, but if that sort of race is only likely to pop up a few times a year on your calendar, I wouldn’t hesitate turning up on this Trance X. Indeed in Australia, where we’re not so blessed with huge mountains and 30-minute long alpine descents, the Trance X is likely to be a more popular, and more practical option with domestic enduro-ers.

It is plenty quick, which is supported by the grippy rubber, stout fork, and the big 4-piston brakes. Sure it could do with some lighter wheels, but overall this is a solid package for the money. And it certainly sits favourably alongside the equivalent Trek Fuel EX and Specialized Stumpjumper, especially when you consider the forward-thinking geometry that Giant has committed to.

Alongside this alloy model, we’ve also been testing out the carbon version too. To see what you get for the extra coin, along with a comparison between the carbon and alloy frames, check out our Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 review.

2021 giant trance x alloy vs carbon
Giant will offer both carbon and alloy Trance X models for 2021, and we’ve tested both. Read our review of the Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0.

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