03 Sep 2018

On test, we have the 2019 Trance 29er 1, the top-level aluminium frame option with a great parts spec, vivid orange paint and some very interesting spec and frame geometry choices. What category should we file it under; hardcore XC, or short-travel trail?

The not-so-minor details

Product

Giant Trance 29er 1

Contact

Giant

Price

5499

Positives

After only two rides, we are hooked.
Lively, engaging and fast.

Negatives

Mushy brake lever feel.

With the recent news Giant were bringing back 29″ wheels to their popular trail bike platform – the Trance – the internet went into overdrive, with warriors hammering out their disdain that Giant would backflip on their hard-nosed approach to wheel size. But seriously, what would you do if you were Giant?

Short travel 29er are the new enduro… Maybe.

The last Trance that Giant made with 29″ wheels is an abomination by today’s standards but doesn’t everything age? Either way, we don’t care about that, because we’ve ridden this new one and it brought us immense joy. The new bike is a total singletrack weapon!


Watch our reaction to the 2019 Trance 29er here.


We have just taken delivery of the 2019 Trance 29er 1, and are already huge fans of its singletrack manners, after only two rides we know we’re going to get along. There’s something pretty special about this thing; its fast handling, lightweight steering and agility through tight trails is super exciting. We’ve been spending a lot of time on our Norco Sight and Yeti SB100 lately, the Giant gives them a run for their money! Especially considering the frame-only price of the Yeti SB100 is not too far off the complete Trance off the shop floor.

Top FOX minus the fancy Kashima coating, this FOX 34 fork is a real winner.

With a taught 115mm of travel out the back and 130mm travel forks, its a lot shorter than the 140/150mm Trance with smaller 27.5″ wheels. Traditionally going up in wheel diameter lets you drop in suspension travel slightly without sacrificing too much stability over rough terrain. More on that point in more detail coming in our review.

115mm of travel was a surprise to many, but as suspension designs develop, does this mean we don’t need volume but quality for a good ride?

We see a bit of a shift of late, shorter travel 29ers with more aggressive spec – chunkier tyres, wider rims, beefier chassis forks etc, and with a trend shifting towards shorter offset crown forks and slacker head angles. Some are simply 100mm travel bikes with a 120mm fork option, like the Santa Cruz Blur and Specialized Epic EVO, while bikes like the Intense Sniper or Yeti SB100 have come about at the right time with a dedicated, aggressive XC build.

Nice bits, Trance.

The Trance 1 is the top-level aluminium offering with their new carbon wheels, a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Guide R brakes, a new Giant dropper (feels slick!), saddle and cockpit.

It’s all glorious kit, though we tend to prefer the feel of Shimano’s brakes at this price point, the SRAM Guide R brakes feel a little dead at the lever, but have plenty of power for the cause. SRAM GX Eagle is marvellous stuff, operating like its higher-end siblings, X0 and XX1 without the cost.

Ride time!

Already we know that we’re going to like this bike a lot, more than we expected. It’s a pleasant surprise, lets ride!