2022 Giant Trance 29 Review | A muscly little trail hustler that’s low, slack & ready to rip


The not-so-minor details

Product

2022 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1

Price

$8,799 AUD

Weight

13.38kg

Positives

- Fantastic handling boosts confidence & capability
- Masses of cornering grip on tap
- Live Valve improves efficiency and dynamic geometry
- Downtube storage
- Flip chip adaptability
- Long-stroke dropper post

Negatives

- Praxis crankset keeps dropping chains
- Downtube armour lacks full-width coverage
- Live Valve adds cable clutter

Mick & Wil review the 2022 Giant Trance 29

It was 2018 when the Giant Trance 29 was first released into the wild. As well as signalling Giant’s re-embrace of 29in wheels, that original Trance 29 also ushered in some of the most progressive geometry we’d seen from the brand at the time. Along with its aggro rubber and modern cockpit, the Trance 29 was a rad little trail ripper that we thoroughly enjoyed riding in both its alloy and carbon variants. Building upon that platform, Giant has just launched the new 2nd generation Trance 29 that aims to take its short travel concept to the next level. Given the claims of improved capability and versatility, has the new bike maintained all that we loved about the OG? We’ve been testing the 2022 Giant Trance 29 to find out!


Watch our video review of the Giant Trance 29 here:


giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Razzing around the old-school singletrack around Yackandandah on the new Giant Trance 29.

The new Giant Trance 29 really is a fantastic short travel ripper. We love how it harnesses a big bike attitude in a smaller and more responsive package, which loves to play with the terrain.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Updated for 2022, the Giant Trance 29 gets an all-new frame, a slight increase in suspension travel, and envelope-pushing geometry.

Ride High Country Test Sessions

With some 17 years of history behind it, the Trance is no doubt a classic trail bike for Giant. So what better place to take it than the classic trails of Yackandandah as part of the Ride High Country Test Sessions?

Situated in North East Victoria, the quirky town of Yackandandah is home to a 50km network of purpose-built mountain bike trails that are fondly referred to as the ‘Yack Tracks’. These are trails that play with the terrain, which has been sculpted and scarred by the frenzied mining activities of the gold rush era. Rather than shy away from it though, the hand-cut singletrack embraces the remnants of its past, weaving around water races and rolling through old diggings sites amongst enormous gum trees.

There are several loops to choose from, and a surprising amount of elevation gain on offer for those who want to test their climbing chops before relishing in the flow on the way back down. You won’t find any shuttles or chairlifts, and the trailhead itself is buried in the bush, about a ten minute ride from town. The result is a refreshingly old-school feel that’s about as far away as you can get from the big machine-built bike parks. You could get around most of the trails on an XC bike, but we reckon it’s an ideal spot for a short-travel ripper like the new Trance 29.

giant trance 29 yackandandah mick
You couldn’t feel any further from a big machine-built bike park on these hand-cut trails. We love this place!

Giant Trance 29 overview

The Giant Trance 29 is a short travel trail bike that sits between the Anthem (the 110/100mm travel XC race bike) and the Trance X (the 150/135mm travel All Mountain bike). The Trance 29 splits the different with a 130mm travel fork up front, and 120mm out back.

For those playing at home, that’s a 5mm increase in rear wheel travel over the old bike. Suspension is still delivered by the Maestro dual-link platform, though the kinematics have been tweaked thanks to the move to a longer-stroke shock (50mm vs 42.5mm).

Along with its burly build kit and enduro-adjacent geometry, the Trance 29 is designed to compete against other short travel trail bikes like the Trek Top Fuel, Scott Spark, Pivot Trail 429 and Canyon Neuron.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Equipped with a 130mm travel fork and 120mm of rear travel, the Trance 29 is a spunky but stout short-travel trail bike.

A burlier frame with inbuilt storage

The Giant Trance 29 also receives an all-new frame for 2022, which is visibly much beefier than its predecessor. According to Giant, the carbon frame offers a 15% increase in overall torsional stiffness, and a 23% increase in stiffness at the BB, both of which are noticeable on the trail.

There’s an enormous head tube junction and a boxy downtube, the latter of which hides in-frame storage. This is a first for Giant, and it follows in the footsteps of Specialized and Trek by providing the rider with access to the downtube via a removable hatch underneath the bottle cage. A soft tool wrap is included for stowing a tube and basic spares.

Unfortunately the alloy frame doesn’t receive the same internal storage. Instead, bosses are added underneath the top tube to allow for bolt-on accessories and tools.

Regardless of frame material, there’s clearance for a 650ml bottle on all four frame sizes, and you’ll find a variety of other practicalities including a Universal Derailleur Hanger and tidy bolt-in cable ports.

In the same vein as the Trance X, Giant has also added new rubber armouring underneath the downtube for rock-strike protection, and along the drive-side chainstay to mitigate chain slap. The 92mm wide press-fit BB shell is flanked by ISCG tabs, which allow you to add a full-coverage chainguide if your trail riding is especially spicy. Also updated is the move to a wider 55mm chainline, which helps Giant to maintain clearance for a 2.5in rear tyre.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Giant has increased the size and stroke of the rear shock, increasing travel and lowering the overall leverage rate.

New Live Valve 1.5

Another new addition to the Giant Trance 29 range is its Fox Live Valve integration.

Designed to improve pedal efficiency and climbing performance, the Live Valve system uses a variety of sensors to read the terrain and decide whether the suspension should be in the Open or Firm setting. It’s no doubt very clever, and the technology has fascinated us ever since we first tested it. Giant clearly believes in it too. For 2022 there will be seven bikes equipped with Live Valve across the Anthem, Trance 29, Trance X 29, Trance X E+ and Reign 29 lineup.

This helps to bring the cost down, to the point where our Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 test bike is actually the cheapest Live Valve-equipped bike on the market.

In the case of our test bike, the Live Valve system appears at the Performance Elite level. This is a new offering from Fox, and it’s exclusive to Giant for 2022. It’s functionally identical to the Factory Series version, the only difference being the black anodised stanchions as opposed to the gold Kashima coating. This helps to bring the cost down, to the point where our Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 test bike is actually the cheapest Live Valve-equipped bike on the market.

Furthermore, there have been changes to the rear shock’s internals and the overall behaviour of the Live Valve system. Also new is the Live Valve Bike app. This provides far greater customisation than ever before, with a variety of new modes to choose from. More on that in a bit.

Not a fan of electronic suspension? We’ll point out here that our test bike is the only model to feature Live Valve – all the other Trance 29 models feature conventional forks and shocks.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve bluetooth
The Trance 29 features Fox Live Valve integration for the first time. The latest Fox Live system is Bluetooth-enabled and you can adjust its behaviour by a new phone app.

Adjustable geometry

The Giant Trance 29 has also received a geometry refresh, with the head angle slackening out a degree to 65.5°. The reach has increased by 5-35mm depending on the frame size, and the rear centre also lengthens slightly to 439mm.

A more obvious change is the seat tube angle, which has steepened by 2-3° over the old bike. Also noticeable is the BB height, which is significantly lower thanks to a healthy 45mm BB drop, making this one of the most low-slung trail bikes out there.

As first seen on the Trance X, the Trance 29 also sees a flip chip built into the rocker link. Bikes will come shipped in the Low position, though flipping that into High will lift the BB by 10mm and steepen the angles by 0.7°. That’s a big change, and it actually brings the geometry of the Trance 29 fairly close to the old bike.

giant trance 29 2022 geometry sizing

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
The Giant Trance 29 adopts a flip chip to provide two distinct geometry settings.

2022 Giant Trance price & specs

The Giant Trance 29 will be available in four spec levels for 2022. There are three models with carbon frames and one model with an alloy frame. Prices start at $4,799 AUD for the Trance 29 1, and go up to a mind-boggling $13,999 AUD for the Trance Advanced Pro 29 0.

That top-end model features a stupendously premium built kit that, as far as we’re aware, makes this the priciest Giant mountain bike to date. It doesn’t feature the Fox Live Valve system though – a curious omission given Giant’s apparent commitment to the system.

The bike we’ve been testing, the Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1, sits one step down the ladder. Even with its Fox Live Valve suspension and lots of carbon bits, it’s still over five grand cheaper than the top model. Read on for the specs and prices of the full lineup, followed by our review of the new 2022 Trance 29.

2022 giant trance advanced pro 29 0
Hooly dooly! The Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0 is equipped with Zipp wheels, SRAM AXS shifting, a one-piece carbon cockpit and Fox Factory suspension for a cool $13,999 AUD.

2022 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0

2022 giant trance advanced pro 29 1
One step down from the top, the Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 is the only model to come stock with Fox Live Valve. It’s also the cheapest bike on the market with Live Valve.

2022 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1

2022 giant trance advanced pro 29 2
Sharing the same carbon frame as the top two models, the Trance Advanced Pro 29 2 elects for standard Fox suspension and a Shimano Deore groupset to sharpen the price by quite some margin.

2022 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 2

2022 giant trance 29 1 alloy
And the entry-point into the range; the Giant Trance 29 1, which is the only alloy model for 2022. With the same geometry as the carbon models, this bike is equipped with Fox suspension, a Shimano SLX drivetrain and Giant-branded wheels.

2022 Giant Trance 29 1

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve yackandandah
A journey down into the centre of the Earth…

Building on what we loved about the old bike, the new Trance 29 delivers a stiffer and sturdier chassis that allows you to capitalise on its aggressive geometry. There are a number of competitors in this travel bracket that are really just spindly, long-legged XC bikes, but that’s certainly not the case with the Trance 29.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve yackandandah
…and out the other side through the Carcass Canyon!

Giant Trance sizing & fit

We chose a Medium size for our Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 to suit both Mick (178cm tall) and Wil (175cm tall).

The big tyres and slack geometry means it has a substantial feel about it, and you’re also positioned very much in-the-bike thanks to the low-hanging BB.

Compared to the old Trance 29, the steeper 76.3° seat tube angle does push a little more weight onto your hands though, something you can notice when riding on flatter terrain. We’ve found the fit to be spot-on with its 447mm reach though, and the cockpit is otherwise a comfortable place to be with the 780mm riser bars offering a great sweep profile.

The new Tactal Pro grips were a really nice surprise, with the subtly tapered profile and textured pattern providing a big improvement over previous efforts from Giant. The Romero SL saddle is a fine perch, and we’re also thrilled to see Giant equip the Medium frame size with a huge 170mm travel TranzX dropper post. The length was nearly at the limit for Wil’s stumpy legs, but it does feature a party trick that allows you to reduce the travel down to 140mm. This provides an extra degree of flexibility for those on the border between frame sizes, which will be good news for Giant dealers.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
The seat angle is much steeper on the new bike, and Giant is also equipping the Trance 29 with a longer-stroke dropper post that’s adjustable.

Suspension setup

Whereas the previous Giant Trance 29 required quite high pressures inside its small-volume rear shock, the lower leverage rate of the new bike means those pressures have come down a lot.

To hit 30% sag, we ran between 175-195psi inside the rear shock to suit our 70-80kg riding weights. We set rebound on the faster side, with just 7-9 clicks off the fastest setting (out of 26 clicks in total).

As for the Fox 34, we both stuck to Fox’s recommendations based on our riding weight, and have found the performance to be spot-on with no need for further fettling.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Compared to the old bike, lower pressures are required inside the larger rear shock.

Giant Trance weight

Confirmed weight for our Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 test bike is 13.38kg – that’s without pedals and with the tyres setup tubeless.

It’s pretty chunky for a 120mm travel trail bike, though Giant is keen to stipulate that the Trance 29 isn’t a beefed-up XC bike, but rather a short travel trail bike. That’s pretty evident given the burly frame, which is slightly heavier than the old bike. Giant claims the carbon Trance 29 frame weighs in at 2,495g (with a Fox Float DPS shock), while the alloy Trance 29 frame weighs 2,968g (with the same shock).

There are also some pretty chunky parts on our test bike. The TRX 1 carbon wheels came in at 1,939g on our workshop scales, and the tyre spec is aggressive with a 2.5in wide Minion DHF (1,003g) and Aggressor (1,095g).

They still only feature lightweight EXO casings though, so we fitted a CushCore Pro insert into the rear wheel to protect the carbon rim. Tyre pressures were set at 19-20psi on the front, and 22-23psi on the rear.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
With its burly chassis and enduro-adjacent geometry, the Trance 29 is no spindly XC bike.

What does the Trance 29 do well?

The new Giant Trance 29 really is a fantastic short travel ripper. We love how it harnesses a big bike attitude in a smaller and more responsive package, which loves to play with the terrain.

Building on what we loved about the old bike, the new Trance 29 delivers a stiffer and sturdier chassis that allows you to capitalise on its aggressive geometry. There are a number of competitors in this travel bracket that are really just spindly, long-legged XC bikes, but that’s certainly not the case with the Trance 29.

The dual-link Maestro suspension design is responsive, generating excellent grip and keeping you connected to the trail. It’s noticeably more active compared to some of the single-pivot bikes in this category, though it’s not so doughy as to soak up all of your inputs when pumping through rollers or popping out of turns.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Mick and the Trance 29 working the rollercoaster singletrack that undulates through old digging sites and water races.

Of course the longer wheelbase and slacker 65.5° head angle has improved the Trance 29’s high-speed stability, and combined with the low-hanging BB, it is exceptionally planted on the descents for such a short travel bike. This sensation is enhanced by the low-slung top tube and long-stroke dropper post. There’s plenty of room for you to move around, allowing your arms and legs to add some extra travel when the suspension runs out.

The Trance 29 is also a significantly better climbing bike than its predecessor. It’s more comfortable, with the steeper seat tube angle keeps your hips over the pedals on steep climbs. It’s also steadier, with the longer chainstays reduce front-end wandering on tight switchbacks. Along with the active suspension and 2.5in Aggressor, this is a bike that digs in deep when the climbs get rough, steep and technical.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
The Trance 29 isn’t just more stable on the descents, it’s also more planted on the climbs too.

It absolutely rips through the turns!

Given its improved climbing and descending abilities, it perhaps comes as a bit of a surprise that the new Giant Trance 29 also rips through the turns. It does require a more active riding style compared to the old bike, but providing you grab the bars, commit and lean it over, it’ll carry you through twisty singletrack with panache.

The weight distribution feels more centred, and the low BB gets your weight down much closer to the ground. Along with the stiffer chassis, there’s a terrific connection between your contact points and the tyre contact patches. We’re also big fans of the Maxxis combo, which allows you to take full advantage of the Trance 29’s cornering stability across a pretty broad range of trail conditions. It’s an aggressive tyre choice, but the Trance 29 certainly makes the most of it.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Love ripping turns? You’re going to get along with the Trance 29 just fine then.

What does the Trance 29 struggle with?

As good as the Giant Trance 29 feels on the descents and through the corners, the lower BB does increase the chance of pedal strikes. Those riding on chunkier terrain with feature-rich climbs will want to flip the geometry chip into the High position to get the extra 10mm of pedal clearance.

That aside, the Trance 29 can occasionally be a victim of its own confidence. After all, there is only 120mm of rear wheel travel. It is well managed and sufficiently progressive, and there were only a couple of big moments where we hit full travel. The stiff chassis, surefooted geometry and grippy tyres mean you can deal with those big moments without necessarily staining your chamois.

On chunkier enduro trails however, which the Trance 29 is totally up for riding, there is only so much that the rear suspension can soak up. You’ll get down those trails, but you’ll need to pay more attention. There’s more feedback and a narrower margin for error compared to a longer travel bike like the Trance X.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
The bottom bracket hangs very low with a 45mm BB drop. It provides masses of cornering stability, but you will need to watch those pedals on chunkier tech climbs.

Approaching the Trance 29 from the other perspective, it’s clearly no XC bike either. The Maestro suspension design is efficient and responsive for sure, and overall climbing performance is great. Still, it’s nowhere near as zippy as the Anthem. On longer, smoother climbs, you’ll notice the extra mass and the increased friction from those big tyres.

For shits ‘n’ giggles, we did swap in the lighter weight XCR wheelset from our Anthem test bike, which are fitted with faster-rolling Rekon Race tyres. Dropping close to a kilo, the difference in ride quality was huge, adding more zest and urgency to the Trance 29’s acceleration. We also flipped the geometry chip into the High position, which provided a tighter feel and sharper steering performance for whizzing through flatter and tighter trails.

Of course those taking their XC racing seriously will still be better served by the lighter Anthem, which is optimised for such pursuits. But for riders who want the one bike for trail riding, with the odd club race or multi-day event thrown in, the Trance 29 will be the more versatile option. Put on a lighter set of tyres, set the geometry in the High position, and set off for the start line.

What does Live Valve bring to the party?

Now there’s only so much we want to discuss the Fox Live Valve system, given it only comes on the Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1, but the performance is so distinctive that it would be remiss of us to glaze over it. It’s also worth addressing the elephant in the room, which is the fact that Live Valve hasn’t really taken off over the past three years as much as Fox expected it to. And there are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, it’s more expensive. It also requires specific frame fittings for the sensors and main control unit, there are the extra cables to manage, and there’s an extra battery that you have to remember to charge.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
We’ve had mixed feelings about Fox Live Valve in the past, but it has been tuned exceptionally well on the Trance 29, and it brings about a significant improvement in performance.

Furthermore, your experience with Live Valve will largely boil down to the suspension tune for both the Open and Firm settings. Of course you can adjust air pressures and rebound damping, and there’s a low-speed compression adjuster for the Open mode, but the broader character of the suspension is predetermined from the factory by Giant and Fox.

In the case of the Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 we tested last year, the Open setting felt over-damped in the fork, especially compared to a standard Fox 36 with a GRIP or GRIP2 damper. Thankfully that’s not the case here, with both the front and rear suspension offering a plush and active feel in the Open position. The shock in particular offers better sensitivity and traction, having been upgraded with a new main piston that’s been borrowed from the big Float X2 downhill shock.

It’s also worth noting that the Firm position isn’t a full lockout. Yes it’s firmer, but the suspension still moves, allowing the Trance 29 to seek out traction and smoothen off edges on rough climbs. It does take a few rides to get used to though. Until the sensors are tripped with a big enough impact, the suspension will remain in that Firm position, meaning you’ll experience more feedback on smaller trail rubble.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
There’s no option to switch the fork off entirely, and the internals are still based off the FIT4 damper. Coming from the Fox 34 GRIP2 fork, Mick was missing the buttery sensitivity.

Once you’re used to those thresholds though, the benefits of Live Valve become crystal clear. When traversing across bumpy singletrack, the biggest difference we noticed was the reduced oscillation from the rear shock. After the suspension has opened for an impact, it soon closes, returning you to that Firm setting. This helps to counter repeated bobbing and general weight shifts, with the suspension maintaining a steady platform beneath you.

Of course pedal efficiency steps up a few notches too. The Maestro suspension is already well behaved under pedalling inputs, it just becomes tighter and more responsive with Live Valve. You also don’t get the same sinking sensation on the climbs, with the stronger platform improving the Trance 29’s dynamic geometry. The shock sits near the top of its stroke, delivering you a steeper effective seat tube angle and more pedal clearance. With Live Valve engaged, we could comfortably leave the geometry chip in the Low setting without fear of constant pedal strikes.

New tuning options

Also benefitting the Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 is the new Bluetooth-enabled controller, which allows you to pair the system with the Live Valve Bike app. The app provides you with five different modes to choose from, and there are five levels of sensitivity for most of those.

Switching modes changes a whole range of parameters, but essentially you’re adjusting how easily the valve opens and how long it remains open for. It’s a simple but welcome addition for tuning the performance for different riders and terrain, and really, this is the app that Live Valve should have launched with back in 2018.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve app
This is the app that Fox Live Valve should have launched with back in 2018. It’s simple to use, but gives some handy modes for the rider to choose from to better suit their terrain and style.

The default mode is Sport, and that ended up being Wil’s preference. There’s also a new Comfort mode, which was the setting that Mick preferred. This delivers quite a big change in performance, with the suspension more willing to open up on smaller impacts, improving rider comfort on rockier trails.

There’s also a special Climb mode, which leaves the fork open on the climbs, while stiffening up the rear shock further. This is useful for really long or rough climbs, and the system cleverly reverts back to Sport mode when you’re on the flats or descending.

However, there’s still no mode that allows you to leave the fork open all the time. If you’re an aggressive out-of-the-saddle rider, the increased fork platform will be appreciated. But for those who are more likely to be sitting back and cruising in the saddle, the Live Valve damper in the fork is far less useful compared to the shock.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Active riders who like to move around the cockpit and hammer out of the saddle will love the platform of the automated Live Valve system.

It also has to be said that the FIT4 damper architecture (which is what the Live Valve fork is based on) doesn’t deliver the same buttery plushness as a GRIP or GRIP2 damper. That’s ultimately the tradeoff with Live Valve, and having access to that automated platform that we like so much.

Indeed Live Valve has provided a noticeable improvement on both smooth and technical climbs, while allowing us to enjoy the lower and slacker geometry on the descents. It’s a big performance booster for the Trance 29 that genuinely broadens its versatility, while reducing the compromises associated with picking the High or Low geometry position.

According to Fox, this new Live Valve 1.5 system has also been upgraded with new on-board sensors that claim to improve pitch detection. This means it’s better able to determine whether you’re climbing, on the flat, or descending, and alters the suspension characteristics accordingly.

The best part about Live Valve though is that you don’t have to think about it. The automated system is insanely quick, opening up in just three milliseconds. So once you do hit a big enough bump, the fork and shock open pretty much instantaneously.

You don’t have to worry about toggling lockout levers, or hitting a remote lever, and you can basically forget about descending with the lockout accidentally engaged. Just get on, switch the Live Valve controller on, and ride.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve praxis girder crank wave tech chainring guide
The Praxis Girder crankset struggles to keep the chain in place on really rough descents, and it’s gotten worse over time as the teeth have worn. We’re investigating alternative chain guide and chainrings to see if we can come up with a solution.

Component highs & lows

Having put a load of miles into our Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 test bike, the most annoying problem so far has been Praxis Girder crankset. Following the first 100km of riding, the chainring began dropping chains multiple times on each ride. We’ve encountered this issue with Praxis Wave Tech chainrings in the past, so it’s not a new problem.

Compared to a full ridgey-didge Shimano XT drivetrain, there’s a slightly sloppy fit between the KMC chain and the Praxis chainring, which is also causing some noise on rougher descents.

It’s worth noting that our test bike came direct from Giant Bicycles in the US and arrived without an upper chain guide, though Aussie models will have one fitted from the factory. Chain security did improve after we fitted an MRP upper guide to our Trance 29, but unbelievably, it’s still dropping chains on a regular basis, and it appears to be getting worse. Needless to say, this shouldn’t be a thing in 2022, and it especially shouldn’t be a thing on a $9K mountain bike. We’re currently investigating alternative chain guide and chainring solutions to see what options are available to potential Trance owners, and we’ll update this review when we can find a way to keep the chain on.

General trail noise has otherwise been kept to a minimum thanks to the thick rubber armouring, though the downtube protector could cover a broader surface area. Our frame has already encountered a rock chip right at the spot where the rubber lining begins to narrow.

The new frame itself is well-finished, and we’re fans of the downtube storage, even if the locking mechanism looks like it’s been borrowed from a microwave. The door is notably smaller than those you’ll find on a Trek or Specialized frame, so you may struggle to fit much more than a spare tube and tyre levers in there. And watch out for the excessively long loops of Live Valve wires when stuffing the tool pouch back inside.

Few complaints can be dished out to the build kit though, with the Shimano XT drivetrain offering flawless shifting as expected. There’s huge power from the four-piston brakes, and it’s great to see non-finned pads as stock equipment.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
The door is a little small, and the locking mechanism sticks out quite a lot, but we’re still happy to see integrated frame storage on the Trance 29.

Giant Trance 29 vs Trance X

Given the arrival of the new Giant Trance 29, we suspect there’ll be a lot of riders out there who are going to be tossing up between this bike and the longer travel Trance X.

We’ve tested both the alloy Trance X 29 1 and the carbon Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0, which share a very similar aesthetic to the new Trance 29. The geometry is remarkably close between the two platforms, and there are also few differences in the build kit.

The key distinction is found in the suspension, with the Trance X jumping up to 135mm on the rear with a 150mm travel fork. This also sees the Trance X stepping up to a bigger fork chassis as well, with most models equipped with a Fox 36.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0
The two bikes look similar, and the geometry is very close, but the Trance X gets an extra 15-20mm of travel along with a bigger fork.

The extra travel means the Trance X is quite a bit smoother and more comfortable on rough terrain. It delivers a floatier suspension quality that allows it to track with more confidence down violent rock gardens, and it copes with bigger repeat hits better too. The sturdier fork up front results in less deflection, allowing you to be more carefree with your line choice. It’s a terrifically capable and versatile All Mountain bike, and one that’ll handle a wide range of Aussie trails, including some shuttle action and the odd enduro race.

In comparison, the shorter travel Trance 29 is a pure trail bike. It does offer a similarly burly feel to the Trance X, albeit with a more responsive feel to its suspension and handling. There’s less squidgy suspension to get lost in, with more support and a stronger connection to the trail. Yes there’s more trail feedback, and there’s a smaller margin for error when things get hectic. However, you do get a higher return on your pedalling and steering inputs, and it’s a more enthusiastic climber as a result. And with its taut back end and the BB hovering mere millimetres off the ground, it’s an absolute delight to dive in and out of turns with.

giant trance vs scott spark
We’ve been testing the Giant Trance 29 and Scott Spark 910 back-to-back. Similar bikes on paper, but very different on the trail.

Giant Trance vs Scott Spark

The other bike we need to compare to the Giant Trance 29 is the new Scott Spark, which we took along with us to Yackandandah for some back-to-back testing.

The Spark 910 shares the same amount of suspension, with 120mm of rear wheel travel paired to a 130mm fork. The geometry on the two bikes is also quite similar, though the Spark’s head angle can be independently adjusted via its modular headset cups.

Despite the similarities they are quite different bikes on the trail though. The Spark is nearly a kilo lighter and is spec’d with faster rolling tyres. Overall it feels leaner and sportier, being closer to an XC bike with its more aggressive riding position.

The Spark’s flex-stay suspension design offers good traction and comfort in the first half of its travel, but there’s less reactivity deeper in, and it struggles to maintain consistent grip on rowdier trails when compared to the more active Maestro platform on the Trance 29.

The Spark also uses the infamous TwinLoc system, which is thoroughly effective on the trail. It allows Scott to build the Spark with a similarly low BB and a plush suspension tune for the descents, while providing the rider with fingertip access to the unique Traction Control mode that reduces the shock volume and decreases rear travel. It’s a brilliant system that turns the Spark into a speedy XC bike on the flats, and a technical wizard on tricky climbs.

mick scott spark 910 yackandandah
We love how whippy and light the Scott Spark feels, and its TwinLoc system gives it terrific versatility.

While the execution is different, the end result on the trail is actually quite similar to the Trance 29 with its Live Valve system. You get a similarly firm platform with improved dynamic geometry and additional pedal clearance on the climbs, while being able to make the most of the low and slack geometry on the descents. Of course the advantage with Live Valve is that you don’t have to think about it, and there’s no lever to push. Your left thumb only needs to worry about the dropper post lever.

Still, some riders will prefer the simpler analogue approach of Scott’s TwinLoc system. The Spark also delivers a remarkably clean frame layout with the internal shock kept out of the elements, and the option of fitting two bottles inside the mainframe.

That aside, the Scott Spark 910 comes in at $1,000 AUD cheaper than the Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1. You are getting a carbon wheelset and handlebar on the Trance, along with the Fox Live Valve system. Whether it’s worth it really depends on how much you value the added performance of Live Valve.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve
Stopping in for a mid-ride refreshment at the Yack Creek Distillery, which is literally meters from the trail. Dangerous!

Flow’s Verdict

With its beefier chassis, increased travel and improved geometry, the 2022 Giant Trance 29 successfully carries on the torch from the original model, bringing with it notable improvements all-round.

It’s a better technical climber, and it’s also faster on the descents. The lower BB gives it a tonne of stability, while keeping you low to the ground for ripping through the turns. It is more likely to clip pedals on more natural off-piste singletrack though, in which case you’ll want to flip the geometry chip into the high position to increase clearance under the cranks.

This compromise is removed entirely by the Fox Live Valve system, which works exceptionally well on the Trance 29. There are downsides to Live Valve, but if you’re willing to move past those and you can afford it, the system brings about some notable performance advantages.

Live Valve or not, the Trance 29 is an absolutely brilliant trail ripper that is brimming with attitude. It’s certainly no lightweight XC bike that’s been pumped up with a bit more travel. Instead, the Trance 29 is its own unique platform that pairs a tough build kit with aggro geometry and short travel responsiveness. The result is a muscly little bike that offers plenty of confidence for high-speed shredding, while also just being flat-out fun to ride.

giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve yackandandah
The riding and terrain around Yackandandah is so distinctive, and we love how the trails embrace the relics left behind from the gold rush era.
giant trance 29 2022 advanced pro fox live valve yackandandah
Going up!
yackandandah
Hitting golden hour down Carcass Canyon on our way to Bogan’s Run. Try saying that sentence to a non-mountain biking friend!

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