17 Sep 2020

Giant have cooked up a new e-MTB for 2021 season, with a few key features and a larger battery for serious adventures. Mick has been ripping about one the top-level model for a few weeks, here is how it all panned out, and what we were hoping for.

The not-so-minor details

Product

2021 Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 1

Price

$9,499 AUD

Weight

24.44kg

Positives

- Super hero confidence
- Adjustable geometry
- Imperturbable suspension
- Grippier than a velcro cat
- Well-suited parts

Negatives

- Bulky appearance
- Quite heavy
- Very long rear-centre
- Ground clearance issues

Mick Swings A Leg Over The Brand New 2021 Giant Trance X E+ Pro

Giant Bicycles continues to evolve its electric mountain bike lineup with the arrival of a brand new full suspension e-MTB called the Trance X E+. Replacing the existing 27.5in version (which only came out two years ago, such is the pace of e-MTB development, cripes!), the new Trance X E+ gets an all-new chassis that is optimised around 29in wheels with chunky 2.6in tyres front and rear. It’s still pitched as a comfortable and versatile do-it-all trail bike, so suspension remains the same with a 150mm fork up front and 140mm of rear-wheel travel courtesy of the Maestro dual-link platform.

The Trance X E+ is Giant’s first 29in e-MTB and shares new features with the recently released Trance X 29.

Bigger Capacity

Unlike the previous Trance E+ and Reign E+ models that were limited to a 500Wh battery, the new Trance X E+ gets a larger 625Wh battery pack. That’s a 25% increase in capacity, bringing Giant’s e-MTB offering in-line with the full-size battery options from Bosch and Shimano, and pretty close to the 700Wh battery found in high-end Specialized Levo models.

Giant call this new battery the ‘EnergyPak Smart 625’, and it sits inside a hollow cavity underneath the downtube. You can charge the battery in situ, or you can remove it from the frame with a T25 torx key in order to charge it separately. According to Giant, it takes just 2.2 hours to charge the 36V battery from flat up to 80%.

Bigger range, baby! Now with a 625Wh battery, our range anxiety when riding the 500Wh models is eased nicely.

As with the Reign E+, it’s possible to increase the range further with the optional EnergyPak Plus. This gives you another 240Wh of juice, bringing the total capacity to a very generous 865Wh. The EnergyPak Plus sells for $650 AUD, weighs 1.8kg, and it’s about the same size as a 6-pack. It bolts on easily to the downtube, which means you do lose the water bottle mount, but if you’re on a big backcountry adventure with 865Wh of juice in the tank, you’ll be taking along a fully-laden hydration pack anyway.

The 240Whr EnergyPak Plus range extender is available addition, opening up the possibility for longer rides with greater battery capacity. Clip it on, and go, rogue! It’s a wonderful feeling planning such massive rides.

Adjustable Geometry

As with the analogue Trance X, the Trance X E+ gets a geometry flip-chip, which you’ll find at the rearward pivot on the composite rocker link. The eccentric chip offers two positions – High & Low – and there’s a significant change in the geometry when alternating between those two positions. Flip the chip into Low, and the bottom bracket will drop by 10mm, and the head and seat angles will slacken out by 0.7°.

The 2021 Trance E+ scores a geometry adjustment feature within the composite Maestro linkage; the low setting helps you feel inside the bike and between the big wheels a little more, not perched on top.
High for greater ground clearance, sharper steering and a more forward seating position.

You only need a 5mm hex key to make the adjustment, but be careful if you’re making the change trail-side. The Trance X E+ is obviously quite heavy, so it’s not the easiest process to do on your own. And since the threaded nut isn’t captured, it’s possible for it to fall off and disappear into the scrub.

Geometry overall follows the analogue Trance X fairly closely, with a 65.8° head angle and a 452mm reach on our Medium sized test bike. The BB does sit about 10mm higher, which is important for an e-MTB as you generally want more ground clearance for technical climbing. Curiously, the seat angle is actually slacker at 76° though. We’d expect Giant to give the e-MTB version of the Trance X a steeper seat angle. Of course, you can steepen the effective seat angle by popping the flip-chip into the High position.

What Trance X E+ Models Are There?

There are three Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29er models coming into Australia for 2021, and all three are built around the same hydroformed alloy chassis. We’re still yet to see a carbon e-MTB from Giant, and certainly for now at least, the Trance X E+ is alloy-only. All models are equipped with the same 80Nm SyncDrive Pro motor and the new 625Wh battery pack.

There’s fresh rubber from Maxxis, with a huge 2.6in Assegai up front and a 2.6in Dissector out back. Giant is spec’ing Shimano exclusively on the Trance X E+, with 1×12 drivetrains and 4-piston brakes throughout the lineup. However, you won’t find Shimano crank arms due to the Yamaha motor. Instead it’s a Praxis Cadet crankset for all three models, with 160mm arms on the Small and Medium sizes, and 165mm arms on the Large and X-Large frames.

2021 trance X e+ pro 29 1

2021 Giant Trance X E+ 29 Pro 1 Specifications

  • Frame | ALUXX SL Grade Aluminum Alloy, Maestro Suspension Design, 140mm Travel
  • Motor | Giant SyncDrive Pro, 80nM
  • Battery | Giant EnergyPak Smart 625Wh, 36V Lithium-Ion
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, FIT4 Damper, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series
  • Wheels | Giant eTR1, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.6in Front & Dissector EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 2.6in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/Praxis e-Cadet+ 36T Crankset & SLX 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT 4-Piston, 203mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Giant Contact Trail Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 40mm Length
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch Dropper, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero
  • Confirmed weight | 24.44kg
  • RRP | $9,499 AUD

2021 trance X e+ pro 29 2

2021 Giant Trance X E+ 29 Pro 2 Specifications

  • Frame | ALUXX SL Grade Aluminum Alloy, Maestro Suspension Design, 140mm Travel
  • Motor | Giant SyncDrive Pro, 80nM
  • Battery | Giant EnergyPak Smart 625Wh, 36V Lithium-Ion
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float Rhythm, GRIP Damper, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Performance Series
  • Wheels | Shimano MT-410 Hubs & Giant AM Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO 2.6in Front & Dissector EXO 2.6in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano SLX 1×12 w/Praxis e-Cadet+ 36T Crankset & Deore 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore 4-Piston, 203mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Giant Contact Trail Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 40mm Length
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch Dropper, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero
  • RRP | $8,299 AUD

2021 trance X e+ pro 29 3

2021 Giant Trance X E+ 29 Pro 3 Specifications

  • Frame | ALUXX SL Grade Aluminum Alloy, Maestro Suspension Design, 140mm Travel
  • Motor | Giant SyncDrive Pro, 80nM
  • Battery | Giant EnergyPak Smart 625Wh, 36V Lithium-Ion
  • Fork | RockShox 35 Gold RL, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Performance Series
  • Wheels | Shimano MT-410 Hubs & Giant AM Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO 2.6in Front & Dissector EXO 2.6in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore 1×12 w/Praxis e-Cadet+ 36T Crankset & Deore 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano M420 4-Piston, 203mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Giant Contact Trail Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 780mm Width
  • Stem | Giant Contact SL, 35mm Diameter, 40mm Length
  • Seatpost | Giant Contact Switch Dropper, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Saddle | Giant Romero
  • RRP | $7,499 AUD

Testing The Giant Trance X E+

For the past few weeks, I’ve been hooning around on the top-level Trance X E+ Pro 29er 1, which has been just about enough time to learn how to say its name properly. Having just come off a long-term test of the Reign E+, it’s also been the perfect opportunity to ride the two bikes together to see how they compare on the trail.

Riding the 2020 Reign E+ alongside the 2021 Trance X E+ was a brilliant way to gain a clear understanding of the bike’s character.

Firstly, it’s nice to see the top-end model coming in underneath $10K, which is becoming something of a rarity these days. Of course, it isn’t exactly a Gucci parts build – there’s no wireless AXS components or Kashima-gold suspension, and the frame is constructed of metal, not carbon fibre. Still, there’s something appealing about the more utilitarian build on the Trance X E+ Pro 29er 1, particularly given how hard you can ride this bike.

We love the Shimano XT brakes; their immense power could stop a bus. Fitted to a big e-MTB with 29in wheels shod with huge tyres, the XTs bring a lot of confidence to a situation where things are likely to get out of hand.

There is a lot of bike to slow down, the Shimano XT brakes are amazing.

On the note of spec, this top model does get a few noteworthy upgrades over the 2 & 3 models. It’s the only model to get a piggyback shock – a Fox Float DPX2. Compared to the in-line DPS shocks, the DPX2 offers a little more high-speed control, and it’s also more consistent on rough, extended descents where the damping oil can get quite hot and bubbly.

A hard-charging bike needs suspension to keep up; the Fox Float DPX2 is a dependable and tuneable option well suited to the task.
Shimano XT brakes (rattling pads aside) are our favourite brakes for an e-MTB, nothing short of exceptional, 200mm rotors at both ends help too.

The other key difference is the tyre selection. The tread patterns and size are the same throughout the range, but the Trance X E+ Pro 29er 1 is the only model to get 3C MaxxTerra triple-compound rubber. It also gets a burlier EXO+ casing for the rear tyre, an excellent upgrade that we’d be making ourselves on any e-MTB.

A 2.6in Maxxis Dissector EXO+ Maxxterra tyre on the back provides massive of volume and climbing traction. A good choice.
A snazzy Shimano XTR rear derailleur adorns the top-level Trance X E+.
Bumpy rubber bits help silence chain slap, this bike is wonderfully quite when descending.

Confirmed weight for our test bike is 24.44kg without pedals set up tubeless.

Sizing & Fit

At 178cm tall, I’m often between a Medium and a Large with most brands, and that’s been exactly the case here. Our Medium test bike has a generous 452mm reach (461mm in the High geometry position), which I found comfortable with the 40mm long stem and 780mm wide riser bars.

However, as with every Giant full suspension e-MTB we’ve tested, the chainstays on this bike are absolutely massive at 471.5mm. This is largely down to the Maestro suspension linkage and the bulky motor, which really restricts how tight the back end can be.

The long rear centre dominates the ride character of Giant’s full suspension e-MTBs.

Long chainstays aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and certainly, in the case of the Trance X E+, it does lead to some positive performance attributes. However, on the Small and Medium frame sizes, it does mean that the reach is actually shorter than the rear centre length, and that can do funky things to weight distribution, making the bike feel more grounded and difficult to manoeuvre through tight singletrack.

Long bikes are amazing at hammering chunky trails and climbing but are a chore in most other situations.

For this reason, I’d look to upsize to a Large, which gets a 480mm reach. That would help to balance things out and shift more of your weight back onto the front wheel. Thankfully Giant has made the option of up-sizing possible since the seat tube lengths are considerably shorter here than they are on the Reign E+ and previous 27.5in Trance E+. For anyone in the same situation as me, I’d highly recommend going up a size if you can.

Coming Off The Reign E+, How’s The Trance X E+ Compare?

These two bikes might look quite similar, but on the trail, they perform very differently. Of course, there’s 20mm less suspension travel on the Trance X E+, and it has bigger 29in wheels compared to the Reign E+’s 27.5in wheels. However, the biggest difference I found was in the behaviour of the suspension itself.

2020 giant reign e+ pro mick
The new Trance X E+ takes a step closer to the Reign E+ with its burly parts and meaty tyres. However, the Trance is a better all-rounder and easier to handle.

The Trance X E+ feels much poppier on the trail, with the Float DPX2 shock providing a more lively feel compared to the big Float X2 damper found on the Reign E+. I’m not sure if Giant has worked some magic with the Maestro linkage, because along with the shorter travel, the Trance X E+ feels more progressive, making it much easier to hop about on the trail – even with the long chainstays.

Grip on tap.

There’s also excellent support from the 36 fork up front. The FIT4 damper provides a three-position compression adjustment to alternate between Open, Trail and Firm modes. Open is really plush and sensitive, though perhaps a little too active, and I found myself preferring the extra damping support of the middle Trail position, which gives you a bit more of a platform to push off of.

With a 24kg bike, you’re going to want a solid fork leading the way, and the 36 is certainly up to the task. Aesthetically too, it matches the massive hydroformed tubes making up the frame’s front triangle.

The new Fox 36 is a fantastic fork and handles the hard riding the bike craves without faltering.

As well as feeling more poppy and nimble on the trail compared to the Reign E+, the Trance X E+ also climbs better too. The bigger 29er wheels go a long way here, as does the generous 2.6in wide tyres. Along with the active Maestro suspension design, there’s excellent traction on tap, and the long chainstays allow you to hit steeper pitches before you reach the crucial tipping point. In fact, I was able to clear a previously impossible climb on my local test circuit, which I’ve never been able to get up on any other e-MTB I’ve ridden there. Impressive stuff!

Climbing trails that I have not been able to speak volumes of this bike’s ability up super-steep climbs.

The big wheels also roll more smoothly on the descents, though they’re a little more resistant to quick changes of direction. That’s great for letting off the brakes and charging, but you’ll be working a bit harder when things get tight and twisty.

Flipping the geometry chip into the Low position certainly helped with descending, placing my weight lower down in the bike. There’s a noticeable difference between both settings, and as Wil discovered during his review of the non-motorised Trance X, what setting works for you will largely come down to your terrain.

Is There Room For Improvement?

Sure – everything could always be better, right? Many of our same criticisms of the Reign E+ are echoed here on the new Trance X E+. That includes the bulging motor casing, which aside from making the bike look like it’s carrying eggs, also creates a snag point when railing deep ruts, dropping down rock ledges and climbing up janky trails. On certain trails, it can be a real bummer, though it’s also possible that some riders will never notice it.

Nothing can hide the big undercarriage, it’s not pretty and can cause clearance issues on certain terrain.

The Giant/Yahama motor is a strong performer, and the remote is functional enough, but we’d really like to see more power available in the Smart Assist adaptive mode. As it stands, Smart Assist will vary the power output according to your speed, cadence, how much power you’re putting down, and what kind of gradient you’re on, giving it a more natural feel than the standard 1-5 power modes. However, Smart Assist never quite reaches the full 80Nm of power. We’d like to see the power band expanded to make it more versatile, so you can stay in this adaptive mode more of the time, without having to scroll through the remote all the time.

The remote is nice and subtle, fitting well on the bars with a dropper remote and brake lever.

Those long chainstays

Handling on the Trance X E+ has impressed for the most part. It’s got exceptional stability, and the supportive suspension helps to give it a surprising amount of pop on the trail, which helped me hop around with a 24kg bike below me. Still, I would like to see Giant tuck those chainstays in a bit further – about 10-15mm would do the trick.

Super short stays are not a good thing on powerful e-MTBs, but we feel the Trance X E+ is too long for our liking. We’d like at least 10mm less, please.

As mentioned above, though, that’s basically impossible with the current motor design. We’ll have to wait for Giant and Yamaha to develop a smaller, more compact motor shape before we can see sub-470mm chainstays.

Who’s This Bike For Then?

The Trance E+ is the trail riders e-MTB, let’s call it an ‘e-rounder’. It’s not a self-shuttling gravity hungry bike or an e-enduro race bike, it’s more suited to making light work of steep singletrack, hauling up and down rough fire roads and carrying you confidently on long exploration rides. It’s an easy bike to get on with and instils huge confidence, especially if you don’t know what’s around the corner. With up to 865Whr of battery available with the additional range extender, the option of ultra-long and hard rides is are a real possibility.

While far from perfect when compared to the rest, it’s a well-built and capable bike with a courageous attitude.

The 29in wheels with meaty 2.6in tyres give the Trance X E+ another level of confidence, despite the modest suspension travel amount. I enjoyed feeling confident and controlled, without feeling too isolated and stuck to the ground as I did with the longer travel Reign E+.

I’d recommend taking a look at my long-term review of the 2020 Giant Reign E+ which I published not too long ago. In that review, we went a little deeper into the Yamaha motor’s performance and how it stacks up against the competition. Check that out here – Giant Reign E+ Review

Flow’s Verdict

When the news of a new Trance X E+ came to us, we really hoped for a little more than what we were presented with. The long rear centre, large motor and weight will make the new Trance X E+ A bit too much for riders on the smaller sizes or those that treat the trails like a playground. We’d like to see improvements made to tighten up the geometry with a shorter rear centre, lose some bulk around the underside, drop some weight out of the whole bike and introduce a carbon frame option.

With the introduction of 29in wheels, a 625Whr battery and geometry adjustment into Giant’s e-MTB offering, these relatively simple updates help the Trance X E+ keep up appearances with the fast-moving e-MTB segment. Though, we do feel Giant is not at the front of the game with this latest release. Their analogue bikes certainly are, so that said we bet they won’t be resting on their laurels and we’ll see the improvements we crave in the near future. The Trance X E+ makes up for a lot in the careful choice of parts, competitive price, and great suspension.

If you’re a taller rider on a larger size, or you’re fed up with technical trails forcing you to get off and push, the Trance X E+ will not let you down; it has the potential to turn you into a superhero mountain biker with the push of a button.


Mo’ Flow Please!

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