Giant’s overhaul of the Trance range this year went the whole nine yards. This was no quick botox and collagen, oh no, Giant booked the Trance in for the works: nip and tuck, implants, hair extensions and more. Diana Ross would be in awe.
The question isn’t so much what have Giant changed on the Trance, but what haven’t they changed. This is a new bike entirely and an entirely better bike too. The Trance 1 we tested over seven days in New Zealand is the top of the alloy framed series, but there are three Advance carbon framed Trance models too, the cheapest just $3599.
Giant have repositioned the Trance to cover more of the terrain previously reserved for the Reign. With 140mm-travel at both ends, more aggressive geometry, an increase in wheel size up to 27.5″ and endless smaller refinements, the Trance will happily cover the vast majority of riding styles, from cross country to all-mountain use.
If we move from front to back, you’ll find….
- a more aggressive cockpit with a 70mm stem, 730mm bar
- a laid back 67-degree head angle
- a shorter head tube using Giant’s OverDrive 2 steerer system with a 1.5″ lower and 1.25″ upper bearing (which does limit stem choice options)
- internally routed cables, including for the new internally actuated Switch-R dropper post
- a press fit bottom bracket with ISCG tabs (hooray!)
- a revised and stiffer linkage
- post mount rear brake
- 142x12mm compatible dropouts, though this particular model uses a quick release that threads into funky dropout reducers rather than a dedicated through-axle
- Oh, and 27.5″ wheels too.
As we said, it’s all new. Giant have thrown their considerable weight behind the 27.5″ wheel wholeheartedly. You can read all about it here in their analysis, but we’re not going to bang on about it too much because, frankly, a good bike is a good bike, no matter what size wheels it has.
Take the squidgy grips and even squidgier tyres off, replace them with something more supportive, and go ride. With the exception of those two items, we couldn’t have been happier with the build kit on the Trance 1.
The FOX CTD fork and shock might be from the mid-range Evolution series but the suppleness and performance is outstanding. Likewise the SLX/XT brakes and drivetrain, which remained consistent and precise even in the worst muddy conditions, while the shifting and braking on other bikes degraded.
Initially we questioned the need for the MRP G2 roller/chain guide, but in action it’s so unobtrusive and quiet that we’d happily leave it on for the long term. On one very rough landing we did manage to somehow bounce the chain out of the guide’s grasp, but the chain didn’t actually come off the chain ring even once.
We did find the wheels a tad on the soft side, so keep an eye on the spoke tension. The rims are Giant branded, and the hubs are reliable and simple cartridge bearing affairs that will go forever and then some. Giant’s in-house Contact dropper seat posts are awesome, and this new iteration with internal cable actuation is fantastic – we love the small remote lever and it worked perfectly across our test period.
Three different testers rode this bike over the course of a week and each came back praising the fun, spritely and supple ride of the Trance.
It took a while to nail the setup, we played round with the bar height for a while until we got a position that gave us the confidence to lean on that front wheel. With a stumpy head tube on the 2014 bike we ultimately brought the bars back up a couple of centimetres. With that sorted, the position on the bike was perfect for all-day adventures.
The Trance is longer in the chain stays than some of its competitors, giving you more of a central position on the bike, but this didn’t seem to affect the playfulness of the bike at all. With the suspension so supple and lively at the top of the travel, it was easy to make the bike work for you, popping it all over the trail or keeping the front wheel up over slippery roots. On tighter, twisty trails the Trance felt even lighter than its reasonable 13.2kg.
At faster speeds it we were impressed by the stability of the suspension – big, fast hits never bucked us or unsettled the bike. But when laying into the grippy, big berms of the Rotorua at pace, the stiff frame and fork was let down by the Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres. We converted the bike to tubeless for the test (and we suggest you do the same), but without the added support provided by the tube, the sidewalls were just too light. We ultimately ran 10-12psi more pressure than usual to lessen the tyre roll when cornering and just lived with the reduced traction this caused. Best solution? Fit some sturdier rubber, as the bike is well and truly up for some harder riding than the tyres permit. In an ideal world, the Trance would have wider rims too.
Climbing on the Giant is excellent; the suspension is nice and neutral, and there’s very little chain tug even when in the small chain ring. With the TALAS fork, you’ve got the ability to lower the front end when it gets steep. Surprisingly, we never needed to use the TALAS feature; the lower head tube height makes for a good climbing position, and with the shock set to Trail mode (where we left it most of the time) the rear suspension doesn’t squat or sag excessively when grinding uphill.
The trails are going to be full of these things. The performance (and price) is on the money, and all of the folk out there who weren’t entirely convinced by the Trance 29 are going to be falling over themselves to give this bike a try. Sticking to 140mm-travel is a good move, it’s perfect for 90% of the trails out there, not too big, not too small. Giant have listened to the feedback of riders and reviewers and produced a fantastic machine.