The New Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29
A little travel goes a long way
A little travel goes a long way
The tires on our Land Rover Defender slip and spin as the doubletrack path pivots left in an impossibly tight switchback, threading between rock outcroppings and away, briefly, from the cliff our driver has been traversing. At a 35 per cent grade, the drive is harrowing, but the newfound space from the edge of the road is breathing room to relax and collectively exhale. Our group is headed from Santa Caterina Valfurva in northern Italy toward the Forni Glacier. The trailer bouncing behind us is packed with new Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0 trail bikes that will carry us right to the glacier’s toe. From there, we’ll descend through fields of rock and boulders left behind by the retreating glacier, back to the small town where our trip began. Giant’s redesigned Trance line, the seventh generation of its best-selling mountain bike, sizes up to 29" wheels for 2019. The company also scales the rear travel back to 115 mm. These aren’t numbers that would suggest a press camp involving nothing but shuttling, but the new Trance is full of surprises.
Before we get to ride, Giant’s project lead for the Trance redesign Kevin Dana walks us through the new bike, assuring us it is capable beyond its travel numbers. Adam Craig, Giant’s lead athlete for the Trance project, echoes Dana’s assurances. “I like a short-travel bike, a bike I can get on a chairlift with with a straight face, and know that I’m going to have a good time,” Craig says. Could the Trance really be both?
From Forni Glacier, we drop into rocky, switchback trails that are as steep and exposed as the route up. Originally built for hiking, the trails show little consideration for flow. The Trance handles it all with ease, feeling stable and planted where I expected it might struggle.
Part of this impressive performance stems from the Trance’s suspension. Giant worked closely with California’s dvo Suspension throughout roughly
two years to develop the Topaz 2 T3 shock and Sapphire D1 34 fork specifically for the Trance Advanced Pro frame.
Unlike longer-travel enduro bikes, the Trance continues to excel when the trail flattens out to rolling, low-grade descending. Where bigger bikes start to feel slow or wallow, the short rear travel keeps the bike fun and playful. With 29" carbon wheels and a full carbon-fibre frame, the Trance climbs like a trail bike should. It’s not an XC race hardtail, but it is nimble uphill and responsive when you push on the pedals. This is the beauty of the Trance. Not everyone lives in Whistler, where gnarly steep descents are available by the dozen. But everyone wants to have fun on the local trails, whether the descents are huge or shorter stretches connected together. Giant has employed recent developments in design – a reduced offset fork and slacker head angles – to make the Trance fun on a wide variety of terrain. My time on the bike is brief. But going from flowing alpine singletrack into steep rock chutes, I glimpse many sides of Giant’s do-it-all trail bike.
Don’t get hung up on travel numbers. The Trance Advanced Pro 29 isn’t just a bigger cross country bike. It is a very capable trail bike hiding in a small package, with geometry and suspension designed to maximize enjoyment on the descents. It remains light and quick enough to make climbing part of the fun, not just something to get through.
Four models of Trance are available this fall: Advanced Pro 29 0 ($ 8,700), Advanced Pro 29 1 ($ 5,650) Advanced Pro 29 2 ($ 4,900) and the Trance 29 2 ($ 3,400).
“The trails show little consideration for flow. The Trance handles it all with ease, feeling stable and planted where I expected it might struggle.”