GIANT TRANCE X ADVANCED PRO 29 1
PRICE: $5,700 / WEIGHT: 28.1 LB (M)
WITH THE TRANCE X, Giant put together what might be the ideal trail bike for most riders: It’s light, full of energy, efficient, and capable of way more than its travel suggests, and it comes with parts that enhance the ride while making the $5,700 price a decent value.
The X in this 29er’s name denotes that it has more travel than the standard Trance. Of the two dozen or so trail bikes I’ve tested in the past two years, that one impressed me the most. At the time, it was revolutionary—a very short-travel (115mm rear) trail bike with geometry getting close to that of an enduro race bike. It wasn’t the first bike to do that, but it was the first from a big mainstream brand and came in versions at prices a lot of riders could afford. It had a thrilling, intoxicating ride.
This bike has 135 millimeters of travel in the back and 150 up front. That’s pretty modest as bikes go these days, and it retains the standard Trance’s stiff frame, light weight, and well-tuned suspension. While the shorter-travel version seemed remarkably wild compared to bikes with similar travel, the numbers on the Trance X are notable for another reason—they’re relatively conservative. That restraint from Giant, however, helped this bike retain the shorter-travel version’s energy while adding some stability in rougher and faster terrain.
Giant gave this bike flip chips at the top of the seatstays that allow you to slightly change the geometry by backing out two 5mm bolts. It takes only a minute or two, and going to the low setting decreases the head- and seat-tube angles by .7 degrees, drops the bottom bracket by 10mm, and makes slight changes to the chainstay length and reach. I’m not sold on the value of flip chips—and haven’t heard from many riders who choose bikes because of them—but they do give you some ability to alter the bike’s handling to suit your terrain. I mostly kept the Trance in the low setting, even on rocky, pedally, East Coast rides.
In the low setting, the frame-geometry numbers are in line with what you’d find on a similarly sized Specialized Stumpjumper or Yeti SB130, but a hair steeper, taller, or shorter. And the Giant’s low weight,
parts selection, and shock tune make it feel easier and more enjoyable to maneuver up climbs or hauling along rolling terrain than either of those two. While those are both excellent models, they feel best when pumping and slashing downhill. This bike does that, too, but with better overall balance.
The Maestro suspension is excellent, giving the Trance good pedaling efficiency and lots of control through corners and braking. Except on dirt-road climbs, I kept the Fox DPX2 shock wide open. The shock has a piggyback reservoir that helps it hold more oil, so it runs cooler and performs more consistently on longer descents than standard inline shocks.
This version of the bike also comes with Giant’s TRX 2 wheels, which are hookless, made of carbon, and have a 30mm internal width. While the rest of the bike’s components are comparable to ones you’d find on many similarly priced bikes, the wheels set this Trance X apart, keeping weight low and making the overall price a relative value.
The only significant thing Giant missed was not using internal sleeves when routing the rear brake hose and derailleur cable through the frame. Without them, the lines rattle as you roll across rocks or down anything but sidewalk-smooth trails.
With that minor exception, Giant built a bike that will suit a lot of riders well. And did it at a reasonable price. The progressive, but not crazy, geometry makes it rip when you’re pedaling and feel almost as capable on bigger terrain as bikes with 20 or 30mm more rear travel. For most of us, that’s a really appealing mix.—Louis Mazzante