With the majority of 29ers, there is just no hiding the fact that you are riding 29-inch wheels.
Experienced riders raised on 26-inch wheels can articulate the pros (less affected by the trail surface,
increased momentum and amazing traction) and cons
(additional wheel weight and great momentum until you
lose it) after a short ride. That’s not so easy with the
Giant Trance X 29er 0. This is a bike that is breaking
down 26/29 barriers.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Trance has always been Giant’s go-to platform for
serious trail riders. These are riders who would rather
wave to people on the chairlift from the trail below than
take a seat with them. They only enjoy the downhill if
they paid their dues to get to the top. The addition of 29-inch wheels to the platform doesn’t change that.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: The Trance feels ideally balanced with 20-percent suspension sag, front or rear. The Maestro rear suspension is not a finicky design. If it is a bit soft
or too firm, it will still work well. That’s a
plus for the klutz or rider who is not a suspension technician.
Ergonomics: The Trance positions the
rider more like a cross-country racer,
with the weight biased toward the rear,
than an upright trail rider. No, you are not
flat-backed, but you won’t catch your helmet
on branches either. Think
trail rider with a bit of
Moving out: The
Trance has an
from the minute
you push on
the pedals. The
Maestro suspension with
the shock in trail
mode doesn’t bob,
and the wheels just
don’t feel all that big—and we mean that in a
Cornering: The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires, Giant
wheels, and a rear suspension that doesn’t firm during
braking make the Trance X a blast in the corners. Drop
the saddle and it is even more fun. On our dry, dusty,
rocky trails, the Trance X inspires. Put it on tacky trails
and your brake pads will last two years because you won’t
be using them.
In the rough: Some of the cornering magic comes from
the Trance’s low bottom bracket height, so that means
pedal clearance will be an issue on rough trails. We’ll take
that as a tradeoff for such great handling. Time your pedaling, modify your line and don’t be afraid to ride over
stuff you’ve avoided in the past. If you put the effort down
and commit, this bike rewards.
Climbing: Watch the pedal clearance, get creative with
line choices, find a gear that you can stay on top of and
power to the top. You paid to get the weight down, and
this is where it is worth every penny.
Descending: The Trance X never feels like a full 5-inch-travel bike, but don’t take that as a dig. We found
ourselves intentionally picking steeper lines, riding drops
others had ridden around and flowing like the tires would
never give up their grip. All the time, the bike retained
a lively feel, and lofting the front wheel was almost as
easy as on a 26er. The other bonus is that except for a
little cable tapping in front of the bar, this thing
descends in silence.
Braking: The Maestro suspension stays active under
braking. We always preach to brake before the corner,
but the Maestro lets you get lazy and brake any time
you want. Still, it’s best to brake early and use the great
handling to rail the corner.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
It is a long reach to the shock, so choosing between
Fox’s climb, trail and descend (CTD) settings is
awkward. It is not a problem on the Trance, though,
because you can set it in trail and forget about it. We
liked the fork left in descend mode.
Speaking of the fork, the CTD failed a few hours into
our testing. The problem was traced to a steel pin that
was not pressed in properly and came loose. If this happens to you, the shop where you purchased the bike can
remedy the problem, although it might mean a weekend
or two of missed rides.
This is not a cheap bike, but it is an exceptional
value for a 29er with 5 inches of travel that comes in
under 29 pounds (and that’s with tubes in the wheels
and a dropper post). It has the advantages of the larger
wheels, but keeping the rear wheel tucked in, the bottom bracket low and the steering angle just right results
in a bike that won’t require a 26er rider to change his
riding technique and welcomes new riders with flawless performance. Giant really nailed it with this bike.