Giant is adding an all new Trance X to its line in 2022 with a dedicated 27.5″ wheel design that’s made for fun. We will admit that seeing this bike for the first time felt a little like being transported back to around 2013 (give or take a year) when Giant went all in on the mid-sized wheel size platform. Fast forward to current times and most of Giant’s line is now 29” wheel based due to market demand. The all new Trance X is a dedicated 27.5” wheel long travel trail bike that’s designed to party. Giant built this bike not to win an enduro race, but to be agile, poppy and fun. We’ve spent a few days on one and it surprised us in a very good way.
The new Trance X features a 145mm travel aluminum frame with Giant’s Maestro suspension system. It is spec’d with a 160mm travel fork. Geometry is 27.5” wheel specific and flip chips in the upper rocker link let you quickly adjust the geometry for personal preference or terrain. In the high setting the Trance X has a 64.5 degree head angle, 77 degree seat angle, and 20mm of bottom bracket drop. The low setting changes these numbers to a 63.8 degree head angle, 76.3 seat angle and 30mm of bottom bracket drop. Chainstays come in at a short 430mm for snappy handling.
Other notable features include an extra set of bosses under the downtube for another water bottle cage or accessory mount. Low durometer chainstay guards protect the frame and keep chain slap racket at bay.
Giant will offer three models ranging in price from $2,850 for the Trance X3 with a Shimano Deore build to $4,500 for the SRAM GX Eagle equipped Trance X1. All builds include the awesome Maxxis Assegai front, Minion DHRII rear tire combo in a meaty 2.6” width. Due to the uncertainty of product delivery, availability is a vague “next year”.
We were able to get in a few days of riding on a Trance X1 and it quickly left a positive impression. True to Giant’s claim this is a quick and exciting bike to ride. The 27.5” wheels have a unique feel compared to 29ers. The corner turn in response is quicker and requires less input. Even jumping and throwing it around in the air feels different and generally speaking more agile.
The bike’s Performance Elite level Fox 36 with Grip 2 damper and Float X shock offer a high level of performance and a plush yet controlled feel on the trail. If blindfolded, it would be easy to think you were riding a bike costing thousands of dollars more – the suspension feels that good.
As with just about everything, there is a trade off for that lively ride. On fast chunky trails the front end feels a bit nervous at first compared to a similar 29″ wheeled bike. We soon learned that we could trust the bike’s excellent suspension and geometry but it doesn’t have the locomotive-like “on rails” feel of many 29ers in its class. Climbing is very efficient and particularly good in tighter technical terrain. The smaller wheel feels like it accelerates a touch faster when powering up ledges where it’s hard to stay on top of the pedal stroke.
The bike came with the flip chips in the high setting and that’s where we rode it for the first ride. Although it was good, we wanted a little more stability in the steeps so the flip chips were swapped mid second ride. For our higher speed Southern California trails the low setting is spot on. Every now and then we get on a bike that just feels right and so far this Trance X seems like it might be one of them.
We need to get the Trance X out on a wider variety of trails and under more riders before drawing any solid conclusions but it seems as though Giant may not have been wrong about some of the advantages of 27.5” wheel bikes all those years ago. On a bike like this, the wheel size makes perfect sense. Look for a long term review in an upcoming issue of Mountain Bike Action.