MBA Bike Test: Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1
Suspension front/rear: 130mm / 115mm
Tire Size: 29″
Many of Giant’s most enjoyable full-suspension bikes—from cross-country machines to downhill rigs—operate on the company’s proprietary Maestro design platform. The Trance has been a popular model, but only in a 27.5-inch wheel size for the last few years.
In that time, the sport has enjoyed increased capabilities of bikes with less but higher-quality suspension travel. Also, 29-inch wheels have since proven performance in all genres. And with a few refinements to the Maestro platform, we were intrigued to find out where this 115mm-travel bike would fit back in Giant’s portfolio.
There are aluminum and carbon Trances available, but our Advanced 29 1 features a carbon fiber chassis. The front and rear triangle are carbon and connected with Maestro’s dual links—one lower aluminum link and a top rocker arm made of a forged composite material.
The latest version of Maestro suspension incorporates a trunnion-mounted shock. Giant claims this tweak improves performance with a few key benefits—lower center of mass and the ability to shorten the rear end. Cartridge bearings operate the system, and cable routing is a combination of internal and external with a downtube-mounted water bottle cage inside the front triangle. Overall, the appearance is sleek with flowing contours.
The Trance Advanced 29 1 comes with a suite of Giant brand equipment: Contact SL bars and stem, as well as a Contact Switch S dropper post, and their TRX 1 wheelset with carbon rims. SRAM componentry, like the GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and Guide T brakes, finish off a solid spec.
Fox’s Float 34 fork with a GRIP damper comes up front with 130mm of travel and features Boost 15×110mm spacing and, most important, a 44mm offset, which Giant developed specifically for this bike. In the back is Fox’s Float DPX2 with a piggyback reservoir and three-position compression-adjustment knob.
DOWN AND DIRTY
Giant created a bike that can be efficient and accessible for everyday trail riding that could handle rough, steep, fast and gnarly trails while still being able to climb well. After playing with a range of sag adjustments, we found a sweet spot right at around 25 percent. At this setting, the 115mm-travel Maestro system seemed to do its best job of absorbing small trail chatter yet resist bottoming when obstacles got bigger.
Climbing: Maintaining pedaling efficiency is a goal of every suspension platform, and Maestro is an effective system. Putting power to the ground on the Trance Advanced Pro never seemed like a power-robbing event. Beginning suspension travel was supple, but it really shined in the middle of the Maestro’s dual-link shock’s stroke. Me system does a great job of slightly stiffening under pedaling loads while still remaining active to produce traction.
At 115mm of travel, the Trance is on the lower end of the suspension spectrum for a 29er trail bike, but we were surprised at how nimble and quick it could be. With aggressive geometry and its slackish 66.5-degree head angle, the bike maintained stability when speeds increased. The 442mm reach and 435mm chainstays made it easy to lift the front wheel over any obstructions. Like a kitten with a ball of yarn, the bike can be very playful.
The Giant TRX 1 wheelset’s inner rim width of 30mm provides a broad profile to the 2.3-inch-wide Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR tires. Although they aren’t the fastest-rolling tires, they do encourage the bike to be ridden aggressively and they provide great cornering bite when the bike is blasting through switchbacks.
MODS AND UPGRADES
Our size-medium test bike came with a 125mm-travel dropper post. To complement its lively behavior and its relatively short seat tube, we could see some riders wishing to increase the travel to around 150-170mm to get the most out of this bike in technical sections.
The quality of its suspension and modern geometry make the Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 a more capable bike than you’d expect from 115mm of travel. By employing a few recent trends, Giant was able to rebuild the Trance 29 to be a fun-loving trail bike.
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