First Ride: Giant Trance Advanced SX
Frame and Component Details
Giant has made it clear they are fully committed to 27.5” wheels, revamping their mountain bike line to focus almost entirely on the in-between size for 2014. We first caught wind of this change earlier in the year when Giant unveiled a prototype version of the Trance that their Factory Off-Road Team had been testing and competing on. Now, just about six months later, the bike has made it to production, with several different frame and component configurations available. To get an initial impression of the bike's capabilities we took the Trance Advanced SX model out onto the rocky trails of Moab, Utah.
Trance Advanced SX details
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Carbon front triangle, aluminum rear
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Weight: 28lb (claimed)
• Head angle: 66 degrees
• MSRP: $6400 USD
The Trance Advanced has a carbon fiber front triangle attached to an aluminum rear triangle by two aluminum links, part of Giant's Maestro suspension layout. Maestro is a twin link, four bar suspension configuration that's designed to remain active even under heavy braking while being fairly resistant to pedal bob. No pivots are necessary on the rear triangle, which helps increase frame stiffness, as does the brace that attaches the seatstays to the chainstays.
All of the bikes in the Trance lineup share the same amount of rear travel (140mm), but the Trance Advanced models get a carbon fiber front triangle instead of aluminum. The bikes in the SX series are equipped with 160mm of front suspension, which slackens the head angle to a downhill-friendly 66 degrees. With suspension well-suited to a high end all-mountain rig, the Trance Advanced SX comes spec'd with Fox's 34 Talas CTD fork (adjustable between
140 and 160mm of travel) in the front and a Float X shock in the rear. SRAM's X01 1 by 11 drivetrain simplifies shifting by doing away with the front derailleur, and the front chainring's X-SYNC tooth profile means a chainguide isn't necessary, although ISCG 05 tabs are in place just in case. Schwalbe handles the tire duties, with the popular Hans Dampf 2.35 in the front and a Rock Razor 2.35 in the rear, although the bike we rode had a Nobby Nic in the rear. While the drivetrain, suspension, and brakes are handled by SRAM and Fox, we were a little surprised by how much of the build kit is comprised of house brand components - the bike's wheels, seat, stem, dropper post, and the handlebar are all taken care of by Giant.
The carbon front triangle has internal cable routing, including stealth routing for the Giant's Contact Switch dropper post. SRAM's X01 drivetrain has a 32 tooth front chainring and a 10-42 tooth rear cassette, providing a wide enough range to conquer the steepest of climbs without spinning out on the way down. First Impressions
Many of the trails around Moab are comprised of sandstone ledges of various sizes, like a flight of stairs out of a Salvador Dali painting. The Trance Advanced SX proved to be a nimble climber, digging in and clawing at the ground to provide the traction needed to propel the bike up and over the red rocks. The rear suspension is fairly active, especially when standing up and really powering down on the pedals, but flipping the lever on the Float X shock to Trail mode helped to calm things down. Although the Trance comes equipped with a TALAS fork, we didn't end up using the travel adjust feature, although we see it coming in handy on sustained, steep climbs.
On the downhills the Trance SX rewards a smoother riding style as opposed to the smash and bash, monster truck-like approach. That's not to say the bike can't handle rough terrain, far from it, it's just that a little more finesse and forethought will make for a much smoother and enjoyable ride. The bike handled well at speed, and it was easy to get airborne when necessary to clear little rock gardens or to transfer from one side of the trail to the other. Even though there is a 20mm travel difference between the fork and shock, the bike still felt balanced, and it never felt like the rear shock was trying to play catch up to the front, even on larger drops. With a well-rounded blend of climbing and descending abilities, it's not surprising that members of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team use this as their bike of choice for enduro racing, and we could see it being a popular choice for riders who put in the miles to earn their descents.www.giant-bicycles.com