PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29
Words by Henry Quinney, photography by Tom Richards
Unlike some other bikes in this Field Test, the Giant Trance it isn’t a model that was once an XC race bike, or one that has got incrementally more aggressive over the years. The Trance has always been the trail bike, sitting between the Anthem and the Reign in Giant’s range. That’s not to say it hasn’t changed with the times, though, and it recently received a little more travel and new geometry for 2022. It's also worth noting that this isn't to be confused with the Giant Trance X 29
, which we tested previously. That bike is slightly longer travel and is meant for aggressive trail riding. Nor should it be mixed up with the Giant Trance X
, which has 27.5 inch wheels.
Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 Details
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 65.5° (low)
• Seat tube angle: 76.3° (low)
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 472 mm (low)
• Chainstay length: 439 mm (low)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 29lb 9oz (13.4kg)
• Price: $7,000 USD
Our test bike has electronically controlled suspension, but you could of course get it without. To say that the feel of this suspension didn’t somewhat dominate the conversation around the bike during testing would be untrue. However, the Trance's bedrock of good trail-focused geometry shouldn't be overlooked.The Inclusion of Live Valve 1.5 and How We Used It
Before we get into that, let’s quickly go over what Fox Live Valve 1.5 is and how it’s changed from the previous version that was reviewed on the Giant Trance X. This new system still shares the same architecture, and sadly that still includes the unrefined, round-the-back-of-the-90s-television cabling. The new system isn’t a complete overhaul, and that’s what the 1.5
is representative of. The way it controls the suspension is different though, and that’s done on two fronts.
Firstly, and rather succinctly, this is far more passive than the previous version and feels like it’s less obvious. Secondly, it can now be controlled via an app. The app is very nice to use, and yes, for those of you wondering, I think it’s better than SRAM’s Flight Attendent app, and it never crashed or suffered from glitches as I used it.
In the app, you can fine tune compression levels for each setting. I think the app is executed well, but it does require a few more steps than a more 'traditional' setup. I’m used to setting damping and spring rate, not damping, spring rate, and
the bias for an overriding system that controls what will happen in any number of varying situations.
There are some pre-selected modes. The two I found myself moving towards were Climb and Sport. There are others, and even the option to download additional ones. Climb mode acts like Sport on everything other than uphill sections. Fox say that Climb mode "Keeps the fork open for increased traction on technical climbing and increases rear thresholds. Sport behavior on flat terrain and descents."
So, when you do go uphill, it firms up the rear but also opens up the fork and lets it sit into its travel. If there were to be a setting for a downcountry test, this would surely be it. It’s for that reason that I predominantly used this mode.The Other Important Details
The Giant isn’t just Live Valve, even if that does grab the headlines. It’s a bike that has plenty of other things going for it, too. The other highlights include its integrated storage, progressive geometry, and an aggressive spec. The whole bike seems to place more of an emphasis on descending rather than climbing. That’s not to say it can’t climb, but it was the heaviest bike on test with the burliest spec.
That’s no bad thing, either. In fact, the geometry seems to be a near-wholesale inclusion of trail and enduro ideals. Whereas some bikes on this test have a slack head angle paired with slightly slacker seat tube angles or lower stack heights, this isn’t the case with the Giant. It pairs those enduro-like dimensions with a steeper seat tube angle. This, in turn, gives a more upright riding position. It’s quite similar to the Niner that we also had on test in this regard.
The Trance also has a flip chip that delivers a solid 0.7-degrees of adjustment. This is nearly double the 0.4-degrees on the Trek Top Fuel. I’m not saying I’m ever sold on the idea of flip-chips but, a lot like the Rocky Mountain Element, at least it gives a real adjustment.
The Maestro system delivers 120mm of travel at the rear of the bike, which is paired to a 130mm fork. It also features an internally adjustable Trans-X seatpost that lets the rider fine-tune their amount of drop. It’s a good execution of the idea, and although the lever is slightly clunky it does a great job. The bike has Shimano’s 4-pot brakes on stopping duties. Interestingly, this bike came with fin-less sintered pads. I’m not sure if this is the standard spec, or they just preempted Levy complaining about the rattling.
One small criticism I have about the bike is that it kept dropping chains. We had XT drivetrains on bikes that didn’t have the same problem. This could potentially point towards the Praxis chainring or lack of a chain device being the problem.Climbing
The previous version of Live Valve drew firm praise for the way it climbed on the longer travel Trance X. As previously mentioned, the new system is a lot less obvious. Mike Levy, who spent a lot of time on the original version, said that it did feel like less of a rocket ship on the climbs, but I still think it did all that it needed to quite well. That said, the big step in progress with this new system is you can fine tune its influence on your suspension.
In fairness to Live Valve, it does make the bike feel a little more spritely. However, it does feel out of place on a bike that recommends as little as 20-25% sag. If I were to ever want to bolt on self-adjusting suspension on my bike, I would want to really give it something to counteract - for instance, if this bike ran 35% sag on a coil-sprung shock the Live Valve concept would make even more sense to me.
The Trance does climb well, as you'd hope for a bike with computer controlled suspension. There is plenty of grip, but there is also the added weight. The bike is very adept at finding traction in the unlikeliest of places. It also manages to do this without inducing any energy-sapping movement from the shock. It may not be the absolute fastest bike in this category, but your weight sits in a good place and the bars are in a great position to apply weight to the front, especially in the Climb mode with the fork more open.
The steep seat tube angle plays a large part in this, too. The Trance is a fundamentally good climber, and it benefits from this very comfortable position, but it is never going to set the world alight on the way up. It was the slowest on the singletrack climb, and quite frankly I don't really know where the time went. It is a touch heavy, but it never felt particularly slow.
Running it in fully-open mode does usher in a degree of pedal bob. However, by our efficiency test the results are minimal, at around 2 seconds slower over the same course at the same power. Moving back to the timed singletrack climb, it was the slowest of the downcountry bikes with a time of 2:45 in Climb mode. In open it was even slower at 2:47. Are all these extra complications worth 2 seconds? And would it be faster if it was lighter?
I would be very curious to see how this bike compares when fitted with a standard Fox shock, and I would imagine it would offer a bit more platform than the electronically adjusted model in Open.
Suspension aside, we’re here to talk about the Giant Trance. So, how does this 120mm bike descend? Well, I really enjoyed its geometry. Something like the Trek Top Fuel or the Rocky Element feel more like a downcountry bike. They're fast, have got quick precise handling and are some of the best working examples of that category of bike.
The Giant feels a bit different. In fact, this feels like a more classic trail bike. Its geometry offers no-nonsense stability and ease of use which, for a lot of people, is all they really want. It’s slack without being the slackest. It’s long without being the longest. However, therein lies the beauty of it. It’s a very easy bike to just get on and ride, a lot like the Niner Jet 9 RDO. Its high front end really means that it opens up what trails you can ride, as do sensible spec choices like the wide rims and powerful brakes. It would make a great trail-center weapon.
The performance of the Live Valve does generally blend into the bike on the descents, but that’s not to say there aren’t instances where you notice it. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the unpredictable nature of the self-adjusting suspension. It sometimes felt as if the bike didn’t really know what to do with my body weight.
After trying the different available modes, I ended up predominantly riding this bike Climb mode, which firms up the rear suspension on the climbs while leaving the fork open to sit lower in its travel; the mode then automatically turns to Sport mode on flat or descending terrain. While this updated version of Live Valve is
a major improvement over the first generation, there were still moments when it felt great until it suddenly didn’t. Through hard-hitting turns it often felt like I was hitting a wall of support in the shock, which would then pivot my weight forward and into my hands upon the exit of the turn. This wasn’t a one time occasion - it was predictably unpredictable.
It was the same problem with jumps. In Open mode, it takes to the air really well, but in other modes, if you have a reasonable run-in to a jump as you load the transition it will again provide you with a wall of support, sending weight into your hands and throwing your weight forward as you got airborne. I know this is only a short travel bike and you probably won’t be hitting huge booters, but at the same time, this was quite disconcerting.Verdict
The trails in our test loop were very downcountry appropriate, and not overly technical or complicated. That said, Levy is right to point out that there are terrains and riders out there that Live Valve will likely suit—some people are really going to like it, and I think it does do some things well. A good candidate for the Giant Trance is a trail rider, not doing anything too aggressive, just someone who likes to cover swathes of ground in comfort.
Ultimately, I liked the Giant in spite of its electronic suspension and not because of it - I'd love a chance to see what this bike can really do with the system removed.
Overall the Trance has a solid foundation of good geometry and sensible parts, and for somebody who wants more efficiency while still having a bike that's very easy to ride this would do the job very well.
I do wonder if they are just more honest about the suspension travel than many other brands. MBR are often measuring bikes significantly shorter than advertised, so Giant could have just said the Reign had 150mm rear travel and crossed their fingers behind their backs.
On another note - 120mm rear / 130mm front is probably my ideal for a 29er trail/downcountry bike. And this thing seems overgunned in the downcountry category.
Trek has the twat box
Giant can have the G spot?
So a 'Giant Trance' is either a short or medium travel 29er or 27.5. If it's an 'X' model, that means it is mid-travel. 29 means it has 29 inch wheels, except for the Advanced, which is a 29er but doesn't say so, unless 'Advanced' means it's a 29er? Or does 'Advanced' indicate the shorter travel?
1. Trance = classic Trail bike with 120mm of suspension.
2. Trance X = burlier All-Mountain bike with 135mm of suspension.
3. Trance and Trance X are different models that have nothing to do with each other. Just similar names for two distinct bikes. Sorta like Hightower and Megatower or Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper Evo.
4. "Advanced Pro" in Giant marketing terms means it's the carbon version.
5. A 27.5" version doesn't exist. Of neither of the two.
So 'Pro' means what? It appears that all 'Advanced' are also 'Pro'. I don't see any non-advanced 'Pro' builds, unless I'm mistaken. Is the 'Pro' just superfluous? The build kits I guess are different levels within 'Pro'?
So you did clear up my confusion that 'Advanced' definitely means carbon, but now I don't know what 'Pro' means.
I guess if it's a 'Trance' it is a 29er by default. If it's a 'Trance X', it's a 27.5 by default. And 'X' means it has more travel than a regular Trance.
Also, if it's a 'Trance Advanced' has slightly more rear travel than an aluminum 'Trance'.
So while the meaning of 'Advanced' is clear, it's still clear that Giant is selling at least 4 different wheel size and travel configurations of bicycles all called 'Trance'.
Advanced means it has a carbon front triangle with an aluminum rear (although I don't think there are any in the lineup anymore that have mixed frame materials)
Advanced Pro means it has a carbon front AND rear triangle (for MTB at least, Advanced Pro in Giant's road bikes means something else)
The number at the end refers to the build kit, 0 will be the highest, although not all models get a 0 and some countries don't bring in certain models so you may see a number or two skipped on certain bikes
It's pretty easy to tell where a bike sits in Giant's lineup if you memorize the naming scheme, but unless you either work with Giant bikes or just like to spend time researching all this stuff it definitely is a mouthful of random words
To clarify, for 2022, our Mountain product line looks like:
Anthem Advanced Pro 29 = 110/100mm , 29-inch wheels, full composite frame (FlexPoint Pro suspension)
Trance Advanced Pro 29 = 130/120mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Trance 29 = 130/120mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Trance X Advanced Pro 29 = 150/135mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Trance X 29 = 150/135mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Trance X = 160/145mm, 27.5-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Reign Advanced Pro 29 = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Reign Advanced Pro 29 = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
I'm not just saying this for parts reliability of my 2017 model...
Reign Advanced Pro 29 = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Reign Advanced Pro 29 = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Advanced = Carbon Front Triangle
Pro= Carbon Rear Triangle
X= More travel than 'Not X'
Out of 8 models listed, 7 are 29ers, and say 29 in the name, except for the one that is 27.5... which gives no indication of that in the name. Why not do it the other way around?
Appreciate the clarification, but it's still 5 different models in 2 different wheel sizes and 3 different travel amounts all called 'Trance'. Honestly, this discussion thread has gone on for so long, and even some of the commenters attempting to clarify things have actually gotten details wrong.
I think I'm about to enter a trance.
When I got into the sport, Giant was an early search since they're so well known. Utterly confounded by their naming, spend too much time figuring what 'advanced' and 'composite' stood for. Ended up turned off by the brand for some time, when every other brand was so easily understood.
Heading the wrong way much Giant?
Only 1 27.5 option.... do i need to start rethinking my bike choices and go 29er ?
Pretty sure in the last 10 years Giant has doubled down on 27.5" (there's a whole PowerPoint Giant made floating about that explains why it's so great) across the full range and then a couple of years later done a complete 180 and pretty much gone full 29".
Anthem Advanced = 110/100mm , 29-inch wheels, full composite frame (FlexPoint Pro suspension)
Anthem = 110/100mm , 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Trance Advanced = 130/120mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Trance = 130/120mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Chaos Advanced = 150/135mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Chaos = 150/135mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Ruckus Advanced = 160/145mm, 27.5-inch wheels, full composite frame
Ruckus = 160/145mm, 27.5-inch wheels, aluminum frame
Reign Advanced = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, full composite frame
Reign = 170/146mm, 29-inch wheels, aluminum frame
PS: I could make myself available if you'd like to hire me to replace your marketing director...
My comment was about how they are doubling down on making all full suspension frames from carbon which it is clear is the worse environmental material compared to aluminum.
There are enough people that buy stuff for the glitz and glam of it that it'll sell as long as it's not actively hurting the bike.
I'm not shy of a bit of glitz and glam, but even at 30% off on the Trance X advanced Pro 29, with nothing else available, I took a hard pass in favour of waiting indefinitely until something else came in stock at full price.
It makes me all the more curious though about comparing this to a non-LV version and to the previous generation. IIRC, the PB team really liked the last Trance in the 2019 field test and it actually sounds like they enjoyed riding this bike other than the LV.
Usually not a fan of the Giant look, but this one can definitely be seen!
Honestly though, I wish you guys had reviewed the significantly cheaper version without Live Valve, which is probably a lot more relevant for a hell of a lot more riders. Also, wasn't there talk of a 6k USD price limit anyways?
10k+ for something that rides only marginally better than something I bought 5 years ago for half the price? Get stuffed.
What Giant needs is
A) an actual enduro bike. The Reign is great, but it's a trail bike.
B) reduce product overlap. See my above comment on the Reign-what's the purpose of the equally heavy Trance X?!
C) take the money spend on whole new models and add a size or 2 to the existing ones. Giant resisted making a TCR with the most common fit (56cm equivalent) for YEARS. Now they make that size (they call it M/L) and it's one of their top selling sizes. The Reign 29 also needs a M/L
D) their sponsored pros are on it-release the fricking Glory 29!!
I'd potentially be quite interested in this bike, but I've no idea from this review how it'd ride with conventional suspension.
I have no doubt electronic systems will eventually improve upon mechanical systems, so let's put it to the test with an apples-to-apples comparison with constant weight and price. Live Valve will earn its keep only when it can beat the best of the mechanical products; until then, let's not get suckered into buying public beta products.
Break down a couple bikes from recent tests; wheels v frames v components so people can see where the differences lie. Seems like it's always just gross weight listed, and we take educated guesses at where the weight is or isn't. I might try it for my two bikes just out of curiosity.
Well, that's because that is exactly what the Trance is. Why are you trying to jam a trail bike in the XC/DC category??
1) Theoretically accommodate a full-size water bottle
2) Added inside downtime storage so you can ride without carrying a bag
3) Fudged it all up by making a closing mechanism for the storage lid that only allows you to carry a small water bottle ♂️
Also, GWAR (Giant Water & Accessory Repository)
As a follow up that would be super cool, please take one of the favorite bikes from each category (downcountry and trail) and do a field test for the different respective tires in each category.
For example downcountry: (same front rear)
(1) Front: Schwalbe Wicked Will, Rear: Schwalbe Wicked Will;
(2) Front: Maxxis Rekon, Rear: Maxxis Rekon
(3) Front: Vittoria Syerra, Rear: Vittoria Syerra
(4) Front: Specialized Ground Control: Rear: Ground Control
(mixed front rear)
(5) Front: Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Rear: Schwalbe Wicked Will
(6) Front: Maxxis Dissector, Rear: Maxxis Rekon
(7) Front: Vittoria Aggaro, Rear: Vittoria Syerra
( Front: Specialized Butcher/Eliminator : Rear: Ground Control
Any idea how many engagement points those rear hubs provide?
I remember reviewing several Giant "Advanced" models 2-3 years ago, and the blingy carbon wheelset only had about ~20 POE's. Also, as far as i recall, it's specified as DT compatible, but uses the PAWL driver, not the ratchet, so it's basically non-upgradeable.
The feel/weight/durability of the wheels was great - but having such a cheap hub on a high end carbon set was ridiculous and felt pretty basic when putting power down. I'm surprised so many reviewers miss this fact... dont know if giant finally changed this, though (as their website doesn't provide any real spec on the hubs)
Maybe, just maybe in 2 weeks, we won't hear about anybody's BMX background.
In the history of Pinkbike has the word "slower" appeared more often in any bike test?
Pros - Live valve
Cons - Live valve