The Trance is a mainstay in Giant's line as their best-selling mountain bike. The trail rig is now in its seventh generation, and for 2019 the Trance gets 29" wheels, modernized geometry, a composite rocker link and a trunnion mounted shock. The bike uses Giant's Maestro suspension platform to deliver 115mm of travel.
Giant's goal with the new Trance, according to MTB Category manager Kevin Dana, was to "create a bike that is fun and accessible for everyday trail riding that could handle rough, steep, fast and gnarly trails while still being able to climb well. Basically, we just wanted to make an awesome mountain bike." For those riders who are sold on
Giant Trance 29 Details
• Intended use: XC trail
• Wheel size: 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 115mm
• Boost 12x148
• 1x specific
• Carbon frame (aluminum build options)
• Size: S - XL
• Weight: 26.9 lbs (12.2 kg) Advanced 0 build, size XL, no pedals
• Price: $3,050 - 8,300 USD
Giant's current 27.5" wheeled Trance, fear not - that bike, now in its third year of the current design, will continue to be in Giant's line for the foreseeable future. The new 29er Trance isn't meant to replace the 27.5" bike but rather, complement it, and offer another option for riders.
The last 29" wheeled Trance was the Trance X, which saw its debut about five years ago. Since then, a lot has happened with mountain bike technology and everything has progressed substantially since then. Why the long hiatus from having a 29er trail bike? The team at Giant say that it wasn't a matter of them not wanting to bring a modern 29er into the mix before now, it was that they were limited by the available technology and couldn't create a bike that performed up to the standard they wanted. With reduced fork offsets and other advances in suspension and design, they now feel confident that they have developed their version of an "ultimate trail bike".Frame Details 1x drivetrain:
The new Trance is designed as a 1x only bike. Giant's development team feel it is the best option for the bike and what the vast majority of riders are using. Also, by eliminating the front derailleur, they were able to free up space in the rear end to increase tire clearance and let the geometry and suspension work exactly how they wanted, without restrictions.Carbon upper link:
The Trance's new carbon upper link for the Maestro suspension platform saves significant weight over previous alloy versions. It's also said to be stiffer and stronger.
Frame Options / Build Kits
Modern Geometry: Giant claim the Trance 29's on-trail prowess is dues in large part to its geometry. With 115mm of rear wheel travel paired with a 130mm fork, the bike has a 66.5-degree head angle, 74.5-degree seat angle, 435mm chainstays, and a reach of 442mm (size medium); the bike has angles that more closely resemble many longer travel bikes than what 115mm travel bikes have been known for.
DVO Suspension: In addition to its geometry, the suspension on the Trance 29 is another piece of the picture that makes the bike do what it does. Giant have partnered with DVO Suspension on some of their race teams and have brought that relationship into the development of the new bike.
Giant TRX Wheels: Giant have re-worked their off-road wheel line for 2019. The TRX wheels found on the Trance 29 have a 30mm inner width, 28 spokes laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs, and weigh 1662g. They're said to have improved impact resistance over Giant's previous carbon mountain wheels and have a two-year warranty.
The Trance 29 is available in five different build kit options. The Trance Advanced Pro 29 2 is $4,300 USD and features a composite front and rear triangle. It has a Fox 34 Rythm fork, Float DPS shock, SRAM NX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain, Guide T brakes, 780mm x 35mm handlebars, Giant dropper post, and Giant's new TRX 1 carbon wheels.
The top of the line Trance Advanced Pro 29 0 comes with a DVO Sapphire D1 34mm fork, DVO Topaz 2 shock, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, Guide RSC brakes, an 800mm x 35mm TruVativ Descendant carbon handlebar, and Giant's TRX 0 carbon wheels and sells for $8,300 USD.
There are also two build options with aluminum frames, the Trance 29 1 and Trance 29 2. The Trance 29 1 has a Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork, Float Performance Elite Shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, Guide R brakes and Giant TRX 1 carbon wheels. The Trance 29 2 shares the spec of the Advanced Pro 2 but with aluminum wheels. It sells for $3,050 USD.
The Trance 29 is also available as a frame only for $2,800 USD.Suspension
The new Trance 29's suspension relies heavily on a partnership between Giant and DVO. From the new 34mm, 44-degree reduced offset Sapphire fork to the new Topaz 2, the suspension on the Trance was engineered specifically for the Trance to help the front and rear end of the bike work in unison. Throughout the development process of the Topaz 2, there were over 100 different variations and tunes. The Sapphire now has 34mm stanchions, new damping, and a new air spring profile. According to Bryson Sr, getting a big bike feel out of a shorter travel bike places extreme demands on the suspension and small changes that may be unnoticed on a longer travel bike make a bigger difference.
Although the DVO suspension is only found on the higher end Trance 29 bikes, that doesn't mean that the rest of the line gets the shaft. Giant carried what they learned in the development process over to the suspension they engineered with Fox and spent a considerable amount of time testing and developing with Fox as well in order to ensure that all riders, whether they purchase the entry-level aluminum Trance or the top of the line model can have the same quality of ride. Those that want to have the best of the best, with the most tuning options, can opt for the DVO-equipped bike. The DVO bikes also have a lighter shock tune on the small sizes.
The rear suspension of the Trance 29 uses Giant's Maestro system and a trunnion mount shock with a low leverage ratio. The Maestro system does a good job of isolating pedaling forces as well as preventing brake jack. Dana says, "In working with shorter shaft length shocks, keeping the air pressures down helps the shock perform better and it's also easier to tune the compression and rebound. The suspension is more effective." While the leverage ratio is low and the shock is mellow and linear throughout its stroke, it's well supported in the mid-part of the travel and it does ramp at the end in order to avoid a harsh bottom out. Giant recommend running the shock with about 11mm or 30% sag.
The fork on the Trance is not off the shelf. Whether the bike is spec'd with the new 34mm DVO Sapphire - created in part for the Trance 29, or a Fox 34 - depending on what model you're looking at, the fork has 130mm of travel. It also has a 44-degree offset. Giant worked with DVO in this project as well, creating forks at different travels with different offsets and then taking the bike to the trail to see how the set up performed. It was determined that a 130mm travel, 44-degree offset fork was ideal.
Riding a new bike in completely unfamiliar terrain on minimal sleep after spending nearly 24 hours traveling doesn't seem like the best way to test its capabilities, but could it be? This is a conundrum that I have had lately, just about every other week. While there's certainly no substitute for getting a bike out on familiar trails or my go-to test loop, if I can be comfortable on something new, somewhere I've never ridden, that speaks volumes for the bike.
Santa Caterina, Italy is a bit of a paradise for remote and rugged trail riding. There are no "new school" flow lines, just amazing and rugged backcountry trail. There's everything from a lift accessed "bike park" (I use the term loosely) trail to high alpine glacier fields laced with techy singletrack and pristine hiking trails. The area is just starting to get more "riding" trails built at the resort, and there is a strong local community pushing the scene, but Santa Caterina's trails are best accessed by either pedaling for hours or shuttling up rugged mountain roads in Land Rover Defender 110s pushed to their limits.
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Using shuttles and the local ski lift to access world-class backcountry riding - with almost as much "bike-over-the-shoulders" hiking as steep punchy uphills didn't lend to an extended amount of time to get a great feel for the Trance's climbing prowess. However, I snuck away at the top of one shuttle and climbed an extra 1,000 or so feet up the famous Gavia pass - if you follow road riding, you may know what I'm talking about, and if you don't, just know that the views are amazing and the trails off the side are without a doubt where you want to find yourself on the way back down.
With the DVO Topaz shock fully open, the Trance pedals exceptionally well. You can feel some motion, but everything is well supported and I didn't find much pedal induced bob or loss of energy happening. The shock's low leverage and linear feel were apparent but not in a way that sacrificed pedalability. On flatter rough terrain, the bike was easy to maneuver. It didn't sink or bog down and the suspension seemed to help keep traction when going uphill and in rolling terrain.Descending
If I didn't know that the Trance 29 was a 115mm bike, I would have guessed it was more in the neighborhood of 130-140mm. It manages the suspension it has incredibly well. In addition to the portages, sketchy lines, and trails that weren't built for mountain bikes, we also had some great fresh trail, high-speed descents, steeps, roots, wet rocks, and tight switchbacks that were closer to what most people ride on a more regular basis.
On steep terrain, the bike was very comfortable, easy to steer, predictable, and the suspension never felt overwhelmed. I think that the shorter travel made the bike easier to maneuver and finesse into and out of situations that a longer travel bike would feel bogged down in. It soaked up larger hits, and while it is evident that you don't have 140-150mm of travel, it's not in an uncomfortable way and was stable and balanced.
On higher speed sections of trail, the bike felt very smooth and the suspension felt active. It has a lot of small bump sensitivity, yet when it came to managing larger sections of chunder at speed it kept its composure. The 800mm wide bars, Minion DHF/DHR tire combo mounted on wide rims, and brakes that are up to the task of stopping the bike made me forget at times that the Trance 29 is a shorter travel trail bike than I typically would have chosen.First Impressions:
Forget about the Trance 29 for a moment and think about choosing the appropriate bike for the place you're going to be riding. If I was traveling to Santa Caterina and needed to choose a bike to bring, I would have chosen a 140-150mm all mountain bike, with little debate. Even if I'd seen the Trance 29's spec and geometry ahead of time I'm not sure it's a bike I would have picked for the trails we rode...
But that's why it's best to actually ride a bike before writing it off based solely on its numbers, and I can attest to the Trance 29 being a very versatile and capable bike, one that I would choose for riding in a large variety of locations on diverse terrain. It was a complete afterthought that the Trance had just 115mm of travel. It's nimble, quick, and yes, fun.
A couple days of riding is never enough to form a full opinion of a new bike, so there's a Trance 29 on the way for a long term review. I'm looking forward to getting it out on some familiar terrain to really put it to the test, so look for some updated thoughts once that happens.