Staff Rides: Levy's Giant Trance - A Lot of Pivots, Not Much Travel

Feb 25, 2019
by Mike Levy  


STAFF RIDES

Mike Levy's Giant Trance Advanced 29



I used to go to this fancy foreign restaurant daily, ordering the same thing over and over again until the predictable happened; one night, my body said, ''Nah, that's enough of that.'' Or something along those lines, but less polite and very untimely. Sure, the '' fancy foreign restaurant'' was called Thai-Way and maybe it was in my local mall's food court and maybe it was also 73 straight days of '3 Item + Noodle or Rice.' Anyway, the point here is that too much of even your favorite stuff can get old, and it can't be saved by an extra egg roll or nine chili sauce packets.

Sometimes, you just need something different and out of the norm. You know, like a vegetable, or maybe a strange bike that makes every ride more interesting.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy


Giant's 115mm-Travel Trance Advanced 29

The fashionably black contraption pictured above started off life as a medium-sized (442mm reach) Giant Trance Advanced 29 that arrived for our 2018 Field Test series. This rig aside, I don't think it's out of line to say that Giant's catalog isn't exactly full of exciting, headline-grabbing bikes. Don't get me wrong; they do (and have done) a lot of cool stuff, but forward-thinking designs haven't really been their forte lately. And then this Trance Advanced 29 pops up out of nowhere with big wheels, small travel, some interesting angles, and without the usual Fox or RockShox suspension. Bravo, Giant.

It doesn't hurt that the matte and gloss black combo looks amazing. That isn't even subjective.

If you didn't catch the Trance's Field Test review, I could sum it up with this: We liked the versatile, fun-loving bke a lot. Even so, I don't think Giant got the nod that they deserve for making this playful rig, a bike that is very un-Giant in a lot of ways.

How so? First off, Giant has largely ignored big wheels in their catalog for years, so it's probably worth putting in a bunch of miles on one of their first 29ers in a long, long time. Can they just jump into the fray with a killer little 29er, or will it take a few tries?

Secondly, Giant is using a combination of angles that you might not expect from the usually conservative Taiwanese brand: 66.5-degrees up front (w/ a 130mm fork) combined with just 115mm of suspension out back. I'd like to see a steeper seat tube angle (it's 74.5-degrees) but everything's connected, and I wanted to spend some time on a bike with a shorter effective toptube length, so it is what it is.
The stock Trance Advanced 29 weighs 26.7lb out of the box and sells for $8,715 USD. My version costs more and weighs more. Whoops.

The 442mm front-end on my medium is also around 10mm shorter than what 2019 probably expects a 5'10'' guy to be on. Here I am, though, liking the tighter cockpit (the Hixon is a virtual 50/780mm combo) and I've also been very comfortable. Maybe there's something to this new trend of shorter reach numbers and less travel?

I joke, and I also know damn well that a long, slack, smartly designed bike can make you feel like a rockstar, but I keep going back to more modest geometry and really enjoying myself.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
A face that only a mother could love? The front of the modified Trance is... unique.


Trust and DVO Suspension

No, that clearly isn't DVO's fork on the front anymore. The Sapphire works very well, but then Trust's linkage fork showed up and, well, look at it on the Trance; it's like it was made for it. It's basically the same color (the most important thing), offers 130mm of travel (just like the Sapphire), and I need to use it a lot so I can tell you guys how it works (review soon, I swear).

I'm sure I'll write too many words about how it works in a month or two, but I will say this in the meantime: I keep having some of the best corners of my life while using the Message. It happened over and over again when it was on the front of the Unno Dash that I still miss dearly, and it keeps happening to me while riding the Trance with the folding fork on it. Have my skills miraculously improved for no good reason? Possibly, but I rarely get better at things, so it's time to do some back-to-back'ing with the Message and the bike's stock Sapphire.

I'll get that Kazimer guy on it as well, and then maybe we can argue about it in a 'Mike VS Mike' video down the road.

Either way, I'm impressed with the fork's action so far. In a lot of ways, it's the kind of good that goes nearly unnoticed until you think back to the last time you went through that rough section or took that dumb line and it was... different.

The Message will sometimes move differently than a traditional, telescoping fork or, more precisely, not move. I don't mean that in a negative way at all - the action is supple and smooth - but it also feels like its using its stroke efficiently. Having a linkage doesn't mean zero brake dive, because there's still some of that, but something unique and good is happening. More to come.
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Is the Message better than a telescoping fork? I'm not sure yet, but it's certainly different.

bigquotesHave my skills miraculously improved for no good reason? Possibly, but I rarely get better at things, so it's time to do some back-to-back'ing with the Message and the bike's stock Sapphire. Mike Levy


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Double the pivots means double the questions at the trailhead. The Message gets everyone's attention.


Out back is DVO's Topaz shock that, up until now, I've had zero time on. My mind would have usually wandered off to something more obscure (and questionable) but I wanted to tinker with the Topaz for awhile first. Also, the original Topaz that was on this bike bit the dust during the Field Test, so I need to use its replacement for a while to make sure that all is well.

Turns out that it's pretty nice, especially when it comes to small bump compliance - it's more absorbent than a fresh ShamWow. I've been playing with volume spacers in the positive and negative chambers to get enough ramp-up at the end of the stroke and enough support at the beginning, with three in the former and two in the latter. The less travel you have, the trickier it can be to get the most out of it.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
I wonder what DVO's favorite color is? The little Topaz shock is very supple.


The low-speed rebound set relatively slow; I've always preferred a slightly slower rebounding bike than most riders. And as for the three-position pedal-assist switch, I pretend that it doesn't exist because no bike with this little travel should ever need to lean on that silly crutch.

What I'd like to find out is how this bike's 115mm compares to what Yeti have done with the back of the SB100. That short-travel rig manages to run at 32-percent sag while pedaling smoothly and, more impressively, not smash into the end of its stroke all the time or feel like it's ramping up too quickly. My opinion is that Yeti leads the pack when talking about short-travel suspension meant to be ridden hard, but we'll have to see how the Trance compares.



Wheels and Rubber

The bike's wheelset is going to be a bit controversial. Syncros' Silverton SL wheels, which weigh just 1,250-grams for a set, were designed exclusively for cross-country racing. I guess that means I'll have to do some cross-country races on this bike, then. They spin on DT Swiss internals and ceramic bearings right off the shelf, and yes, that's one-piece carbon fiber construction all around. As in the hub, spokes, and rim are all molded together into a single unit.

While that sounds like some wild, sci-fi shit, it's an approach that's been around in the road world for decades, and their wheels can easily cost over three times the $3,500 USD asking price that the Silvertons command. More dentists in that world, I suppose.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
The Silverton SL's rim, spokes, and hub shell have all been bonded together to create a one-piece carbon wheel. A set weighs just 1,250-grams, or 90-grams less than a single 29'' x 2.5'' Maxxis Assegai DH tire.


They're 26mm wide (internally), and I've been running a few different sets of 2.3'' and 2.4'' wide tires on them without any issues. They've all been heavy, though, which obviously masks how ridiculously light the wheels are. Either way, the Silvertons have been completely trouble-free, despite me most definitely not using them how Syncros intended. I guess that's a good sign, but they'd likely tell you that I'm being dumb and not to do the same, which is completely fair. I'll be installing a set of lighter trailbike tires on them when the condition makes a turn away from snow and frozen mud.

Speaking of rubber, I've been putting a bunch of time in on Vee Tire's Factory Ride prototypes and they've been impressive so far. The sidewalls don't feel all that sturdy, but I haven't had a single flat yet so maybe there's more to it than just how thick it feels between our fingertips? Either way, they're somewhere north of 1,000-grams, and the rubber is soft and slow as hell. Slow rebounding and slow rolling, sure, but I don't think I've ever ridden something as predictable as these.

I'll be putting on a set of production version tires as soon as the snow melts, so hopefully they are just as good.
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
There are good tires out there that don't say Schwalbe or Maxxis on their sidewalls.

I think that should be at the top of most riders' list of needs when it comes to tires - predictability - because fun and speed both come from confidence. And do you know where confidence begins? At predictability. When you have a good idea of how your tires are going to behave over those wet roots, that flat gravel corner, or anywhere else, you can understand and feel things so much better.



12-Speeds and some Titanium

The Trance's drivetrain is a lot less eclectic than what I was using the last time I did one of these articles. Well, I guess there are a couple of chunks of titanium hanging off of it. Cane Creek's eeWings weigh just 400-grams, sport a 30mm titanium spindle, and come with a ten-year warranty. But most importantly, look at them. I've had them on a few different bikes over the last season and there hasn't been a single issue.

Rigidity-wise, they feel great to me but I'm not exactly Andre the Giant, either. Anyway, they look great, weigh a little, cost a lot ($999 USD), and have been reliable.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
The Giant has had a 12-speed X01 derailleur and cassette on it for the past few months.


For pedals, I was using a set of Look's new X-Track Race Carbons that I said good things about in my review of them last March. However, things took a turn for the worse a few months back when I started pulling out of the SPD-compatible mechanism during every ride. That can be the stuff that nightmares are made of if it happens at the wrong time, especially on take-off, so I did the reasonable thing and picked up some new cleats. Only, that didn't solve the issue, which is a bummer because it was their secure feel that won me over last year.

The X-Track's are still trucking along otherwise; the axles are straight, bearings are relatively smooth, and there no fatal gashes in the bodies. Too bad I can't use 'em anymore, though.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
I run a 10-50 X01 cassette (left) combined with a 34-tooth SRAM chainring. OneUp's large pump (right) gets moved from test bike to test bike, as do the candies stashed inside its handle.


In the meantime, I've gone back to these iSSi Triple Trail pedals that I first used in 2015, mostly because they're SPD-compatible so I don't have to change my cleats yet again. I'm waiting for a set of silly-light cross-country pedals to come from Crank Brothers, but these four-year-old iSSi pedals have been flawless, even if I think the "platform" is dumb.

The shifter, cassette, and rear derailleur are straightforward SRAM units, and the same goes for the 34-tooth chainring up front. Nothing crazy there, but I'll be putting the new wireless AXS stuff on this bike for testing soon, so there will be some beeps and bops in the Trance's future.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Fox's original Transfer dropper post is now a proven performer and it looks like the new 175mm-travel version will follow suit.


To get my seat out of the way, I'm using Fox's new 175mm-travel Transfer that works just like the original version, at least until my Reverb AXS test post shows up soon. The Transfer came with a remote from Race Face (they're the same post) that, despite being aluminum, feels cheap compared to OneUp's plastic remote. I also prefer how the OneUp version sits close against the handlebar, and because the Transfer is activated in the same way as OneUp's dropper, I can use their remote with Fox's party post without issue.

The original Transfer's quick rebound and audible top-out noise have been carried over to the long-travel model, as has the great reliability. One of my favorite Tioga seats is bolted to the top of it as well, and not only because it has the pee-drain opening in the middle - its flexible shell also makes it very comfortable.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Cockpit details include a OneUp remote controlling the Fox dropper, and a set of ODI's Float grips that have ruined lock-ons for me.


My other touchpoint is a set of ODI's 31.5mm diameter F-1 Series Float grips that are not lock-ons. I know, is this 1997 all over again? Honestly, I never thought I'd go back to traditional grips but I'm loving it and am more comfortable than ever. Obviously, without a plastic sleeve inside to take up space, it's just ODI's "exclusive A.I.R.E. compound" between my gloves and the handlebar, and it's noticeably nicer on my hands. The designer foam has a bunch of air injected into it that's said to provide a slower rebound, and they seem to do exactly that if you push into them with your fingernail. They're a PIA to move, but it's worth it and I won't be going back to lock-ons anytime soon.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
It might look super weird, but the grips end up in the same place as they would with a normal 50mm stem and 780mm handlebar.


As for the funky handlebar, it's a one-piece, carbon fiber Hixon SL IC stem and handlebar combo that costs $329.99 USD. I know, I know, but doesn't it look neat? I think so, and it also weighs just 290-grams, making it one of the lightest setups out there; there are actually stem and bar combinations that both cost and weigh more! I'm a sucker for integration when it makes sense, and because I think Syncros nailed the Hixon's roll, I never felt the need to change anything. Kazimer, on the other hand, missed being able to roll his handlebar forward or backward as needed, so he's ditched his.

The Hixon makes a load of sense if you have the money to spend, but man, does it look strange from a rider's POV. So much so that it's almost distracting sometimes. I might end up using a more traditional setup on the Trance for that reason.





Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy. Photo by Jason Lucas
Warmer days and seatbags; the stuff the dreams are made of.


All of that strange-ness adds up to a healthy 26.9lb, which is probably a bit more than a lot of you expected because it's a bit more than I expected. But then again, those Vee Rubber tires weigh something like 1,100-grams each, and the Trust fork weighs 1,980-grams. With a set of 800-gram-ish trail bike tires for when things are drier and faster and some other changes, the bike would drop down close to 25lb flat, which is getting nice and sporty; I'd happily race it in something like the week-long BC Bike Race and not ever feel like I was being held back.

Angles are more important than grams anyway, and I'm liking what Giant has cooked up. First, the stuff that I'm meh about. With a leaning more towards the downs than the ups, it's a bit of a handful when you're faced with the latter while bouncing off the redline, but I know I'm in the minority on that front. As crazy as it sounds to say it, the 74.5-degree seat angle also feels a nip slack, and especially so because I have dancer's legs.

You know what I'm not thinking off while flying down some Squamish singletrack on the Trance? The seat angle, because this black bike is so. Much. Fun.
Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy
Because that's really what it's all about.

With 115mm of travel out back, it's always going to feel lively and sporty compared to a ground-hugging enduro bike, and sometimes it's good to get reminded that skills still count... I almost knocked a few teeth out and a few days ago while pointing the Trance down some steep-ish chutes, which was one of those fun reminders.

It's usually not as fast, forgiving, or as fear-squashing as a long-travel, slacker bike, but it's a hoot of a rolling experiment that's going to get a load of other test gear thrown at it during 2019. Expect to see it with a battery-powered drivetrain soon, and maybe a suspension handlebar, and maybe even differently sized wheels, and definitely with a seatbag. But there won't be any egg rolls or chili sauce packets inside of it.


266 Comments

  • + 338
 This is the perfect bike to force you to keep your head up and look down the trail, because anytime you look down your eyes would burn.
  • + 5
 nailed it.
  • + 16
 Shots fired.
  • - 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Feb 25, 2019 at 9:28) (Below Threshold)
 I love the mix of understated frame and stealth filth. Not as Down Country as a hardtail with freaking 180 fork
  • + 62
 If this bike was a person it'd be Levy, if Levy was a bike he'd be this bike It's like how dogs look like their owners
  • + 21
 Finally somebody has the balls (in the bearings I mean) to challenge Knolly's world record for the amount of pivots in a bike.
  • - 19
flag endurocat (Feb 25, 2019 at 11:26) (Below Threshold)
 It's because of all those pivots that the suspension lacks reaction time. I don't see this bike winning a championship any time soon
  • + 25
 Why aren't we seeing the -Huck2Flat- video of this?
Is it the headtube-to-sheer probability ratio?????
  • + 18
 @southoftheborder: So Knolly just need to fit a Trust fork, and boom record restored.
  • + 9
 Needs more Spengle.
  • + 4
 @scary1: agreed, came here to say this, we need slo mo luck 2 flat on that beast
  • + 22
 Harsh but fair.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: didnt you draw this exact bike when predicting the future of mtbs a couple of years ago? Think it had electronic shifting though...

If MTB’s keep going this route Im moving to sbg type geo on 4130 rigid both ends with 275’s/Plus/cushcore cause im getting sick of playing bike mechanic more than riding.
  • + 4
 @superkeen: I bet you could Beetlejuice them into it if you call them three times.
  • + 5
 Just looking at that thing my pulse quickens. It's weird though... could be early stage gag reflex, but maybe also my inner dentist coming out.
  • + 72
 @southoftheborder: Wait, what the heck is going on!? I at home designing some new way to make a bike irrelevantly complex and next thing I know, I’m here.
  • + 8
 @KNOLLYBIKES: don't shoot the messenger! I just propagated @superkeen 's message to you!

Joking aside, thanks for keeping the laughs on. A true class act from a truly classy company.
  • + 7
 @southoftheborder: All in good fun. Though Canyon now has us tied for amount of pivots with the Sender and if you've seen the spy shots of the Specialized new DH bike, it looks like they also like what we are doing.
  • + 2
 @KNOLLYBIKES: Hmm, given SBC's business history, is it time to retain counsel? (Kidding...I hope.)
  • + 1
 @Grosey: dude I feel you... I was psyched on the hardtail thing last year for that reason, but then I broke two high quality (one from a brand with a noted "bombproof" reputation) "aggressive" hardtail frames in less than 5 rides.... my head spins with the simplest way to have fun just riding. I get tired of the same shit and end up riding a lot of BMX by the end of the summer. Lots of fun for your buck there.
  • + 91
 This is why vaccinations are important
  • + 28
 Best comment on here.
  • + 2
 yeah bike looks sick...uh NO
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: ditto that!
  • + 69
 Errrr… does NOT look like a Session.
  • + 63
 "Quick Robin, to the Batshit mobile"
  • + 14
 BatCountry bike
  • + 31
 Wait, am I Robin or Batman? Batshitman?
  • + 5
 BatShitCrazy
  • + 2
 Playing around, I think the bike is cool. Good build for that fork
  • + 2
 now a picture of a tandem version of this bike is stuck in my head
  • + 52
 It’s awesome to see someone giving props / reviewing a bike with moderate geometry numbers.. if you say I’m a fan of 66.5 head angles these days it’s assumed you don’t ride aggressively. The playful nature of these bikes are so rewarding and fun.
  • + 7
 And then he says it's dangerous going down chutes. At what point does this downcountry thing become a mascochistic perversion?
  • + 31
 @BenPea: XC has been just that for 25+ years right? Haha
  • + 5
 @JaToledo: yes.

I used to do all kinds of silliness on a bike with 100 rear and 125 front, but that was 2003 and I'm f*cked if I'd do it now.
  • + 20
 @BenPea: from its inception. Down Country is all about asking for credit for putting yourself at an obvious disadvantage as well as removing yourself from the line of fire, that is potential comparison to fast people on Enduro bikes. Nobody expects you to send anything on a bike like this so you may as well be the king of chicken lines.
  • + 10
 @utley06 I think it's pretty much the perfect geo for a short travel trail bike like this. It's OK not jumping on the 62HA/79SA bandwagon especially in this category...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Dang..Some serious Giant HATE coming out there.. why are you so mad with the Trance29 Wakattack?!? KOCL (King Of Chicken Lines)?!?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Yes, or you'll be writing send cheques that the bike can't cash.Then again, these 29ers are miracle workers, haven't you heard?

@Jaybirdy: Wakattack? That's good.
  • - 3
 @Jaybirdy: where is the Giant hate you speak of? No intend of mine it has been to punish, for little care I give to beasts like these. In fact I found it to be a just background for these somewhat peculiar, yet exciting artifacts. So how do you spot malice in the words of mine? Do you read between the chicken lines Lord Sekhovia?
  • + 2
 @BenPea: Have you ridden some of the chutes in Squamish?
  • + 0
 @JustinVP: you mean they are so mellow, even DC bike will do them? Or do you mean you have to be crazy to live in Squamish and use a bike with less than 140mm of travel?
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: boom. A built-in excuse. I know this move well.
  • + 1
 @JustinVP: who me? I've seen a lot of pictures of them. Levy should be allowed to feel safe on them, that's all I ask.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: "And then he says it's dangerous going down chutes"

Impossible to feel safe on some of the best Squamish trails. That's why they're so fan-freakin-tastic. But yah, even more sketch on steeper HA bike.
  • + 1
 Wakattack.. simmer simmer..You sound to be at disbelief with what the Trance29 can or cant do.. lol would ya just looook at it.. Ju juuuust look at it!
  • - 1
 @Jaybirdy: you have to wait in line, there’s a few owners of hardtails that want to teach me a lesson
  • + 13
 @WAKIdesigns: Did someone say "king of chicken lines?"I got here as fast as I could.
  • + 3
 @BenPea: "At what point does this downcountry thing become a mascochistic perversion?"

Do you mean the bike or Levy?
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Grossly put....... WakAttack!! =:^0
  • + 1
 @TheLocalSpokesman: haha beat me to the drop. But I think I may deserve that crown.
  • + 40
 When wheels, cranks and a handelbar cost more than your first three bikes...
  • + 40
 One of the weirdest, beautifully ugly, and more expensive bikes out there. I'm jealous. Probably is a blast to ride.
  • + 1
 Sure that. But really now, i will never get used to see that fork...
  • + 3
 Boom 40+ likes. We all tuned in. Downcounty is real
  • + 29
 Mike announces his 2020 presidential candidacy
  • + 0
 @masonguys Make mountain biking great again could be his slogan Wink
  • + 16
 Time to start digging up his old tweets...
  • + 22
 Vital mtb is FAKE NEWS... I have done more for DOWN COUNTRY than any other technical editor in the history of mountain biking!!!!!!
  • + 5
 More like the grand opening of his dental practice.
  • + 1
 @kookseverywhere: Hilarious, until I'm reminded how terrifying it is.
  • + 8
 @Thustlewhumber: Oh God, please no...
  • + 23
 Mike Levy- arguably the best editor at Pinkbike. Love you Mike, even though this bike is hideous. Wink
  • + 8
 Levy really nailin' down the cheeky humor lately...and I love it Smile Far too many people taking everything far too serious.
  • + 23
 @loopie @brappjuice Thanks, guys Smile Sometimes we all need to remember that it's just bikes, right?!
  • + 4
 I don't think there's any "arguably" to it. No disrespect to the other editors, but Mike's articles are far and away the most entertaining. Good stuff, Mike.
  • + 18
 Wow...this bike looks surprisingly very good. The shape and color of the linkage fork match perfectly with the frame.
  • + 19
 Can we build a wall around this bike?
  • - 1
 bahahaha that made me laugh hard af. damn butthurt people had to downvote this
  • + 1
 @Kimura: I made sure to upvote Smile HA
  • + 3
 it certainly could be considered an emergency this time
  • + 2
 @Turtle033: ayy i did too and we got the man to +3
  • + 15
 I would love to ride that...it looks ace! Batman would love it too
  • + 4
 The BatBike is a good nickname for it...
  • + 2
 BatCountry bike
  • + 12
 I don't care what it looks like, that'd be a killer bike for bumbling around southern Ontario trails all day...you know...if I was a billionaire.
  • + 14
 So now having a NORMAL length reach is a trend. Dammit Levy hahah
  • + 4
 Woo, I'm a trend-setter! All I had to do was keep my 2016 bike around for a few years.
  • + 11
 We're take'n it back to 2015 haha
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I'll let you coin the term "freeduro" if you remember my user tag and hook it up at the otter booth this year, deal?

Edit: apparently some instagram kooks got to it first. Still appreciate some swag tho Salute
  • + 8
 It's a Giant Black Mantis
  • + 8
 HA!!! They TOTALLY missed the mark by not calling it the Mantis Fork. "trust message" is dumb
  • + 8
 I thought a giant can't be much more ugly, I was totally wrong.
  • + 4
 Hey Levy, help me out here. Your saddle is a lot taller than your bars are. Why aren't you running a bunch of rise? I figured it would be more comfy and nicer on the downs too?

As a tall guy@6-4, but less than expert rider, I'm dealing with the same thing and trying to figure out what's appropriate. When I slam the stem (with 35mm riser bars) I feel over the front on the downs and a bit more weight on the front and my hands when seated. Not super comfy... The downs feel sketchy (maybe I just don't ride in right position?). When I bring it all up with spacers... well I lose some reach but like the more neutral position. I don't feel like I have enough weight on the front end when climbing steeper tech tho and get a bit hung up. Advice anyone?
  • + 3
 So we're about the same height and my setup looks a lot like Levy's, but obviously on an XL frame. Keeping those bars a bit lower allows for a combination of three things for me: a more aggressive stance for working the bike over difficult terrain (get that upper body working), I can give more power from my legs while pedalling with my torso a bit deeper into the bike, and is just feels more familiar because I grew up riding stretched out and tucked low on xc bikes in the 90s. If anything, I've come back to a slightly lower bar position in the last few years because dropper posts mean I don't have to compromise to find a do-it-all riding position.
  • + 2
 I'm 6'5 and I also find that my hands have lots of pressure on them during climbs and such, and that I'm a little too forward over the bars. My saddle height is hilariously higher than my bars. I found that stacking spacers helped, but didn't quite get me there. I am going to experiment with a 10mm longer air shaft in my fork (cheaper than replacing my expensive carbon bars) and if that doesn't help then I'm going to try a 35-40mm rise bar and roll them forward a tad to get the height I want but also the extra reach to the grips.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: Yeah I did the extra 10mm (up to 150mm) and have 35mm risers. It feels super comfy with 30mm of spacers (65mm of rise total) as my bars are equal to the seat. I see why shorter people like that. Too many spacers tho. If you go riser bars...I'd go Enve M9 50mm rise. (I'm considering switching to these). No way with a slammed stem would you be too high still at your height.

@big-red thanks man, that's an interesting setup. I may just have to try and get used to the lower bars and see if it maybe makes my riding position a bit better.
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: Cool thanks for the tip. I'm maxed out on spacers, I can't go any higher with those. I'm going to try and see what I can come up with by keeping my existing Chromag BZA Carbon 25mm rise bars. I love these bars and I don't want to fork out another pile of money on another set just yet.
  • + 2
 ("only" 5'10 here but it's just a bike fit thing, not height thing so much) ...It's truly a compromise...Priority on up's/flat/down's VS hands at low/neutral/high. The more priority on comfort...gotta go neutral/high with the hands I believe...which compromises your Up's and Power
  • + 2
 Part of it is also down to my inseam length that belongs to someone around 6ft+ tall, but I also do prefer a slightly lower handlebar height than a lot of riders. I'm still tinkering with spacers and I've put a 5mm under the stem since we filmed this. It'll probably come back out, though.
  • + 1
 I've been jacking up the front of my bikes since forever. I'm on a mojo3 which is a bit short for a long bike but it doesn't wander even with extra 10mm fork, max spacers, hope riser stem and 20mm high bars. If I need to, I will get up on the saddle nose for super steep and techy ups and it's the best bike tech climber that I've ever ridden. If you still have problems with keeping the front grounded, then you might have to get a longer bike - bummer!
  • + 3
 I'm dealing with the same issues. I can't have my seat that far above the bars or I get bad hand numbness.

Few things to consider trying are: 1. A high-rise bar, which, unlike spacers, won't reduce reach. 2. Moving the seat forward, which will help with front wheel wandering on climbs, without affecting downs (although will obviously reduce reach and could put your knees too close to the bar if you have long femurs). 3. Longer stem. 4. Longer chainstay.

Longer chainstay is what made the biggest difference for me, but I have a bike where that's adjustable, which is not all that common. So obviously I'd try other stuff first if it meant buying a new frame.
  • + 4
 I like these short travel trail bikes. For someone who has multiple bikes, a short travel trail bike(120mm or less) and an eduro bike(150mm and up) is a perfect combination as they little overlap in intended usage. I had a Fuel EX with a 140mm Fox 36 and sold it to get the SB100. Too much overlap between the Fuel EX and Slash. Now I just have an SB100 and a Slash, but if I didn't have the SB100, the Trance 29 would have been my next choice.
  • + 2
 I think about this at times...but bikes like the Ripmo truly can do both to a degree. If the trail isn't gnarly you just bump up the compression a few clicks or add a few psi. Kind of feel like 140mm is the new 120mm.
  • + 7
 Agreed. My ideal two-bike garage would have a 100mm DC bike and a 160mm AM bike.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: Lol... "100mm DC" oh, dual-crown, he's going old-school. Nope, down-country.
  • + 1
 I have a G Reign and a SC Chamaleon, the spectrum they cover lest me ride about anything !!!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: two bike garage.......ha ha ha
  • + 2
 Hey Levy, looking forward to your Message review. I haven't heard of any positive reviews of Trust's The Message anywhere else, that I'm aware of. I'm looking forward to your understanding of how this actually works and how it handles bumps of all shapes and sizes. This is one review which had me particularly riled up: lacemine29.blogspot.com/2018/12/trust-message-fork-review.html

P.S. please don't use the phrase "Trust Effect" in your review Smile They're a marketing company, got it, tell us about the product!
  • + 1
 That's brutal. Something odd going on there. The idea is that the thing is supposed to take square stuff really well, but maybe not other stuff (like a rear first drop landing). This sounds like overall it was a disaster. I'd be something was off. Hard to believe a product would get out the door with such obviously poor performance.
  • + 2
 Boys at Worldwide Cyclery posted a quick YouTube review about a day ago. They seemed to love it.
  • + 2
 I know Americans hate the more logical metric system, but why do people insist on giving the total bike weight in lbs but individual components (and weight weeny savings) in grams? Just give in and use the metric system for bike weight.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy I know we've done this before, but I'd argue you don't need a steeper seat tube angle - 74.5 deg is fine, but you're definitely noticing how slack the actual seat tube angle is when extended to full height... a steeper virtual angle isn't going to help much when the actual is 66 degrees or less, which is what that one looks like...
  • + 1
 I'm cursed with my tall inseam.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: so what you’re feeling isn’t the reasonable 75 deg virtual angle but the horrid 66-ish actual seat tube angle when it’s fully raised.
  • + 2
 That bikes name is definitely Agatha. Opinions are like a*sholes, so here's mine. Wheels are neat. I like that idea. Serviceability though? That fork is gross, otherwise it looks pretty good. In answer to your question, the last time Giant has made anything that made me go ooooh? Answer is never. I'm not a fan of Giant. Honestly I think they kinda suck. I'm not a fan of any company that can shit talk an idea for so long then jump on board and hope no one notices. With that though I hope you have fun on that thing and it keeps your season going with lots of fun rides. Thanks for the review!
  • + 2
 @mississippiblue not even the ATX One DH made you go ooooh? Or the MCM carbon bikes of that same era? That would be next level self-control for a 13 year old me.
  • + 2
 Sweeeeeeet, Sweeeeet build, maybe weird to drop so much on a giant? But hey, if he says its a nice ride, then who I am to judge? Haven´t tried it. I´d ride it for sure if I could afford it. As far as name goes... it reminds me somehowhat of a black Lamborghini, with the pointi edges? Hopefully I didn't hurt any feelings there.
  • + 6
 Can we get links to the other staff rides in each article?
  • + 4
 There's only been a few so far but we have a bunch coming up. We'll link them all together.
  • + 3
 I don't buy for a second that a spoked wheel is optimal when making a monocoque carbon creation. I think they didn't want to be made fun of.
  • + 1
 That is a lot to think about! looking forward to how you break it all down. So when you are riding this thing, are you concentrating on what each of these things are doing, or just riding aloof and noticing what stands out good or bad?

I am so guilty of overthinking what I want something to feel like, it must be tough with so much going on.

For the fork, I am curious (likely answered in your upcoming review)
- in what situations does it feel supportive, when does it feel plush?
- do certain movements make it firm up? like braking, landing while braking, airplane landings?
- why do you think they came out with a 130mm fork as opposed to a much more popular 160mm ? Do you think the design scales up in travel?
- I guess there is no mud guard option...

Thanks, and really cool looking bike. I'd ride it for sure!
  • + 2
 @Mikelevy I thought I had posted back in the 3 spoke wheel article to put them on this bike and call it "Trollbait" , "Rageahol" or "NoPhoques" but apparently I never hit post.... so here are those name suggestions again!
  • + 1
 I had Rageahol for a month after Christmas. I'd give it a one-star review.
  • + 1
 Excellent names but the wheels won't work - they're 27.5"
  • + 1
 I ride stuff that's chunky enough that a bigger bike does better, but the Trance 29 is the ideal bike for something like 90% of mountain bikers. Geometry that allows for some aggression, but with less suspension for

a) flatter trails
b) riders who don't jump off big stuff

I really hope Giant does do a bigger travel 29er soon (and steepen the seat angle!!). Something around 140-150mm travel in the rear....call it the Reign 29er I guess.
  • + 5
 Why is having "just enough" bike better tho? I'm not sure smaller travel bikes have that much of an advantage anymore over a nice 140mm bike like Ripmo. Maybe I'm wrong?
  • + 2
 Hmm- but with modern geometry it may also go the other way. I'm not sure you need a bigger bike to ride stuff that previously wouldn't be manageable on anything less than a DH bike. I'm not saying there isn't a place for DH bikes. There will always be advantages and disadvantages. Smaller travel rides aren't just for less intense trails- look at slope style bikes or Bryceland's bike- some people prefer a snappier bike and are strong enough to hold them down on harder trails. Think of the world of skis- softer vs. stiffer translates to a different ride and good riders may prefer either depending on what they are looking for.
  • + 2
 @snl1200: Eh, Ratboy's suspension is a lot closer to a Ripmo than a Trance travel wise. I'd bet that Ripmo is about as snappy as the trance and prob climbs better too with modern STA and DWLink.
  • + 1
 For sure @Svinyard- I was just using him as an example as in the interview the other day he spoke on why he didn't go for something with more travel. I have known a number of guys around here that ride shorter travel like the Trance, SB 130 (which I know is still longer than Levy's) just for the playfulness and responsiveness of it. Personally I am in that ballpark of 140 (Transition Sentinel) so closer to the Ripmo and personally really like it. I was more just disagreeing with my interpreted assumption from the comment above by @peleton7 that shorter travel is just for riders who prefer "flatter trails" or "don't jump bigger stuff" as the distinction between why a rider might choose that bike is not quite that simply divided IMO
  • + 1
 Awesome bike check, and some super interesting components on there, that I could definitely see picking if you get the for free. Titanium Cranks, Message Fork, and Syncros Wheelset are super cool. Total cost of this bike is well over $10k as well! Also interesting to see multiple components on there more expensive than the frame.
  • + 2
 Shit, I never realized that there are a few components on there that cost more than the frame!
  • + 4
 Maybe a setup with a Naild R3ACT, the thrust fork and the stem bar combo is the future, I’d like to see a bike like that.
  • + 5
 I’d rather die
  • + 3
 Nailid R3ACT impressed the hell out of me tbh so I'd probably like it. They need a 120mm-ish 29er.
  • + 1
 That's the first bike I've ever thought that fork looked cool on, and the stealth bomber color scheme makes the cranks pop. Very fun concept, but in reality, the Ti cranks are the only part I want for my ride! Soooooo sweet.
  • + 3
 that is quite the hodgepodge of insane products, it almost looks good, all it needs now is to switch those wheels for the Spengle 3 spokes.
  • + 3
 It has been forever since a Mike vs. Mike episode and now that you brought it up and subsequently reminded me of them I feel cheated. I demand an apology and new episodes!!
  • + 2
 Sorry, there are a bunch in the works!
  • + 1
 It's not a carbon clone of every other bike in the short travel category. Very cool parts . Lighter tires 27.5 wheels would bring it down to 25 pounds. Looking forward to reading the long term test. And I think it looks cool.
  • + 5
 I miss some nice and fresh Spengle Carbon Wheels on this bike...
  • + 2
 @mtbikeaddict: They're 27.5" Frown
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: The Bike Ahead Biturbo are available in 29" :-)
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: just go full Ratboy then, 27.5" seems to work on a Habit Wink

Technically though, the Syncros wheels are on the same level of crazy (one piece, break a spoke or rim = bin the wheel). It's just that 90's look. Your rig would be the modern equivalent of a Trek Y bike straight outta Pacific Blue.
  • + 4
 Say Down Country one more time and I swear to ##'&¥¥₩ I'll #$££ every fu%&€£$ one of ya!
  • + 9
 Down country.
  • + 7
 "Call me Elf! One. More. Time"
  • + 3
 @panaphonic: Too busy with this scooby snack to give a damn.
  • + 1
 I love the short travel rear in trail geo. Otherwise I have had to build up 4X bikes with long forks to get this setup.
I also think the bikes looks awesome but I am guy who always goes for something different; same ol' is boring for me.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy Flip that fork 180° and see what happens! Ya know, for skids and giggles.
  • + 2
 Says a lot about the new Trance if he has access to just about anything and rides this.

Anyone know what strap/bag is on the seat? TIA
  • + 1
 best guess is maybe a Lezyne Road Caddy?
  • + 4
 It's just a Blackburn tool strap/pouch thing. A few days after we filmed this it loosened off and dropped my tube and favorite tire levers.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Specialized SWAT bibs. After a decade of bibs, I won't buy any other now.
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: i have a pair, they're really well made. my only 2 issues with them are the same with every bib. too hot for warm weather, way too hard to stop for bathroom breaks.
  • + 0
 @xeren: also the fact that you're wearing bibs. on a mountain bike.
  • + 1
 @mpcremata: r/gatekeeping
  • + 1
 @mpcremata: I know where are coming from because I was there. My first bibs were a present. So I tried them... and they are amazing. So comfy, no snagging, and now I have pockets so I can wear a t-shirt or DH jersey and still have a pump, tube, food etc.
  • + 0
 You're riding technique has way too many detriments to properly talk about cornering. Therefore a review from you will be likely be technically wrong. I've seen you ride in the videos with the pros and while you carry some speed you ride with an incorrect method/muscle recruitment, incorrect leveraging and corresponding so; you dont know how to pump. Dirty manuals. Clipless front heavy posture. Very typical of the I wanna go fast but never learned to ride right culture. Possibly jumping the gun before reading said review but this is my guess. Unless theres a function of the fork that fights your front heavy loading posture and keeps you loaded rearward. I think you wouldnt be able to correlate that tho. And if you ride right you wont need a bandaid fork to do so. Threshold here i come!
  • + 4
 When your tires weigh as much as your wheels...
  • + 1
 *More than*
  • + 1
 You could always call it either Frankenstien or Vomit.

Not sure which but if it does the job and well - who cares.

p.s. - don't get me on the spelling - it's on purpose - oh vey. Wink
  • + 4
 Put those cranks back on the San Andreas.
  • + 1
 Ha!
  • + 3
 Fwiw that fork looks cool. Like something out of Westworld. You ride it and like it but it'll kill you later.
  • + 3
 Hey Mike, even if I do not always agree with some of your review, it's always great fun to read you.
  • + 2
 Ay @mikelevy, sup with those Sram brakes? Some interesting colors and writing on the levers....
  • + 1
 Yeah, the reservoir looks on par size wise to the guides. But the writing is different than SRAM's current stuff. Maybe an older model or something new? Banjo is the Guide banjo not the codes. Prob just guides with funny writing
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: Nah those are definitely code calipers and levers!
  • + 3
 Unreleased but soon to be released. They work quite well.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: The new split clamp and carbon lever looks mighty good
  • + 3
 Sticker game is very strong! Smile
  • + 1
 @mikelevy welcome to the non lock-on club those grips work very well. I have the Vapor version and way nicer on the hands. They are more durable than the ESI and similar.
  • + 1
 "Hixon SL IC stem and handlebar combo costs $329.99 USD - 290-grams" vs Exotic 760mm carbon bar 157g + wren 40mm stem 71g = 228g for $121 USD. Booyah.
  • + 1
 I'd like to say that Levy must be smoking some mighty fine stuff - but I have to admit that I like that bike, and I ain't smokin' nuthin'. So I have no idea what's going on.
  • + 3
 Ultra light wheels, heavy tires, cool!
  • + 2
 I would not expect him to ride anything else. Stay out of Reno you hipster!
  • - 1
 Can you really have fun charging anything with so little travel. It's probably ok on these flowy hardtail that plaque our trail networks (JK) or being a fitness head with some attitude, but it would not be comfortable riding anything chunky or hitting anything in the nearby Whistler bike park! It sounds like it has a really narrow spectrum of use..
  • + 1
 you know, some people ride hardtails in coastal BC, seriously.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy name bioraptor, because it looks like the monsters from the movie pitch black.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Cp0QD6yIU
  • + 3
 How about those "candies" stashed in the pump handle?
  • + 1
 I like it. I would lose weight and ugliness on the 12 speed though, no need for that massive bail out gear on a bike that light. 1x10 with an 11-34/36 would be perfect.
  • + 1
 This bike is everything I love about bicycles. WEIRD is wonderful. This is the coolest bike I've seen in a long time.
  • + 2
 I want a Trust Message vs Motion e18 match !
  • + 2
 Install that fork on a CHROMAG DOCTAHAWK!!
  • + 1
 I would like to try out the canecreek eewings crancks.. Need to save a 1000dollars..
  • + 1
 Just my preference but... I prefer my Wheelset to weigh more than my front tire.
  • + 1
 It's a bike from the future! This is what doc Emmett Brown rode in 2015! Oh wait ...
  • + 1
 Levy stole my style with the blacked out ride with the kashima seatpost. Looks rad, that fork is definitely from the future.
  • - 1
 I really dgaf if the Message fork is better than telescoping forks, the thing is heinous. And all for a potential performance gain that the leigh person (me) probably wouldn’t even notice. Lol
Just saying. Not for me.
  • + 2
 Obviously not a stoner with any self-consciousness issues.
  • + 1
 Had to avert my eyes.... hey wait, is that sailboat on fire in the back ground... ahhh, squamish.
  • + 2
 STOP TEASING US WITH THAT FORK!!
  • + 2
 Great write up on your Trance demo parts bike.
  • + 1
 Man I really want this, if anyone needs a spare kidney it’s listed on eBay and pb buysell
  • + 1
 I thought mr levy had a pair of those fancy 3 spoke Spengle carbon wheels on here.
  • + 1
 Nope, they're 27.5" Frown
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: you've created that franken-horror and you're going to let a little detail like that stand in your way?
  • + 2
 What do you prefer about the float grips over lock-ons?
  • + 2
 Waaaaaay more comfortable for my soft little hands.
  • + 2
 I really hope this new fork design does not stick
  • + 1
 It looks like an insect from space Hell. Event Horizon-ass bike. I love it.
  • + 3
 The Weagler
  • + 1
 Had a air pump mounted like that on my commuter bicycle, very first ride, fell on ice, and broke it off.
  • + 1
 Like a big dump in the morning: refreshing and leaves you light on your feet.
  • + 1
 I was telling Troy (Lee) the other day about this new trend, of 'Down Country' bikes, I wish I would have filmed it.
  • + 1
 As a normal non clip less pedals rider, why not clip out & looking at that dropper is bent seatposts an issue?
  • + 1
 It is not bent
  • + 1
 The Trust should look more like their prototype, lugs and tubes
m.pinkbike.com/photo/16497538
  • + 1
 That fork would be sic on a fat bike
  • + 1
 It's the Fiat Multipla of mountain biking.
  • + 1
 I had a nightmare ... this was in it.
  • + 1
 *Hides behind couch* Burn it before it lays eggs!!!!
  • + 1
 This bike screams for some Microshift Advent. For reasons.
  • + 1
 Avert your eyes before you turn to stone
  • + 1
 So, when you're done testing those cranks, can I have them?
  • + 3
 Sure
  • + 1
 Beautiful and ugly, perhaps you call her Bethany?
  • + 0
 Maybe Giant could consult with Dave Weagle on how to get more travel out of that rear design...
  • + 2
 Excellent irony. 10/10.
  • + 2
 The internets think Giant stole Maestro from DW, but I read the court documents years ago that showed he was paid US$600k as a consultant during the development of Maestro.

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet." Abraham Lincoln
  • + 1
 Your bike doesnt have to make sense to anyone if it works for you.
  • + 1
 The only thing missing is the new AXS.
  • + 1
 Soooooon!
  • + 1
 That Giant is just too casual for all these exotic components
  • + 1
 Nothing about the brakes? Why?
  • + 1
 Embargoed for awhile longer.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: scary! ;-)
  • + 1
 I like it, looks cool. Try it on some steep trails with a 27 on back.
  • + 1
 Impossible to ride without looking like a giant douche.
  • + 1
 Perfect.
  • + 1
 Looks like a Giant praying mantis
  • + 1
 Those wheels are more expensive than my complete bike.
  • + 2
 Pat
  • + 1
 or Smeagol
  • + 1
 That is by far the ugliest bike I have seen in a long time
  • + 1
 Virtual Head Angle = 66, Actual Head Angle = 56
  • + 1
 It only looks that way because of the fork's construction. Check out where the axle actually sits.
  • + 1
 Candies inside the one up handle, that’s way better than zip ties!
  • + 1
 Call it Moped - as in it's only cool to ride til your friends find out.
  • + 1
 Installing my ODI Vapor grips was very easy with glass cleaner.
  • + 1
 When will the topaz t2 be available outside of oem spec?
  • + 1
 Whats with those grips...you like that much eh?
  • + 1
 I do! I've been listening to @paulaston go on and on about slip-on grips but I just remember them being a pain in the ass. He's right, though: I don't think I'll ever go back to lock-ons for my personal bikes.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I thought the same, 'cause they are damn comfy. Then last Winter a few (small) crashes in quick succession had me spending $60 on grips in 2 months. Sliding low-size type offs just tear the shit out of the foam. Oh well. Ergon's DH grips it is.
  • + 1
 @sspiff: I had the same problem. Fought to install some really comfy slide on grips and they lasted two rides. A small crash where I didn't even hit the ground and the grip was shredded wide open. Cut em off and put the same odi rogue grips I've had for years back on and they're still there today.
  • + 3
 easy, chuck some aluminum bar ends on for protection, works great.
  • + 1
 I put a pair on my brand new "enduro" bike and I was not impressed. Window cleaner and whatnot for a fairly simple installation, but they rotated and slid inboard over maybe 5 rides. I still like my ESI's much more, but they need bar ends. They also don't dampen vibration as much as the chunky's.
  • + 2
 super easy to install silicone grips.
1. use an air compressor hose and blast air between grip and bar and slide on, super easy
2. hold grip plugging one end with finger, pour some rubbing alcohol in grip and swish around, pour onto bar, .....slide grip on, easy. They will not come off.

Even better, get some aluminum bar ends ie: Hope Grip Doctor Bar End Plugs

I have only ridden ESI (chunky), can't comment on others, but these have been great
May try Wolf Tooth Fat Paw grips next, likely just stick with ESI Chunky.
  • + 1
 Kids, don't ever do drugs!
  • + 1
 I don’t hate it....
  • + 0
 Love the fork. I'd want mine made of metal though.
  • + 1
 Just burn that thing
  • + 1
 Blagh'
  • + 1
 No wires, no cares
  • - 3
 That bike will NEVER work right. You have the system Giant ripped off DW at the back, and DW's own design at the front. They will mutually cancel, or work to make the other suspension feel harsher/moar lower end!!!
  • + 1
 Nice fork!
  • + 1
 hellboy
  • + 1
 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • + 0
 I present you... the Lucius Fox.
  • - 3
 Sod the weight or how it rides, what's the msrp on a build like that?
  • + 3
 "More than you can afford buddy, Ferrari" -That d-bag in Fast and the Furious.

Seriously though this is a face only mother could love. If this bike was on the playground it would get beat up for being weird.
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