Updating the Trance
We first caught sight of Giant's updated Trance
a few weeks ago in Kirchberg, Austria, the bike's first public debut after a three year development process. The new version still has 140mm of rear travel and 27.5" wheels, but both the frame's design and geometry have undergone numerous updates.
According to Giant's marketing spiel, this latest iteration will allow riders to "climb like an XC racer and descend like an enduro pro." Those are some mighty bold claims, so in order to get better acquainted with the new ride, and to dive deeper into the details behind its creation we headed to the South Chilcotin mountains, located 2.5 hours north of Pemberton, British Columbia.
Giant Trance Advanced Details
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• 67º head angle w/ 150mm fork
• Carbon front triangle / alloy swingarm
• Metric shock sizing
• Boost hub spacing
• MSRP: $4,125 - $8,050 USD (complete). Frame w/shock: $2,700 USD.
When Giant's designers began to work on the next iteration of the Trance they had two main goals: to make a bike that felt more balanced than its predecessor, and to improve the bike's overall aesthetics. The first step was to revise the bike's rear suspension configuration in order to give it a lower leverage ratio. Previous versions had required riders to run very high pressures, which made it harder to achieve the desired balance of support and small bump sensitivity.
As it turned out, Giant's design goals overlapped with what RockShox was hoping to achieve with their yet-to-be-released Deluxe and Super Deluxe shocks, and after numerous test sessions (more than with any other bike in Giant's history) the decision was made to go with a trunnion mount, where the shock is attached to the frame on each side of its body, rather than using a single DU bushing in an eyelet at the top of the shock. This design allowed Giant to use a longer shock shaft in the same amount of space as before, and achieve the desired lower leverage ratio. The new shock is also claimed to have a wider range of useable rebound adjustments, which should make it easier for riders to dial in the exact settings they want.
The upper link is now constructed from molded carbon, and weighs half as much as the previous alloy link. The main pivot is also now positioned lower on the seat tube, creating more room for the longer dropper posts that are fast becoming the norm (Giant's own 150mm Contact SL dropper post is spec'd on the Trance).
Other details include the use of a bolt on 12x148mm thru-axle to secure the rear wheel, and a 15x110mm Maxle Stealth for the front. That means you'll need a 6mm allen key on hand if you want to remove a wheel, but it also means there are fewer parts sticking out from the bike where they could potentially get damaged by rocks or other trail side hazards. Geometry
To go along with frame updates, Giant also gave the Trance's geometry a few slight tweaks. The reach has been extended by 10mm, and is now 448mm for a size large. The chainstays were shortened by 5mm to 435mm, and the bottom bracket sits 5mm lower than before. While in the past there had been versions of the Trance that came with a 160mm fork, the new version was designed with a 150mm fork in mind, which results in a 67-degree head angle.
The two days I spent on the Trance were filled with punchy climbs and fast, swoopy descents punctuated with the occasional surprise rock garden or snakelike tree root. This time of the year the trails in the Chilcotins can be dry and dusty, but an unseasonably wet summer meant that the higher elevation trails were full of mud puddles, knee-deep stream crossings, and sections of perfect milk chocolate-colored dirt.
The Trance Advanced 0 that I was aboard is the top dog in the lineup, and comes equipped with SRAM's 12-speed Eagle drivetrain, Guide Ultimate brakes and Giant's new TRX 0 carbon wheels shod with Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires. RockShox handles the suspension, with a Pike RCT3 up front and a Super Deluxe RC3 in the rear. The fact that the large frame comes with a 70mm stem and 750mm bars seems like an oversight, especially now that the bike's reach has been increased – at the very least, a shorter stem should have been spec'd, and a wider bar would have been nice to see as well.
The first day's ride began with a steep climb interspersed with sections of hike-a-bike, and from the start, it was clear that the Trance's climbing manners have improved. There's a much more supportive feel when the shock is in the fully open position, and I rarely found myself reaching down to change compression settings no matter the angle of the trail. Not needing to futz around with the shock settings greatly decreases the chance that you'll find yourself performing the classic “I bet I can reach that compression lever while riding one handed at a high rate of speed” maneuver, which doesn't always go as planned.
The Trance's handling reminded me a bit of the Santa Cruz 5010, with similarly quick and lively manners. That makes sense since both bikes have the same reach and head angle numbers, but the Trance's extra travel gives it a greater margin for error, which came in handy while charging down trails I'd never ridden before. The Super Deluxe shock gives the rear end an impressive amount of traction, and even in loose, gravelly corners it was easy to carve a nice clean arc (or get both wheels to slide if I decided to go that route).
I'll admit, I did find myself wondering how a version of the Trance with 29” wheels would feel. This year we've seen a number of excellent mid-travel 29ers hit the market, and it seems like a big-wheeled version of the Trance would fit right in with bikes like the Santa Cruz Hightower and Trek Fuel EX. But that's just my own little daydream – Giant's still sticking with their message that 27.5” wheels are the ideal wheel size, at least for the near future.
Two days on a bike doesn't equal a long term review, and I'd be interested to see how the Trance handles steeper, rougher terrain, but my first impressions are that Giant have created a very capable trail ripper, the type of versatile all-rounder that just about any rider could have a good time on.
Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this First Look.