Giant’s Trance model was the best trail bike in its model The lineup for more than a decade and regular updates to both the Maestro suspension platform and associated geometry have made it a competitive option in the broadly defined category. The Trance X versions have always been intended for riders who appreciate the Trance but just want a little more bike: a little more travel here, a little looser geometry there. After spending a few weeks with the redesigned Trance X 29, we have found this X to be the place for modern trail bikes.
(Photo: Zach White)
Released in August 2020, the 2021 Trance X 29 is available in five versions, with the most affordable of two aluminum frame versions starting at $ 3,200. Pricing for the three completely Carbon bikes start at $ 4,300 and cost up to $ 8,500 for the top tier we tested, the Advanced Pro 0. All versions have 135 millimeter Maestro double-handlebars and a 150 millimeter suspension fork. They’re also equipped with new flip chips that allow the rider to quickly adjust the head tube angle, seat tube angle and bottom bracket drop. These are also not minor adjustments to the geometry. With an angle change of 0.7 degrees and a change in the bottom bracket height of ten millimeters, the Trance X 29 offers one of the largest geometry variations in the field of bicycles with flip-chip design.
The Trance Advanced Pro 29 frames are made almost entirely of carbon fiber composite material, save an aluminum lower link and should weigh just 2,100 grams – including shock absorbers. Giant’s proprietary Advanced Composite results in a more durable, more compliant frame than the alloy version with a weight saving of 25 percent. An integrated rubberized chainstay and downtube protector have been added to reduce potential damage in these common spots, and a clear 3M strip protects the upper downtube from scratches on the tailgate. The prices for the entire Trance Advanced Pro 29 model series reflect the different components, but otherwise the frames are the same. (The Pro 0 is the only one with Fox’s Live Valve, which we discuss in more detail below.)
(Photo: Zach White)
(Photo: Zach White)
We spent several weeks aboard the Trance X on trails in Colorado and Utah and immediately received recognition for this well-rounded bike. In fact, its maiden voyage on well-known trails brought a slew of PRs both up and downhill. This would turn out to be a trend during our testing. Climbing performance was on par with lighter cross-country bikes with shorter suspension travel, thanks in part to Fox’s Live Valve system, which automatically adjusts suspension performance. Once at the top, there were no switches to toggle – the Trance X 29 was ready to drop. Thanks to 150 millimeters of Fox Factory 36 suspension and 135 millimeters of travel from Giant, these descents were stable, predictable and responsive. The Trance X 29 has all the stars on fast, flowing trails. Relentless chunder and clunky technical sections? The bike generally fought above its weight class, but occasionally took a punch or two when thrown in fights that were better suited for enduro bikes.
The Trance X 29 displays two different types of trail manners thanks to the flip-chip swap that takes about two minutes with a 5mm Allen key. The high setting results in steeper 66.2-degree head tube and 77.7-degree seat tube angles with 30 millimeters of bottom bracket drop. This setting excelled on a tighter, more technical trail, with the steeper head tube angle allowing for slower handling, while the higher bottom bracket allowed more pedal clearance through rock gardens. In the low setting, the slack 65.5-degree head tube angle and bottom bracket improved stability at higher speeds and steep descents, but the 40mm bottom bracket drop resulted in a noticeable reduction in pedal play in rough sections. Our test bike turned into high mode, but if we had this bike for the summer, low mode would find a lot of use for long, fast alpine rides.
(Photo: Rebecca Gross)
The Advanced Pro 29 0 is the only bike in the Giant range with Fox’s Live Valve. Basically, it’s an integrated suspension system that consists of two accelerometers that tell a microprocessor what the bike is experiencing 1,000 times per second and adjust itself the solenoid-operated valves of the shock absorbers accordingly. The simplest example: when the fork hits a bump, the fork-mounted accelerometer tells the microprocessor in just three milliseconds to hold the valve open to absorb it. If the system detects that the bike is pointing uphill or the rider is pedaling, valve Independently restricts oil flow in both the fork and shock absorber to create a more stable stepping platform. With the Trance X 29, Live Valve gives an already efficient Maestro suspension platform even more pedaling efficiency. It also noticeably increases ride height by drastically reducing wallowing, and makes jump or fall landings noticeably smoother. The only real tradeoff, aside from the price and a negligible weight penalty of around 150 grams, is that Live Valve gets a bit of the plus points out of it Suspension. The feel is racy and sometimes a bit firmer than desired through endless rock gardens, but given that I’ve been faster on more than a few favorite tracks, these little issues seem to be worth the performance benefits.
In addition, the build kit of the Advanced Pro 0 is impressive and leaves little to be desired. Even Giant’s notoriously terrible saddles have been upgraded to a surprisingly tolerable Romero SL perch. Thirty millimeter wide giant carbon rims were abused in places like Moab, as was the Maxxis Minion DHF / Dissector tire combination. The Shimano XT brakes provided great modulation with only the occasional squeak when they got wet, and the XT / XTR drivetrain never stalled. Fox’s transition dropper post paired with a Shimano remote shifter worked flawlessly, as did the Live Valve system mentioned above. The Trance X 29 Advanced Pro 0 is as expensive as $ 8,500 and is reasonably priced for its good features.
Simply put, the Trance X 29 was a pleasure to drive. The adjustable geometry offers better adaptation to different riding styles and trails than most, and switching between the two settings is easier than ever. As with any trail bike with a 150 millimeter fork, it’s not an ideal choice Cross-country racers, and the Trance X is not suitable for normal use in the bike park. But it works well for almost everything in between. As a rider with a quiver full of motorcycles ranging from light carbon hardtails to enduro sleds, the Trance X was my choice for riding smooth and pedal trails with friends in Lycra clothing, with former professional downhillers through Driving and cruising Moab rocks the tracks from my back door.
Main photo: Rebecca Gross