Words and photos: Colin Levitch


When the 27.5" movement was just beginning to pick up speed, Giant jumped in with both feet saying the handling characteristics of 650b outweighed the benefits offered by larger hoops. A few years on, with advancements in bike geometry and wheel and suspension technology, the brand has given 29ers a second look.

The Trance 29er is the first big wheeled short travel trail bike we’ve seen from the brand in some time, and our Advanced Pro 29er 1 tester sees a full carbon mainframe, rocker, and rear end, and tips our scales at 12.6kg. It’s one of two Advanced Pro models on offer in Australia sitting just below the flagship Advanced Pro 29er 0, with two alloy Trance 29er models rounding out the range.

A big factor in Giant’s change of tune in terms of wheel size is due to the increased availability of 44-degree offset forks. Effectively this allows for the frame to have a slacker head angle, which on paper should make the bike more stable at speed, while at the same time the reduced offset of the fork’s crown brings the front wheel back towards the bike, shortening the wheelbase, limiting ‘wheel flop’ and making the bike as a whole feel more nimble.

Of course, Maestro suspension is at the heart of it all.

With a 66.5-degree head angle, 74.5-degree seat tube angle and 442mm reach (size medium) the new Trance is slack for a bike with this level of travel, but it’s by no means an outlier. For comparison, it’s slacker than a Stumpjumper ST or a Fuel EX with a slightly longer reach than both frames in the same size, but the Specialized has a steeper seat tube.

It’s no surprise to see a Fox 34 130mm fork, however, the Fox DPX2 115mm rear shock seems short when you look at other bikes in this category. Starting with the Anthem 29er, Giant has opted for quality over quantity when it comes to rear travel, with the brand saying the combination of the geometry and suspension tune more than make up for the limited squish — only time will tell if this rings true.

Equipped with a Sram GX Eagle 12spd drivetrain and a 10-50T cassette at the back, Giant has opted for a Truvative Descendant Crank with a 30T chainring at the front so there should be plenty of range, especially going uphill. When the trail points down, the Guide T brakes and levers combined with 180mm rotors are there to keep your speed in check.

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The rest of the finishing kit comes from Giant’s in house component brand, with the most notable being the TRX 1 carbon wheels. Tipping our scales at 840g for the front at 950g for the rear (1790g total), these carbon hoops measure 30mm inside the bead and are finished with a Minion DHR / DHF combo. It’s not often you see a bike priced at $6,299 spec’d with a carbon wheelset, and we’re interested to see how they perform and how much abuse they will tolerate.

 

The Trance has long been Giant’s flagship offroad platform, will the latest iteration and the move back to 29in wheels be able to live up to the pedigree? Check out the next issue of AMB to find out.