The GIANT Trance 29 1 proves that less travel often means more fun on the trails. In our review, the bike impressed us with its super direct and playful handling, never failing to make us grin. But how does the bike cope in rough terrain with only 115 mm travel?

Click here for an overview of the the best trail bike under € 3,200 € in review

GIANT Trance 29 1 | 130/115 mm (f/r)
13.72 kg in size L | € 2,999 | Manfacturer’s website

At first glance, the GIANT Trance 29 1 simply looks black, but take a closer look in direct sunlight and it actually reflects all the colours of the rainbow. This gives the Trance a high-quality feel, which carries over to the componentry.

GIANT fit a Shimano XT drivetrain, only cutting costs with a heavier SLX cassette. A set of powerful XT four-piston brakes ensure maximum deceleration. The cockpit, consisting of a 780 mm handlebar and 55 mm stem, also suits the bike well. As expected, GIANT ship the bike with tubeless valves already fitted and all you have to do is fill the tires with sealant – brilliant! This makes tubeless setup quick and clean. For the tires, you get a 2.3″ wide MAXXIS Minion combo. The tread and casing of these are excellent, but unfortunately, GIANT have saved on the rubber compound. We advise riding the tires until they’re worn out and then replacing them with the 3C MaxxTerra version.

Incompatible
The low-end Shimano rotors only work with organic brake pads. If you want even more braking reliability on long descents, we recommend replacing the rotors and pads.
Higher = better
Due to the short head tube, we recommend putting all the spacers under the stem to lift it up. Although this reduces the reach slightly, the taller front end puts you in a better riding position on the bike.
Starry night sky
The paint on the Trance 29 1 sparkles almost as brightly as the starry night sky in Norway.

GIANT Trance 29 1

€ 2,999

Specifications

Fork FOX 34 FLOAT Performance 130 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPS Performance 115 mm
Seatpost Giant Contact Swtich 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 180/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 30 (10-51)
Stem Giant Contact SL 35 55 mm
Handlebar GIANT Contact TR35 780 mm
Wheelset GIANT XCT/Shimano 29
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHRII 2.3"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 13.72 kg

Specific Features


Savings
At first glance, the componentry of the GIANT Trance 29 1 looks like it features a complete XT package. However, an SLX cassette snuck its way in there. That siad, due to the identical performance and minimal added weight, that isn’t a big issue here.
Push it forward
If you often tackle steep climbs or generally like to sit a little more upright, we recommend pushing the saddle forwards.
Tough love
GIANT specced a MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR2 tire combination with a relatively hard rubber compound. Those who often ride in wet conditions should switch to a softer rubber compound, but only when the stock tires have worn down.

The geometry of the GIANT Trance 29 1

GIANT have done a lot of things right with the geometry of the Trance 29. The bike is neither too long nor too short. It has a well-chosen head angle of 66.5° and a bottom bracket drop of 35 mm. The short 110 mm head tube and the associated low stack are typical of GIANT, which is why we recommend adding a few spacers under the stem. For a 29er, the chainstays are relatively short at 435 mm. The seat tube angle is rather slack at 74.5°, which is why we slid the saddle forwards before we even took the bike out for a test ride.

Technical climbs are exactly what the Trance 29 likes, offering lots of grip and control

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 380 mm 431 mm 464 mm 496 mm
Top tube 592 mm 612 mm 632 mm 652 mm
Head tube 95 mm 110 mm 110 mm 120 mm
Head angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Seat angle 74.5° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Chainstay 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
Wheelbase 1,154 mm 1,176 mm 1,196 mm 1,218 mm
Reach 426 mm 442 mm 462 mm 480 mm
Stack 599 mm 613 mm 613 mm 622 mm
Helmet Specialized Ambush | Glasses Smith Wildcat | Jersey Fox Ranger | Shorts ION Scrub Amp
Shoes Specialized 2FO Cliplite | Knee pads Fox Launch D3O

As soon as you climb aboard the GIANT Trance, the bike just wants to march forward. The riding position is stretched but comfortable and if you like sitting more upright or have a lot of steep climbs on your local trails, you’ll want to push the saddle forward. The bike accelerates willingly, but on long, monotonous climbs, we recommend activating the climb switch to calm down the rear end. On more technical climbs, the Trance 29 generates a lot of traction with the shock open, pulling away from the competition.

In the hands of an experienced rider, the Trance 29 is a very capable bike!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this that 115 mm rear travel doesn’t provide that much comfort. Nevertheless, GIANT have managed to make the most of the available travel, offering lots of traction and responsiveness. Small bumps get absorbed with amazing efficiency despite the generous mid-stroke support. This bike is an absolute beast on flow trails. You can generate a lot of speed through berms and rollers and the handling is playful without ever becoming nervous. The Trance 29 successfully combines composure and agility – brilliant! However, due to the limited travel at the rear, the reserves of the GIANT are finite. The shock never bottoms out harshly but there is a point at which blows are passed on to the rider. On demanding, rough trails, that will be your cue to apply the brakes and scrub off some speed. The weight distribution is balanced, resulting in good-natured and predictable handling through the corners.

How does the Giant Trance Advanced 29 compare to the competition?

The GIANT was one of the most efficient and best climbing bikes on test. Though we do recommend making use of the climb switch, the bike offers unbeatable traction on technical climbs. Only the Trek Fuel EX and IZZO can keep up. Downhill, the MERIDA and the Trance are similar. The former offers slightly more reserves on rough trails and is the more versatile bike. Both perform brilliantly on flowing and flat trails.

Tuning tips: switch to MaxxTerra compound tires

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

The GIANT Trance 29 1 is an excellent package overall. It goes like a rocket on flat and flowing trails and climbs efficiently too. The componentry leaves nothing to be desired and the bike really comes to life in the hands of an experienced pilot. However, less experienced riders will want more travel on demanding trails.

Tops

  • tremendous fun on flowing trails
  • thought-out, high-quality spec
  • very lively and direct handling
  • well-tuned rear suspension

Flops

  • limited reserves on the descents
  • noticeable pedal bob on the climbs
  • hard rubber compound tires

You can find out more about at giant-bicycles.com

The test field

Click here for an overview of the the best trail bike under € 3,200 € in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM 6.8 NINE (Click for review) | GIANT Trance 29 1 | MERIDA ONE-TWENTY 9.700 (Click for review) | ROSE GROUND CONTROL 3 (Click for review) | SCOTT Genius 950 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper ST COMP (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 8 XT (Click for review) | YT IZZO COMP (Click for review)

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.