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
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.
GIANT Trance 29 1
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"
Size S M L XL
Weight 13.72 kg
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
|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|
|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|
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
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.
- tremendous fun on flowing trails
- thought-out, high-quality spec
- very lively and direct handling
- well-tuned rear suspension
- 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)
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer