Giant’s Trance X 29ers, launched just over a year ago, were designed to be the ultimate do-it-all trail machines, while the new Trance X promises something slightly different. The smaller 27.5in wheels, aggressive (and adjustable) geometry and the amount of travel on tap help this new bike to span the gap between versatile trail bike and a full-on enduro race machine. Will it deliver on the trail or is the middle ground that the Trance X occupies just too much of a compromise?
Giant Trance X 1 frame and suspension details
As it stands, Giant only makes the Trance X from its ALUXX SL aluminium – there’s no carbon frame option. Yet. However, it does sport a forged composite carbon upper-rocker link, which is said to be both lighter, stiffer and stronger than the comparable aluminium equivalent. There’s 145mm of rear-wheel travel available, all of which is controlled using a 185x55mm trunnion-mounted shock. Giant’s double-link Maestro suspension system – which has been used on the Trance since the bike’s inception back in 2004 – manages the travel and, according to Giant, helps to produce a linear spring curve and almost vertical rear-axle path, all in a bid to make the Trance X easy to set up and predictable on the trail.
Giant includes some useful protection on the underside of the down tube and along the driveside chainstay to keep the bike nice and quiet. There’s plenty of frame protection, too. The underside of the down tube gets coated in a rubberised pad to help prevent rock-strike damage, and there’s a decent amount of protection along the driveside chainstay to quieten chain slap down. An accessory mount on the underside of the top tube means you can carry essentials on the bike, rather than in your pack or pockets. There’s no internal frame storage, as we’ve seen on the recently launched Trance Advanced Pro 29, though.
Giant Trance X 1 geometry
As has been the trend with the other Trance models that Giant has launched over the last 18 months, the Trance X also gets a flip chip, located in the rocker link/seatstay pivot to allow the geometry to be adjusted. There are two settings to choose from (low and high), which are accessed by rotating the oval inserts, altering the head and seat angle by 0.7 degrees (or 0.8 degrees on the size small), along with raising or lowering the bottom bracket by a substantial 10mm.
A flip chip housed inside the upper rocker link allows you to adjust the Trance X’s geometry between the high and low settings. Despite Giant billing the Trance X as a trail bike, in its lowest setting I measured the Trance X to have a super-slack head angle of 63.8 degrees, a reasonably steep 76.5-degree seat angle and a hefty 30mm of bottom bracket drop, which sits it at 329mm off the floor. The size medium test bike I have sports a reach of 447mm (or 455mm in the high setting), which is reasonable rather than radical. At the rear, the effective chainstay measures in at 433mm (or 430mm in the high setting), and this doesn’t change across the four (small to extra-large) frame sizes.
|Seat angle (degrees)||77.2||78||76.3||77||76.3||77||76.3||77|
|Head angle (degrees)||63.7||64.5||63.8||64.5||63.8||64.5||63.8||64.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||420||430||465||496|
|Top tube (mm)||562||560||595||593||622||620||649||647|
|Head tube (mm)||95||105||115||125|
|Fork offset (mm)||37||37||37||37|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||30||20||30||20||30||20||30||20|
|Crank length (mm)||165||170||170||170|
Giant Trance X 1 specifications
At £3,999, the Trance X 1 model you see here is the priciest of the Trance X line-up and comes with some great kit for the cash. While there’s no Kashima coating in sight, the Fox 36 fork is a Performance Elite unit, meaning it gets the highly adjustable GRIP2 damper, that offers high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping adjustment. At the rear, the Float X shock is also a Performance number and gets adjustable low-speed compression and rebound damping adjustment, along with a lever to firm things up when you need to pedal.
A Fox Float X Performance shock offers some useful adjustment and controls the 145mm of rear-wheel travel well on the trail. Not only does Giant alter the stem length as frame size creeps up (small and medium use a 40mm stem, while the large and extra-large sport 50mm numbers), but you can adjust the amount of dropper-post travel, too. This comes courtesy of the TranzX post, which gives 30mm of easy-to-alter adjustment (simply unscrew the post’s collar and rotate the stepped insert to your preferred setting). Giant specs a post with 120-150mm on the size small, a 140-170mm post on the medium (the bike I have) and a 170-200mm post on the large and extra-large frames.
Giant uses TranzX dropper posts on the Trance X. These come in three different sizes (the medium-sized bike comes with the 140-170mm-travel post), each of which allows you to tune the amount of drop by 30mm. SRAM supplies its wide-range GX Eagle gearing, along with punchy Code brakes. While it’s not the end of the world, the finish on the GX cranks wore quickly. Giant specs its own bar, stem and saddle, along with the TR-1 wheelset. In the case of the Trance X 1, these are wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxTerra EXO 27.5×2.6in tyre at the front and a Maxxis Minnion DHR II 3C MaxxTerra EXO 27.5×2.6in at the rear.
Giant Trance X 1 ride impressions
Rob felt confident aboard the Trance X 1 instantly, and started having fun as soon as the tyres hit the dirt. When it came to setup, as is common with most Giants I’ve ridden, it was pretty straightforward. With 30 per cent sag, the rear end felt spot-on almost straight away. I had the rebound and low-speed compression set to fully open on the Float X rear shock. The Fox 36 fork up-front uses the highly tuneable GRIP2 damper. At 68kg, I had to run all the adjusters wide open to get the fork to perform as I wanted.
That means riders lighter than me (I weigh 68kg with kit) may struggle to get the fork feeling as they’d prefer. In terms of testing, I tried to ride a wide enough variety of terrain to see how the bike held up to Giant’s intentions. That meant everything from technical climbs and challenging singletrack, as well as flowing jump trails and more demanding descents.
Giant Trance X 1 climbing performance
Just as Giant promised, the Trance X certainly delivers the fun factor. But before we get stuck into just why that is, it’s worth noting that it’ll winch its way up and along the trail quite happily too. While it isn’t the sprightliest trail bike when pointed uphill, the seated position is really comfortable, and the gear range is usefully wide. This allowed me to claw my way up every incline I attempted to tackle. There’s some bob from the rear suspension under power and on smooth, long drags, I found flicking the shock’s low-speed compression lever made the going a little easier. The lever is easy enough to reach and firms the rear suspension up nicely.
Maxxis provides the rubber, with the Minion DHR II rear tyre offering solid, very predictable traction. Leave the rear suspension fully open, and thanks to how sensitive and responsive the back end is, it’ll keep the broad, 2.6in-wide rear tyre tracking the terrain and eking out all the traction on offer. On really steep pitches, I did find myself perched on the nose of the saddle, leaning forward to keep the front wheel from lifting. With a 595mm effective top tube, it’s not the roomiest seated position, but by no means uncomfortable.
Giant Trance X 1 descending performance
Considering what the Trance X is designed for, I won’t jump straight into the descending performance. After all, the Trance X is still part of Giant’s trail bike family, so should, in theory, be more than capable when it comes to covering singletrack miles, as well as winching up before plummeting back down. When it comes to meandering, technical singletrack, the Trance X feels agile and responsive. And even with that super-slack head angle in the low setting, I never struggled when navigating really tight, flat turns. The Trance X doesn’t feel as sprightly as the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 that I rode last year. While the Trance X is by no means sluggish in these situations, it doesn’t feel as though it covers the ground as quickly or as effortlessly as its bigger-wheeled counterpart.
SRAM provides its GX Eagle transmission, which worked perfectly throughout testing, though the finish on the cranks wore very quickly. When gravity does kick in, the Trance X feels fun and lively, and doesn’t get out of its depth easily. That’s not to say it won’t, though. Drop into a jump-riddled trail and the Trance X delivers a playful ride. It’ll help you flow over the jumps and pump through the undulations to maintain speed, thanks to the well-supported suspension that really enables you to load the bike up when needed. It’s reactive and responds quickly to rider inputs should you want to change direction quickly or just throw it sideways in the air. Yes, it does lack some of that inherent 29er stability through chattery turns, but its ability to be chucked about with relative ease goes a long way to making up for this.
Venture onto steeper trails and the proportions and angles of the Trance X really come into play. For starters, the low bottom bracket, 780mm front centre and slack head angle help to inject a good dose of confidence into proceedings. The numbers all add up to a bike that feels almost instantly natural as soon as you hop on – a trait that’s been common with Giant bikes for years – and I had no qualms about dropping into some seriously tricky sections.
Fox’s GRIP2 damper enables you to adjust high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping. It helps that the Code brakes offer decent levels of power, despite the rear brake feeling a little sluggish and in need of a bleed from the get-go. The Maxxis tyre combo is great, too, though you do risk things feeling a little squirmy if the pressures are run too low. For the most part, though, grip is very predictable and they remain sure-footed even across wet rocks and roots.
The wide profile means they don’t cut into deeper patches of mud as well as narrow equivalents, but the tread profiles of both the Assegai and DHR II are pronounced enough that you’ll still get some traction. You’ll only really be reminded that there’s just 145mm of rear-wheel travel when things get really rough. And that’s not to say you’ll have your teeth rattled out, more that the margin for error is that bit narrower when compared to a full-on enduro rig.
Giant promises fun and the Trance X 1 delivers, thanks to how easy the bike feels to throw about. The travel on offer ramps up smoothly as you reach bottom-out, and even on some heavy landings things never felt overly harsh or unforgiving. But you will reach a point where you’ll either need to back off a little or take smoother lines. That said, it’s easy to forget this because the Trance X’s geometry certainly encourages you to push hard.
When it comes to cornering, the predictable feel through the tyres, low-slung bottom bracket and relatively central ride position (on the medium, at least – taller riders may feel differently) all help to make the Trance X quick and confident. As I’ve already said, it isn’t as stable as some through really rough turns, but when linking turns together, it’s seriously impressive. The responsive feel and balance front to rear make it easy to shift from one turn to the next, and the only thing really holding you back is how quickly your brain can process these rapid changes of direction. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time on the Giant Trance X. It’s a hugely fun and capable bike, but does have some limitations. I can’t help thinking that by adding a bigger, 29in front wheel, Giant could improve things even further, without damaging the fun factor at its core.
Giant Trance X 1 bottom line
At £3,999, this Trance X 1 is the priciest of the three-bike line-up. It uses a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork up-front, complete with the highly adjustable GRIP2 damper. The Trance X 1 offers a lot of fun and some great kit for the cash. If you love playing on jumps or carving tight turns, it’s an impressive machine with geometry that really oozes confidence. Although it’s still classed as a trail bike, covering mellower trails quickly probably isn’t its forte. But get it pointed down a jump trail or loam track and it soon comes into its own. Despite the aggressive angles, it can get a little out of its depth on really demanding terrain, but that doesn’t diminish just how much fun the Trance X 1 is to ride.