Giant has nailed the geometry and sizing.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Giant Trance 2 (2017)

Product:

Giant Trance 2 (2017) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,399.00
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When we tested the less expensive Giant Trance 3, it impressed us with its modern geometry and first-rate frame construction. It went on to win that test by the narrowest of margins, even though we criticised it for having a silly long stem, a narrow handlebar and substandard tyres.

>>> Trail Bike of the Year 2017

Hopefully by moving up one tier in the pecking order Giant will have addressed these issues. But before we get to that, let’s take a closer look at the changes Giant has made to the Trance frame for 2017.

The most apparent revision is that Giant has switched to the new Trunnion mounted Metric shock. It’s also tweaked the layout of its Maestro linkage suspension. Yes, it still delivers 140mm travel but it now has a lower leverage ratio and better range of rebound adjustment than before. Bearings where the shock mounts to the frame also minimise brake-away friction to ensure that the rear end is super sensitive.

To match the new suspension response, Giant has also updated the geometry. The reach measurement has been stretched by 10mm, the bottom bracket is now 5mm lower and the same has been loped off of the chainstay length without compromising tyre clearance.

To keep abreast of the ever-changing standards the frame now sports Boost 148mm dropouts, where a blanked, rather than a QR, rear axle prevents the width of the rear end from creeping up. The only drawback is that you now need a 5mm Allen key to remove the rear wheel.

Suspension

The only Fox equipped bike in the 27.5in category, the Trance 2 sports a Float shock, which gets a blacked out finish to keep it stealth. It’s super plush but it doesn’t quite have the same level of support as the RockShox equipped bikes in this category. As such, it’s the only bike here where we found it necessary to use the compression lever to firm things up for climbing. It doesn’t help that the seat angle is particularly slack either, and even with the saddle pushed all of the way forward on the seat post, it feels like your hanging off the back of the bike when the gradient pitches up steeply.

Up front, the Fox Rhythm 34 suspension fork doesn’t get the sleek black coating, but it’s still silky smooth and perfectly damped in its delivery of the 140mm travel. It’s also every bit as stiff as the RockShox forks in this test, so steering precision and confidence aren’t undermined.

Components

It pains us to say it, but the Trance 2 also comes with a narrow 730mm handlebar and long 70mm stem. These are totally at odds with the geometry and attitude of this bike. The stem also has a lot of rise, which makes it feel like you’re rowing the bike through corners, while pulling you too much onto the fork on the descents. Factor in the distinct lack of grip from the Performance Series Schwalbe tyres and all of the great work that Giant had done on the frame is instantly undone with some silly component choices.

Performance

Not wishing to throw Giant’s newborn out with the bathwater, we swapped in 780mm Truvativ bar and a 50mm stem. These simple changes we akin to releasing the hand brake but it wasn’t long before we reached the limit of the tyres. The open tread of the Nobby Nic 2 is very effective in the mud but the hard compound makes it incredibly difficult to navigate root or rock with confidence. Upgrading the rubber to our Maxxis control tyres give the Trance another lease of life, but the extra speed and confidence just served to highlight that the rear shock wasn’t just lacking support on the climbs, it also felt too soft in the turns. We tried upping the compression damping by switching to the mid compressing setting that we’d been using on the climbs, but it robbed the back end of its pitter-patter sensitivity. A better option would be to add a volume reducer to the shock, to get the ramp up to kick in earlier in the travel.

giant trance 2

Verdict

For a modern 140mm trail bike Giant has nailed the geometry and sizing. The components however, are at least five years behind the times. And while it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to change the bar, stem and tyres, Giant can’t afford to give anything away when its rivals are pumping out such accomplished bikes. Giant had also left some untapped suspension performance on the table. If you know what you’re doing, it would be relatively easy to transform the Giant from a good bike into an amazing one. By why go to all that trouble, when brands like Commencal and Whyte take care of everything for you?

Details

Frame:ALUXX SL-Grade aluminium, 140mm travel
Shock:Fox Float Performance, Trunnion mount
Fork:Fox 34 Rhythm FIT4, 150mm travel
Wheels:Giant Tracker Boost hubs, Giant XC-1 27.5 rims, Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5 x2.35/2.25in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano SLX 32t chainset, SLX 11-speed r-mech and shifter
Brakes:Shimano M615 180mm
Components:Giant Connect Trail 730mm bar, Connect 70mm stem, Contact SL Switch-R Dropper Post, Contact Neutral saddle
Sizes:XS, S, M, L, XL
Size tested:Large
Weight:13.63kg (30.04lb)
Contact:giant-bicycles.com
Head angle:65.6°
Seat angle:67.7°
BB height:330mm
Chainstay:436mm
Front centre:760mm
Wheelbase:1,196mm
Down tube:707mm
Top tube:623mm
Reach:448mm
  • The Fix it Guy

    I recently rented a Trance 27.5 3, to bike down Skyline Trail/Haleakala Volcano at Maui. Crater Cycles did not carry 29ers for rent, so 27.5 it was. Let’s me put it this way, you will have to pry my dead hands from my 29er’s handlebars, LOL… I can tell you if I had to settle for a 27.5, this Giant Trance would be the one. It is that good, and apparently has bullet proof durability. Buy it.

  • SID_BLOAT

    I’m picking up a new XL trance 3 2015 from a clearance sale during the week, have a dropper post, Saint Pedals to stick on. What tyres should I look at getting. Had Hans Dampf on my 29er would these, in 27.5 be decent for soggy trails. Any other quick upgrades I should be looking at.

  • The specs on this bike for things like head tube angle effective top tube length are very close if not identical to most other bikes in this category like say a Specialized Stumpjumper. The bikes that they say are better in the review have similar specs but have very short stems with 10 mm wider bars. The Nukeproof bike that is a similar category has a stem that is only 31.8mm or about as short as you could possibly make one and still attach the handlebars. The Stumpjumper has a 75mm stem like the Trance. New school is short stems and wide bars but those are most beneficial in really rocky terrain where you pick a straight line and hang on tight. In forested trails those wide bars make it harder to really lean into a turn at high speed without snagging a tree trunk. The trees where I live are not real forgiving when hit. So I am guessing that the sluggish steering comment is a bit of prejudice based on what is trendy like the guys at the ski hill with the reverse camber ultra wide clown skis that use them on hard pack and swear by them. The reality is most of the time you do not steer that much on any mountain bike to where the steering itself would feel sluggish. (maybe big 29″ wheels might feel sluggish) I mean unless it was a really technical rock garden at slow speed you only turn the front fork a few degrees and it doesn’t take much effort. More important to me anyway is how smoothly the suspension keeps the tires in contact with the trail and pedaling efficiency.

    I have ridden this bike half a dozen times and have not had any problem with the suspension bottoming out. (I weigh 180 lbs) What kind of trails was this test done on? Doesn’t sound like the kind of trails I would seek out. I did notice that on the 2014 bike with the CTD front and rear shocks that in sections with a lot of continuous 6 to 8 inch rocks at speed it does not seem to recover fast enough from rock to rock to smooth out the ride as well as some other shocks I have had. But thankfully we don’t have a lot of that here in Bend Oregon But it is getting worse lately as the high volume of tourists and new mountain biking residents are exposing more rocks and roots on the trails. 🙁 So maybe I will need the full on no stem, three foot wide bar enduro set up before long.

    This review comes up first when you Google it as of the summer of 2015. It would be helpful to have more than one reviewer, some bios and info on their sizes and the trail conditions. It used to be that is the way most bike and ski reviews were done. The internet is getting so bad now with reviews where most of them are done by people paid by the manufactures it is hard to know who to trust. Some pay people to write bad reviews of competitors products and slip in the name of their product. Anyway I don’t think I would give this review a lot of stars. Does Nukeproof give this guy a new bike to ride every year?

  • Ricky Lawrence

    6 is harsh. Owned this bike for a while and the floppy front only affects steep technical climbs and for most riders will bring some welcome control to steep descents. This rig is a versatile choice at a really fair price. Definitely not a 10 but miles from a 6. Had a few bikes and this one still feels like the most honest spend. Perfect choice for someone looking for a progressive rather than tweaked ride which is what the majority of riders I see out there actually need. If you’ve been riding for decades then there are better choices but if you want to lift your game or are new to the sport, right here is money well spent.

  • Apolinario Mabini

    Hi. Can you elaborate on the geometry difference between the 2015 model and the pre-2015 frame? If Giant tweaked this with not so good results, do I just get the previous frame and build the bike up for a good trail/am bike? Thanks.

  • Cyprian Hajduk

    I noticed the same thing of the rear suspension. My trance 2 LTD lost the speed. But spend two weeks on the setting it. Today is working perfectly, is very technical, agile, doesn’t lost the speed etc.

    My weigh is 80kg (+/- 1-1,5kg).

    SAG set to approx. 20%.

    Pressure 210, max. 220 PSI.

    Rebound is arround on middle of the scale.

    There’re two other important suggestions:

    1. Add a small amount of oil into new shocks using syringe with a needle through the vent

    2. do the first technical overview after first 300-500km and put branded fork and rear shock oil.

    I wish you an unforgettable experience like mine!

  • Meirion Evans

    Hi there you mention the back suspension being sluggish. What would you change it to?

  • CS

    First off I would like to know if you have actually ridden this bike. I weight 215lbs and I’ve yet to bottom the soggy rear suspension you speak of. That being said, I think the geometry is par on and the component level for this bike is good. This bike performed well for me in and out of corners, down hill and considering it’s no 29’er it did pretty good up hill as well. Especially going down hill the geometry of this bike made me feel more aggressive. Please don’t even get me started about nuke proof bikes, I think they are total crap I took back my Mega TR 275. On a side note, I would like to share the nobby nic performance tires are cheap and thin walled, but they are good for a short time being. I would suggest maxxis ardent 2.4 front and rear, or more aggressive I would say some maxxis minions in the front, and ardents in the back. Putting a 34 mm shock in the front would be nice, and so would a dropper seat post, but then we now have a $3300-$3500 bike. What would the point in even making an affordable trance 2 version be. Thru back axle would have been nice, there is option to buy a thru axle because you can use both. The only difference besides weight would be going super hard in a corner, some made notice it give slightly, and I said slightly. For the money vs ride/components I would easily rate this bike 8-8.5, and you can’t find a better bike for the money period.

  • Mark

    Yes – Thank you .. you did Danny !

  • Danny Milner

    Hi Mark,
    To answer your questions:
    1. Alan is about 5’11”.
    2. A 50mm stem would be a good place to start.
    3. 140mm is definitely enough travel for all but full-on DH tracks.
    Hope that helps!

  • Guest

    Hi Mark,

    1. Alan is about 5’11”.

    2. A 50mm stem would be a good place to start.
    3. 140mm is definitely enough travel for all but full-on DH tracks.
    Hope that helps!

  • Mark

    Hello. I am actually just getting ready to purchase this same rig – so I have couple questions regarding some observations you made? You mentioned that the stem at 75mm seemed “wrong” for the bike… what size did you feel would have made an improvement? It was never mentioned what size rider you are either, making these observations – I only ask so i can compare and contrast given your rider size. Also the fork – you did mention a bit about it, but did you feel that 140mm n the front was enough to sustain for example – fairly aggressive AM N.East riding?. Thanks !