There are 23 full-suspension bikes in Giant’s 2008 line-up, spread across 11 platforms. Too many? We reckon so — in fact we couldn’t find anywhere to test the Trance, so we had to find a ‘special’ place for it — welcome to Longtermers!
The Trance and the Trance X ranges are bafflingly similar, with price points, specs, geometry and weights being directly comparable — in fact, the Trance 1 and the Trance
X 1 are both £1,750, are within a couple of hundred grams all-up weight of each other, and have head angles within 0.5 degrees.
We spoke to David Ward at Giant in the UK and he told us: “Yes, they are close but the Trance has been very popular over recent years so we wanted to keep a 4in trail bike in the range. The Trance X is our first 5in bike since the VT, so we preferred to let the customers decide. For a lot of areas a 4in bike is all you need.”
We don’t dispute any of that, but if you can get a 5in bike that does the same thing at the same weight and the same price, why go with the shorter-travel bike?

First Impressions
Picking the Trance out of its box it was immediately obvious that the stem was never going to see the dirt; 110mm stems have no place on a trail bike and so the supplied Race Face Evolve XC was sneakily swapped for a 90mm version found nestling under a pile of brochures on PB’s desk.
The first alteration was to flip the stem to lower the front end — the head tube, which houses a semi-integrated hidden headset, is very tall, which is useful in that it increases weld area, and thus front-end stiffness. But it’s
a pain in the arse in that it makes setting your bars in a low, attacking position difficult. So the stem’s now upside down and I look like
a roadie.
Next on the hitlist was the WTB Devo saddle. These saddles are inexplicably popular among the people who spec bikes, while being universally despised among the mbr test team. Off it came to be swapped for the more rounded profile of an old friend, a Fizik Gobi.
Kenda’s Nevegal tyres are another product loved by product managers and loathed by riders. Nevegals are named after one of the most fearsome downhill tracks of the ’90s, and really they need a steep, downward gradient to shine: traction is so good that they are really slow and draggy on typical cross-country and trail centre terrain. I’m currently using Specialized Sauserwind tyres, which are lightweight, tubeless compatible and bear a striking resemblance to Maxxis 2.1in High Rollers.

The Ride
Getting off a more relaxed trail bike, it’s noticeable how steep the Trance is, and how well it pedals, albeit at the expense of suspension performance. The RP2 shock is supplied with the maximum ProPedal tune, which means that even in the negative setting pedal-induced feedback is minimal. The Maestro system pedals so well naturally that the only reason to use the positive ProPedal setting is in raising the sag point to avoid clipping pedals on rocky climbs.
The bottom bracket is low at 12.75in, which means you’re well positioned in the bike for descents by making the bike feel more stable at speed, and less prone to stalling on rocks at low speeds, despite the steep head angle and shortish front centre. It does mean, however, that I’ve had to become adept at trials-style climbing to avoid clipping the pedals on every obstacle.

Bike Weight: 26.41lb
From: Giant UK
Sizes: 14.5, 16, 18, 20, 22in
Size Tested: 18 (med)
Frame: ALUXX aluminium
Fork: Fox F100 RL
Shock: Fox Float RP2
Front Travel: 100mm
Rear Travel: 106mm
Hubs: DT 370
Rims: WTB Speed Disc XC
Spokes: DT Competition
Tyres: Kenda Nevegal 26×2.1in
Shifters: SRAM X.9
Front Mech: Shimano XT
Rear Mech: SRAM X.9
Cranks: Race Face Evolve XC X-Type 22/32/44
BB: RaceFace X-Type
Brakes: Hayes Stroker Trail, 152mm rotors
Saddle: WTB Devo Team, CroMo rails
Seatpost: Race Face Evolve XC
Handlebar: Race Face Evolve XC riser
Stem: Race Face Evolve XC