Giant has redesigned the Trance range this year and it’s now using a co-pivot design on all the aluminium frames. It’s ditched the hole-in-the-tube design and the rear shock now fixes to a mount on top of the down tube. This also provides the mounting point for the lower links, hence the name co-pivot. The whole design saves weight and is much simpler, plus it keeps the shock out of the way of mud splatter.
Up front there is a Zero Stack headset housed in an extra long head tube to provide a greater weld area for the fluid-formed top and down tubes. The snag with this is that on the medium it’s a tad high, and if you want to run a low bar you may have to invert the stem or run it slammed down on top of the headset.
Giant paints this frame, which we’ve been told can add more than 250g (half a pound) to the overall weight. On our workshop scales the Trance 3 weighs 12.15kg (32.54lb).
The 100mm (4in) Tora 302 on the Giant seemed to have a small amount of dead travel at the beginning of the stroke — we could feel the Shuttle Valve closing but there seemed to be a top-out clunk despite the rebound being fully on. And this isn’t a lightweight fork. On our scales it weighs 5.06lb.
We’ve experimented with different settings on the Giant, running at times up to 50 per cent sag. Regardless, the suspension has always seemed to feel slightly sluggish and unresponsive. On checking the rear Float R shock, we noticed it comes with a medium compression tune. We’d actually like to try a light tune to see if this makes the bike feel a bit more active. We’re planning to send the shock off to Mojo to get re-tuned.
Our 18in Trance 3 came with a 110mm stem as standard. This is too long on this sized bike, so we ordered a 90mm. We thought Giant might have them in stock but the replacement came all the way from Holland. Not convenient, but Giant’s Dave Ward did say he’d be very disappointed with a dealer if they charged for changing the stem.
The riser bar on the Trance has very little rise (or back sweep), which is a good thing because of the tall head tube. Long term, we’d replace the bar and the dumpy WTB Speed V saddle.
The Giant is a sluggish climber and seems to ride its weight. A reason for this is the Kenda Nevegal tyres. They’re pretty predictable and also didn’t clog that badly, but the lack of a central ridge means they do get bogged down a bit. When we fitted our control tyres things got much better and the Trance started to pick up the pace. It pedals pretty well but at the expense of some small bump and mid-range compliance. It absorbs bigger impacts really well. We definitely think this bike lacks the responsiveness and suppleness of the Specialized.
The Trance is the steepest bike on test, and short too, so it feels a little cramped. It has a low bottom bracket but not as low as the Commençal, meaning we’d catch a pedal maybe once or twice a ride.
If you’re starting out and looking for a bike that doesn’t give you any surprises, the Trance is the bike we’d go for. It’s a little short, feels heavy and has a steeper head angle than most, but it’s secure, solid and upright, making it an ideal beginner’s trail bike. Spec-wise you’re getting a good mix of components, including a Shimano Deore two-piece crankset and Avid’s superb Juicy 3 disc brakes. Just make sure the latter are bled right before you leave the shop. Also, if you want to cover any distance or undertake rides that have a large percentage of fire road or tarmac, ditch the Nevegals for some speedier rubber.
MBR RATING: 8/10