For 2008 the shock on the new Maestro bikes no longer pierces the down tube, meaning frames can be built much lighter. In fact, the new Trance X frame is approximately 450 grams lighter than that of the 2007 Trance, even though it has an extra 27mm of rear-wheel travel. It is also no heavier than the ‘08 Trance, so the 100mm bike is hard to justify.
To further reduce weight, the dust covers on the pivot bolts have been removed, a modification first implemented on the Anthem range with no appreciable reduction in bearing life. And while on the subject of bearings, the oversized head tube houses a hidden headset where cartridge bearings rest in flush-fitting aluminium cups. To increasing weld contact area and reduce the need for headset spacers, Giant has increased the length of the head tube for ’08. We ran the stem flush with the headset and the bars were still a tad high. So, if you’re a shorter rider you may struggle to get the bars low enough — with the only option being to flip the stem.
One area where Giant has saved some money on the Trance X1 is the rear shock. The Fox Float RP2 still lets you toggle the ProPedal on or off but lacks the fine-tuning of the more expensive RP23. We didn’t feel the need to use the ProPedal setting on the Giant, as its twin link Maestro suspension design pedals very well without it.
However, if you want to sacrifice some of that efficiency for an improved suspension performance you can always have the shock valved with the lightest compression tune. As it stands, Giant specs the RP2 with a medium compression tune and light rebound tune.
Up front, the Fox 120RL has external rebound and compression adjustment, where the latter can be ramped up to approach a lockout, hence the L tag. Performance of the Fox fork on all the bikes in this test is excellent, making it more difficult than normal to discern the difference in ride quality of the bikes.
Even with the dual compound rear tyre, the rolling resistance of the Nevegals is noticeable. Not surprising really, when you consider that the tyres are named after a legendary DH track on the World Cup circuit. Wouldn’t a tyre inspired by the Roc d’Azur, Mayhem or Afan be more appropriate on a trail bike?
Giant bucks the Avid trend by speccing Stroker Trail brakes. Lever shape divided the test crew down the middle but there is no doubting the stopping power and modulation of the Stroker. Which is why we’re not convinced you need a seven-inch rotor up front.
The 100mm stem and steep seat angle give you a forward riding position on the Trance X and, combined with longer chainstays, this makes the Giant one of the best climbing bikes we’ve tested.
Descending on hardpack trails was surprisingly good considering the forward weight bias and the steep head angle. We put this down to the high handlebar position, forced by the tall head tube and short cockpit, allowing you to get your weight back easily.
Even with the high handlebar position, the front on the Giant isn’t very easy to pop. Reeling in the stem length improves this, but you can’t go shorter than 80mm as the cockpit starts to feel cramped.
In loose or muddy conditions the steering does have a tendency to tuck under, and a slacker, lower front end would definitely benefit the Giant in this department. Basically, if you’re right on the cusp of Giant’s recommended sizing, test ride a large with a 70mm stem, as the fit and handling could be better than the medium. Overall, Giant’s new suspension configuration seems better at dealing with square-edge hits than before but it’s still not the plushest bike here and its predisposition is definitely more towards pedalling efficiency.
Giant has effectively shoehorned the Trance X in between the Trance and the Reign and if you have £1,750 burning a hole in your pocket and you’re torn between the Trance and the Trance X, go for the latter. The frame weight is almost identical, the X has better trail geometry and you get 27mm more travel.
MBR RATING 8/10