“I’d been riding the Specialized Epic Evo for several hours before I came to the Trance X4. From the raciest, priciest machine to the cheapest bike with the most travel, but as the trail happened to be heading downhill at the time, the changeover was a revelation. The bargain Giant bombed down the hill with great traction and confidence-inspiring geometry, backed up by a secure set of brakes and a real feeling of solidity.
You don’t need to be a nerd to set-up the suspension; simply adjust the air pressure in the shock to find your correct sag and tweak the rebound dial until you’re happy. Not a bell or a whistle in sight, but somehow, like a well-seasoned vinaigrette, these few simple ingredients are all the Trance X4 needs.
Owing to the constraints of its pricepoint, the Giant’s carrying a bit of extra flab, but the extra pork is all in the components, making the X4 ripe for upgrade. In fact, it’s exactly the same frame used for the range-topping Trance X1. Which makes the X4 the trail bike equivalent of a romper suit; just right for growing with you as your riding develops.
There is a limit to the Giant’s talents, but finding them takes some commitment. You need to be going fast and hitting things hard before the damping runs out of control. Equally, when push comes to shove I’d rather have shorter chainstays and a longer front centre to imbue the X4 with a little more rearward stance. Fortunately, neither of these complaints is enough to temper the riding experience. We’ve ridden many bikes costing twice the price that don’t deliver the performance of the Trance X4, and that’s why it gets my vote as bike of the year.” Danny Milner, Deputy Editor
” I’ve never had a bad ride on the Giant Trance X4, which is more then can be said of a lot ‘high-end’ bikes I’ve tested. It’s fun, responsive, efficient and incredibly capable given the asking price. In fact, on fast flowing single track I often found myself thinking, ‘why would you want anything more?’ It really is that good, and even more of a bargain when you consider that the Trance X frameset sells for £95 less than this complete bike!
Even with its hands bound tightly by price, Giant hasn’t made any major speccing mistakes. The basic Shimano M445 brakes feel great, the stock bar/stem combo is as good as any here, and while the Shimano cranks aren’t hollow forged, you still get its benchmark 2-piece design. Up front the coil sprung RockShox Tora TK fork sports a tapered steerer but lacks the sophisticated damping and control of a more expensive unit. That said, it never felt harsh. Oh, and don’t worry about the quality of the Giant branded rear shock either, as it performed better than some Fox equipped Giants we’ve tested.
Obviously the Trance X4 has it limitations, the fork being the obvious one, but you’ve got to be on the limit to unearth them — even then, any shortcomings in the spec don’t detract from the thrill of the ride. That’s what makes the Giant Trance X4 such an amazing package, newcomers and jaded old hacks alike can get their trail fix; I was hooked on my first hit.” Alan Muldoon, Bike Test Editor
Tested: October 2011 issue
Frame: Aluxx SL aluminium/ Fork: RockShox Tora TK coil/ Groupset: Shimano Alivio 3×9, Deore Shadow rear mech/ Chainset: Shimano M542 2-piece/ Brakes: Shimano M445/ Wheels: Formula QR hubs, Giant S-XC2 rims, Kenda Nevegal 2.1in steel tyres
Head angle: 68.9/ seat angle: 72/ bottom bracket height: 336mm/ chainstay: 437mm/ Front Centre: 673mm/ Wheelbase: 1,110mm/ Down tube: 645mm
Photos: Roo Fowler