We put Giant's Trance Advanced 27.5 2 to a year's worth of abuse. Did it survive?
- Dave Arthur
- Position: Writer/tester
- Mostly rides: FOD/Wales
- Height: 5ft 11in
- Weight: 66kg
- 140mm trail bike with carbon front-end
- Complete redesign with 650b wheels and new attitude
- 2×10 drivetrain with an MRP chain guide and Type 2 rear mech
- Internally routed Giant dropper post
What attracted you to the Giant?
After several years on 29ers I wanted to see what the revamped Trance with 650b wheels, 140mm suspension and revised geometry had to offer. On paper, it looked like the perfect UK do-everything trail bike.
Did you change anything straightaway?
Much as I tried to keep the bike standard, the handlebar had to go for something wider — initially 750mm, then later, 780mm. At the same time I fitted Giant’s own 50mm stem. Some Maxxis High Roller II tyres replaced the Schwalbe Nobby Nics pretty quickly too.
Was the bike easy to set up?
In the most part, yes. It was easy to get a satisfactory balance with the suspension, but after more riding it became clear I wasn’t getting the most out of the rear. So I had the Monarch shock custom tuned by the guys at TFTuned, and the extra spring progression offered a noticeable step-up in performance and better matched the excellent Sektor fork.
How did it ride?
The geometry and travel make it pretty much perfect for the majority of UK trails, from cross-country all-day rides to sessioning your local downhill tracks. I found myself won over by the 650b wheels but I’m not convinced they’re ultimately faster than 29in, even if they do impart a great deal of agility to the Trance. The suspension is predictable and easy to work to your advantage, and overall the extra length in the front end makes the Trance stable and predictable when going fast or launching into steep, rocky chutes. It’s not very light for a carbon bike though, which robs it of some speed on slower trails, and it never really offered that fizz of excitement that some bikes do. Extremely capable yes, but it’s lacking a bit of rider involvement on the trail.
Did anything break or wear out?
Durability and reliability were first class. The RockShox suspension remained faultless despite minimal servicing or maintenance, and I have to give a big thumbs-up to Giant’s own Contact Switch-R dropper post, which was admirable in its persistence despite regular blasting with mud and water.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
Can I be greedy and change two things? First and foremost, I’d like to see Giant invest in a more trail-friendly handlebar width and stem length from the get go, and I’m happy to see that the company has quietly dropped its OverDrive 2 steerer standard for 2015 as it crippled stem choice. Also, as my tuned Monarch shock demonstrated, there’s more capability in the Trance than Giant’s stock shock tune is allowing, so there’s some room for improvement in the suspension too.
Would you buy this bike? The hugely reliable RockShox suspension and decent all-round performance make the Trance a very compelling overall package. It helps too that the carbon front end looks fantastic. The suspension is pretty good, but not perfect, and the geometry is nearly there, but (again) not quite. As for the spec, the extra weight of the cheaper parts is something of a hindrance that curbs the enthusiasm of the Trance out on the trail. So, even though it’s a much better Trance than we’ve seen in previous years, it’s still a nearly-there bike at the moment. So no, I wouldn’t buy it in its current incarnation— ultimately it lacked the kind of zip and playfulness I’m always searching for.