Giant has definitely moved things along with its latest range of e-bikes. The geometry and sizing on the Trance E+ 3 Pro has improved immensely, and the bikes are keenly priced too
The “+” denotes 2.8in tyres, the “Pro” tag indicates SyncDrive Pro motor, so the entry-level Giant Trance E+ 3 Pro tested here gets all best e-bike tech.
Giant splits its e-bike full-suspension range in the same way as its regular non-pedal-assist models. As such, the more affordable Stance E+ bikes use a FlexPoint suspension design, while the Trance E+ Pro range gets Giant’s signature Maestro twin-link suspension to deliver 140mm travel.
Housed neatly inside the downtube of the Aluxx SL frame is a 500Wh lithium-ion EnergyPak. The beating heart of this bike though, is the latest SyncDrive Pro motor sporting a four-sensor system to give smooth power delivery.
Giant Trance E+ 3 Pro review
The biggest improvement with Giant’s latest motor design is that it has been optimised for the higher pedal cadences typical of mountain biking. Giant has also reduce the lag in the motor freewheel by 33 per cent, so there’s less delay when you start pedaling, which also makes the power delivery that much smoother than before.
Up at the cockpit, the Giant has a compact handlebar remote which lets you toggle between five distinct power modes: Eco, Basic, Active, Sport and Power, where Power mode delivers 360% of pedal assistance. There’s a and small array of LEDs that make it easy to determine which mode you’re in, and the remote also has a separate display for battery life.
Married to the 140mm Maestro rear suspension is a 150mm SR Suntour Aion suspension fork. It’s air sprung and with beefy 35mm upper tubes and bolt-thru lower legs, it’s plenty stiff enough to keep the Trance on track. Unfortunately, this is not a marriage made in heaven, as the fork lacks support in the mid-stoke, so it feels somewhat divorced from the more composed action of the rear suspension on steeper descents, or when using natural undulations in the terrain to pump for speed.
Stand up to climb on an ebike and it just feels wrong. OK is fine for short bursts, but seated climbing is definitely the way to go, which is why a good saddle is so important. We’ve complained about Giant’s Contact Neutral saddle not having sufficient padding on regular bikes, and with the extra climbing speed of an e-bike this is compounded.
The 2.8in Maxxis Recon rear tyre is also inadequate. Yes, the increased tyre volume gives it a bigger footprint, but the shallow, fast rolling tread seriously reduces traction under braking or when climbing steep technical terrain, and it’s the latter which is actually the Giant’s strong point.
Not that you’d tell by looking at the dated 10-speed Shimano drivetrain. When we first saw the big 36t chainring and compact 11-36t cassette we thought there’s simply no way this 24.12kg (53.18lb) beast would make it up the steepest climbs. But we were wrong. Thanks to the powerful Yamaha motor the Giant simply rockets up hill, leaving the Shimano motor equipped Vitus E-Sommet and Canyon Neuron:ON 7.0 in its dust. Providing of course, the rear tyre can find traction.
With extra long 470mm chain stays it’s hardly surprising that the Giant is such a hill climb specialist; you need only look a motorbikes designed for this very purpose with there extra-long swingarms to understand why.
Unfortunately the Giant is too much of a specialist. The slightly over damper rear shock and divey fork make the Trance E+ 3 Pro feel much less at home on flowing single track and steeper descents as your weight tends to feel to far forward on the bike. This could easily be mitigated by fitting a fork with more support to balance the suspension front and rear, as the geometry is actually pretty good.
And much as we loved grinding up the steepest gradients, if the battery runs out, it’s a long walk home because you won’t have a low enough gear on the compact cassette to pedal up any climbs and through the resistance in the motor.
Giant has definitely moved things along with its latest range of e-bikes. The geometry and sizing on the Trance E+ 3 Pro has improved immensely, and the bikes are keenly priced too. The entry-level Trance E+3 Pro probably isn’t the best representation of the platform though. With the SR Suntour fork the suspension isn’t balanced, and the close ratio 10-speed transmission will leave you stranded without a bailout cog. So given the choice, we’d opt for Trance E+ 2 Pro which comes with a Fox 36 fork and wider range XT 11-46t cassette fitted as standard.