Giant’s classic trail blazer has undergone a quiet evolution that has resulted in the best Trance yet
Need to know
- Giant reworks its classic 140mm-travel trail bike to make it even more capable
- Trunnion mount, composite link and longer stroke shock bring improved grip, more support and a stiffer chassis
- Geometry has been given the ‘longer, lower, slacker’ treatment, although not to the extent of the Reign
- Four aluminium models from £1,499 to £3,299 and three carbon models from £3,249
Giant Trance Advanced 0
We’ve had something of a love/hate relationship with the Giant Trance over the years. We adored the old 2012 vintage 26in-wheel version, but never saw eye-to-eye with the 27.5in wheel model that followed.
Mostly we blamed the Maestro suspension feel; too mushy and wallowy under power, and when loading up the bike, but lacking grip and sensitivity off the top. Considering what a good job Giant has done on its long-travel offering — the Reign — we remained convinced the brand could do better.
Listening to the presentation for the new 2017 Trance, improving the suspension feel was one of the primary goals. Hence, over the course of nearly three years, the product managers and engineers developed and honed this core trail bike. According to Giant, it was a far more extensive process than you would ever guess by just looking at the new bike.
But, as always, the proof of the pudding is in the riding, so how does it shake down?
It still strongly resembles a Giant, indeed, you need to look pretty closely to spot the differences. But they are there, and they combine to transform the ride of the Trance. In a good way.
The big breakthrough for the Trance was the move to the new trunnion mount shock. This mounting system, found on the Trek Remedy for the last few years and now widely adopted by a host of brands, eliminates the old shock eyelet and replaces it with two bolts that screw directly into the air can.
Not only does this create a stiffer mounting point, it effectively reduces the eye-to-eye length, giving manufacturers the chance to run a longer stroke shock in the same amount of space, or simply package the suspension in a tighter area. That’s a lot of techno-babble, but from the seat, it should mean that the damping can control the shock movement with greater precision and consistency.
Allied to Giant’s integration of the trunnion mount and longer-stroke shock, is a lower- leverage ratio that better suits the stronger negative spring of the RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 shock. In theory, you should get better grip and more support. And in practice, it works.
There’s a lot more grip to enjoy, and yet pump through a compression, rail a berm, or land a drop and the suspension doesn’t just collapse beneath you. It feels taut under power and the whole chassis tracks truer — thanks to the stiffer mount and new composite rocker link.
Giant has also taken the opportunity to modernise the geometry, with a trim here and a tug there. The bottom bracket is 5mm lower, the reach has grown 10mm and the chainstays have shrunk by 5mm. Marginal gains, it has to be said, but definitely a step in the right direction.
It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the bolt-on bits, like the handlebar and stem, which still feel outdated at 750mm and 60mm respectively.
The biggest problem with the Trance, apart from the fact that it only comes in three sizes, is the seat tube angle. On paper Giant claims 73.5°, but this is an effective measurement, taken to a point somewhere below most riders’ saddle height for climbing. And because the actual seat tube reclines considerably from its midway point, your seated climbing position is quite rearward.
The problem is made worse by the lay-back on the in-house Contact SL Switch-R dropper post, and on loose or technical climbs it can be tricky to maintain traction and keep the steering from wandering.
For the most part, though, the new Trance feels like a big step forward, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how it stacks up against the competition on home turf.