by Wil Barrett
March 9, 2017
As one of the current staples of the Giant lineup, the Trance has been a common sight on trail heads everywhere since it was first rolled out to the global riding market in 2005. Slotting in between the Anthem XC race bike, and the long travel Reign, the Trance was initially launched as one of the first models from Giant to feature the then brand new Maestro suspension design.
With a virtual pivot suspension design that employed two links to suspend the rear swingarm, the Maestro concept came about in response to Santa Cruz’s VPP and Dave Weagle’s dw_link. The promise of Maestro was to deliver an efficient pedalling platform without having to resort to clever rear shocks and lockout dials. In the case of the early Trance, the dual-link design delivered 100mm of rear wheel travel in a sturdy package built for all-day trail riding.
Over the past decade, the Trance has gone on to become one of the most popular models that Giant sells, and one of the most well-recognised full suspension bikes in the world. In that time, the Trance has gone through several redesigns to increase rear wheel travel, which along with improvements to the frame construction and geometry, has seen it become a more capable machine.
For 2017 though, the Trance has gone through its biggest chance yet. Adopting new standards such as Boost hub spacing and the Trunnion rear shock mount, Giant has undertaken a wholesale redesign of both the Anthem and Trance platforms. A refined version of the Maestro suspension design has been ushered in, along with new geometry and a frame that is purportedly lighter and stiffer overall.
To put those claims to the test, I’ve been riding a new Giant Trance 1 to see if this is the Taiwanese brand’s best trail bike yet.
2017 Giant Trance Features
- Brand new frame and geometry for 2017
- Available in alloy (ALUXX SL) and carbon (Advanced) frame options
- Maestro suspension design w/140mm travel
- One-piece carbon fibre rocker link
- Trunnion mount rear shock
- 150mm fork travel
- 67° head angle
- 27.5in Wheels
- Boost hub spacing front & rear
- Shimano direct-mount rear derailleur
- 2x compatible
- Sizes available: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- RRP: £3299 (Trance models start at £1299 and range up to £5999)
The heart of the new Giant Trance is the reworked Maestro suspension design. Overall, the arrangement remains very similar to the original Maestro architecture, with two struts joining the one-piece swingarm to the front end. Those struts consist of a small link around the bottom bracket and a rocker link that drives the rear shock. Travel sits at 140mm on the rear.
The welded alloy swingarm features a flush Boost 148x12mm thru-axle that requires a 6mm hex key for installation and removal. Post-mount brake tabs will allow the rear calliper to bolt on directly with 160mm rotors, or (as our test bike features) an adapter to work with a larger 180mm rotor.
The lower link extends from the chain stay yoke over the PF92 press-fit bottom bracket shell, where it meets the lower shock eyelet. The beauty of this design is that the link and the shock share a pivot point, which reduces the number of moving parts on the Maestro linkage. All-up including the shock mounts, there are five pivots, all of which roll on sealed cartridge bearings.
The big change over the previous generation Trance is the change to a new Metric shock size that features Trunnion mounting. The Trunnion mount skips the traditional DU bush of a regular shock, and instead allows for the rocker to attach to the shock on the side of the shock body, where it rotates on two cartridge bearings instead. The result is less stiction for a smoother starting stroke and thusly, a more supple suspension feel. The other advantage that the Metric-sized shock provides is a smaller package for the same given stroke, so there’s more flexibility for the designers when engineering the front triangle.
The Trance 1 is the top-spec model in the alloy range, and so it receives a tidy suspension package from Fox. There’s a Performance Elite Fox Float rear shock, which comes complete with an EVOL air can and 3-way adjustable compression damping. To complement the 140mm of rear wheel travel, Giant has spec’d a Fox 34 Float fork up front with 150mm of travel.
Cockpit components come from the Giant stable in the form of a Contact SL Trail handlebar that measures 750mm wide, and a Contact stem that runs at a 60mm length for the Extra Small, Small, and Medium frame sizes, and 70mm for the Large and Extra Large frame sizes. Interestingly, this is the same bar and stem setup as found on the shorter-travel Anthem XC bike. My plan is to try the Trance with a slightly wider bar and a shorter stem to see how its handling plays with a more fashionable cockpit setup.
Braking on the Trance 1 is handled by Shimano Deore XT stoppers, with 180mm Ice Tech rotors front and rear. Note the KaBolt setup on the Fox 34 fork, which Giant has spec’d instead of the standard QR15 quick-release lever.
Shimano has also been called on for the drivetrain on the Trance 1, with a slick 1×11 setup delivering a wide range of gears thanks to the larger 11-46t cassette. The 32t chainring uses Shimano’s new narrow-wide tooth profile, and the Shadow Plus rear derailleur uses a direct-mount hanger to keep shifting crisp.
Since first building up the Trance 1, I’ve made a couple of changes to the spec for riding our local trails. The Schwalbe tyres have been pulled off to make way for more aggressive (and wider) Maxxis Minion tyres. There’s a 2.4in DHR II on the rear, which uses the 3C MaxxTerra rubber compound and EXO reinforced sidewalls.
To match the rear Minion DHR II, there’s a Minion DHF on the front that measures 2.5in wide. Both Minions are the new Wide Trail (WT) size, which is ideally suited to the newer crop of rims that are running broader internal rim widths.
On the note of the wheelset, it’s a good-looking carbon fibre numbers from Giant. Called the TRX 1, the wheelset features 28 straight-pull Sapim Laser/Race spokes per wheel, and they’re laced to lovely CNC machined hub shells. The rims are tubeless ready, and blue rim tape is included in the box with the bike from new. Setting tyres up tubeless is easy as pie, and the seal is very secure between tyre and rim.
Before taking the Trance 1 off road, I stripped the wheels down and put them on the scales – because I’m a nerd like that. For the pair, the complete wheelset without tape and valves weighs in at just 1649 grams, which is pretty svelte for a carbon trail wheelset, and a few grams lighter than claimed. Nice!
One other change I’ve made to the stock spec is the addition of a Wolftooth ReMote to activate the Giant Contact SL Switch-R dropper post. With a CNC machined construction and a broad, textured paddle, the Wolftooth ReMote is a welcome addition to the Trance 1’s ergonomics, and is available with a standard bar clamp, or in versions that are compatible with either Shimano or SRAM brake levers.
The Trance 1 frame itself is constructed from Giant’s own hydroformed alloy blend called ALUXX-SL. The tubes all receive heavy shaping to create some stunning lines that rival that of the carbon versions. The welded areas are broad and chunky, as is the stout tapered head tube and the 92mm wide press-fit bottom bracket.
All cables route internally through the front triangle, with the rear brake hose and derailleur cable exiting at the base of the downtube. These then run externally on the rear swingarm, while the dropper post line runs internally all the way through and up into the seat tube.
With the new carbon fibre rocker link, the lines on the back end of the Trance have been massaged to be even cleaner, with smooth lines running from front to back. It’s certainly a good looking piece of kit, and it’s a great example of the recent advances in alloy construction techniques. Interestingly, you can also get a Trance Advanced 2 for nearly the same price as this bike here, so consumers have a choice of whether they want the better build kit with the alloy frame, or the carbon frame with a cheaper build kit.
Over the coming months, I’ll continue to put the Trance 1 through a variety of riding conditions and trail types to see where this 140mm travel trail bike really shines. We’ll also be using the Trance to test out multiple components, including the Maxxis Minion tyres and a few other items that you’ll read about in the near future.
In the meantime, you can head to Giant Bicycles website for more information about the 2017 range.
2017 Giant Trance 1 Specifications
- Frame // ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminium, Composite Rocker Link, 140mm Travel
- Fork // Fox 34 Performance Elite, 140mm Travel, FIT4 Damper, QR15
- Shock // Fox Float Performance Elite EVOL
- Wheels // Giant TRX, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // Giant TRX 27.5 Composite, Tubeless Ready
- Tyres // Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35in Snakeskin Trailstar Front & Nobby Nic 2.25in Snakeskin Pacestar Rear
- Chainset // Shimano Deore XT 32t
- Front Mech // N/A
- Rear Mech // Shimano Deore XT 11-Speed
- Shifters // Shimano Deore XT 1×11
- Cassette // Shimano Deore XT 11-46t 11-Speed
- Brakes // Shimano Deore XT 180/160mm Rotors
- Stem // Giant Contact SL 60mm
- Bars // Giant Contact SL Trail 750mm Width
- Grips // Giant Contact Lock-On
- Seatpost // Giant Contact SL Switch-R Dropper Post 30.9mm, 125mm Travel
- Saddle // Giant Contact SL, Neutral
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes available // X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- Weight // 12.37kg (27.21lbs)