Wil delivers us his longterm review of the 2019 Giant Trance 29er
My recent experience of Giant bikes includes testing the latest Trance 27.5, the Anthem 27.5, and the Anthem 29. While none of them were exactly fire-starters, they’re all good bikes that suit their chosen intentions well.
Giant does a commendable job of producing solid, sensible mountain bikes. Rarely is there anything flaunty or boundary pushing about them. And save for that slight hiccup with the silly OverDrive2 debacle of ’11-’14 (#neverforget), it’s the sort of brand that avoids anything outrageous when it comes to proprietary technology. Then again, there’s a necessary level of responsibility and conservatism that comes with being one of the world’s largest bicycle manufacturers.
But then this came along.
The New Trance 29
Having been in development for the past two years, the Trance 29 signals Giant’s return to the big wheels for its popular trail platform, following years of investing heavily in 27.5.
“The market was screaming for it”, explains Giant Bicycle’s Andrew Juskaitis. “And we obliged with significant updates to our Maestro suspension system to allow for a much shorter rear centre distance, in addition to much-updated overall geometry.”
Compared to the 150/140mm travel Trance 27.5, the Trance 29er is shorter on travel with a 130mm fork matched to just 115mm of travel on the back. Why those particular numbers?
“At 115mm, we were able to optimise the chainstay length to 435mm—a critical target for our engineering team and team riders”, responds Juskaitis. He acknowledges that while many consumers expected the new Trance 29 to have more travel, the focus here for the design team was very much on quality over quantity.
A glance at the spec list and geometry chart indicates that Giant has indeed cooked up a rather spicy dish for this little green jalapeño. And out on the trail, words like ‘responsibility‘ and ‘conservative‘ aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind.
For 2019, there are four Trance 29 models – two alloy and two carbon. The near logo-free, acid-green machine here is the Advance Pro 29er 1, which is the cheaper spec of the two carbon models. It still features a full carbon frameset, which is claimed to weigh just 2.58kg (5.67lb) including shock & hardware.
Giant ain’t exactly a newcomer to carbon fibre, and it shows in the Trance 29’s smooth lines. The short seat tube and curved top tube deliver notable standover clearance, still with plenty of room for a water bottle.
There’s a compact one-piece swingarm, along with tidy bolt-up axles and a PF92 shell that’s loaded with SRAM’s stainless steel DUB BB. Internal downtube cable routing is complemented by external pathways over the lower Maestro link, which is less finicky from a servicing perspective.
The only real eyesore is the truncated twin-bolt seat clamp. Aside from making saddle height adjustments faffy, it protrudes from the frame like a sort of abnormal tailbone growth.
Though it skips the fancy DVO suspension of the Advanced Pro 29er 0 model, to be honest, I prefer the Fox package that comes on this bike.
There’s a superb 34 Float fork up front, and a Fox Float DPX2 shock out back. With its trunnion mount and tiny 42.5mm stroke, this dinky shock is custom built for Giant.
A piggyback shock on a 115mm travel 29er isn’t exactly a common sight, but the impressive damping control is a significant contributor to this bike’s descending nous.
On a similar tip, Giant has spec’d aggressive 2.3in wide Maxxis Minions on the Trance 29, though there is room to fit up to a 2.5in tyre in the back end. The frame is 1x specific, and you can run up to a 36t chainring along with a full-coverage chainguide if you fancy. Add in the 780mm riser bars, short 40mm stem, and 180mm disc rotors, and the Trance 29’s intentions become clearer again.
This theme extends to the Trance 29’s contemporary geometry, which includes a 66.5° head angle and a reduced offset fork – both of which are designed to increase high-speed stability.
As well as being slacker than the Trance 27.5, the Trance 29 is also longer. Our Medium test bike has a 442mm reach, which I found ideal for my 175cm height. That said, it isn’t huge by modern trail bike standards, and the 480mm reach on the XL size may still be too short for really tall riders.
Given my dislike for Giant’s squishy lock-on grips, they were the first thing to be removed. I also swapped the tyres around, since I prefer the more aggressive Minion DHR II tread on the front.
Wheels are Giant’s own TRX 1 model, which feature hookless carbon rims with a 30mm internal rim width. They weigh 1802g on the workshop scales – not super light, but then they are billed as being properly EWS-worthy.
Unlike pretty much every other stock bike I’ve built from a cardboard box though, the Trance 29 does not come with inner tubes fitted. Instead, the wheels come pre-taped and fitted with tubeless valves from the factory. Giant includes sealant and a valve core tool in the box, so all you need to do is remove the valve cores, dump a bottle of sealant into each wheel, and away you go. How good is that?
As for pressures, I set the tyres at 20psi for the front and 24psi on the rear.
The only other change I made was upgrading to a 150mm travel dropper post (Small & Medium sizes come with a 125mm dropper as standard). However, it’s worth noting that the interrupted seat tube limits insertion depth. Where the Giant-branded post is now is basically as low as it can go.
Otherwise, the Medium bike fits me well out of the box. I’ve lowered the stem down to get a bit more weight onto the front tyre, and I’ve shifted the saddle back on the rails to bring my knees into a comfortable pedalling position.
Giant lists an effective seat tube angle of 74.5° based on a specific saddle height for each frame size. On the Medium, that’s a 72.5cm BB-to-saddle height. Because my saddle is lower than that, the angle effectively steepens, and hence why I need to run the saddle further back on the rails.
As for suspension setup, I initially ran the rear shock with 30% sag and 200psi for my 70kg riding weight. This yielded a smooth and supple feel, though with occasional bottoming on flatter landings.
After a few rides, I upped the pressures to 220psi, which brought sag closer to 25% and basically eliminated bottom-out. Weirdly though, even with more pressure, the suspension actually felt smoother and more lively. This was most likely because the shock was now sitting higher in its travel and had been lifted out of the firmer mid-stroke and back up into its ‘active zone’.
My hot tips for Trance 29 owners? Take your time with setup and make sure to get out the metal ruler – the difference between 25 and 30% sag on that little shock is literally 2mm at the O-ring. And for those on the heavier side, consider adding a bigger volume spacer so as to avoid running mega high pressures.
Because Giant has spec’d a light rebound tune for the DPX2 shock, the back end is also quite springy out of the box. I ended up just two clicks off the slowest setting (2/14 clicks) to prevent the back end from pogo’ing around too much.
To balance out the back end, and to access more of the travel, I removed one of the three stock volume spacers out of the fork’s air spring. This gave the fork a more active and linear feel, which allowed me to run more pressure (78psi) and less sag (26%, measured standing up on the pedals). Additionally, setting the low-speed compression halfway helped to resist brake dive, better preserving the head angle while descending.
As per Fox’ recommended guidelines, I set the fork’s rebound damping at 10 clicks from full slow (10/22 clicks).
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2019 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29er 1 Specs
- Frame // Advanced Composite Mainframe & Swingarm, 115mm Travel
- Fork // Fox 34 Float, Performance, 44mm Offset, 130mm Travel
- Shock // Fox Float DPX2, Performance Elite, Trunnion Mount, 165×42.5mm
- Hubs // Giant TRX 1, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // Giant TRX 1 Carbon, 28h Front & Rear, 27mm Internal Rim Width
- Tyres // Maxxis 3C EXO Minion DHF 2.3in Front & Minion DHR II Rear
- Chainset // SRAM Descendent Eagle, DUB, 30t Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
- Brakes // SRAM Guide T, 180mm Rotors Front & Rear
- Bar // Giant Contact SL Rise , 20mm Rise, 780mm Wide
- Stem // Giant Contact SL, 40mm Long
- Grips // Giant Lock-On
- Seatpost // Giant Contact Switch S, 30.9mm, 125mm Travel
- Saddle // Giant Contact SL, Neutral
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large & Extra Large
- Confirmed Weight // 12.67 kg (27.87 lbs)
- RRP // $6,299 AUD / £4,399 GBP
|Product:||Trance Advanced Pro 29er 1|
|Price:||$6,299 AUD / £4,399|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 4 months|