Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1

Review: Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1

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The Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 is reviewed in Issue 142 Bike Test – The Big Short.

The Trance has been in the Giant line-up for a long time now and the Trance Advanced Pro 29er is the most recent incarnation. Designed as a do-everything trail bike, the Advanced Pro 29 has seen its rear travel grow by 5mm from the previous version to 120mm.

For such a seemingly straight-laced brand, Giant’s bike range can sometimes be tricky to navigate. The Trance range is perhaps the potentially most confusing at first glance. Once you realise that anything with an ‘X’ suffix has longer travel and radder geometry and ‘Advanced Pro’ is Giant’s code word for carbon, things get a bit easier to fathom. The Trance Advanced Pro is available in three different builds; we’ve thrashed this middle-child £5,999 Trance Advanced Pro 29 1.

The Bike

At the heart of the new Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 is a full carbon frame that features the updated twin-link Maestro suspension system. It’s claimed to have increased climbing ability and pedalling efficiency, yet without sacrificing any descending chops.

Giant now does flip chips for adjusting the geometry. Sitting inside the main rocker, this new addition lets you change between a ‘high’ and ‘low’ position. The high position raises the BB, and steepens both the seat and head angles for supposedly “faster handling and increased climbing performance”. The low position sounds more appealing: stable at speed and confident descending. Headline geometry numbers for this Large (in ‘low’): 472mm reach, 626mm top tube, 65.5° head tube, 76.3° seat tube, 439mm chainstays.

Frame protectors on the downtube and the drive side chainstay add protection and keep noise down. The frame also features new integrated ports for all cables/hoses. Clean looks that also help eliminate rattling. The downtube features a storage compartment for stashing some essentials. It’s located behind a removable cover under the bottle bosses. 

The Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 comes with Fox Live Valve electronically activated suspension. It’s designed to offer a strong pedalling platform combined with fast-acting valves for when things get rough. The fork is a Fox 34 Performance Elite Live Valve delivering 130mm of travel. Controlling the 120mmm of rear wheel travel is a Fox Performance Elite Live Valve shock.

Shimano provides the braking with a set of XT 4-piston brakes clamping onto 180mm rotors front and rear. Shimano also takes care of the drivetrain with a 12-speed XT drivetrain mated to a Praxis Girder carbon crankset.

The Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 rolls on its own brand Giant TRX 2 Carbon 29 WheelSystem, with a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 front and a Maxxis Aggressor 2.5 rear.

Compared to the other two bikes in this test, it was the Trance’s capable tyres that gave it an advantage out of the box. Once we’d swapped some similarly decent tyres into the YT and the Cotic, they were instantly on much more of a similar bent. Having similar rubbers on all the bikes also threw fairer light on the weight differences/similarities. Namely, the YT became pretty much the same weight as the Trance and the Cotic was a bit heavier. Not that any of the weight differences were significant. We’d just much rather have capable tyres as standard on trail bikes instead of restrictive, vain gram-savers.

The cockpit is all own-brand components. A 780mm Giant Contact SLR TR35 carbon bar is held in place with a Giant Contact SL35 50mm stem. The grips are Giant Tactal Pro Single 130mm grips and the saddle is a Giant Romero SL. The TranzX dropper post delivers a healthy 200mm of drop.

Getting the Trance Advanced set up was a little more involved than usual, due to the addition of Fox Live Valve. It was still a pretty straightforward process though; set the fork and shock sag as usual with the Live Valve system turned off, then the extra step is calibrating the Live Valve.

Calibrating involves propping the bike up so it is as level as possible (both vertically and laterally), then pressing and holding a few buttons. Not hugely involved and once done you don’t really need to do it ever again. The only manual adjustments are rebound and low speed compression (via a 3mm Allen key). Then you start selecting the setting you want to use via the Live Valve phone app. The app syncs with the unit on the bike and lets you adjust your ride characteristics by simply selecting the setting you want (Climb, Firm, Sport, Comfort and Open). Fox recommends Sport for general riding. Each setting also has a five-bump sensitivity threshold that can be adjusted easily, making it need bigger or smaller hits to open the suspension. The settings come with the bump sensitivity in the middle setting giving you two ‘clicks’ of bigger or smaller bump threshold. 

The Ride

Swinging a leg over the Giant Trance for the first time, the geometry felt good. Pretty much spot on for a modern trail bike. Not crazy long and slack, but not overly scary either. While the reach might not be particularly boundary-pushing, the relatively long-for-2022 stem helps to put you in a comfortable position for long stints of pedalling. While the seat angle might not be considered particularly steep by modern standards, it’s perfectly fine. The Trance is basically a really, really good ‘trail bike’ in the best sense. It does up, across and down in equal measures. It’s an impressively fun and engaging bike on pretty much everything. 

Stamping on the pedals gets an immediate response. The lightweight, fast rolling tyres and clever suspension mean nothing is lost and the power you put down is translated in forward motion. Climbing is done in a properly efficient manner, whether it’s a long drawn out spin or a sharp, steep, punchy climb. The Giant Trance gets you up and over without any fuss. It’s happy for you to sit and spin or have you out of the saddle mashing the pedals, and it makes climbing a far more bearable chore. The Live Valve clearly makes a difference to the Maestro suspension’s efficiency.

What goes up, must come down. The Trance is happy doing that. That eagerness to push on which you get when pedalling along makes the Trance an absolute riot on fast and flowy trails. It’s light and agile, and has plenty of pop for boosting off every little rise or trailside lump. We’ve found ourselves heading out across the moors to find fast ribbons of joy that you can really push the Trance on. Sprint as hard as you can and make the most of the twists and turns, while pumping the ground for free speed and launching off anything you can find. 

But it’s not just a bike for moorland crossings. It can also hold its own when things get steeper and chunkier. The modern geo lets you push on steeper terrain, not shying away from hand-cut slithers or vertiginous chutes. We’ve ridden the Trance on everything that we ride 160mm big bikes. While you do find the limits of a 120mm bike when things get fast and rough, it’s usually with a pretty big grin on your face!

To further unleash the Trance’s steep and rough credentials we fitted a shorter stem and high-rise bar for a while to get the front end into a more familiar position for that sort of riding.

There’s no denying that the Live Valve system makes the Trance a great climber and generally works really well. We reduced the bump threshold on the Sport setting to get it to open up on slightly smaller bumps, which didn’t affect climbing but made things feel better on smaller frequency trail chatter. When descending on fast semi-rough tracks we just felt that the rear end occasionally felt a little ‘firmer’ than when we ran it in the open setting. 

In that open setting the Trance is still a great climber. There’s a little more movement under power, but nothing ridiculous. Our only real complaint with the bike, and in particular the Live Valve system, was an annoying rattle coming from inside the top tube up near the headtube, which we can only assume was a wire connector. 

Overall

The Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 is a great trail bike, and probably the sort of bike that a lot of people would enjoy. It’s fast and makes getting up, across and down fun. The Trance is a reminder of how much fun a well-thought-out and proper geometry short travel bike can be. 

The Live Valve system will appeal to those riders who want to get everywhere as fast and efficiently as possible. What a Trance would ride like without Live Valve is hard to say; all we can say is that we grew to appreciate the system on this one. It needs a bit of time – and inclination – to set it up suitably, but it’s a good thing to have on this bike. We just would like to see some even-more-open settings being unlocked by Fox (maybe in future updates?)

Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 Specification

  • Frame // Advanced Grade Composite, 120mm
  • Shock // Fox Performance Elite Live Valve, 185x50mm
  • Fork // Fox 34 Performance Elite Live Valve FIT4, 130mm, 44mm offset
  • Wheels // Giant TRX 2 Carbon 29 WheelSystem
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.5 WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Aggressor 29×2.5 EXO
  • Chainset // Praxis Girder Carbon, 170mm, 30T
  • Drivetrain // Shimano Deore XT M8100 12-speed
  • Brakes // Shimano Deore XT M8120, 180/180mm rotors
  • Stem // Giant Contact SL 35, 50mm
  • Bars // Giant Contact SLR TR35 Composite, 780x35mm
  • Grips // Giant Tactal Pro Single, 130mm
  • Seatpost // TranzX travel-adjustable dropper 170–200mm
  • Saddle // Giant Romero SL
  • BB // Shimano, PF
  • Size Tested // L
  • Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 13.8kg

Geometry for our size L test bike:

  • Head angle // 65.4° (low)
  • Effective seat angle // 76.3° (low)
  • Seat tube length // 465mm
  • Head tube length // 120mm
  • Chainstay // 439mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,224mm
  • Effective top tube // 626mm (low)
  • BB height // 330mm (low)
  • Reach // 472mm (low)

Review Info

Brand: Giant
Product: Trance Advanced Pro 29 1
From: giantbicycles.com
Price: £5,999.00
Tested: by Benji for 3 months

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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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