This review is for a RockShox Reverb AXS seatpost, 31.6mm post diameter with 170mm travel.…
This re-designed e-MTB was launched on the 21st March and you can read our launch story here with all the details on the range and specs.
So, loads of new tech on board, but how did it translate to the very un-British like trails of the Utah desert in November?
Mark details his first ride thoughts immediately after spending two days on board. Watch the video and then read on for more impressions.
The elephant in the room
You will get from the video that when it comes to Fox LiveValve, I’m not a fan. If you don’t know what it is then let me give you the briefest of explanations. It’s an electronic system that monitors the impacts on your suspension system using sensors on the fork and mounted close to rear axle of your bike. The data from these sensors informs the control unit how to adjust the damping settings on your fork and shock. It can amazingly make adjustments to your suspension at a rate of 1000 times per second. The upshot is real time suspension adjustment depending on the terrain your are riding over. If it’s smooth then the system will ramp up the damping to stop you bobbing about. When it gets lumpy it opens things up. That’s a simplistic explanation and so if you want to know more about Fox LiveValve, try this…
It’s really very, VERY clever and the technology really impresses me. But I am not a fan because in my view it doesn’t do enough to justify it’s cost and ergo it’s existence. And often, as in this case, it feels like it’s ‘getting in the way’.
Yes, it’s super clever but it just feels like interference. Many of us on the launch, myself included, went out on our first ride quickly fiddling with the settings to effectively counter it’s inputs. The way it’s configured on the Elite 0 and 1 models means that it turns on when the bike is on and off when you turn off the bike – which means you don’t have the option of riding with the LiveValve deactivated.
All that said, I will admit that after a chat with a Fox engineer on day two of our test rides, he did set it up for me in a way that worked much better. I did ask him to get it to make as few adjustments as possible mind, but it at least did demonstrate to me that is IS possible to get the LiveValve system to back off a bit. But ultimately, despite being well aware that it might actually be making good decisions for me, I can’t get over the way it makes the ride feel. It could very well be ‘just me’ but I still don’t like it and so for me that rules out the two top of the range models of the E+ Elite. But hey! That means my budget just got slashed in half when you look at these model prices.
Trance X Advanced E+ Elite
- Model 0 £12999 (Live Valve)
- Model 1 £8999 (Live Valve)
- Model 2 £6499
- Model 3 £5499
Price notes: Yes, I acknowledge that £13k is astronomical, but this is the top of the line option that most of us won’t even look at. A significant chunk of that price has gone on Live Valve on both of the top two models, and as I say in the video, that’s not for me. These are also the carbon models and there are plans for an all alloy version in the works. Prices on those will presumably be lower than these carbon options. Caveat being those models will have twice the battery capacity (800wh) we have been told.
Putting LiveValve to one side then (If only I could) the rest of my ride impressions are thus..
Enjoy the Silence
The Maestro platform is impressive. It’s complicated of course, as are most floating pivot point suspension systems, and that does bring with it servicing considerations and setup fiddling. But it works. The trails we rode in Utah, unsurprisingly were, dry, dusty and very rocky. The air was very still and it was super cold (It looks sunny but it floated around freezing all day). The only sounds were from my heavy breathing, tyres and the motor. I was impressed at how quiet the motor is – I mean it was notably quiet. I’ve ridden much lower powered systems that sound like they are cranked up to 11 by comparison to this Yamaha/Giant system – Yes I’m looking at you Specialized Levo SL.
As I state in the video, I was fine with the one piece setup – Whatever your views on this type of cockpit the ability to adjust the roll and reach is an improvement. I did feel like I’d like a slightly wider bar though, and unfortunately there’s no shims for that. The cockpit was super neat though as a result of the internal electrical cabling but as many of you will know, that in itself comes at a price in terms of maintenance. Whether your aesthetic aspirations outweigh your practical requirements will be the factor that swings it one way or the other. Personally, I’d rather have a traditional bar/stem setup. What does the extra few grams matter when you have 400wh plugged into a motor beneath you?
Again, caveat that this is based on a two day ride in the desert. It handled like a normal bike – as it damn well should at this weight (and price). 18.8kg is might impressive when there’s pretty much 5kg of battery and motor attached. There’s a lot of attention focussed on low centres of gravity with e-MTBs. Many brands point out that the extra weight is designed to be a s low slung as possible within the frame, but with this bike the battery aids in that design feature more than many others due to the fact the new battery density means there’s actually a lot of empty space in that downtube despite the battery. That does help the handling and adds to the natural feel of the ride.
All things considered, the silence of the motor and the lightweight made this the most natural feeling e-MTB ride I’ve had to date.
Things I don’t yet know
This was a brief introduction to the Trance Advanced E+ Elite and these are the things I can’t yet comment on until we get a longer term test bike from Giant to really go to town on.
- Reliability – Of, well, everything
- Performance in any conditions other than dry, sub zero desert
- Flip-chip handling (We didn’t get the opportunity to flip it)
- Warranty details (Beyond Giant’s standard policy)
- Anything about the alloy versions (not yet launched) other than the 800wh battery capacity.
- How it works in conjunction with the mobile app – We didn’t have that to hand during these two days.
I will update on any and all these findings as son as possible.
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