Is This 2019 Trance The Most Progressive Giant Mountain Bike Ever?

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Though it’s easy to forget, the Giant Trance name has actually been around since 2005. It arrived on the scene as one of the first full suspension models to debut Giant’s (then new) Maestro suspension design and featured an alloy frame, 26in wheels, and 100mm of suspension travel front and rear.

Since then the Trance has grown in both travel, and intent. In 2013, it also grew bigger wheels with the Trance X rolling out as a – somewhat *ahem* visually challenging – 29er trail bike. That Trance X only lasted a couple of years before Giant very publicly announced the company’s dedication to 27.5in wheels, ditching the Trance X and almost all the other 29ers from its range.

Things have changed in the last couple of years though, and Giant has had to chow down on some humble pie while bringing big wheels back into its full suspension lineup. There was of course the Anthem 29er last year, which we tested and reviewed here.

And now, in 2019, we have this; the Trance 29er.

The Trance 29er is all-new for 2019 and sits alongside the existing 27.5in version. Though they share the same first name, the wheelsize and travel are different. The 29er version shrinks down the suspension travel to 130mm on the front and 115mm on the rear, compared to 150/140mm on the 27.5in Trance.

giant trance 29
Giant eats humble pie and brings back a 29in Trance for 2019.

Take a closer look though, and a few other things really stand out. Like the 66.5° head angle, which is actually slacker than the 27.5in Trance. The front end is also longer, with the Medium getting a 442mm reach. And look a little closer again, and you’ll also see that Giant has equipped the Trance 29er with a nu-skool 44mm fork offset. Oh, and then there’s that piggyback rear shock. Yup, on a 115mm travel bike.

Throw in the 780mm wide bars, a 40mm stem and chunky Maxxis Minion tyres, and you’ve got a recipe for a party on the trail. Not exactly the typically conservative approach we’re used to seeing from Giant eh?

2019 Giant Trance Advanced 29er Features

  • Lightweight full suspension 29er trail bike
  • Full composite mainframe, swingarm & rocker link
  • Maestro suspension design w/115mm travel
  • 130mm travel fork w/44mm offset
  • 66.5° head angle
  • 74.5° seat angle
  • 435mm chainstay length
  • Reach: 426mm (S), 442mm (M), 462mm (L), 480mm (XL)
  • PF92 bottom bracket shell w/ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
  • 148x12mm dropouts
  • Complete bike RRP: $6,299 AUD / £4,399 GBP
singletrack giant trance 29
Full carbon fibre mainframe and swingarm.

There are four models available in the Trance 29er range – two with alloy frames, and two with the ‘Advanced Composite’ carbon fibre frames. We’ve got the neon-green Advanced Pro 29er 1 on test, which is the lower-spec option of the two carbon models.

It gets the same frame as the top-spec Trance 29er, which sees a full carbon fibre mainframe, swingarm, and upper rocker link. It’s all very swoopy and smooth, with a large amount of standover clearance provided via a curvy top tube, and a short ‘n’ stubby seat tube that gives plenty of room for a dropper post. Well, except that our Medium test bike unfortunately gets just 125mm of drop.

The rear brake line, mech and dropper post cables run internally through the downtube to keep things clean, while there’s room to bolt on a water bottle cage partway up the down tube.

giant trance 29
There’s internal routing through the downtube.
giant trance 29 sram guide
Tidy bolt-up rear axle with post-mount brake tabs.
giant trance 29 armour
Stuck-on rubber armour lines the frame’s belly.
giant trance 29 maestro fox float dpx2
The Maestro design continues to be refined on the 2019 Trance.

Maestro Suspension

Like all Giant full suspension models (barring the Stance), the Trance 29er gets the dual-link Maestro suspension design. This system has been in use for nearly 15 years now, and sees a one-piece carbon fibre swingarm attached to the mainframe via an alloy lower link, and a composite rocker link that drives the rear shock.

The theory behind this dual-link design is to reduce the effect that chain torque from pedalling has on the rear suspension – the goals being efficiency under pedalling inputs, while maintaining active bump response and traction. It’s also quite a compact design in terms of packaging. And because the rear shock’s lower mounting point is shared with the lower linkage, there are only five pivot points in the Maestro system.

On the Trance Advanced Pro 29er 1, there’s an itty bitty Fox Float DPX2 rear shock taking care of bouncy duties. This 165×42.5mm shock has been custom-built for Giant, since Fox doesn’t offer the DPX2 in such a small size aftermarket.

giant trance 29 maestro fox float dpx2
The latest Maestro design makes use of a trunnion mount so as to pack a bigger shock into a smaller space.
giant trance 29 maestro fox float dpx2
The rocker link drives the Fox Float DPX2 rear shock via two sealed cartridge bearings.
giant trance 29 maestro
The lower shock mount shares the same pivot point and thru-axle as the lower link’s forward mount.
giant trance 29
The rear mech cable mounts through the chainstay to better protect it from the chain and trail debris.
giant trance 29 fox 34
The versatile Float 34 fork from Fox is packaged with an EVOL air spring and a GRIP damper.

Fox 34 Float Fork

Up front is a Fox 34 Performance fork with 130mm of travel. Instead of the fancier FIT4 damper cartridge, this fork gets a cheaper GRIP damper, though you still get compression and rebound adjustment. The adjustable air spring features the new generation EVOL design with a larger negative chamber to deliver smoother actuation.

And about that 44mm offset, which Giant has picked over the more commonly used 51mm offset (for 29ers anyway). This shorter offset is something that other brands including Whyte, Transition, Pivot, Specialized and Santa Cruz have been dabbling with across a variety of different 29er models. The short offset increases the trail figure, which in theory should benefit high-speed handling and stability, at the expense of low-speed agility. Starting to get a feel for what Giant is expecting you to do with this bike?

giant trance 29 fox 34 grip
The GRIP damper may be the cheaper option, but in our experience it delivers standout performance.
giant trance 29 hub
Giant’s own wheel system is spec’d on the Trance range.
giant trance 29 trx 1
Carbon fibre rims are ready to roll tubeless.

Giant TRX 1 Wheels

For 2019, Giant has revamped its mountain bike wheel line with new carbon fibre rims, which we’re told are significantly stronger than the previous offerings. That’s good since I’ve broken one in the past.

The TRX 1 wheelset spec’d on the Trance Advanced Pro 29er 1 uses the same rims as the pricier TRX 0 wheelset. These 33mm wide hookless carbon rims have a 3mm thick bead on each side, resulting in a 27mm internal rim width. They’re tubeless ready, and conveniently come taped and valved out of the box – all you need to do is add sealant (which comes included with the bike) to the Maxxis tyres.

The main difference is in the spokes and hub internals. Whereas the TRX 0 gets a DT Swiss Star Ratchet freehub and Aerolite spokes, the TRX 1 gets a 3-pawl freehub mechanism and Sapim Laser spokes.

Confirmed weight for the TRX 1 wheelset on our test bike is 1802g.

giant trance 29 valve
The wheels come pre-taped with valves. You also get tyre levers, a valve core tool and two bottles of tubeless sealant included in the box with the bike too. Nice one Giant!
giant trance 29 maxxis minion dhr
Triple rubber compound Maxxis Minion tyres feature front and rear on the Trance.
giant trance 29 dropper post
Giant specs its own dropper post, but unfortunately the Medium frame only gets 125mm of travel.
giant trance 29 handlebar
780mm wide riser bars bolt onto a short 40mm stem.
giant trance 29
Has Giant’s latest 29er put you in a trance? Or are you definitely not green with envy?

So, what do you folks think of the 2019 Giant Trance 29er? Are you digging what Giant is laying down? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

I’ll be testing this bike over the coming few months, and putting it up against some of the more established 29er trail bikes to see how it compares. I’m particularly interested to see how the Float DPX2 shock plays with just 115mm of rear travel, and I’m also intrigued to see what that short offset fork is like across a good range of riding conditions. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, make sure you check out our reviews of the latest Giant Anthem 27.5, the Giant Anthem 29er, and the Giant Trance.


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

Comments (7)

  1. Apart for the colour, I really like the idea of a shorter travel mullet trail bike that’s more about having fun than winning your local XC or crit series. So much of where I ride now doesn’t need something like a 140/150mm trail bike. Looking forward to reading your review!

  2. Looking forward to your long term review.

    Would love to see a back to back comparison with Pivot Trail 429, Trek Fuel EX, Evil Offering or Following

  3. @simonchan – Agreed. Modern geometry and components can certainly give a shorter travel bike a tonne more confidence and high-speed stability, while potentially being more fun and lively elsewhere. Very interested in seeing how hard the Trance can be pushed!

    @gtech – Those are great suggestions! I’m actually having a play with a Fuel EX at the moment, and I’m also testing the Canyon Neuron CF, which is also a 130mm travel 29er. We’ve also recently received the GT Sensor in for testing in the UK, but I’m hoping to swing a leg over one of those in Oz in the near future, since that looks good on paper. Also hoping to get a Pivot Trail 429 in for a longer term test as well, as I really enjoyed riding that bike back at the launch last year.

    Might have to do a bit of a trail bike roundup soon!

  4. They’re “smuggling” some good ideas in now they’ve belatedly seen the light re. 29in, eh?

    Nothing wrong with a bit of inspiration from other brands of course, especially if they can do it lighter and with better pedaling and more tyre clearance.

  5. @singletrackwil – “Might have to do a bit of a trail bike roundup soon!”

    That would be awesome – I know a lot of people would be interested in an article like that – Fingers crossed

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