Full disclosure: I am a huge Giant fanboi, and as such, this was the one bike I had to get a ride on while I was at Outerbike.
The Trance X 29er sports fantastic geometry for everyday riding. The rider position on the bike is very neutral and nothing stands out as out of place or uncomfortable. The bike steers well and climbs with the best of them with efficient pedaling throughout. The internal cable routing is cool, and the Shimano XT component group on the one I demoed was solid. Everything on the bike was well thought out and well equipped, even little details like the Giant branded cockpit components and lock-on grips.
The Trance X also comes equipped with a dropper post. It seems to work as advertised and didn’t give me any issues, however I’m not really in the dropper camp so I didn’t fully utilize it.
The Outerbike venue was adjacent to the Moab Brand Trails, which offers a mix of trail types including doubletrack, singletrack, open slickrock, and a fairly technical rocky trail with some ledges and switchbacks. I took the Trance X on the latter of these and it handled itself ok except for constant pedal strikes. I own an original 2006 Giant Trance, which was also know for its low bottom bracket induced tendency to smack pedals, and the new 29er Trance was just as bad, maybe worse.
So when I got back to the Giant tent to return the Trance, I mentioned the pedal strike issue and we found that the size small I was riding had 175mm crank arms installed, when 170mm is the shipping spec. That certainly didn’t help the issue. However, they then suggested I just need to spend some time on the new Trance to get used to the pedaling dynamics. Since I rode a 2006 Trance for 3 years, I got really good at avoiding pedal strikes with timing and back pedaling. In my opinion, 7 model years later and on a freaking 29er, this should no longer be an issue (and wasn’t on other bikes I tested).
The Bottom Line
This is a comfortable bike well suited for all day epic rides. It climbs and descends confidently, it handles switchbacks with ease, and overall handling is excellent. However, if you ride in an area with lots of rocks and ledges, you may want to consider something with better crank arm clearance.
There is nothing here that would persuade me to trade in my current Anthem X 29er for this model, but if you’re looking to upgrade your older 26″ Trance or are in the market for your first ‘trail’ 29er then this is definitely worth a demo ride.
Note to Giant
I could be talked into a rematch on a unit with properly spec’ed crank arms, just in case that was the real issue. Deer Creek would be the perfect trail to prove this. You guys know how to reach me. 😀