I demoed this bike on the technical rock tread of the Stiles Ranch Trail in Santa Clara County’s Santa Teresa Park in south San Jose at Trailhead Cyclery’s Dirt Demo on November 8, 2015. This trail is upper intermediate technical difficulty and one of the best test tracks I’ve found outside of Moab. I hit large rocks and bounced through dense rock gardens that are at intermediate level or above. I never popped up my front wheel to climb them, imitating a rider who misses his or her line or doesn’t have that skill.
Video: Riding the Trance over modest rocks. The wide angle lens of the iPhone flattens the rocks; they are bigger than they appear.
This is only the second time I’ve rode a Giant and I’m not that familiar with them. So this is a fresh look at the bike.
Frame geometry: I’m disclosing the specs for a large frame and I’m focused on only those specs that I think matters for us intermediates.
- Frame material: Carbon.
- Wheel size: 27.5″ / 650B. Not available in a 29er.
- Headtube angle: 67 degrees, a little slacker than many trail bikes but right in the range.
- Bottom bracket height: 333 mm / 13.1″. Right in the range but Giant doesn’t disclose this on their site. I found it in a forum and it was for a different model. Probably close to this though.
- Wheel base length: 1176 mm / 46.3″. Right in the trail bike range.
Component package: This bike was setup with a 2016 Fox 34 Factory 140 mm fork, Shimano XT 11 speed gears, 140 mm of Fox Float rear travel, Shimano XT hydraulic brakes, and Giant’s dropper seat post, which worked fine. 140 mm of rear cush is very nice and comfortable but I didn’t notice much difference from other bikes with less shock. The total of the shock plus their suspension system is what matters and it was quite comfortable.
Safety, stability, and control: I rode it hard through the gnarly rock gardens and it performed very well. I was able to keep control in the worst rock sequences. However, the bike is more “agile and playful” than 29ers, which means the smaller wheels will seek their own path more. It wasn’t quite as stable as 29er trail bikes but a rider could get used to paying attention a bit more.
Comfort for longer rides: It rode the gnar fine and would be an excellent bike for longer rides. The rear suspension was comfortable in some rather nasty tread. I only rode it 3 miles but the geometry and setup worked for me.
Design: The Trance has a nice geometric design for the whole bike with a little organic flare in both the front triangle and the swing arm that really adds to the appearance. It is a beautiful bike with a peppy stance.
Conclusion: Can you safely ride at a higher skill level with this bike? Yes. It is very well designed and the component package is excellent. It is a bit more agile and playful than 29er trail bikes so if you don’t mind sacrificing a little stability and control, not much really, then this bike should be on your short list. I really enjoyed my ride and have no problem recommending the Trance.