Giant Bicycles Trance X 29 2


Review by Marissa Krawczak

Year after year Giant Bicycles have proven their Trance is the brand’s reliable and predictable trail bike and they continue making tweaks to the platform to keep it relevant to the changing demands of mountain bikers. They didn’t get to this point without a little trial and error, and we’d be lying if we didn’t say that early versions were definitely more XC-focused and slightly behind the aggressive trail riding curve. Sure it worked, but it lacked the shreddy fun factor that modern and aggressive trail riders crave. As we all know, it can be a hard endeavor finding the right balance between practical workhorse and effortless play bike, and sometimes you just need a break to gather some inspiration and come back with a fresh perspective.

Giant took a step back from the Trance X model and likely studied some cliff notes from the Anarchist’s Trail Bike Cookbook, because they came back with a kind of punk rock XC-trail bike worthy of bringing back the X moniker. The modern Giant Trance 29er makes the sweat equity on the pedal up just as fun as the ride down, but the 2021 Giant Trance X gives a nod to the knee pad-wearing shredder who’s looking to slap that back tire to and fro while still looking for a nice-pedaling bike on the way up. Since it’s designed with more travel to be more capable on those raw sections of trail, we took it to the some of our favorite late-summer spots that were blown out, super dry and loose with lava rocks to really test the X-factor of this bike and see how its 150/135mm of travel would perform.

In mathematic equations, ‘X’ stands for an unknown, but for Giant, the Trance X denotes a more aggressive and longer travel machine built for riders looking to push their mountain bikes a bit harder and yank a bit harder. Not only do you get extra travel travel but you get an adjustable flip-chip to fine tune the ride for your terrain. In the High position it provides a steeper headtube and seat tube angle by 0.7 degrees, going from 66.2 to 77.9 degrees. This position also gives the bike a 30mm bottom bracket drop. The Low position moves the front wheel further out with a head tube angle of 65.5 degrees, a seat tube angle of 77.2 degrees and a bottom bracket drop of 40mm. These measurements are across the board for sizes S, M, L and XL.

We recently reviewed the more expensive and higher spec’d Trance X 29 Advanced Pro ($8,500) and are happy to now be testing the more realistically priced Trance X 29 2. Retailing for $3,200, the Trance X 29 2 model comes with a capable, mid-entry level spec. Giant offers a Trance X 3 model, which retails for $2,400 but we believe that the increase in price is well worth the investment for riders who truly believe they’re going to evolve and grow into the sport. You’ll save yourself money in the long run and have a better time if you just spend a bit more on this one and go for the X 2, should your budget allow it.

The Trance X 29 2 comes with a Fox 36 fork with 150mm of travel custom tuned for Giant. In the rear, Giant’s Maestro suspension system provides 135mm of travel and a Fox EVOL shock that’s also custom tuned for Giant. With four pivot points, two short links and a single floating pivot point, Giant touts the system as one of the most active and efficient platforms on the market and it certainly does have some great characteristics. The system offers great traction, pedals fairly well while open and is even better when the climb switch is engaged.

We’d say that off the showroom floor, the suspension set up is ideal for more entry-level riders and those who ride on rougher terrain since it’s pretty smooth and linear. For heavier and faster riders who regularly push the envelope, send drops over four feet tall and love hucking to flat, we’d suggest adding some volume reducers to the shock and fork to maintain the suppleness off the top but give a more dynamic and progressive feel on big hits.

The Shimano SLX drivetrain shifted smoothly but was a little bit noisy at times. The shifters didn’t quite have the high-end feel you might get on higher-end components, but the practicality of the whole set-up was more than adequate to have a ripping time out on the trail and at this point we all understand that in order to have more affordable bikes, more affordable components need to get spec’d.

Giant Bicycles Trance X 29 2

We were sent the Trance X 29 in a size Medium, which fit our 5’8” female tester perfectly. Our other riders in the 5’10-5’11” height would have preferred a large, but Marissa took the lead and was happy to do so. We took this bike all over from the local Bend, Oregon trails to pushing its limits at Mt. Bachelor’s bike park, then cruising it comfortably at the mellower Timberline bike park.

At a quick glance, the dark green and black color is unassuming for how this trail-assertive machine handles terrain. A closer look at the design of the frame and especially the rear triangle yield an aesthetically pleasing experience and show smooth, flowy curves, to the point of being drool-worthy to many who got close. The rubber for the chainstay and downtube protector is thick and has a nice compound to blend noise damping properties and durability. We always enjoy a quiet bike, and the Trance is surprisingly quiet. Giant Bicycles did a good job with the Trance X 29, it just looks like a nice, fun and practical mountain bike. And it rides like one too.

Right away the Trance X 29 had us feeling at home. It is maneuverable, light feeling and makes pedaling a breeze. The ALUXX frame may not be as light as their carbon composite frames, but the bike handled so well, the weight wasn’t noticeable, even to our flat-pedal riding female tester. Switchbacks are smooth and any sharp moves on technical ascents are easily navigated as the bike keeps riders in a seemingly perfect climbing position. It does do best with the shock closed-down a bit, whether that’s fully locked out or just by engaging the compression lever, but it certainly does a good job of taking a competent bike and bringing it to the next level. Rolling weight and spec improvements down the road will help riders climb faster, although we found our own fitness to be the biggest limiting factor on how fast this bike climbs.

On the climbs the Trance X 29 feels like a dependable and responsive XC bike, however it quickly became apparent it was also super capable on descents. Compared to the Trance is has some extra travel when you need it on rough and unpredictable trail sections and lets us stay off the brakes when rounding corners on unknown trails. Having confidence that the Maestro suspension could easily handle the hits any trail ride could throw our way let us really enjoy the ride and look for bonus hits and lips. Advanced riders should just be prepared to regularly find the bottom of your travel before you install some volume reducers.

Giant Bicycles Trance X 29 2

The Trance X easily banks turns and snaked through tight corners with efficiency and speed. There were even some of those magical, “Damn, bikes are really cool,” moments caught on some of the descents we tested. We really liked tight, technical terrain aboard this bike. Of course it could have been because we were riding a size medium, but man-handling this bike up and over lava-rock obstacles or around tight trees into weird root balls was an absolute blast as the suspension and playful geo kept this bike alive and playful.

The flip-chip is easily changed and in the Low setting we could noticeably feel the intended lower center of gravity. Even though the bottom bracket is dropped 10mm compared to the High setting, it still provided adequate clearance over the lava-rock trails we frequently ride. In fact, the Trance X made pedaling through some gnarly rock garden ascents almost effortless, even in the Low setting.

While Trance X 29 is a lot of fun and well-rounded for trail riding applications it becomes apparent that the bike can certainly be overwhelmed when you take it outside its comfort zone. On descents it was capable and playful but struggled in high speed sections of braking bumps, super rough sustained rock gardens and in the more technical steeps and drops found at Mt. Bachelor’s bike park. Granted it’s a 135mm rear end and probably won’t be finding itself in too many bike parks under most owners, but in this day and age, a bike with an X in it’s name can certainly expect some shuttle or chairlift days. A larger bike likely would have given us a bit more stability and confidence in the steepest of terrain, but the reality is, if you are regularly riding these types of trails, the Giant Reign may be a better option.

Giant Bicycles Trance X 29 2

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Giant Trance X 29 is a really nice, beautifully built trail bike with some attitude. At this price point the X 29 2 is a very competitive bike for beginner, to expert level riders who are on a budget. Although we will say, faster, hard-charging riders will need to add volume reducers to the suspension. The spec is solid and while there isn’t much fancy stuff going on, the bike shifted and braked excellently during our test period. The geometry is well-rounded and crowd pleasing for sure and we think that riders who are just looking for a good trail bike to get out and ride will have a fun time on this bike.  Although it may not be as suitable for the super-gnar terrain that an enduro bike is made for like some bikes in this genre, the benefit is, it’s a lot more playful, nimble and fun on trails more riders will regularly find themselves on.

Price: $3,2oo


Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade aluminum front and rear triangles, 135mm Maestro suspension, Flip chip
Fork: Fox 36 Float Rhythm 150mm with custom tune
Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance 185/55 GRIP Damper, custom tune

Brakes: Shimano MT520
Shifter: Shimano SLX
Handlebar: Giant Contact TR35, 780x35mm, 20mm rise
Headset: Giant
Stem:  Giant SL35
Saddle: Giant Romero
Seatpost: Giant Contact 146mm

Hubs: Shimano sealed bearing
Rims: Giant AM 29 Alloy
Front tire: MAXXIS Minion DHF || 29×2.5 3c EXO TR
Rear tire: MAXXIS Dissector || 29×2.4 3c TR

Bottom Bracket: Shimano Press fit
Cassette: Shimano SLX 10×51
Cranks: Shimano 510MT 30t
Derailleur: Shimano SLX

Giant Bicycles Trance X 29 2

We Dig

Easy pedaling
Encourages you to ride faster in tight trails

We Don’t

Heavier/Faster riders blow through travel and will need volume reducers
Needs a longer dropper post


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