GIANT TRANCE X 29 2 REVIEW
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.