The Giant Trance has come a long way since its introduction in 2005. The model that began life as a 100mm cross-country bike has morphed into an aggressive trail bike. The 2014 Trance Advanced 27.5 0 gets 650b (27.5in) wheels, more travel, and dialed geometry.
Video: Giant Trance Advanced 0 at Eurobike 2013
Ride & handling: Outstanding geometry overshadows 650b wheels
Some riders will be more adept at noticing the nuances of the Trance Advanced’s slightly larger wheels than others. What everyone who throws a leg over the 2014 27.5 0 will notice is that Giant’s engineers have added heaping portions of enduro-inspired ferocity to the versatility the Trance line is known for.
The 2013 Trance had 127mm of rear travel. For 2014, rear suspension travel increases to 140mm. The geometry of the 2014 Trance has been adjusted accordingly. Compared to the 2013 bike, the head tube slackens from 69.5 to 67 degrees. The climbing-friendly, 73.5-degree seat tube angle remains unchanged.
The increase in rear suspension travel and incorporation of 650b wheels is, predictably, accompanied by an increase in chainstay length, which extends by 5mm to 439mm (17.3in).
The Trance Advanced 27.5 0 has a carbon front triangle and aluminum rear end
On the trail, this longer, slacker geometry – combined with the small but detectable increase in rollover-ability of 650b wheels – translates into a bike that gives up a small amount of climbing performance in exchange for increased confidence and riotous fun while descending.
We tested the Trance Advanced 27.5 0 on the swoopy and high-speed trails that traverse the mountainsides high above Deer Valley, Utah. Rock gardens, G-outs and banked turns were all par for the course. In these conditions, the bike’s dialed geometry enabled it to outpace some of its components.
Both the RockShox Revelation fork and lightweight Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo tires help the Trance win the weight game on the showroom floor, but they don’t do the bike any favors when speeds increase or the trail becomes rocky and rutted – the times when the Trance Advanced 27.5 0 truly comes alive.
The flyweight tires lack ample protection against sidewall tears and punctures, and the Revelation fork, with its 32mm stanchions, gives up a noticeable amount of steering precision through choppy terrain.
When the time came to earn our next descent, we were thankful for the Revelation’s travel adjust feature, which dropped front travel from 140mm to 120mm to keep the front wheel from wandering.
The Trance Advanced 27.5 0 does benefit from you switching its Monarch RT3 shock into platform mode for extended climbs, as it doesn’t rely on anti-squat to combat rider-induced suspension movement to the same degree as some other dual-link bikes.
Frame & equipment: Giant own-brand parts but sub par dropper seatpost
The three bikes in the 2014 Trance Advanced lineup have carbon front triangles mated to aluminum rear ends. The carbon front triangle uses Giant’s OverDrive 2 head tube, designed to accept forks with Giant-specific 1.25in to 1.5in tapered steerers.
The Trance Advanced also has internal cable routing through ports on either side of the down tube. Other frame features include a direct mount for the front derailleur and tabs for an ISCG 05 chainguide.
The US$7,725 (UK prices TBA) Trance Advance 27.5 0 is equipped with SRAM’s XX1 group. XX1 continues to impress with fast and accurate shifts and silent operation through the roughest terrain. The Trance Advance 27.5 0 comes with a 32T front chainring, which should suit most riders and riding conditions.
Avid’s four-piston X0 Trail brakes proved to be a great match for the Trance’s high-speed capabilities. Their power and modulation were appreciated during long downhill runs.
We would have preferred RockShox’s Pike in place of the Revelation RT3 fork. By our calculations, this would come with a weight increase in the neighborhood of 75g – a worthy penalty given the gains in front-end precision, and a better fit for the bike’s aggressive personality.
The Revelation is a good fork but is outclassed by the aggressive nature of the Trance
Riders who share our reservations about forks with 32mm stanchions on longer-travel trail bikes might want to consider the Trance SX 27.5. For 2014, there are two bikes in that line, both specced with 34mm Fox TALAS forks with 160mm to 140mm of adjustable travel.
Despite our misgivings about the fork and Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo tires – which can be chalked up to local riding conditions and personal preference – there was only one item in the build that was truly deficient: the dropper seatpost.
Giant’s Contact Switch-R got a makeover for 2014. The new post uses the same air spring and oil damper as the previous version, but adds a remote actuator at the base of the seatpost, allowing the remote cable to be run internally as well as externally. (All Trance bikes that come with the Contact Switch-R route the cable through the frame.)
While internal routing is a worthy addition, the performance of the Contact Switch-R still lags a generation behind that of top dropper seatposts from RockShox and Fox. The Contact Switch-R has a maximum drop of just 100mm, it has a significant amount of radial play, and it extends when picked up by the saddle. We experimented with four different Contact Switch-R posts and all felt similar.
While the dropper post was sub par, the rest of the Giant-branded parts on our Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 proved to be solid performers. The new P-TRX0 wheels are well suited to this lightweight but aggressive trail bike. They spin on hubs with DT Swiss 240 internals that have the upgraded 36-tooth Star Ratchet for 10 degrees of engagement. Laced to the hubs are tubeless-compatible carbon rims with an internal width of 21mm. Total wheelset weight is a scant 1,440g.
In addition to the wheelset, the Giant-branded 60mm stem and 730mm low-rise carbon handlebar were also good matches for the Trance Advanced 27.5 0.
Overall, the Advanced 27.5 0 is a significant improvement over previous iterations of the Trance. The increased capabilities of the bike have more to do with refined geometry and increased suspension travel than the incorporation of 650b wheels, though all three play a role in making this the most 'advanced' Trance yet.