Giant Trance X2 review

Overhauled for 2011

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Giant have overhauled their mid-travel frame to make it lighter and stiffer but Trance is still an appropriate name for this safe, smooth ride. The workmanlike component spec of the X2 suits its confident maximum mileage, minimum fuss character. It’s heavier than the frame would suggest, though, and we wish Giant had gone with a longer-travel fork up front to exploit its potential for a more playful ride feel.

Ride & handling: Smooth, trustworthy trail companion, not a bike that’ll talk you into trouble

The Trance has always been a competent and safe feeling bike rather than one that’ll grab riders and drag them along for the ride of their life, and the new version is no different. Weight is higher than expected given the light frame and most of that’s in the wheels, which dulls responsiveness slightly.

The bounce tendency of the Maestro suspension benefits from use of the Fox shock's ProPedal platform damping lever on long or high torque climbs. Traction, handling balance and braking feel are all composed and neutral.

The extra frame stiffness for 2011 and sticky compound front tyre means this bike is happy to get down and dirty if you’re determined to rip up the trail. The relatively short travel will swallow a surprising amount before it starts coughing up control, and previous Trances have always soaked up loads of impact and mileage punishment.

Frame: Stiff, light and obedient chassis loaded with state-of-the-art features

Frame stiffness has been increased in steering and pedalling terms with a tapered head tube and press-fit bottom bracket joined together with a new tubeset. The Trance also gets a state-of-the-art, easy adjust, direct-mount rear brake, and Giant have lost a few grams of metal from the already light frame to make it competitive with a lot of carbon fibre chassis.

Despite hinting that we could expect something lower and longer prior to the refresh, Giant have done nothing different to the geometry of the previous Trance X, apart from adding 5mm to the fork travel to slacken things half a degree. There’s still a gap between the compact-feeling medium and the gate-like large frame, with Giant still not creating an intermediate M/L size despite its popularity since it was introduced to their road bike range.

Equipment: Decent, if weighty, parts pick but we'd prefer a longer fork

Giant have sweated what bits they've changed, with their designers telling us how long it took them and Fox to tease another 5mm of travel out of the F120 fork platform without sacrificing too much stiffness. Having ridden and loved Trances with 140mm forks, we wish they'd just gone longer or at least travel-adjustable.

They’ve also stuck with the slower rolling but tenacious Stick-E compound Kenda Nevegal front tyre which, along with the harder DTC compound rear, comes in a 2.1in width which is vulnerable to more belligerent geology. Wheels are adequate own-brand offerings.

The mainly Shimano SLX transmission trades very little in function terms to the XT spec of the £3,000 X1 model, and it’s more durable in aesthetic terms. Giant’s own-brand cockpit gear has been well rated in our standalone component tests recently.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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