There’s little doubt that mountain bikes have become expensive, but in reality, they don’t have to be. At £2,499 / $2,890 / AU$3,699 Giant’s Trance 2 looks to be a fine example of some proper budget-stretching.
A Fox 34 Rhythm with a Grip damper hands out 150mm of travel Russell Eich / Immediate Media
Giant Trance 2 highlights
Frame: Aluxx SL aluminum, Maestro rear suspension, 140mm travel
Fork: Fox 34 Rhythm, 150mm travel
Shock: Fox Float Performance
Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 1×11-speed
Wheels and tires: 27.5in Giant XC-1 with Maxxis High Roller II tires
Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Full Shimano SLX
Back in the day, long before mountain bikes were a force, bikes came with one complete group. That meant a Shimano Ultegra bike had Ultegra everything, including the crankset, front derailleur, and even the hubs.
Shimano SLX brakes are solid stoppers, but a rare OEM spec Russell Eich / Immediate Media
But with the onslaught of mountain bikes, mixing and matching components became a way for brands to squeeze either dollars or performance on particular builds. (I’ll let you argue over that one.)
Now, it’s rare to find a bike like the Giant Trance 2 that features a near complete group. Save for the Giant-brand wheels, the rest of the stop and go bits are from Shimano’s workhorse SLX group.
Fox and Maxxis included
Impressively, Giant spec’d the Trance 2 with Fox dampers on both ends. Front-end action is handled by a Grip-equipped 34 Rhythm fork. The Grip internals keep the price down, but in my experience, performance doesn’t suffer much.
Out back, a Fox Float Performance controls the 140mm of rear-wheel movement. It’s a trunnion-mounted shock to boost frame stiffness and allow a longer stroke, which allows the shock’s internals to work a bit smoother.
2.4in Maxxis High Roller II tires front and rear are a rowdy trail spec Russell Eich / Immediate Media
Where the bike touches dirt are Maxxis High Roller II 27.5×2.4in tires. They’re not the newest or lightest tread around, but they’re tough with Maxxis’s EXO casings, and most importantly, have stout side knobs for some proper corner slashing. Bottom line, I’m so happy the days of garbage, throwaway OEM-spec tires are behind us.
Trail, not enduro, geometry
If you’re new to mountain biking, or haven’t paid much attention to the latest MTB trends, virtually every bike has been pushing a lower ride height, longer wheelbase, and slacker head angle.
Giant’s Maestro rear suspension with a floating pivot point is a proven performer Russell Eich / Immediate Media
In general, those geometry tweaks work well for adding confidence and control, especially at faster speeds, but there are some downsides. Among them are floppy handling at slow speeds, pedal strikes due to overly low bottom brackets, and making the bike feel like a barge in tight, twisty sections.
Scanning the Trance 2’s geometry chart shows Giant had some restraint. The 67-degree head angle and 73.5-degree seat angle aren’t boundary-pushing angles. Instead, they are proven trail-bike numbers that, arguably, should work for average Joe mountain biker better than the current ultra-low, uber-slack craze.
Giant Trance 2 pricing and availability
The Trance 2 retails at £2,499 / $2,890 / AU$3,699 and is available through local bike shops as well as Giant’s site.