Giant Trance 3 review£999.00

All-new frame underlines Trance’s tight ride

BikeRadar score4.5/5

An all-new lightweight chassis breathes life into Giant’s cheapest suspension bike to create a tight, tenacious, great-value XC/trail rig.

Frame: Lighter hydro-formed tubes mean a lighter frame

Despite this complete bike costing less than £1000, the Trance frame (with Fox RP2 shock) alone costs £795, and it’s easy to see why. Old Trances were always a bit heavy for their travel, but the new frame swaps heavy cold forged pieces for extended hydroformed tubes. A tighter wrapped 3D rocker, shared pivot and shock mounts (rather than the old penetrated downtube design), and other tubeset and weld line tweaks increase stiffness, yet still manages to shed 244g of frame weight. We’ve never had trouble with Maestro bearings and the split anodised/painted ?nish is tough. There’s a big gulf between medium and large sizes in terms of top tube stretch, though. Tyre clearance and cable routing are workable, but could be improved. 

Ride: Brings out the best in your riding

While it has lost weight, the Trance has lost none of its poise. Longish stem and low bottom bracket make for a steady and relaxing initial feel, but it’s ready to snap into a much more involving ride. Drop the bars by junking the extended headset spacer and you’ll start to appreciate the genius spec move of a softer ‘Stick E’ front tyre. Combined with the surefooted Maestro suspension and frame stiffness, the Trance gets more impressive the harder you push it, saving us from the big ‘offs’ we thoroughly deserved on occasion. Maestro suspension gives the best balance of small bump plushness for traction and positive pedal feel available. Even in short stroke form the Fox shock felt smoother and more controlled than everything here but the Norco. With only four inches of travel, bigger hits are de?nitely coped with rather than treated with contempt. The low bottom bracket caused frequent pedal strikes on rocky/ off-camber sections, too, so you need to ?oat the bike through more toothy terrain. The overall balance and con?dence de?nitely bring out the best in your riding ability, though. 

Equipment: Excellent value for money

The Tora air fork feels tight and spikes over bigger hits at ?rst, and a slight top-out clunk and looseness occasionally disturbs composure. It smooths out quickly, though, and the lockout is useful for road climbs. Transmission kit looks par on price, but we reckon it’s excellent considering the cost of the frame. The external crank bearings might wear out quicker than ‘cheaper’ Octalink cranks, but they are stiffer and easier to work with. Formula hubs won’t last as long as Shimano, either, but tyre spec is spot-on for year-round trail use. 


With a superb-quality lightweight frameset and traction-rich yet pedal-friendly Fox shock at its heart, the Trance is outstanding from the start. Performance-enhancing touches like the tyres make it great fun straight from the box, but there’s masses of upgrade potential. 

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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