Much lighter and stiffer, Giant’s translation of the Trance X platform into carbon ﬁbre is a structural masterpiece with a super-efﬁcient, sharp and calmly controlled character. The high frame price takes budget away from the kit though, and it’s shaped for relaxed conﬁdence not chaos-causing.
Ride & handling: Controlled, super-efﬁcient, strong and easy-to-ride all-rounder
The Advanced SL 1's stiffness and low weight leap into action when you apply the power out of corners or up climbs. The rigidity is really obvious when you’re wrestling the bars or grunting up a steep one too, and it’s a rapid and efﬁcient roller. The oversized front end gives it outstanding precision as well.
The less supple small bump feel of the 2010 Fox FIT fork plus the tall, weight-back ride position of the bike mean you really have to push your weight forward to work it, though, and Giant’s attempt to lengthen the cockpit with a layback cradle isn’t entirely successful either.
It gives you more breathing space but rider weight is right over the rear wheel. As a result, we had to remove all the spacers and ﬂip the stem to get the Trance feeling aggressive enough to exploit the front-end stiffness.
The Maestro twin linkage suspension offers a great balance between traction feedback, tight power feel and smooth impact absorption, though. The 2010 Boost Valve shock adds even more control and a tighter climbing feel, but the short stroke, small volume shock feels stressed through bigger stuff.
Relatively narrow, delicate Kenda tyres also mean you have to pick lines through rocks rather than picking ﬁghts with them. The Giant's Anthem X cousin is the most visceral, competitive bike around, so buy that instead if you want a bike that really bites.
Frame: Fantastic lightweight and tight chassis
While the basic layout, geometry and Maestro suspension architecture are templated off the alloy frame, the carbon chassis differs in several signiﬁcant respects besides material. For a start it gets a massive tapered fork head tube with MegaDrive oversized down tube wrapped around the lower half.
Tight twin triangle rear subframe and upper linkage rockers are also carbon ﬁbre, which makes it 400g lighter than the alloy frame (4.9lb for a medium frame) and seven percent stiffer too. The major size gap between the 18in medium frame and the gate-like 20in large is a potential problem, however.
Equipment: Benchmark Shimano XT groupset heads weak-link-free kit selection
Unlike the top-of-the-range, TALAS travel-adjust unit found on the SL 0, the SL 1's Fox fork is a ﬁxed-travel 120mm unit – but that’s our favourite setting on the SL 0 anyway.
Giant’s full Shimano XT approach on stop, go and wheel equipment is totally ﬁne performance-wise, the Giant bars and stem are well shaped, and Fizik’s Gobi saddle is a favourite. The £2,500 frameset-only cost is obvious in the high overall bike cost though.