Giant Trance X Advanced SL 1 review£3,950.00

Carbon conversion

BikeRadar score3.5/5

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.

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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