Giant got rid of 29ers from its range a couple of years ago, focussing on 650b. The reason (now at least) it claims is that there weren't the products available to get the bikes performing as desired.
Things must have changed though, because with the release of the new Trance 29, big wheels are back in its range.
The Trance is Giant's mid-travel trail bike, sitting just below the Reign. The 29in version eschews what a lot of manufacturers are doing though, by keeping travel figures as low as you might see on an XC bike at 115mm mated to 130mm up front, seemingly pitching it against the recently released Specialized Epic Evo.
Giant says that the Trance 29 is ideal "whether you're gunning for faster enduro times of bagging a big backcountry loop." Sounds good.
While I've not had a chance to ride the Trance 29 yet, I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. While longer travel figures will help in some situations, generally it's the quality of the suspension that largely determines how well a bike copes with gnarlier terrain — see, for example, the Transition Scout, one of my favourite bikes of all time.
Anyway, I'm jumping ahead here a little. Time on the bike will tell if Giant has got this right.
While Giant has released the 29in Trance, fans of the current 650b model don't need to worry. Giant says it will be continuing with the smaller-wheeled variant for the time being.
Giant Trance 29 details
Giant is clearly excited about the opportunities that the ground-up re design of the Trance 29 offers. The bigger wheels, Giant says, give you the momentum to tackle technical climbs and the confidence to fly on fast, rugged descents.
One of the main reasons Giant felt happy going back to bigger wheels was the increasing availability of shorter 44mm offset forks, which helped it get the high-speed stability the designers were after.
The Maestro suspension system has had a small update too and now holds a trunnion mount shock, which allows Giant to run a longer stroke shock.
In our experience, the longer Metric and/or trunnion mounted length shocks tend to stay more consistent through long runs, because there's more stroke to deal with what's going on and there tends to be more oil inside.
Giant claims that the Maestro suspension's vertical wheel path and relatively linear spring curve mean the rear wheel is more sensitive to large and small hits, and stays on the ground longer, boosting control.
Giant also says that the Maestro suspension has a very efficient pedalling platform that reduces suspension squat and kickback.
The frames get a lot of the features you'd expect from Giant. There's the 'Powercore' bottom bracket and chainstay area, with a 92mm wide bottom bracket shell and asymmetric stays for extra stiffness.
The rocker link is made using a high-pressure molding process to reduce weight and increase stiffness, while the carbon frames get Giant's 'Advanced Composite' high-grade carbon, with the front triangle being made in one continuous piece.
The alloy models get the 'Aluxx SL' aluminium — a predominantly 6011 alloy, which Giant says is best-in-class for strength to weight.
There's the Overdrive head tube, 'Megadrive' oversized down tube, aforementioned Maestro suspension, ISCG-05 chainguide compatibility and Giant's own tubeless wheels found on all models.
Giant Trance 29 geometry
Giant hasn't gone crazy with the shape of the new Trance 29, though. If you look at a lot of the 29er trail bikes on the market, it's sitting very much in the middle of the road.
The reach for a size large is 462mm, the head angle 66.5 degrees and the seat angle 74.5. Despite fitting bigger wheels, Giant has managed to keep the stays to 435mm long, while there's a 35mm bottom bracket drop and 613mm stack.
Giant Trance 29 models
Giant will be offering five models of the Trance 29: three will have the carbon frame and two will have an alloy frame.
As yet we only have US pricing, but we'll update this as we learn more. The frame-only option will retail at $2,800.
Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0
- $8,300 / £6,999
This top level model gets custom-duned DVO suspension front and rear: a Sapphire fork and Topaz shock.
The bike is driven by SRAM's X01 Eagle groupset and stopped by Guide RSC brakes. Giant's TRX 0 carbon wheels keep the bike rolling on Maxxis Minion tyres, while the bike is finished with a Truvative Descendant cockpit, RockShox Reverb post and Giant Contact SL details.
Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1
- $5,000 / £4,399
A Fox 34 Performance fork is joined by a DPX2 Performance shock, while SRAM's GX Eagle drivetrain and Guide T brakes provide the stop-and-go.
The same Minion tyres are fitted to TRX 1 carbon wheels, and the finishing kit is almost exclusively Giant branded Contact SL level.
Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 2
- $4,300 / £3,999
The base-level carbon Trance 29 gets a Fox Rhythm 34 fork and DPS Performance shock, along with SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and Guide T brakes.
You still get carbon rims, the same as found on the pricier model, and you get almost the same Contact finishing kit.
Giant Trance 29 1
- Won't be available in the US / £3,699
The top-spec alloy bike is furnished with a Fox 34 Performance Elite fork and Float Performance Elite shock.
Again, SRAM's GX Eagle and Guide R components are used, along with Contact SL finishing. You also get the TRX 1 carbon wheelset and Maxxis tyres.
Giant Trance 29 2
- $3,050 / £2,499
The most pocket friendly Trance 29 follows similar lines to the cheaper carbon model with NX Eagle, Guide T, Rhythm 34 and DPS Performance.
The wheels drop to an alloy rim version, and the tyres are also a cheaper version of the Minion, losing the triple compound construction.