We’re fans of Giant’s Maestro suspension design, and on the alloy Trance it’s one of the highlights, providing a stable, supportive and controlled platform when trails get steep and you want to push the bike through big compressions.
The Giant Trance 1 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.
This is thanks to the back-end’s smooth progression through its stroke, offering buckets of support as the bike is pushed towards the limits of its travel. Instead of a jarring clatter as the 140th millimetre of travel is reached, it almost just tickles the end of its travel.
Get the bike heavily loaded through a berm and the bike holds steadfast in its midstroke, allowing you to push the bike to the exit to generate speed.
Fox’s DPX2 shock is smooth and adjustable, with a compression switch allowing for a lock-outAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
At the flatter end of the trail spectrum I did find the super-supple nature of the Trance sucked a bit of the bike’s vigour though, especially when ridden back to back with some of the more sprightly bikes on test. Trying to accelerate from turn to turn takes more effort than might be required elsewhere.
Uphill, the Trance is a fair companion, so long as you’ve a smooth pedal stroke, or rely on the Fox DPX2’s compression switch to quell any sogginess from the rear suspension. Traction on loose or lumpy climbs is, however, good thanks to the back-end. The Maxxis High Roller II tyres roll fairly well, while offering decent grip.
Giant Trance 1 kit
SRAM’s GX Eagle drivetrain is a common sight at this price pointAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Giant has done fairly well on the spec front, especially considering you buy the Trance from a bricks and mortar shop.
The Performance Elite level Fox 36 fork offers plenty of chassis stiffness and plush control through its 150mm of travel.
Giant uses its Maestro suspension linkage to good effectAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
The Giant AM wheelset has a fairly wide rim bed, offering plenty of support to the Maxxis tyres. The High Roller II might be less commonly seen than the now very much ‘in vogue’ Minion DHF/DHR combo, however it’s arguably slightly better in sloppier conditions and provides a very predictable feel when it eventually breaks away from its traction.
Giant’s own finishing kit — cockpit, dropper and saddle — caused little to worry about too.
SRAM’s Guide R brakes are basic, reliable, but not the most powerfulAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Giant Trance 1 ride feel
It’s all good so far, however I feel the sizing is behind the times. The 67-degree head angle is relatively steep for a 140/150mm bike, the 73.5-degree seat angle is slack, and the 448mm reach in a Large (the largest size available) is more like a medium than a large.
This leaves the bike feeling rather short when compared to other similar bikes, and when ridden back to back leaves you feeling a touch less secure on faster, looser terrain.
10-50t — the Eagle cassette has plenty of rangeAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
This is compounded by a relatively tall seat tube, which left regular ‘large’ riders feeling they were at times pitched over the front of the bike in steeper terrain.
In fairness, though, if the rear suspension sat higher in its travel at the back, this would be exacerbated, so on steeper stuff it’s no bad thing that the Trance likes to slip into the first part of its travel with ease.
Giant has been making its own wheels for a long time now, these AM versions are nice and wideAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
The Large is the largest of the bikes on offer, so sizing up for ‘large’ riders isn’t possible. The length felt good to some of our shorter testers, who may usually ride a Medium, but the length of the seat tube meant they were riding with a dropped post. In essence, we felt like it had the reach of a medium but the seat tube of a large.
It didn’t quite make top marks, thanks to its limiting geometry, but the rear suspension is excellentDan Milner / Immediate Media
Giant Trance 1 specifications
Sizes (*tested): S, M, L*
Frame: ALUXX SL aluminium 140mm 650b
Fork: Fox Float Performance Elite 36 150mm
Shock: Fox Float Performance DPX2
Chainset: TruVativ Descendent
Bottom bracket: SRAM
Cassette: SRAM GX Eagle
Mech: SRAM GX Eagle
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle
Wheelset: Giant AM 27.5
Tyres: Maxxis Highroller II 650×2.5WT (f), Maxxis Highroller II 650×2.5WT (r)
Stem: Giant Contact SL 50mm
Bar: Giant Contact SL 780mm
Saddle: Giant Contact SL
Seatpost: Giant Contact Switch S 150mm
Brakes: SRAM Guide R 180/180
Giant Trance 1 geometry
The Giant Trance is a mid-travel trail bike with some burly componentsAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media