Smooth short-travel suspension and light weight make the 29er Giant Trance a fun playbike, but frame and wheel flex can get you into trouble on more challenging trails.
Giant Trance 29 2 frame
While the 650b Trance has 140mm of rear travel, the new 29er gets just 115mm. Giant’s twin-link ‘Maestro’ system keeps the shock low in the frame and a trunnion mount gives maximum smoothness.
Chain guide tabs on the press-fit bottom bracket, plus a 66.5-degree head angle and 460mm reach (large), show the bike is aimed at more radical riders than its travel might suggest.
Giant Trance 29 2 kit
The hard-riding vibe is backed up by a Truvativ Descendant crankset powering the NX Eagle gears, a 780mm bar in a 50mm stem and 180mm brake rotors.
Maxxis’s Minion tyres are a high-control, all-conditions combo too, and come set up tubeless. Fox’s Rhythm 34 is our favourite affordable fork, providing consistent control when pushed hard.
Giant’s twin-link ‘Maestro’ system keeps the shock low in the frame Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
Giant Trance 29 2 ride impressions
With a relatively low weight and eagerly mobile suspension, the Trance 29 feels alive and engaged on flatter trails. Even with the drag of big tyre knobs, the light wheels pick up pace pretty well.
There’s obvious suspension movement, but it doesn’t disturb your pedalling or feel bouncy. Loads of supple ground connection means climbing grip is rarely a concern. The 74.5-degree seat angle requires you to slide onto the saddle nose for steep climbs, but feels more natural for flatter pedalling.
It’s when you try to carry that easy speed onto trickier terrain that the trouble starts. There are moments when an impact comes through the short-travel rear end properly hard. What really undermines confidence, though, is the squirm and flex through the frame and wheels. If you’re pushing hard, things can quickly get out of shape.
On the flipside, the way the Giant naturally defaults onto the line of least resistance helps to flatter its traction and travel. Its all-round smoothness also reduces fatigue, so as an all-day XC/trail bike, it’s still well worth a look.