Mountain Bike Review
Tested: Giant Trance X 29er 0
The smooth-handling trail bike is one of the most capable 29ers we’ve ridden
was even available to purchase, it had already been ridden to victory at the 2012 Super D national championships—back in July, Adam Craig
raced a prototype version in his quest for the title. And after a series of long test rides on my local trails, it was easy to understand his decision.
One of my frequent loops has a tough little wrinkle—a singletrack descent with a sharp 3-foot rise followed by a small bump. Over the years, I’ve only successfully doubled that feature on a handful of bikes. But I cleared it on my first ride aboard Giant’s Trance X 29 0, after only about an hour of saddle time. This piece of trail makes a good yardstick for measuring a bike’s performance. To hit it correctly, riders must first carry speed through a sweeping left-hand turn just before the jump. The suspension on some other frames has wallowed, killing momentum and altering my line. The Trance X 29er’s Maestro suspension, however, settled easily into the turn, allowing me to load it at the apex and spring forward with momentum and control. That predictable feeling carried over onto every other trail I pointed the bike down.
The bike climbs remarkably well, too. In the small, 24-tooth chainring, the Maestro suspension worked effectively, offering a stable pedaling platform yet remaining active enough to find traction on loose ascents, even in the Fox shock’s
wide-open Descend setting. In the large 38-tooth ring, I often used the air spring’s Trail setting, which capably limited unwanted movement. I never felt the need to use the shock’s stiffest Climb position.
The Maestro suspension pedaled crisply, and found traction on loose, SoCal climbs. (Michael Darter)
Giant claims the hydroformed aluminum frame weighs 5.9 pounds with shock, and our test bike tipped the scales at 27.3 pounds. That’s surprisingly light for a mid-priced aluminum 29er with 5 inches of travel. The frame tubes have swoopy lines—some, like the downtube, mostly serve aesthetic purposes. But the sharp bend on the seattube creates extra room to tuck in the rear wheel, allowing Giant engineers to trim some length from the chainstays. To further shorten the rear end, Giant devised a new swingarm for the model. The new single-spar design eliminates the drive-side support found on the brand’s other Maestro bikes. Santa Cruz and Intense use similar designs on their VPP full-suspension models.
At 17.8 inches long, the Trance’s stays are about a half-inch shorter than the 26-inch Trance model, a bike renowned for its long rear end. Compared to its 29er competition, the 29er’s chainstays are pretty typical. For example, Yeti’s SB95
and the Intense Spider have 17.5-inch stays while Santa Cruz’s Tallboy LT has 17.9-inch stays. Giant has historically favored slightly longer stays because a longer wheelbase increases the bike’s stability.