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27.5 Ain't Dead - 2022 Giant Trance X 1 First Ride Review 9

With an aluminum frame, 27.5-inch wheels, geometry adjustments and solid build kit options, the new Trance X is intended to max out the fun meter on descents while remaining a dominant force on climbs.

27.5 Ain't Dead - 2022 Giant Trance X 1 First Ride Review

Around this time last year, we were raving over the updates Giant had rolled out with their all-new Trance X Advanced Pro 29 trail bike. With the most progressive geometry the Trance platform had ever seen, the 29-inch machine has since remained the most descent-hungry model in the Trance lineup. That is until now. Riding on the coattails of the Trance X 29, Giant has released their all-new Trance X. Built around dual 27.5-inch wheels and an aluminum frame, the new platform utilizes Giant’s signature Maestro suspension platform with 145mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 160mm fork. Sporting the most travel- and descent-orientated geometry of any Trance model to date, the Trance X aims to give riders a playful, responsive and bulletproof trail bike. But don’t be too quick to judge. The Trance X pays homage to its pedaling pedigree with design features that maintain climbing performance and efficiency.

Highlights 

  • ALUXX SL aluminum frame 
  • Advanced Forged Composite rocker arm
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 145mm (5.7-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.2-inches) fork travel
  • Maestro suspension design with trunnion mounted shock
  • Overdrive headset design
  • High and Low geometry adjustment 
  • 63.8 or 64.5-degree head angle 
  • 76.3 or 77-degree seat tube angle 
  • 430 or 433mm chainstay length 
  • 12x148mm boost rear hub spacing
  • Press fit bottom bracket
  • Measured weight (size large, no pedals): 33.5-pounds (15.2kg)
  • Sizes: small, medium, large, X-large
  • Trance X 3, $2,850 // Trance X 2, $3,700 // Trance X 1 (tested), $4,500 USD
  • Availability: first quarter of 2022

Strengths

  • Manageable weight for an aluminum bike
  • Firm and efficient pedaling platform 
  • Responsive and poppy descending 
  • High fun factor allows for carefree riding style
  • Easy to jump, manual and slap corners 
  • Quality build kits at respectable price points 
  • Silent internal cable routing 

Weaknesses

  • Slow rolling 2.6-inch tires
  • Low stack height shifts rider weight forward
  • Linear suspension design can make bike feel sluggish in certain situations  

Trance X Frame Details

With the intent of being a fun-making machine ready for proper abuse, the Trance X features Giant’s ALUXX SL aluminum frame. Made from 6061 aluminum, the frame strikes a balance of strength, stiffness and weight, providing a controlled and responsive feel on the trail. The one part of the frame that isn’t aluminum is the forged composite rocker arm. Intended to increase frame stiffness and lower frame weight, the rocker arm is equipped with flip-chips that allow riders to toggle between a High or Low geometry configuration. As with most two-setting geometry adjustments, the Low position slackens the head tube and seat tube angle while lowering the bottom bracket. These changes can help improve stability at speed and confidence when things get steep. The High position has the opposite effect, raising the bottom bracket and steepening the head tube and seat tube angle. This setup makes the Trance X better suited for pedal-rich terrain and more responsive for tackling tight sections of trail. An awesome feature to grace another Trance model that gives riders the option to choose which geometry setting will best complement their riding style or trails.

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Other noteworthy frame details include a water bottle mount on the inside of the downtube and an additional mount on the underside of the top tube for a second bottle cage or tool storage. Cables are run internally through the front triangle of the frame before exiting near the lower shock eyelet. From this point, the rear brake housing runs externally while the shifter cable dives into the chainstay. The cables are also shrink-wrapped to each other before running internally into the frame, creating a super clean cockpit setup when looking down at your handlebars. A simple but nice touch that we absolutely loved. On top of a rubber chainstay protector, the Trance X also features a rubber downtube protector. Simply stuck onto the frame with an adhesive backing, we are a little skeptical as to how well the protector will stick after a few months of wet weather riding. Lastly, the Trance X can run up to 2.6-inch wide tires, which is what all build kits come spec'd with from Giant. 

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Maestro Suspension Design

Like all Trance models, the Trance X utilizes Giant’s Maestro suspension design. However, the Trance X features 145mm of travel which is the most rear wheel travel of any Trance model to date. Paired with the longest travel fork any Trance model has seen at 160mm and it’s clear Giant intended for the Trance X to shine once gravity takes over. 

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The Maestro design features an almost vertical wheel path and linear spring rate, keeping the suspension sensitive to various compression impacts. This results in an active system for improved traction under braking. The suspension layout also utilizes a single floating pivot that provides a high percent of anti-rise (Giant does not disclose exact kinematic details), creating a noticeably stable and efficient pedaling platform that counteracts pedaling forces. Going a step further, Giant uses a trunnion mounted shock to lower the leverage ratio on the rear shock for increased pedaling stability. The lower leverage ratio also means that the rear shock can be tuned with minimal compression damping as the suspension design requires more force to compress the shock throughout travel. Found at all pivot points on the Trance X are double-sealed bearings to help lengthen bearing life for long-term, smooth functioning suspension. Finally, the single-piece rear swingarm is a design element of Giant’s Maestro suspension design we’ve always enjoyed. While still made of aluminum, the rear end of the Trance X maintained a level of stiffness more common with carbon frames.

Geometry and Sizing

As mentioned above, the Trance X features eccentric hardware located on the carbon rocker arm, allowing riders to choose between two geometry configurations. Switching between the two configurations will change the head tube angle, seat tube angle and bottom bracket height. These angle changes will also affect the reach, chainstay length and standover height. 

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Between all frame sizes, the Low geometry is slacker and lower for improved descending performance, while the High geometry is steeper and better optimized for pedaling performance. Compared to other Trance models, the Trance X offers riders the most progressive descent-focused geometry. Our size large test bike, which we rode primarily in the High position, has a 77-degree seat tube angle and 64.5-degree head tube angle. In comparison, the Trance X 29 in the High geometry position has a steeper head tube angle at 66.2-degrees and a steeper seat tube angle at 77.9-degrees. Regardless of which geometry setting best suits your riding style or terrain, the Trance X is optimized around the nimbleness of 27.5-inch wheels. Across all sizes, the chainstay length is either 430mm (High) or 433mm (Low), providing a compact and snappy rear end for improved cornering and maneuverability. Compared to Giant’s existing Trance model with 27.5-inch wheels and 140mm of rear-wheel travel, the Trance X is considerably longer across all sizes. For example, our large Trance X has a 480mm reach in the High geometry position, which is 32mm longer than a size large Trance. A sign of the times, Giant’s choice to lengthen all sizes of the Trance X compliments the slacker and progressive geometry aimed at comfort and stability when descending.  

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One aspect of the Trance X geometry that we found kept it anchored down in the trail bike category was its stack height. Stack height is the vertical distance between the center of the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube. Our large Trance X has 608mm (High position) or 614mm (Low) stack height. So what the heck does that even mean? Basically, it means that while you can compromise with stem spacers and higher-rise handlebars, the front end of the Trance X, by design, is on the lower side relative to where your feet are. On the trails, this resulted in our body weight being too forward with our shoulders over our handlebars and limited how far we could comfortably push the Trance X on descents. We did ride in both geometry configurations and found that the Low position helped raise the front end but not to a point where we felt fully sat into the bike. The lower stack height was appreciated when climbing as it allowed us to remain in a forward attack position for hammering at the pedals. While this won’t be an issue for all riders, it’s something to keep in mind as the stack height is one key factor for us that keeps the Trance X from blurring the line between trail bike and small enduro bike.

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Where Does the Trance X Fit Within Giant’s Trance Lineup?

Giant’s Trance lineup is impressively deep and broad. There are aluminum and carbon-framed Trance models with travel ranging from 115mm to 140mm. So, where does the Trance X make its home amongst its Trance siblings? As the name would indicate, the Trance X is most similar to the classic Trance model but offers riders a much burlier package. While both frames are constructed from ALUXX SL aluminum with 27.5-inch wheels, the Trance X has more travel, geometry adjustments and lower-longer-slacker geometry than the Trance. Again shadowing the updates and features of the Trance X 29 launched last year, Giant is essentially offering riders who prefer 27.5-inch wheels similar frame features and descent-focused geometry but with a bit more travel.   

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Build Kits 

The Trance X is launching with three build kit options. All models share the same ALUXX SL aluminum frame with carbon rocker arm and flip-chip geometry adjustment. All models also feature Giant branded contact point components as well as a Maxxis Assegai front tire and DHR II rear tire, both in 27.5x2.6-inch width, 3C MaxxTerra compound and EXO casing. We tested the most expensive Trance X 1 build kit which retails for $4,500 USD. With a solid, mid-range component spec throughout, the Trance X 1 build is highlighted by a FOX 36 Performance Elite fork, FOX Float X Performance shock, TranzX travel-adjustable dropper post, MRP AMG CS chain guide, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Code R brakes.

Trance X 1 Build Kit - $4,500 USD

The second tier build kit is the Trance X 2 which retails for $3,700 USD and is highlighted by a FOX 36 Rhythm fork, FOX Float DPS Performance air shock, TranzX travel-adjustable dropper post, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and Shimano Deore MT520 brakes. Finally, the Trance X 3 is Giant’s entry-level build kit retailing for $2,850 USD and is highlighted by a RockShox Yari RC fork, FOX Float DPS Performance air shock, Giant Contact Switch dropper post, Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and Shimano Deore MT420 brakes. Overall, Giant is offering three build kits with quality components throughout at respectable price points. 

Trance X 2 Build Kit - $3,700 USD

Trance X 3 Build Kit - $2,850 USD

Initial Set Up 

Before hitting the trails, we performed our usual first-ride set up. We set sag to around 25% in the FOX X Performance air shock and set the FOX 36 Performance Elite fork to the recommended air pressure per our rider weight. When setting seat height, we had a few more options than normal. The size large Trance X comes with a TranzX adjustable dropper post that offers between 170mm and 190mm of travel and can be set at 5mm increments. After trying a few heights, we settled on 190mm of travel which left almost no seat post protruding out of the frame for a nice, low standover with the dropper down. An adjustable dropper post is an excellent feature for fine-tuning fitment without having to replace your dropper altogether. 

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After our first ride, we did have to do some additional setup tweaking with the front end height of the Trance X. As we mentioned above, the stack of the Trance X is on the shorter side for a bike with a slack head angle and 160mm fork. During our first descent, we realized the handlebars were much too low and put our body bent far over the front wheel. With our weight so forward, we lacked any sensation of being sat into the bike for added confidence when riding demanding, rough sections of trail. Luckily, Giant ships the Trance X with around 30mm of stem spacers to shuffle around to match rider preference. In our case, we went from a 10mm spacer below the stem to a total of 25mm. We also added pressure in the fork to keep the fork higher in its travel. Back out on the trails, this made a huge difference and got us closer to a centered riding position over the Trance X. In the future, we would also opt for a shorter stem and higher rise handlebar to raise the front end and shift our weight back even more. 

Trail Bike Slayer

Setup tweaks behind us, the Trance X has been extremely fun when hauling ass down the trail. The longer reach, slacker head tube angle and bump up in travel all pay dividends when plowing into rough sections of trail. There is an added level of security knowing the Trance X can manage harsh impacts without deflecting under pressure or losing composure. When blitzing through repetitive compressions, the bike maintains exceptional balance, never diving or bucking. We can’t say we are too surprised by how well the Trance X has managed gnarly sections of trail since that was Giant’s goal when developing the bike. But for a true trail bike, we are impressed by how much descending confidence and fun the Trance X has provided. 

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Admittingly, we don’t ride a lot of 27.5-inch bikes these days but were quickly reminded how maneuverable the smaller wheels can be. Sure, there is a slight loss in overall stability compared to 29-inch wheels, but the Trance X is meant to be lively and responsive. We loved the ability to force the bike into crazy lines or hit trail side gaps with minimal effort. Speaking of effort, at an impressively light 32-pounds for an aluminum-framed bike with mid-range components and healthy 2.6-inch wide tires, getting the Trance X off the ground was almost too easy. 

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We’ve only briefly played around with the two geometry configurations present on the Trance X. But as one might expect, the Low position offers a slight edge in overall stability and confidence descending. That’s not to say the High position doesn’t offer an adequate geometry package for downhill riding, but we found the Trance X pedals exceptionally well in both geometry positions. Due to this factor, we plan to continue riding in the Low position because the benefits descending outweigh the little to no loss in efficiency climbing.

Dominance on the Ascents

Throughout its evolution, Giant’s Trance trail bike has been synonymous with pedaling performance and efficiency. With so much focus put on establishing the Trance X as a trail slayer, Giant succeeded in doing so without diminishing its climbing abilities. While we haven’t ascended thousands of feet on the Trance X, the efficiency is evident from the few climbs we’ve tackled. With plenty of anti-squat and a low leverage ratio, the suspension remains firm under pedaling forces allowing for a smooth transfer of power at the pedals. Thus far, we have not even had to use the climb assist switch on the Float X Performance shock. In fact, the minimal shock movement in the Open position has been beneficial in providing added traction and comfort in loose sections. The seat angle of the Trance X is not as steep as we might expect, coming in at 76.3-degrees in the Low flip-chip configuration. However, we still found our weight to be comfortably forward when pedaling in the saddle and did not long for a steeper seat tube. Being in a more attack or cross country-inspired pedaling position made powering up punchy climbs a breeze. On more dynamic climbs with ledges or tight switchbacks, the size of the 27.5-inch wheels helped us maneuver the Trance X exactly where we wanted. We never felt the smaller wheels limited our ability to roll over objects but instead gave us a bit more freedom to adjust lines on the fly when climbing. After riding various Trance models over the years, it’s great to see the new Trance X has followed in the footsteps of its uphill charging predecessors.

Rear Suspension Performance

Giant has stuck with their proven Maestro suspension for many years but for good reasons. The design offers a consistent, predictable ride experience that is supported when pedaling and active under braking. With the Trance X, we found the combination of a linear spring rate and low leverage ratio kept the suspension plush and planted in most situations. 

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The low leverage rate provided a firm pedaling platform and allowed us to run almost no compression damping. This kept the suspension smooth and active during the initial stroke of the shock when descending. On big compressions where we did bottom out the suspension, we would prefer a tad more progression to lessen impact forces from being transferred to our body. With an air shock, you can of course add volume reducers to achieve some bottom-out resistance which is what we would do to solve this problem.

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The other downside to a more linear design was how sluggish the Trance X felt when trying to pump speed out of trail features. As we would press our weight into the bike, we often compressed through most of the travel and would not receive any substantial pushback to increase our forward momentum. For a bike with only 145mm of travel, there were times on flatter, rolling sections of trail where the Trance X refused to carry speed and made us feel like we were on a bike with more travel. Again, adjusting rebound damping and volume reducers in the shock could provide some additional pushback and support. Finally, when leaning over in corners, we loved how the Trance X rear suspension remained planted and active. Once locked into a turn, the bike would settle in around mid-stroke and continue to soak up additional impacts.

Trance X 1 Build Kit

FOX Float X Performance Elite Shock

The Trance X 1 build kit comes spec'd with FOX’s newer Float X Performance Elite rear shock. Taking cues from FOX’s more robust DPX2 air shock, the Float X is a lighter shock intended for trail bikes. FOX did make some key updates to the Float X, separating it from the DPX2, including adding additional clicks of low-speed rebound (16), limiting the pedal-assist switch to a two-position circuit and increasing the diameter of the air spring chamber. 

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While we have loved the performance of the DPX2 shock in the past, the Float X has been the perfect match for the Trance X. On a trail bike that allows riders to get rowdy and attack the trail ahead of them, the Float X offers plenty of support and adjustability in a slimmed-down package. With only low-speed rebound and compression to tinker with, the factory high-speed compression and rebound tune that Giant chose complemented the poppy demeanor of the Trance X. The additional clicks of usable low-speed rebound was an update we didn’t know we needed as we found ourselves adjusting rebound to match terrain or changes in temperature. While we have not used the compression lock-out switch very much up to this point, the two-position lever is much easier to engage while riding than the three-position lever on the DPX2 shock. Overall, we are excited to continue pushing the limits of FOX’s Float X shock to see if it replaces the DPX2 on some of our personal bikes.

Maxxis 27.5x2.6-inch Tires

Giant’s choice to spec 2.6-inch Maxxis tires on the Trance X is unique and questionable. While we love the Assegai and DHR II design and the wider tires have provided plenty of traction, we’ve noticed more negative attributes than positive compared to our typical, go-to tire width of 2.3 to 2.5-inch tires. 

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When descending, the added volume of the 2.6-inch tires has led to multiple instances of tire roll in corners. Similarly, the added volume creates a more rounded tire profile that causes an unpredictable loss of traction when leaning the bike over. Unable to judge how hard we can push the Trance X in turns, we’ve found ourselves holding back for fear of tucking the front wheel unexpectedly. When climbing, the wide and heavy tires are noticeably slow rolling. While the Trance X is a smooth and efficient climber, the bike does not move quickly due to the level of rolling resistance present. An easy and obvious upgrade in the short term, we know the issues we’ve experienced would be erased with a standard width tire. 

Giant Romero Saddle 

Across all three Trance X models, Giant has spec'd their Romero saddle. The Romero should fly under the radar as an average trail saddle with a sleek aesthetic and neutral gray color. However, the discomfort we’ve experienced since our first ride has kept the Romero at the forefront of our minds. Saddles are likely the most personal component of a bicycle, with all riders having their preferences. Our main issue with the Romero is the slight hump in the middle of the saddle. As the saddle begins to taper forward, this raised bump is precisely where most of our weight sits. We’ve resorted to angling the saddle down much further than we typically would to remedy the issue. While this has improved our comfort, the forward lean causes us to slide off the front of the saddle on steeper climbs. Again, not all riders will share in our pain, but for those who find the Romero doesn’t compliment their sit bones either, it’s another easy upgrade to personalize your Trance X. 

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Noise

More often than not, bike noise comes from chain slap or rattling cables. The Trance X uses a rubber chainstay and seat stay protector on the drive-side that perfectly deadens any chain chatter. The chainstay protector is nothing special but offers a few millimeters of rubber protection and a subtle ribbed pattern that gets the job done. As for limiting rattling cables, all frame holes for internal cable routing feature screwed-in plastic plugs that hold cables snuggly in place. The plugs also create a tight seal that limits any water from working its way into the frame. We are suckers for a quiet bike, so kudos to Giant for developing a silent assassin when the going gets rough!

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What's The Bottom Line?

Giant succeeded in creating a stoke-producing mid-travel machine that is extremely capable and agile when ripping downhill. The combination of  27.5-inch wheels, slacker geometry and a tad more travel make the Trance X a responsive yet stable trail bike eager to move at rider commands. But don’t be mistaken by its descent-focused features. The Trance X is still a dominant pedaler that will not hold any endurance-hungry riders back from hauling up climbs. Offered at reasonable price points with quality build kit options to choose from, Giant’s Trance X should immediately catch the attention of riders looking to max out the fun meter of their trail bike.

For more information on Giant's Trance X, head over to www.giant-bicycles.com


About The Tester

Jason Schroeder - Age: 26 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Height: 6' (182cm) // Weight: 168-pounds (76.2kg)

A once-upon-a-time World Cup downhill racer turned desk jockey, Jason has spent years within the bicycle industry from both sides of the tape. A fan of all day adventures in the saddle or flowing around a bowl at the skatepark, he doesn't discriminate from any form of two wheel riding. Originally a SoCal native now residing in Boise, Idaho, you can find Jason camped out in his van most weekends at any given trailhead in the greater Pacific NorthWest.

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