2019 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0

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2019 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0
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Short Travel, Loads of Fun - Riding the 2019 Giant Trance 29

Big wheels and dialed geometry make for a heady concoction as we discovered in the Alps of northern Italy. Check out the all-new Trance 29.

Giant’s trail focused Trance platform has seen its fair share of changes over the years, adhering to both emerging standards and bouncing between wheel sizes. Yet for the 2019 Trance, Giant has potentially made its most significant leap forward to date. Taking cues from their enduro smashing Reign platform and the ever-evolving landscape of mountain biking, the latest iteration of Giant’s best selling off-road machine pleasantly took us by surprise.

2019 Trance Advanced Pro 29 Highlights

  • 115mm rear travel // 130mm front travel
  • Advanced composite mainframe and subframe
  • Maestro suspension system with Trunnion shock mount
  • Size-specific shock damping from DVO
  • Short 44mm fork offset
  • Modern 29-inch specific geometry
  • New 30mm internal width hookless TRX 0 carbon wheels
  • Internal cable routing
  • Boost

Giant’s trail focused Trance platform has seen its fair share of changes over the years, adhering to both emerging standards and bouncing between wheel sizes. Yet for the 2019 Trance, Giant has potentially made its most significant leap forward to date. Taking cues from their enduro smashing Reign platform and the ever-evolving landscape of mountain biking, the latest iteration of Giant’s best selling off-road machine pleasantly took us by surprise.

2019 Trance Advanced Pro 29 Highlights

  • 115mm rear travel // 130mm front travel
  • Advanced composite mainframe and subframe
  • Maestro suspension system with Trunnion shock mount
  • Size-specific shock damping from DVO
  • Short 44mm fork offset
  • Modern 29-inch specific geometry
  • New 30mm internal width hookless TRX 0 carbon wheels
  • Internal cable routing
  • Boost axles front and rear
  • Weight: 26 to 27-pounds (claimed, without pedals)

Striking that familiar ‘Giant silhouette’ thanks to their iconic and widely lauded Maestro suspension system, the Trance 29 hides a plethora of updates over previous iterations. From the outset, the switch to 29-inch wheels certainly differentiates the new Trance from the previous 27.5 model. The inclusion of modern geometry and a shorter fork offset (which we’ll cover later) negate many of the stereotypical shortfalls of larger wheels allowing the new Trance to focus on their inherent advantages.

Reducing the leverage ratio of the Trance 29’s Maestro suspension system to improve pedaling and braking efficiency, the new Trance also sports a rather unique 115mm of rear travel. Such a meager amount would have once raised eyebrows, but as Giant’s Off-Road Category Manager, Kevin Dana, alluded to in the video above, not anymore.

The usual prerequisites for a modern bike are present too, from internal cable routing to Boost wheel spacing and ISCG05 chainguide tabs. The bottom bracket is a press-fit PF92 affair sporting SRAM’s new DUB system. Using a propriety manufacturing process called Modified Monocoque Construction, the front triangle is molded as one continuous piece, which Giant claim delivers a high stiffness-to-weight ratio. While I didn’t have the opportunity to weigh the bike, the Advanced Pro (ridden) hits the scales at a claimed 26 to 27-pounds (without pedals), depending on size.

The Advanced Pro also features a carbon rocker manufactured using another of Giant’s propriety processes - ‘Advanced Forged Composites Technology’ which uses extreme pressure to mold intricate shapes. This process allows Giant to make complex components that would have once been made from alloy or standard composites. The claimed benefits are increased durability and of course, reduced weight.

With four bikes and a frameset in the range, we spent the best part of two days on their top-of-the-line DVO damped Advanced Pro model. DVO worked hand-in-hand with Giant to perfect the tune and ride feel of the Trance 29. After hundreds of iterations, the decision was made to have a marginally stiffer compression and rebound tune per size increase. As you’d expect with a top-of-the-line bike, the Advanced Pro sports a wishlist of parts ranging from SRAM’s X01 Eagle drivetrain, a RockShox Reverb dropper post, DVO’s latest Sapphire fork and Topaz 2 shock, and Giant’s brand new carbon TRX 0 wheels.

Previously a bone of contention here at Vital after the previous model proved quite weak, the new wheels now feature a stronger hookless rim design. Giant’s Product Manager for wheels and gear, Jeff Schneider, acknowledged the shortfalls in the previous rim design and that the new hookless offering enhanced the consistency of the carbon structure and in turn, delivers a stiffer and stronger rim. Mounted to 30mm internal width carbon hoops, the hard to beat Maxxis DHF (front) and DHR 2 (rear) tire combo are a welcomed addition.

Geometry

Looking beyond many of the mind-boggling tech upheavals we’ve witnessed in recent years, the adoption of longer, lower and slacker geometry has drastically changed how bikes behave on the trail for the better. This trend thankfully hasn’t escaped the Trance 29 and neither has the move to shorter fork offsets.

Previously, 29-inch bikes have nearly always sported a 51mm fork offset, increasing the trail numbers and in turn, the stability on the kind of terrain 29ers would traditionally encounter. Modern geometry and technical terrain, however, has changed all that, and the bike now has a shorter 44mm offset fork which promotes greater control in most terrain.

Reach numbers have grown by 16mm and 27mm for the size large and extra-large respectively, yet have randomly dropped 26mm and 4mm for the small and medium respectively. The head angle has also dropped half a degree from 67 to 66.5-dregrees and the 435mm chainstays have remained the same, even with the larger wheels.

On The Trail

With day one earmarked for setup and acclimatization to the terrain, we were to ascend via the chairlift to some trails previously used for the Reign launch in 2017. Given the stark differences in bikes, the team from Giant were keen to showcase the capabilities of this 115mm travel 29er machine in the rock-strewn gnar of northern Italy.

At 5’10” tall I opted for the size large, a decision which certainly got some interesting looks from some. I’ve ridden a host of bikes on the large side and smaller side recently, with both offering positives and negatives in differing scenarios. Standover height aside, the 464mm reach with a 50mm stem and 780mm bars was closer to my preferred numbers than the medium and offered a nicely centered position that didn’t require excess body english to manage.

The Trance’s 115mm of travel did little to hinder activities and most certainly enhanced them in situations that required active engagement with the terrain – something which can be lost on bigger bikes and ultimately detract from the ride experience.

My go-to Deity TMAC pedals were quickly installed, brakes set up moto style (I’m British after all) and after a quick chat with Bryson Martin (from DVO) settled on 30mm sag (front and rear) and let him loose on the dials. Bouncing around the parking lot and throwing some cutties in the gravel next to the adjacent tennis court and I was getting excited to hit the trail. This thing turns! The short 44mm offset gives the Trance 29 a unique feel and one that I’ve only experienced so far on the new Pivot Firebird, which coincidentally also has “modern geometry,” 29-inch wheels and a 44mm offset fork.

My go-to bike at home has 29-inch wheels, a 51mm offset and similar geometry to the Trance, so I’m familiar with the nuances of both offsets. The 44mm offset calms the steering down and works with the longer front center and short stem, especially in steep turns. The weirdest thing, or not, is that it makes a 29-inch bike handle more like a 27.5 bike while retaining the speed and trail taming traits of the big wheels.

The area of Santa Caterina di Valfurva is not only a mouthful to say, but is pretty much off the beaten path as far as recognized mountain bike destinations go. Situated three hours north of Milan, Italy, the area has both challenging terrain and scenery, which is hard to describe as anything short of epic and has both in spades. Devoid of manufactured trails packed with berms and jumps, it is loaded with steep, rocky and altogether natural trails – most of which have been there for hundreds of years.

Line choice and fluidity are key here, with the latter being a piece of cake on such a light and nimble bike. That said, the sheer chunkiness of the terrain and the fact that we were riding everything blind meant mistakes were happening and it didn’t take long to put a hole in my rear tire. After we plugged the hole, it was hard not to notice the marks from rock strikes on both the sidewalls and the carbon rims – we’d barely gotten started, and from here things only got crazier... 

From incredibly steep and tight hair-pin bends (on cliff edges!) to vertical lines strewn with torso sized rock, this terrain is by no means ideal for a 115mm travel bike, even the Trance, but it took it in its stride showcasing its potential. The lower portion of this descent took us into the woods. Here, the Trance felt more at home although the gaps offered up by the roots required some additional compression in the fork – we’d started the day with the fork’s compression damping completely open, steadily cranking it up as things got increasingly rowdy.

Day two comprised of an early start and shuttle deep into the mountains. While the previous day was about showcasing what the Trance 29 could do in extreme terrain, this day was all about adventure and what marketing manager (and Bill Murray’s long lost brother) Andrew Juskaitis referred to as, “proper mountain biking.” 

He wasn’t wrong as we descended, hiked and climbed our way through some of the most jaw-droppingly stunning scenery the Alps have to offer. We swapped big rocks for marginally smaller ones, trees for glaciers, and technical trails for faster, more flowing trails, all scattered with hikers no less. This was also an opportunity to let off the brakes and let the Trance pick up speed, which wasn’t hard. The combination of snappy handling, light weight, big wheels and dialed damping with an uncanny ability to get around turns with little effort made for a fun day.

If Giant hadn’t told us the amount of travel on the Trance 29 prior to two days in the mountains, there’s no way we’d have guessed correctly.

The Trance’s 115mm of travel did little to hinder activities and most certainly enhanced them in situations that required active engagement with the terrain – something which can be lost on bigger bikes and ultimately detract from the ride experience.

To suggest that the 44mm fork offset is the key to the Trance’s capabilities would be extremely short-sighted as it would be to suggest that the chainstays, head angle, or reach are solely responsible. The fact is that without one of these elements lining up with the next, the bike simply wouldn’t behave like it does. Giant have really done their homework here, realizing that a lot of people are riding enduro bikes based on their ride characteristics, not their travel.

US Build Kits and Pricing

  • Trance Advanced Pro 29 0 - $8,300 USD
  • Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 - $5,000 
  • Trance Advanced Pro 29 2 - $4,300 
  • Trance 29 2 - $3,050 
  • Trance Advanced Pro 29 Frameset - $2,800

What's The Bottom Line?

If Giant hadn’t told us the amount of travel on the Trance 29 prior to two days in the mountains, there’s no way we’d have guessed correctly. The amount of rear travel is only one part of the story. Sure, there’s a lot going on here – from the 29-inch wheels to the shorter 44mm fork offset and updated geometry. Yet this is a really uncomplicated bike – it goes uphill, it goes downhill and it’ll happily play with whatever you find along the way. As far as trail bikes go, the Trance 29 represents a move in the right direction and one that will ultimately put a smile on your face and eager to do it all again.

Visit www.giant-bicycles.com for more details.


About The Tester

Olly Forster - Age: 37 // Years riding MTB: 22 // Weight: 81kg // Height: 1.77m

Olly has been working in the bike industry for 16 years, nine of which in media working for six mountain bike titles across print and digital, in Europe, the UK, and North America. Outspoken and passionate about anything mountain bike related, he loves good coffee, good trails, flat pedals, going downhill and has no qualms about admitting he doesn’t like pedaling uphill.

Photos by Sterling Lorence // Video by Olly Forster

Specifications

Product Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 0
Model Year 2019
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 592mm 612mm 632mm 652mm
Head Tube Angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Head Tube Length 95mm 110mm 110mm 120mm
Seat Tube Angle 74.5° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Seat Tube Length 380mm 431mm 464mm 496mm
Bottom Bracket Height 35mm drop 35mm drop 35mm drop 35mm drop
Chainstay Length 435mm 435mm 435mm 435mm
Wheelbase 1154mm 1176mm 1196mm 1218mm
Standover 708mm 740mm 761mm 785mm
Reach 426mm 442mm 462mm 480mm
Stack 599mm 613mm 613mm 622mm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Advanced Composite with Modified Monocoque Construction // Advanced Forged Composite Rocker
Rear Travel 115mm
Rear Shock DVO Topaz 2
Fork DVO Sapphire, 44mm Offset
Fork Travel 130mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset
Handlebar
Stem
Grips
Brakes
Brake Levers
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters
Front Derailleur
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle
ISCG Tabs Yes
Chainguide MRP
Cranks SRAM X01 Eagle DUB
Chainrings SRAM X01 Eagle
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM X01 Eagle
Cassette SRAM X01 Eagle
Rims
Hubs
Spokes
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF / DHR II 2.3" EXO 3C MaxxTerra
Saddle
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Seatpost Diameter
Seatpost Clamp Giant
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
Max. Tire Size 2.5"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors
Warranty
Weight
Miscellaneous
Price $8,300
More Info

www.giant-bicycles.com