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2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0

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2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0
2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 2021 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0
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Love in the Time of COVID-19? An All-New Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 Texts You Late Night

Giant’s most popular mountain bike gets redid and it’s going to make you sick, lovesick. Read Vital MTB's first impressions and hear the development story in our Tech Talk podcast.

Rating: Vital Review
Love in the Time of COVID-19? An All-New Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 Texts You Late Night

The spring of 2020 was tough. It was particularly tough if you were single when the bars of social isolation came down. Perhaps you started scrolling through the names of various exes and sent out texts about how you were “Just checking in” or the ever chivalrous and don’t you worry, oh-so-original, “Making sure you’re okay.”

Well, much to your excitement and despite their better judgment, someone decided to meet up with you. It was the Giant Trance X. You remember it from 2013 though it was a rather forgettable escapade. “Sure,” was all that you could reply. What did you have to lose? Showing up late to the picnic pavilion you saw right away you were in trouble. You had spent the last few months checking bi-hourly to see if one of those stupid suspension companies was going to release their fork with 2-3mm larger diameter stanchions and getting your Italian VPN citizenship to get that Premium Hub adjust for free. The Trance X had clearly gotten a home gym and planted a garden. Like any good potential lover, they were clean, sexy, and suggested speed (that last one is perhaps a bit personal). So it was seeing the new Giant Trance X, I wondered if I was worthy. It’s a fresh start from Giant, a love child of the cross-country Trance and the enduro Reign. The 135x150mm trail bike represents what Giant's engineers and testers have learned from the production of their previous bikes. The Trance X was a “trail bike” and I’d spent the better part of the last five years chasing the longest, lowest, and slackest thing going. Did we stand a chance?

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Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Very versatile and capable
  • Flip chip brings a high level of adjustability (0.7° head and seat angles, 10mm bottom bracket height)
  • Progressive yet reasonable geometry
  • FOX 36 fork on a trail bike
  • Live Valve makes you feel fitter and faster than you are
  • Excellent tune on the rear shock
  • Wheels have a high level of compliance
  • Double seal Enduro bearings on all pivots
  • A very well thought out and executed bicycle
  • Understated graphics and logos
  • Just look at it
  • Noise from Shimano brakes and FOX Transfer post downhill
  • A modest noise from FOX Live Valve going uphill
  • Wheels have a high level of compliance
  • Chain slaps the derailleur cable
  • On the Live Valve edition, three cables enter a single port (mind explosion)
  • Engagement on the Giant branded hub isn't ideal, but is adequate and can be upgraded
  • You’ll sell your other bikes

Giant Trance X 29 Highlights

  • 29-inch wheels
  • Available in Advanced Pro carbon and aluminum versions
  • 135mm (5.3-inches) rear travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) front travel
  • Maestro suspension
  • Flip chip with two distinct geometry settings but shared suspension characteristics
  • 55mm stroke trunnion shock
  • FOX Live Valve compatible
  • 44mm offset fork
  • Boost front and rear axle spacing
  • Downtube, chainstay, and seatstay protection
  • 2.5-inch tire clearance
  • Water bottle mount inside the front triangle
  • Complete Weight: 30.0-pounds (13.6kg, Advanced Pro 0, size large, no pedals)
  • Frame Weight: 6.1-pounds (2.8kg)
  • Two-year carbon wheel warranty
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Geometry

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The geometry of the Trance X is very modern and, in some respects, forward-thinking.

Giant was looking to encompass the vast majority of terrain and riding styles with the Trance X, and they did this by having two distinct settings when utilizing the flip chip on the back of the rocker link. The bike comes out of the box in the low position and this is the position that I spent the majority of the time in. With a 65.5° head tube angle and a 77.2° seat tube angle the bike both held speed through chunky downhill madness and climbed through that same madness.

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Interestingly, Giant doesn’t list their bottom bracket height but instead lists a drop of 40mm. Paired with 170mm cranks I had incredible cornering performance without having rock strikes. The high mode steepens things 0.7° and lifts the bottom bracket a whole 1cm to bring the drop to 30mm. Switching positions makes a notable difference in how the bike handles. Giant says that the higher mode is made for slower, technical terrain and that was accurate from my experience. The steeper seat angle and higher bottom bracket made it so I could comfortably clean anything coming at me without worrying about hitting my pedals, and remain seated while climbing more often. Pointed downhill the bike wasn’t as comfortable or confident at speed but did navigate tight corners in a more composed fashion. Comparing the flip chip on this bike to its nearest competitors, you’ll find that the Trek Fuel EX has 0.5° and 7mm of bottom bracket height adjustment while the Santa Cruz Hightower has 0.3° and 4mm difference between modes.

The Trance X is available in four sizes that represent a generous spread. Wheelbase numbers range from 1,171mm for the small in the high position to 1,268mm on the XL in the low position. Reach ranges from 426mm to 519mm.

Comparing it to the Pivot Switchblade, you’ll find that the Trance X is 0.5° slacker in the low position and the seat angle is a full 3° steeper. The Trance X doesn’t have a size XS, but comparing the rest of the sizes the Trance X wheelbase is longer by 4mm in S, 13mm in size M, 23mm in size L, and 27mm in XL. Modern indeed.

The Giant Trance X is a forward-thinking bike that defines the modern trail bike category. It is capable of riding the most technical trail both up and down in a manner that was once mutually exclusive.

Suspension

The bike uses Giant’s Maestro suspension design, which consists of floating multi-links. This bike continues Giant’s recent history of using longer-stroke shocks in comparison to the bike's travel. The Trance X uses a 55mm stroke to get its 135mm of travel, whereas the 2015 Giant Reign used a 57mm stroke for 160mm of travel. This lower leverage ratio (shock movement to bike travel) means there doesn’t need to be as much damping (restriction of oil). To me, this all means that the shock works better when fully open. It is indeed a lively, playful ride with absolutely no funny business. While Giant doesn’t release their suspension curves, it is a fairly linear curve with nice progression to it. The suspension is never harsh or does anything unexpected – it is continuously composed and predictable. Giant did tell us that, from sag, the low position has 8.73% progression while high has 8.75%. The two flip chip positions have the same path (they are parallel) with the high position being ever so slightly more progressive. I ran the rear shock at 30% sag and fully open with great results.

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Stock, the fork has two tokens. After a few rides, I added another two for four total. The shock came with a 0.4 cubic-inch volume reducer, which I replaced with a 0.6. Overall, I thought with the frame's progression they had chosen a smart number of reducers, allowing the rider to go up or down to tailor the ride to their preference.

FOX Live Valve

I was frazzled when I opened the bike box and found that the Advanced Pro 29 0 comes with FOX's electronic Live Valve suspension system. I was and am under the belief that good suspension is simply run in the open mode 90+ percent of the time, and, by that logic, a good bike doesn’t need Live Valve. And it’s true, you don’t need it…but man is it efficient. Live Valve is an impressive product that simply opens and closes your suspension based on various inputs. Dylan Stucki did a comprehensive product review here on Vital MTB when it was first released and it has gotten better from there. It has its quirks and it takes a bit to get used to.

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The simplest way I can describe the real benefit of riding with Live Valve is with a matchbox analogy. Every hard effort on a ride is like burning a match, and you only have so many matches until you're spent and suffering. With Live Valve, it was as though my matchbox had increased in size and available matches in number. Since the bike continuously makes things more efficient by opening and closing the shock and fork on its own, I conserved more energy and could do more hard efforts. I spent less time climbing out of the saddle because the bike held more momentum by not bogging down under hard efforts. The Live Valve settings change how much force it takes to open the suspension and how long the suspension stays open for after the previous impact. Each of the five settings makes a distinct difference in how the bike rides. Even on the lowest Live Valve setting, I was able to ride further and be less fatigued. More on this later.

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The drawbacks of Live Valve are few but worth discussing. The excellent new mudguard for the FOX 36 can't be used. The system makes a bit of noise as it opens and closes, kind of like coins rattling in your pocket. Perhaps the largest drawback is that Live Valve limits you to the FIT4 damper, which means that the fork only has low-speed compression and rebound adjustment. The GRIP2 damper that many of us have grown to love isn’t available in Live Valve. The good news, however, is that this bike rides amazing fully open. It doesn’t need much for fine-tuning.

FOX Live Valve Turned Off

Knowing that most people wouldn’t buy the top of the line model with Live Valve, I spent a good amount of time with it off. When off or if the battery dies it reverts to full open mode. Riding the Trance X fully open is still a great ride and Live Valve doesn't cover up any faults in performance. The downhill doesn’t change at all and the uphill is still efficient with plenty of grip. The bike climbs well with modest suspension bob. It is a great pedaling bike. That being said, I was always reaching to turn the Live Valve back on. There are simply too few drawbacks on this bike.

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Additional Impressions

My jaw dropped, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Was I…in love?

This bike is a few bikes in one, but put most simply this bike is fast and fun. I’ve had the Trance X 29 Advanced Pro 0 for about a month, racking up a few hundred miles in the Colorado high country and a good handful of miles lower down in the chunky twisted jank of Durango.

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While it feels as though I was riding on trails that moisture had forgotten, the grip and predictability of the Trance X made me question if I could ask for anything more. Technical climbs were a joy, and Live Valve made sure I had the momentum to make it through whatever line I committed to. Descents had me laughing and the grip, stability, and predictability had me grinning. I felt confident letting the bike slide in corners as traction was nearly inevitable. Riding trails in a manner that I’d typically reserve for a 150mm enduro bike, I found the Trance X more maneuverable and playful. Outside of the bike park and the downhill track, this bike was every bit as capable. Trail gaps disappeared underneath it and the bike would settle for whatever makeshift landing I happened to find.

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Taking Giant’s suggestion, I put the bike into the high mode for slower, technical riding and was rewarded by the changes in geometry. The bike was more maneuverable and the steeper seat angle and higher bottom bracket improved the bike's already impressive climbing characteristics. I did spend the vast majority of my time in the low mode. I prefer the angles and bottom bracket height that the low position rewards. 

I found at least another bike or two hiding in the Live Valve settings. Settings 1-3 offered the comfort and efficiency that allowed long rides to joyfully disappear beneath the tires. Settings 4 and 5 offered the getup and go that seemed World Cup XC inspired, though a touch harsh. All settings offered the same downhill capability once the trail pointed that way. When it was all said and done and the tires were in the dirt, all of the geometry and suspension talk fell away, and there I was having a great time riding bikes.

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I rode the Advanced Pro 0 model for several weeks before I knew what the retail value of it was. Looking at the Live Valve and XT/XTR drivetrain, I assumed the price tag to be in the $10,000+ USD range and was surprised to see that it was a more reasonable $8,500. Price-wise, the relatively affordable $5,400 Advanced Pro 1 model has great suspension and a fully functional part selection that will please the majority of riders.


Go Deeper: Developing the Trance X Advanced Pro 29 - Tech Talk Podcast

In this Tech Talk podcast, Vital MTB's Brandon Turman calls up Giant Category Manager, JC Schellenbach, and retired Professional rider, Adam Craig, to discuss everything from Live Valve shock tuning to frame stiffness decisions and who it was designed for:


Maintenance & Mechanic Perspective

Overall, the Trance X is pretty dialed out of the box with minimal tweaks required.

Chain slap on the derailleur housing is going to cause issues in the long run, however. A piece of 3M Mastic tape that extends the protection from the chainstay protector an inch or two towards the chainring should fix the issue.

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With three pieces of wire and housing entering in a single port for the internal routing on the frame, cable and housing replacement should be approached with care. Instead of simply pulling the housing through, it is highly suggested that you use a dual-sided barb from RockShox to pull the new piece of housing into the frame guided by the old housing.

If you are going to utilize the flip chip regularly, it would be smart to get some blue Loctite and a torque wrench to keep the hardware from coming loose. About ten hours of wild, rough riding lead to some loose linkage bolts and noise. After torquing to spec all was quiet again. 

According to FOX, a full rebuild on the Live Valve fork and shock at a FOX service center will cost you $340. This is a much deeper service than the wipers and seal that should be done regularly. Those smaller services should have no additional cost compared to non-electronic suspension and can be done by a reputable bike shop.

Build Kits & Pricing

The Trance X comes in three full carbon Advanced Pro models, described below, and up to three aluminum builds depending on where you live.

The $8,500 USD Advanced Pro 29 0 represents the top build for the Trance X. It comes with FOX Live Valve, a FOX Transfer dropper post, and a mostly Shimano Deore XT build. Also included is a carbon MRP chain guide.

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The $5,400 Advanced Pro 29 1 includes a FOX 36 with a GRIP2 damper, FOX DPX2 Performance rear shock, mostly SRAM GX drivetrain, and SRAM G2 brakes. It loses the FOX dropper and gets an in-house Contact Switch dropper post.

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The $4,300 Advanced Pro 29 2 comes with a RockShox Pike Select fork and a Deluxe Select+ rear shock. The drivetrain is predominately SRAM NX but the bike includes Shimano four-piston brakes.

All Advanced Pro builds have lots of quality in-house components including handlebars, stem, seat, grips, and carbon wheels.

Finally, it's available as an Advanced Pro frameset for $3,000.

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What’s The Bottom Line? 

The Giant Trance X is a forward-thinking bike that defines the modern trail bike category. The geometry and suspension are well executed and create a ride that will have a large variety of riders smiling in a large variety of terrain. It is capable of riding the most technical trail both up and down in a manner that was once mutually exclusive. The spec on all the bikes is well thought out and should have the vast majority of riders taking it straight out of the store and only returning as they wear out tires. I see very little change in the next number of years to make this bike less relevant.

I think I found my match – love in the time of COVID-19. At various points, I wondered if I was worthy of its love, but it took me and accepted me for the hack biker and reckless cannonball that I am. I found joy in the long rides and places we went together, and on long days at work I looked out the window and longed for when we would be united again with nothing but miles of trail ahead of us. As co-workers would talk to me about their latest Tinder experience I’d muse “hmm,” absently thinking of having this bike leaned over in a field of alpine flowers. Love is a sickness. Though I have no business considering the $8,500 Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0 (I’ll ask for a name change later), I will consider it. Love, after all, can’t be reasoned with. 

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

Vital MTB First Ride Rating

  • Climbing: 5 stars
  • Descending: 5 stars
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars
  • Value: 5 stars
  • Overall Impression: 5 stars - Spectacular

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About The Reviewer

Mint Henk - Age: 36 // Years Riding: 22 // Height: 6'0" (1.83m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

Float like a neanderthal, sting like a mosquito. Fast is fun and fun is loose, Mint enjoys finding the fine line been completely out of control and just barely in control. When he finds this mystical magical line you can expect audible whoops and hollers. He has been testing bikes and giving feedback for ten years now. Working at a bike shop he is regularly offered the latest and greatest marketing Kool-aid, and this experience has honed his eye for things that truly work.

Photos by Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 0
Model Year 2021
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S (Low, High), M (Low, High), L (Low, High), XL (Low, High) View Geometry
Size S (Low, High) M (Low, High) L (Low, High) XL (Low, High)
Top Tube Length 566, 564 597, 595 629, 627 656, 654
Head Tube Angle 65.50°, 66.23° 65.50°, 66.23° 65.50°, 66.23° 65.50°, 66.23°
Head Tube Length 95 100 110 120
Seat Tube Angle 77.20°, 77.93° 77.20°, 77.93° 77.20°, 77.93° 77.20°, 77.93°
Seat Tube Length 430 430 465 496
Bottom Bracket Height 40, 30 drop 40, 30 drop 40, 30 drop 40, 30 drop
Chainstay Length 438, 435 438, 435 438, 435 438, 435
Wheelbase 1173, 1171 1205, 1203 1239, 1238 1268, 1266
Standover 729, 738 754, 763
Reach 456, 464 486, 494
Stack 621, 615 631, 624 640, 634
* Additional Info All measurements are in mm unless otherwise noted
Low and High positions for adjustable geometry via a flip chip located in rocker arm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Advanced-Grade Composite front and rear triangles, handcrafted monocoque construction, Advanced Forged Composite rocker arm
Rear Travel 135mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Factory Live Valve, 185x55mm, custom tuned for Giant
Fork FOX 36 Factory Live Valve, FIT4, 44mm offset, 15x110mm Kabolt, custom tuned for Giant
Fork Travel 150mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Headset Giant Overdrive with oversized bearings
Handlebar Giant Contact SLR TR35, 800x35mm, 20mm rise
Stem Giant Contact SL 35, 40mm (S-M), 50mm (L-XL)
Grips
Brakes Shimano Deore XT
Brake Levers Shimano Deore XT
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters Shimano Deore XT, 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XTR, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide MRP AMG V2 Carbon
Cranks Shimano Deore XT, 165mm (S), 170mm (M-XL)
Chainrings 30 tooth
Bottom Bracket Shimano, press-fit
Pedals N/A
Chain Shimano
Cassette Shimano Deore XT, 10-51 tooth, 12-speed
Rims Giant TRX 1 29 WheelSystem, carbon, 30mm, 28 hole
Hubs Giant TRX 1 29 WheelSystem, DT Swiss 360, Boost, 6-bolt disc
Spokes Giant TRX 1 29 WheelSystem, Sapim Laser
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29"x2.5", 3C/MaxxTerra/EXO/TR, tubeless prepared
Rear: Maxxis Dissector 29"x2.4", 3C/MaxxTerra/EXO/TR, tubeless prepared
Saddle Giant Romero SL
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory dropper with Shimano remote
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 148x12mm Boost
Max. Tire Size 29"x2.5"
Bottle Cage Mounts One inside front triangle
Colors Chrysocolla/Astral Aura/Chrome
Warranty Lifetime frame, 1 year paint and components
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous • Maestro suspension technology with four pivot points and two linkages to create a single floating pivot
• Integrated trunnion shock mount produces a lower leverage ratio for increased efficiency
• Flip-chip adjustable frame geometry (located in rocker arm)
• MegaDrive massive rectangular down tube and oversized top tube provide front end lateral and torsional stiffness
• Integrated frame protection for chainstay and down tube
• Clear 3M protective strip on the underside of the head tube/down tube for shuttling
• Internal cable routing, including special slots for FOX Live Valve suspension setups
Price $8,500
More Info

Giant website

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