Words by Henry Quinney, photography by Tom Richards
• Wheel size: 29 in.
• Head angle: 65.5 ° (low)
• Seat tube angle: 76.3 ° (low)
• Size tested: large
• Range: 472 mm (low)
• Base length: 439 mm (bottom)
• Tailles : S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 29 lb 9 oz (13.4 kg)
• Prix : 7 000 $ USD
Our test bike has electronically controlled suspension, but of course you can do without it. To say that the feel of this suspension didn’t somewhat dominate the conversation around the bike during practice would be wrong. However, the Trance’s foundation of good trail-oriented geometry shouldn’t be overlooked.The inclusion of Live Valve 1.5 and how we used it
Before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at what Fox Live Valve 1.5 is and how it has changed from the previous version that was reviewed on the Giant Trance X. This new system still shares the same architecture, and unfortunately, this still includes the unrefined, 90s rear TV wiring. The new system isn’t a complete overhaul, and that’s what the 1.5 is representative of. The way he controls the suspension, however, is different, and this is done on two fronts.
First of all, and quite succinctly, this one is much more passive than the previous version and makes it seem less obvious. Second, it can now be controlled through an app. The app is very pleasant to use, and yes, for those of you wondering, I think it’s better than SRAM’s Flight Attendent app, and it never crashed or crashed. suffered from issues when I used it.
In the app, you can fine-tune the compression levels for each setting. I think the app is running well, but it requires a few more steps than a more “traditional” setup. I am used to adjusting the damping and the stiffness, not the damping, the stiffness, and the bias for a priority system that controls what will happen in a number of different situations.
There are preset modes. The two I headed for were Climb and Sport. There are more, and even the ability to download more. Climb mode acts like sport on everything except uphill sections. Fox says escalation mode “Keep the forks open for added traction on technical climbs and increase the rear thresholds. Sporty behavior on flat ground and in descents. “ So when you go up a hill it firms up the rear but also opens the fork and lets it sit in its race. If there was to be a framework for a downcountry test, it surely would be this one. It is for this reason that I mainly used this mode.
Other important details
The Giant isn’t just Live Valve, although it’s making the headlines. It’s also a bike that has plenty of other things to do. Other highlights include its built-in storage, progressive geometry, and aggressive specs. The whole bike seems to put more emphasis on the descent than the climb. That’s not to say it can’t climb, but it was the heaviest bike tested with the toughest specs.
It’s not a bad thing either. In fact, the geometry appears to be an almost wholesale inclusion of the track and enduro ideals. While some bikes in this test have a loose head angle associated with slightly looser seat tube angles or lower stack heights, the Giant doesn’t. It combines these enduro-like dimensions with a steeper seat tube angle. This, in turn, results in a more upright driving position. It’s quite similar to the Niner that we also had in test in this regard.
The Trance also has a flip chip which offers a solid 0.7 degree adjustment. That’s almost double the 0.4 degrees on the Trek Top Fuel. I’m not saying I’m already convinced by the idea of flip-chips but, much like the Rocky Mountain Element, at least it gives a real fit.
The Maestro system offers 120mm of travel at the rear of the bike, which is paired with a 130mm fork. It also features an internally adjustable Trans-X seat post that allows the rider to fine tune their amount of fall. It’s a good execution of the idea, and while the lever is slightly awkward, it does a great job. The bike is equipped with Shimano’s 4-piston brakes for stopping. Interestingly, this bike comes with finless sintered pads. I’m not sure if this is the standard spec, or they just edged out Levy complaining about the clicking noise.
One small criticism I have about the bike is that it kept dropping chains. We had XT transmissions on bikes that didn’t have the same problem. This could potentially indicate that the Praxis tray or the lack of a chain device is the problem.
The previous version of Live Valve garnered praise for how it climbed on the longer-travel Trance X. As mentioned earlier, the new system is much less obvious. Mike Levy, who spent a lot of time on the original version, said it felt less like a rocket in the climbs, but I still think he did everything right for it to be really good. That said, the big step forward with this new system is that you can fine tune its influence on your suspension.
In fairness to Live Valve, this makes the bike a bit livelier. However, that doesn’t seem out of place on a bike that recommends sag as low as 20-25%. If I were ever to install an auto-tuning suspension on my bike, I’d really like to give it something to counter – for example, if that bike ran 35% sag on a coil-sprung shock, the Live Valve concept would still do. more sense to me.
The Trance climbs well, as you would expect for a computer-controlled suspension bike. There is a lot of grip, but there is also the added weight. The bike is very adept at finding traction in the most unlikely places. It also manages to do this without inducing a shock energy loss movement. It might not be the fastest bike in this class, but your weight is in the right place and the bars are well placed to apply weight up front, especially in Climb mode with the fork more open.
The steep angle of the seat tube also plays a big role in this. The Trance is an inherently good climber, and he enjoys that very comfortable position, but he’s never going to set the world on fire on the way up. It was the slowest of the singletrack climb, and frankly I’m not sure where the time went. It’s a bit heavy, but it never felt particularly slow.
Running it in fully open mode inaugurates a certain degree of pedaling. However, according to our efficiency test, the results are minimal, about 2 seconds slower on the same course at the same power. Getting back to the timed singletrack climb, this was the slowest of the downhill bikes with a time of 2:45 in Climb mode. In the open, it was even slower at 2:47. Are all those extra complications worth 2 seconds? And would it be faster if it was lighter?
I’d be very curious to see how this bike compares when fitted with a standard Fox shock, and imagine it would offer a bit more platform than the electronically tuned Open model.
Suspension aside, we’re here to talk about the Giant Trance. So how does this 120mm bike get down? Well I really liked its geometry. Something like the Trek Top Fuel or the Rocky Element looks more like a the low-country bicycle. They’re quick, have precise and quick handling and are some of the best working examples in this class of bike.
The giant feels a little different. In fact, it looks like a more classic track bike. Its geometry provides unadorned stability and ease of use that, for many people, is all they really want. It’s soft without being the softest. It’s long without being the longest. However, this is where the beauty of it lies. It’s a very easy bike to ride and ride, much like the Niner Jet 9 RDO. Its high front end really means it opens up the trails you can take, as do the smart spec choices like wide rims and powerful brakes. This would make a great center track weapon.
The Live Valve’s performance usually blends into the bike on the descents, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where you notice it. Personally, I didn’t appreciate the unpredictability of the auto-tuning suspension. I sometimes felt like the bike didn’t really know what to do with my body weight.
After trying the different modes available, I ended up mostly riding this bike in Climb mode, which firms up the rear suspension on climbs while leaving the fork open to sit lower in its travel; the mode then automatically switches to Sport mode on flat ground or downhill. While this updated version of Live Valve is a major improvement over the first gen, there were still times when it felt good until it didn’t. In punchy turns, I often felt like I hit a supporting wall on impact, which then pivoted my weight forward and into my hands as I came out of the turn. It wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – it was predictable, unpredictable.
It was the same problem with the jumps. In open mode it takes air very well, but in other modes if you have a reasonable run for a jump as you load up the transition it will again provide you with a wall of support, sending weight into your hands. and throw your weight forward while you are in the air. I know this is only a short travel bike and you probably won’t be hitting huge booters, but at the same time it was pretty baffling.
The trails in our test loop were very suitable for the downcountry and not too technical or complicated. That said, Levy is right to point out that there are terrains and racers that Live Valve is likely to suit – some people are going to really like it, and I think it does some things well. A good candidate for the Giant Trance is a trail runner, not doing anything too aggressive, just someone who likes to cover wide swathes of ground in comfort.
In the end, I liked the Giant despite its electronic suspension and not because of it – I would love to have the chance to see what this bike can really do with the system removed.
Overall, the Trance has a solid foundation of good geometry and responsive parts, and for someone who wants more efficiency while having a very easy bike to ride, this would do the job just fine.