2014 Bible of Bike Tests Roundtable Reels: Giant Trance Advanced SX 27.5

Giant Bicycles up the ante with new 650b model. Find out why it got our pulses pounding.

Few bike companies have forged more boldly into the 27.5-inch-wheel market than Giant Bicycles, and the company’s new Trance Advanced SX 27.5 certainly ignited the passion of our 2014 Bible of Bike Tests crew. Check out our latest ‘Roundtable Reels’ video to find out what stoked the flames of this fireside debate.

Price: $6,400
Contact: giant-bicycles.com
Direct Link: http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/trance.advanced.sx.27.5/14832/66294/

Final Take: The Trance Advanced SX 27.5 arrives in full technicolor brilliance. And best of all, it's black.

Giant Trance Advanced SX 27.5.

Giant Trance Advanced SX 27.5.

Giant makes good bikes, but it's rare that it produces a model everyone considers a truly great bike. The new Trance Advanced SX, however, got all of our pulses racing.

Giant has as good as given up on anything unless it has 27.5-inch wheels. Many of us don't blindly agree with the best-of-both-worlds ideology of the middling wheel size, but we agreed that it isn't bad for this bike.

The gloss and matte-black trail frame sports a carbon front triangle and aluminum rear end. It feels taut and responsive, likely due to the short links controlling the Maestro suspension. The largely underrated system truly shines now that it springs a bike that ticks all the other boxes. It says 140-millimeters on the tin, but it feels like much more.

Previous Trance's have been lacking up front—too steep with wimpy forks. This version is a winner in both departments. With a 66-degree head angle when the Fox 34 Talas is run at 160-millimeters—it's 67 degrees at 140 millimeters—the bike is relaxed enough to let really loose. It feels well balanced and poised for high-spirited trail bike mischief.

The part spec is intimidatingly good. A Fox Float-X rear shock? Brilliant. The tires are an inspired choice: a big Schwalbe Hans Dampf up front and a fast-rolling Rock Razor on the rear. Ditto for the SRAM X01 drivetrain.

Testers weren't as enamored with Giant's own bar and stem. The bar was too narrow and Giant's OverDrive2 tapered headtube—1 1/4-inch at the top—thwarted our chances of shortening the stem easily. We rode around this, but it's something that seems to create more problems than it solves. Also, when you pay $6,400 for a bike you expect to get a top-end dropper. Instead you get Giant's Contact Switch dropper, which isn't all it could be.

Overall, this is an envy-inspiring Giant that looks great and rides equally well. –Seb Kemp