According to Giant’s media masseuse, Andrew Juskaitis, "The Trance series sets the standard for the modern definition of 'mountain bike'… and we're damn proud of it." That's bold talk, but in the case of the reworked Trance Advanced 1, it's hard to fault the rhetoric. The rejiggered Maestro suspension–changes include a larger-volume air canister, thanks to a trunnion-style upper shock mount, lower air pressure, lighter damping and a carbon rocker arm–yields 140 millimeters of rear travel through a Fox Float Factory shock, matched by a 150-millimeter-travel Fox 34 Float Kashima fork. The main frame is carbon with an alloy rear triangle. The 67-degree head and 73.5-degree seat angles err on the side of contemporary conservatism in this age of long, slack front centers.
The components on our test bike are solid: Shimano XT, augmented with Giant Contact SL bars, stem and dropper, as well as Giant TRX1 composite wheels. It's a solid value for the price; the only component gripe we had concerned the relative fragility of the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires, although to be fair, our test loops were murdering all tires indiscriminately.
Suspension performance drew positive marks from all testers. Supple, with nice resistance to bottom-out, and at the same time admirably indifferent to pedaling inputs, the Trance makes the most of 140 millimeters of travel, and does so in an unobtrusive, efficient, businesslike manner. None of us bothered to run the rear compression damping in anything but the open setting. Suspension aside, the bike felt more agile and playful than much of its competition, with a demeanor that made it a blast to jump, wheelie and punch into turns. Given the superb agility, high-speed straight-lining wasn't quite as auto-pilot calm as with some of the longer-travel, longer-wheelbase, less-maneuverable bikes in the category.
Quibbles were limited to the narrow bars, the use of Jagwire cable housing and two testers wishing they could have a 29- inch version. Others disagreed, feeling that larger hoops would hamstring an otherwise fun bike, and that people who wish for different size wheels than what is spec'd are suffering from late-stage consumer-choice proliferation disaffection.
Q&A with Andrew Juskaitis, Marketing Manager – Giant
The boost spacing and clearance for 2.6″ tires is a nice touch, but with the advent of even more plus-tire options pushing up around 3.0″, do you foresee needing more clearance to accept a broader range of tires?
Good question. Our party line is that we see the "+" size tire trend realistically maxing out at 2.8." the Trance you tested does accept 2.6…and we'll look into the possibility of bumping that dimension up a bit for the future.
Given the capabilities of the Trance Advanced, some of our testers were pining for more travel from the Contact dropper post. Giant offers this in 3 travels currently (100mm, 125mm, 150mm), and our medium test bike came equipped with a 125mm dropper. Are there plans to bump up travel in these posts across the board, and does Giant spec different travel posts for different size frames?
Yup…a reality of Maestro suspension is the pivot "bump" in the middle of the seattube. We have to take this in mind when spec'ing the specific seatpost for each size of the Trance. Your medium gets the 120mm, while the large and XL get the 150mm post…because, when inserted fully into the frame (for shorter riders), each post needs to clear the "bump.' Also, (generally speaking) shorter riders need less seatpost travel, so we're ok with shorter travel posts on smaller sizes—although everyone has their own opinions on this matter.
Handlebar width. What was the deal here? Were you guys sitting around on a bunch of handlebars from 2005?
I'm not even going to comment on this one. Please feel free to call a spade a spade…