By Vernon Felton
It's been a few months now since Giant first leaked the news that their 2013 line would include a 29er version of their popular Trance X model. Of course, it's hard to keep a new model under wraps when your primary test pilot (that'd be Adam Craig) is out winning the Super D National Championships aboard the thing.
In short, the 2013 Trance X 29er comes barging out of the gates with with some heavy race titles already beneath it.
No, it's not carbon. Let's get that one out of the way right now. The Trance X 29er sports a completely aluminum (Giant's ALUXX SL grade) frame. Weight, however, isn't going to be in the boat anchor range--the size Medium frame reportedly tips the scales at a very respectable 5.89 pounds (including shock). To put that in perspective, it's about a pound heavier than the quite light, carbon fiber Anthem X 29er Advanced frame.
So far, there's no word of a carbon version being in the works, but since Giant began making carbon fiber bikes back in 1985 and is the largest producer of carbon bikes on the planet (they even weave their own carbon cloth), I expect we'll see a version with a composite front triangle before too long.
Tighter Rear End
Giant's 29ers are known for having fairly long chainstays. The Anthem X 29er, for instance, rocks 18.2 inch chainstays, which, for reference sake, are a good half inch to three-quarters of an inch longer than "typical" for a 29er with four inches of rear travel. Adding travel to a frame generally leads to even longer chainstays and that could have led to one very sluggish Trance X 29er. Giant, however, has equipped this new model with a single-spar swingarm that helps tuck the rear wheel closer to the bike's center.
Chainstay length for the Trance X 29 is 17.8 inches--almost a half inch shorter than the Anthem X 29er. Nice. This should give the bike greater maneuverability in tight conditions. The head angle sits at 69 degrees, which should give the bike a fairly neutral and confident feel on technical descents. Of course, this is all just spec-sheet speculation (which is to say, fairly worthless blathering about numbers and dimensions). We'll see how all this pans out on the trail in the very near future.
The frame features internal cable-routing ports and dropper-post guides. The bottom bracket is of the press fit variety (BB86) and, yes, the bike also bears Giant's OverDrive2 (inch and a quarter at the top of the headtube), which Giant claims improves steering precision There's no through axle on the rear end--since there are no pivots on that rear swingarm, Giant doesn't feel that a 142×12 system would appreciably stiffen things up and would, on the other hand, add unnecessary grams and dollars to the bike. I can see their point, but I still prefer through axles to traditional quick releases--it's just a cleaner clamping system.
The Journeyman Trail Slayer
So, who is this new bike aimed at? Though the Trance X 29er has its roots in enduro racing, it's basically aimed at anybody who likes to ride aggressive trails and is looking for a lightweight, maneuverable rig. In short, like most trail bikes, it's a bike that makes sense for a huge range of riders. Considering shaving your nut sack in the hopes that it will somehow help you win next Sunday's cross-country suffer fest? You should probably opt instead for a pinner XC bike. Dreaming of hucking something stupidly big to flat? You're probably never going to read this review anyway. Everybody else, stay with me here.
Three Models for 2013
Giant's offering three Trance X 29er models in 2013. All three models incorporate the same basic frame, with different shifty bits and suspension widgets as described below.
The Trance X 29er 0 is clothed in a Shimano XT-heavy wardrobe, Fox 32 Float 29 FIT CTD fork and Fox Float CTD rear shock. The bike also sports Giant's new P-TRX 29er 1 wheelset (28 millimeters wide, Tubeless Ready, alloy rims, 1,795 grams).
The Trance X 29er 1 also bears Fox suspension components (a 32 Float 29 fork and Fox Float CTD rear shock), but the drivetrain is a mix of SRAM X9/X7. Stopping duties are handled by Avid Elixir 3s. It's worth noting that this mid-range bike also bears the same dropper post as its higher end stablemate (Giant's Contact Switch model).
The Trance X 29er 2 is running a RockShox Recon Silver fork and Monarch rear shock. Drivetrain comes in an X7/X5 flavor combination and Shimano's budget M395 brakes bring the bike to a halt.
Dirt Test to Come
We have yet to hear the official party line on when the Trance X 29er will be available, but we’ve already driven over to Giant headquarters and peed on the front door, which is our way of claiming territory and requesting the right to abuse one of these things thoroughly on the dirt. Assuming that the urine exchange is understood by Giant’s marketing staff, we’ll have a proper bike test for you to read sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.