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Giant Trance 3 Review

Affordable yet capable, we feel this bike is a solid value
Giant Trance 3
Photo: Jenna Ammerman
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Price:  $2,000 List
Pros:  Maestro suspension, beefy tire spec, stable at speed, affordable
Cons:  Feels heavy, 1x10 drivetrain, suntour fork is tricky to tune
Manufacturer:   Giant Bicycles
By Jeremy Benson, Kyle Smaine  ⋅  Sep 10, 2018
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Fun Factor - 30% 8
  • Downhill - 35% 8
  • Climbing - 35% 7

Our Verdict

Despite its low price, this capable trail bike performs as well as many of the more expensive models in this test. With 150mm of front and 140mm of rear-wheel travel, the Trance 3 has enough cushion to handle all but the rowdiest downhills. Middle of the road geometry, other than its slack head tube angle, will please a broad range of riders while performing relatively well on both the climbs and descents. Testers found it difficult to tune, but the Suntour Aion fork provides a sturdy front end while a beefy linkage and Giant's Maestro suspension design make for a laterally stiff and supple rear end. Its trail riding chops are enhanced by the spec of a 150mm dropper post as well as a shred-ready tubeless wheel and tire combo.

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Giant Trance 3
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Giant Trance 3
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $2,000 List$2,299 List$2,100 List$2,299 List$2,399 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Maestro suspension, beefy tire spec, stable at speed, affordableAffordable, versatile, hard-charging, solid component specEnergetic playful feel, lighter weight, 12-speed drivetrain, modern trail bike geometryAwesome build for the price, versatile, well-rounded performanceHard charging on descents, long dropper post, modern trail bike geometry
Cons Feels heavy, 1x10 drivetrain, suntour fork is tricky to tuneA bit heavy, no climb switch on rear shock, SX Eagle drivetrainFork needed immediate service, can be overwhelmed in more aggressive terrainHard grips, saddle shapeHeavy, mediocre fork specification, not the fastest climber
Bottom Line A capable 27.5-inch trail bike with a preference for the descentsThe 2020 Jeffsy Base easily takes our Editor's Choice Award for its awesome all-around performanceCapable, versatile, and lively, this is a great short travel 29erThis redesigned bike is just as well-rounded but rips harder than its predecessorHard-charging riders will love this bike
Rating Categories Giant Trance 3 YT Jeffsy Base 29 Giant Trance 29 3 Polygon Siskiu T8 Kona Process 134 29
Fun Factor (30%)
8
10
9
9
9
Downhill (35%)
8
10
8
9
9
Climbing (35%)
7
8
9
8
7
Specs Giant Trance 3 YT Jeffsy Base 29 Giant Trance 29 3 Polygon Siskiu T8 Kona Process 134 29
Wheelsize 27.5 29 29 29 29
Frame Material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Measured Weight 31 lbs 8 oz 33 lbs 3 oz 30 lbs 12 oz 32 lbs 8 oz 34 lbs 13 oz
Frame Size L L L L L
Available Sizes S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL, XXL S, M, L, XL S(27.5), M(27.5 or 29), L(29), XL(29) S, M, L, XL
Fork SR Suntour Aion RC DS, 150mm RockShox Yari RC, 150mm Marzocchi Z2, 130mm Fox Rhythm 34, 140mm RockShox Recon Motion Control Solo Air, 140mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe R RockShox Deluxe Select Fox Float DPS Performance Fox Float DPS Performance EVOL RockShox Deluxe Select
Wheelset Giant AM 27,5, 30mm ID w. Giant Tracker Hubs DT Swiss M 1900 Spline Giant Tracker hubs with iant XCT tubeless rims, 25mm internal rim width Entity XL2 Disc Shimano hubs with WTB ST i30 TCS rims
Front Tire Maxxis High Roller II 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.4" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3" Schwalbe Han Dampf Addix Speedgrip EVO TLE 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.5" WT
Rear Tire Maxxis High Roller II 2.4" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.4" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.3" Schwalbe Han Dampf Addix Speedgrip EVO TLE 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3"
Shifters Chiman Deore 10-speed SRAM SX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore 10-speed SRAM SX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed
Cranks Praxis Cadet SRAM SX Eagle DUB SRAM SX Eagle DUB Shimano MT510 175mm(L-XL) SRAM SX Eagle
Chainring 30T 32T 30T 32T 30T
Bottom Bracket Praxis Press Fit SRAM DUB Press fit SRAM DUB Press fit BSA Threaded SRAM DUB PF92
Cassette Shimano Deore 10-speed 11x42T SRAM PG-1210 11-50T SRAM SX Eagle 11-50T Shimano SLX 12-speed 10-51T SRAM SX Eagle 11-50T
Saddle Giant Contact (neutral) SDG RDR MTN Giant Contact (neutral) Entity XTENT Kona Trail
Seatpost Giant Contact Switch 150mm YT Postman 150mm (size large) Giant Contact Switch Tranz-X 170mm (L-XL) TranzX Dropper Internal 170mm
Handlebar Giant Connect 780mm Race Face Aeffect R 35 780mm Giant Contact TR35 780mm Entity Expert 780mm Kona XC/BC 35 780mm
Stem Giant Connect Race Face Aeffect R 35, 50mm Giant Contact SL 35 Entity Expert 35mm Kona XC/BC 35
Brakes Shimano BR-MT400 SRAM Guide T Shimano MT400 Tektro HD-M745 4-piston Shimano Hydraulic Disc
Warranty Lifetime limited warranty on frame 5 years Lifetime limited warranty on frame 10 Years on frame Lifetime limited warranty on frame

Our Analysis and Test Results

For the 2021 model year, Giant still offers one model of the aluminum-framed Trance. The geometry and frame design remain the same, and the major changes to the build include a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and a RockShox Gold 35 fork. The price has also increased just slightly to $2,250. We expect the same level of affordable performance. August 2020

The Trance 3 is fun to ride at all speeds, including warp speed.
The Trance 3 is fun to ride at all speeds, including warp speed.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Should I Buy This Bike?


The Trance has been Giant's do-it-all trail bike for a number of years and the new Trance 3 2019 is their most budget-friendly version of this popular model. With that in mind, the $2,000 Trance 3 offers great all-around performance that we feel exceeds the asking price. Whether you're new to the sport or you're just on a tight budget, this bike's comfortable geometry, Maestro suspension design, and relatively good component specification (for the price) make it a real crowd-pleaser that is a reasonably capable climber and a confidence-inspiring descender. It's not necessarily the best at any particular thing, but at this price, we feel you'd be hard-pressed to find a bike that's as shred-worthy as the Trance 3.

It's not the most playful bike we tested, but testers had lots of...
It's not the most playful bike we tested, but testers had lots of fun aboard the Trance 3, especially considering the asking price.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Fun Factor


In the sport of mountain biking, fun is the name of the game and the Trance 3 is a blast to ride. It's a versatile and well-rounded performer that excels in fast and flowy terrain.


With 150mm of front, 140mm of rear-wheel travel, and a slack 65.4-degree head tube angle, its ready to tackle just about anything that comes your way. A shorter reach, 443mm, and middle of the road wheelbase, 1190mm, give this bike the ability to negotiate low-speed technical sections of trail while still maintaining a stable and planted feel at higher speeds. A thoughtful component specification is highlighted by a comfortable cockpit and beefy tubeless tire and rim combination that gives this bike responsive handling and the ability to rail turns with the best of them. The Trance 3 also has the distinction of being the only bike in our test that retails for under $2000 that our testers didn't have to hold back on during descents.

Smooth and fast is a blast, on the Trance 3...
Smooth and fast is a blast, on the Trance 3...
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Downhill Performance


The Trance 3 really shines on the descents, especially on fast and flowy trails at speed. It has a stable and planted feel that inspires confidence as well as comfortable responsive handling in most downhill situations. It's not the most playful bike in our test, but it maintains a level of agility that belies its smoothness and stability on descents.


Weighing in at 31 lbs 8 oz in the size large we tested, the Trance 3 isn't exactly lightweight, but for a bike in this price range, we feel this is reasonable. That said, the slight amount of extra heft of this bike is noticeable as it seems less eager to get off the ground and more prone to plowing down the efficient line. The measured head tube angle of 65.4 degrees, one of the slackest in our test selection, also plays a role in its downhill prowess and stability. Testers never felt like they were going to go over the bars while riding this bike, instead, they found themselves confidently charging through rock gardens and down steeper terrain. This bike's shorter reach and moderate wheelbase measurements give it a bit of a split personality on descents, planted and smooth, yet with a reasonable turning radius and the ability to ride low-speed technical sections of trail.

Fast and flowy is where the Trance 3 shines, but it performs well in...
Fast and flowy is where the Trance 3 shines, but it performs well in most downhill situations.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Much of the Trance 3's downhill performance is due to its component specification. The SR Suntour Aion fork is far from perfect, but it provides a sturdy front end that far exceeds the performance of the RockShox Recon forks found on many bikes in this price range. Giant's Maestro suspension is a proven platform that offers good seated pedaling efficiency and a supple rear suspension stroke. A trunnion mounted RockShox Deluxe R shock handles the rear suspension duties admirably and Giant's beefy linkage provides a laterally stiff rear end. Cockpit components like a 150mm dropper post, a 780mm wide handlebar, and a short stout stem come together to put the rider in a comfortable position on the descents.

It likes to charge while still maintaining a short turning radius...
It likes to charge while still maintaining a short turning radius and quick handling.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

The thoughtful specification of wide rims and beefy tubeless tires is another reason this bike rips downhill. Giant's own AM tubeless wheelset, with a modern 30mm internal rim width, comes mounted with Maxxis High Roller II EXO tires front, 2.5" WT, and rear, 2.4" WT. Tires like this are almost unheard of at this price point, and the High Roller II EXO's have an aggressive tread that is ready to push hard into corners and are durable enough to handle some serious abuse.

Uphill Performance


There's nothing especially noteworthy about the climbing performance of the Trance 3, either good or bad. It gets the job done and that's about all you really need it to do. If you're looking for a bike that excels on the uphills then you're probably better off looking elsewhere, but if you're the type who rides uphill to shred the downhill then this bike will get you there without complaint.


At 31.8 lbs, the weight of this bike is somewhat noticeable when climbing, especially when compared to the lighter weight bikes in our test. This weight gives it a little bit of sluggish feel at times, less responsive and quick to accelerate than a bike like the Polygon Siskiu T8 despite weighing almost exactly the same.

Giant's Maestro suspension design results in a good pedaling...
Giant's Maestro suspension design results in a good pedaling platform for climbing.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

In general, testers found the bike's geometry to work well for climbing. The seat tube angle is slacker at 73 degrees, but the shorter reach, 443mm, of this bike keeps the rider in a comfortable position when seated and climbing. Testers compensated for the slightly slacker seat tube angle by sliding the saddle forward to get their weight more directly above the cranks. The 1190mm wheelbase proved to be agreeable in most climbing situations, but testers found that when coupled with the slack 65.4-degree head angle it could be a little unwieldy in super tight uphill switchbacks.

Compared to some of the lighter bikes with steeper seat tubes, the...
Compared to some of the lighter bikes with steeper seat tubes, the Trance can feel a little sluggish on the climbs but is still comfortable and capable.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Giant's Maestro suspension works impressively well and seated pedaling on the Trance 3 is quite efficient. There is minimal pedal induced bob, yet the suspension remains active enough to help maintain traction. When climbing out of the saddle there is noticeably more bobbing of the suspension, but rarely does it feel like you're wasting energy or losing traction as a result. The RockShox Deluxe R shock only has a rebound adjustment, so there is no option of flipping a climb switch to adjust the compression dampening. Testers agree that a climb switch would be nice for extended fire road or pavement climbs, but this bike still climbs pretty well without one.

Build


Considering the $2,000 asking price of the Trance 3, this bike has a build that is ready for just about anything. Like any bike at this price point, however, the component specification isn't perfect and there are high and low points to the build.

The Trance 3 has a beefy build that is ready for just about...
The Trance 3 has a beefy build that is ready for just about anything. At this price point, there are some aspects of the spec that could be improved, but that is to be expected.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Overall, testers found the suspension to work relatively well. The 150mm of front suspension is handled by an SR Suntour Aion fork with 35mm stanchions, boost spacing, and a 15mm thru-axle. Our testers found this fork to be a little more difficult to dial into their preferences than some of the others in our test, but it has a stout feel that gives this bike a confidence-inspiring and stable front end. The Aion fork feels supple to start, supportive in the mid-stroke, with a notably progressive ramp-up at the end. The rear suspension is controlled by a trunnion mounted Rock Shox Deluxe R shock with rebound adjustment only.

The Suntour fork feels beefy, but testers found it difficult to...
The Suntour fork feels beefy, but testers found it difficult to tune. The RockShox Deluxe R rear shock worked as well as we expected.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

One of our tester's favorite aspects of the Trance 3's build is the wheels and tires. Giant spec'd their AM wheels with a 30mm internal rim width and Maxxis High Roller II EXO tires both front (2.5" WT) and rear (2.4" WT) set up tubeless from the factory. Out of the box, this setup is ready to party and means you don't have to go out of your way to set your wheels and tires up tubeless, or shell out a bunch of cash on tires you actually want to ride.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Giant also hit the nail on the head with the specification of their cockpit components consisting of a generous sprinkling of house brand parts. Perhaps the best element of the cockpit is the Giant Contact Switch dropper seat post with 150mm travel on the size Large we tested. The 780mm wide Giant Connect handlebar coupled with a short and stout Giant Connect stem give this bike a comfortable front end and responsive handling.

Wide bars, short stem, 150mm dropper, all good things. Testers...
Wide bars, short stem, 150mm dropper, all good things. Testers weren't crazy about the brake levers or the vertically oriented paddle style dropper remote.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

There are several unimpressive aspects of this build, but considering the price of this bike our gripes are relatively limited. The 1x10 speed Shimano Deore drivetrain leaves a bit to be desired. Sure it works, but these days we're accustomed to 11 and even 12-speed drivetrains being spec'd on bikes like this. The 30 tooth front chainring paired with an 11-42 tooth cassette may also not offer enough range for climbing for less powerful riders. Testers were also a little dismayed by the specification of a vertically oriented paddle style remote for the dropper seat post. Again, this remote lever does work, but there's no reason this bike shouldn't come equipped with a 1x shifter style remote lever. The brakes on this bike work fine and have adequate stopping power, but the long throw brake lever specification is one of our least favorite aspects of this build. There are better levers available for the brakes on this bike.

We think you'd be hard pressed to find another trail bike that is as...
We think you'd be hard pressed to find another trail bike that is as capable as the Trance 3 for under $2000.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Value


With a retail price of $2,000, the Trance 3 is undoubtedly a good value. Considering the capabilities of this bike, we feel that it is a great affordable option for people just getting into the sport, or the seasoned rider on a tight budget. The geometry, component specification, and all-around performance of the Trance 3 is solid, making this our Best Buy Award winner.

Testing our Best Buy Award winner, the Trance 3.
Testing our Best Buy Award winner, the Trance 3.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


Giant's Trance 3 2019 is a capable trail bike that is offered at a very reasonable price. This versatile and well-rounded machine comes ready to roll with agreeable geometry and a good component specification. It excels on fast and flowy trails and performs relatively well in most situations. There are few bikes that retail for under $2000 that our testers truly feel comfortable riding aggressively, but the Trance 3 is one of them.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Trance 3 2019 is available in sizes Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large (tested), and Extra Large. It is offered in two colorways, Glacier Green/Pure Red/Navy Blue (tested), and Metallic Black/Metallic Orange.

Giant also makes the Trance 2 2019 which retails for $2,900 and has several notable upgrades over the Trance 3. The suspension duties of the Trance 2 are handled by a Fox 34 Rhythm fork and a Fox Float DPS Performance rear shock. It also has a Shimano SLX 1x11 speed drivetrain which includes the shifters, rear derailleur, cassette, and crankset, as well as upgraded brakes.

If you're not afraid of spending a lot more money, Giant makes several models of the Trance Advanced with carbon frames. The Advanced models share similar geometry but come in a variety of build kits ranging in price from $8,000 to $4,200.

Jeremy Benson, Kyle Smaine