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Giant Trance 29 2 2019 Review

A confident short-travel 29er with a high fun-factor.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $3,100 List
Pros:  Punches above weight class, high fun-factor, practical bike for most riders
Cons:  Lower-end build kit, Need to remove shock's volume spacer to achieve optimal performance
Manufacturer:   Giant
By Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens  ⋅  Mar 20, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 24
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 8
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 7
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The all-new Giant Trance 29 2 is a practical ripper that delivers an excellent balance of efficiency and a high fun-factor. This bike offers stellar uphill abilities and, despite its 31-lbs of mass, is perfectly capable of multi-hour slogs. Downhill performance is exceptional despite its seemingly minimal 115mm of travel. Handling is tight and this bright blue bicycle thrashes corners. Riders who plan on doing a substantial amount of climbing and want semi-aggressive geometry for cruising back down the hill will love this bike. Our Trance 29 2 sells for $3100 and comes equipped with NX Eagle and Fox 34 Rhythm fork making it a decent value.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $3,100 List$5,099.00 at Competitive Cyclist$6,480.00 at Competitive Cyclist$4,899 List$3,919.00 at Competitive Cyclist
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Pros Punches above weight class, high fun-factor, practical bike for most ridersExcellent climber, aggressive geometry, rim/tire combinationExcellent climbing abilities, impressive downhill performance, high fun factor, tremendous build kitLightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specificationExtremely well-rounded performance, confident and predictable descending, superb climbing abilities
Cons Lower-end build kit, Need to remove shock's volume spacer to achieve optimal performanceExpensive, big impacts are less supportive, handlebars have too much backsweepExpensive, pivots came loose a few times during testingNot a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmedNot the most aggressive long-travel 29er, spendy
Bottom Line A confident short-travel 29er with a high fun-factor.An aggressive 29er with geometry to get rad while retaining a sporty and nimble feelA fantastic trail bike that blends superb climbing abilities with fun and well-rounded downhill performance.We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better.A well-rounded enduro shredder that can serve as an excellent daily driver.
Rating Categories Giant Trance 29 2 Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Ibis Ripley GX Eagle Santa Cruz Hightower LT XE
Fun Factor (25%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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9
10
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9
Downhill Performance (35%)
10
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8
10
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9
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8
10
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7
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9
Climbing Performance (35%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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7
Ease Of Maintenance (5%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
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7
10
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7
10
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6
Specs Giant Trance 29 2 Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Ibis Ripley GX Eagle Santa Cruz...
Wheel size 29" 29" 29" 29" 29"
Suspension & Travel Maestro - 115mm DW-Link - 145mm Switch Infinity - 130mm DW-Link - 120mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) - 150mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 31 lbs 1 oz (Large) 29 lbs 7 oz (Large) 29 lbs 9 oz (Large) 28 lbs 14 oz (Large) 30 lbs 2 oz (Large)
Fork Fox 34 Float Rhythm Fox 36 Performance - 160mm, 36mm stanchions Fox 36 Factory - 150mm 36mm stanchions Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions Fox 36 Performance Elite - 150mm, 36mm stanchions
Shock Fox Float DPS Performance Fox DPX2 Performance Elite Fox DPX2 Factory Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL Fox DPX2 Performance Elite
Frame Material Aluminum Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "TURQ" Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "C"
Frame Size Large Large Large Large Large
Frame Settings N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Available Sizes S-XL S-XL S-XL S-XL S-XXL
Wheelset Giant XCT 29, 25mm ID w/ Giant Tracker Hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs DT Swiss M1700, 30mm ID w/ DT Swiss 350 hub Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs E*Thirteen TRS+ Rims 29mm ID w/ Novatec Hubs
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4"
Rear Tire Maxxis Minion DHR II 29x2.3 Maxxis Aggressor WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor 29 x 2.3 Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4"
Shifters SRAM NX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM XO Eagle SRAM GX Eagle Shimano XT
Rear Derailleur SRAM NX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed SRAM X0 Eagle SRAM GX Eagle Shimano XT 11-Speed
Crankset Truvativ Descendant 6K 30t SRAM Descendant 30t SRAM X0 Eagle Carbon 30T SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T RaceFace Turbine 30t
Saddle Giant Contact WTB Silverado WTB Volt WTB Silverado 142mm WTB Silverado Pro
Seatpost Giant Contact Switch - 150mm KS LEV-SI-150mm Fox Transfer 150mm Bike Yoke Revive 160mm RockShox Reverb Stealth - 150mm
Handlebar Giant Contact 780mm x 35mm Ibis Aluminum Bar - 780mm Yeti Carbon - 780mm Ibis 780mm Alloy Santa Cruz Carbon - 800mm
Stem Giant Contact SL 35 Ibis 3D Forged Stem 50mm w/ 31.8mm Clamp RaceFace Aeffect R 35 Ibis 31.8mm 50mm RaceFace Aeffect R 50mm
Brakes SRAM Guide T Shimano Deore XT Shimano XT M8000 Shimano Deore 2 Piston Shimano XT M8000
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 635 628 628 625 631
Measured Reach (mm) 465 473 477 475
Measured Head Tube Angle 66.1-degrees 65.8-degrees 65.1-degrees 66.5-degrees 66.0-degrees
Measured Seat Tube Angle 74.8-degrees 76.1-degrees 76.8-degrees 76.2-degrees 71.1-degrees
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 339 343 335 338
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1198 1220 1231 1210 1197
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 438 436 438 434 444
Warranty Lifetime Seven Years Lifetime Seven Years Lifetime

Our Analysis and Test Results

Should I Buy This Bike?


Giant markets the new Trance 29 a "super-versatile trail machine" that delivers well-rounded performance. This new crop of short-travel trail bikes make a lot of sense for a lot of riders and the Trance is no exception. Anyone can have fun on this bike. Aggressive riders can push this bike to the limits and enjoy its tight handling and confident descending geometry. Newer riders can learn on a sensible rig that responds well to rider input and isn't overly demanding. Super aggressive riders who are looking for a bike to thrash enduro-style trails should definitely look elsewhere as this is still a short-travel trail bike. Trail riders who want a fun bike that can punch a little bit above its weight class, will love this bicycle. At $3100, it represents a solid value.

If you're interested in the Trance 29, you may also consider the Transition Smuggler. The Trance and Smuggler have similar approaches…short travel, aggressive angles, and big fun. The Smuggler has a touch more travel with 120mm and is also about a degree slacker. The Transition is another great option for the enduro rider who wants a more efficient, tighter-handling, bike. The Trance 29 has a slightly lighter feel and steers a tad bit quicker thanks to its slightly more conservative geometry. This comparison is a bit of a tossup.

The Trance 29 is as fun as two barrels of monkeys
The Trance 29 is as fun as two barrels of monkeys

Riders who are looking for a short-travel 29er that leans a little bit more towards the cross country application should check out the Pivot Trail 429. The 429 has 120mm of rear wheel travel but has more conservative, steeper, geometry. It feels much more like a cross country bike than the Trance. The Pivot is extremely efficient and flies uphill thanks to the dialed pedal platform of the DW Link suspension. On the descent, the 429 has a tighter suspension feel compared to the Trance. The Pivot can ride rocky trails, but it translates the chatter to the rider where the Giant is a little more muted and calmer. The 429 is a great bike for long days in the saddle with loads of climbing. The Trance 29 is better for a more aggressive rider. The Pivot doesn't come cheap, the bike is available in carbon fiber only with prices starting at $4799.

The Specialized Stumpjumper ST is another interesting comparison. The Stumpjumper ST has 120mm of travel and rolls on 29-inch wagon wheels. The Stumpjumper ST kind of splits the difference between the Trance 29 and the Pivot Trail 429. The Stumpjumper ST is a less aggressive descender than the Trance 29, but it's not far off. The geometry is a little bit steeper on the Specialized. The steeper geometry and shorter wheelbase create some pretty snappy handling on the Stumpjumper, but it doesn't feel as planted as the Trance at high speeds or over choppy terrain. The Specialized has a lighter climbing feel than the Trance which makes it a nice option for rides with lots of ascending. No-frills, Bare-bones, build kits start at $1,870. More functional build kits start at $3020.

The Trance frame features Maestro suspension
The Trance frame features Maestro suspension

Frame Design


The Trance 29 is built around 29-inch wheels and 115mm of rear wheel travel. This bike uses Giant's Maestro suspension design. This system uses two links that rotate clockwise as the bike moves through its travel. The lower link fixes to the lower shock mount and the chainstay. The upper link is located about halfway up the seat tube and connects the upper shock mount to the seat stay with a pivot point on the seat tube. This design shares many similarities with DW Link. This design is supple, plush, and predictable while remaining fairly efficient.

We measured our large test bike and found a 66.1-degree head tube angle paired with a 74.8-degree seat tube angle. The reach measured 465mm and the effective top tube is 635mm. The bottom bracket is 339mm off the ground. The chainstays measure 438mm and the wheelbase is 1198 mm. The bike hit the scales at 31 lbs 1 oz set up tubeless without pedals.

Design Highlights


-115mm of rear wheel travel, designed around 130mm fork
-Uses 44mm offset fork
-29-inch wheels only
-Boost spacing
-Press Fit Bottom Bracket
-Available in aluminum and carbon fiber

-Available in Small-XL sizes

This bike rides bigger than the 115mm of travel might suggest.
This bike rides bigger than the 115mm of travel might suggest.

Downhill Performance


The Trance 29 is a capable short travel 29er that descends well on fast and flowy trails as well as ones with doses of chunky tech. This bicycle is confident at speed and responds well to rider input. The build kit on our Trance 2 was largely dialed once we removed a volume spacer from the shock. We would have liked to see some wider rubber on this bicycle.

The Giant was an impressive descender that punches above its weight on the descent. This 115mm travel bicycle operates with confidence and stands up to minor to moderate doses of gnar. The 66.1-degree head tube angle gives the front end enough rake to feel capable and planted on steeper pitches. The Fox 34 Performance isn't exactly a bruiser of a fork, but it held up well enough within its intended application. This is still a short-travel bike and you're not going to want to do shuttle laps or ride super rowdy trails on it, but it stands up to chop better than the majority of bikes with similar amounts of squish. With a bit of finesse and smart line choice, The Trance can party its way down most trails.

The Trance 29 operates well at speed. The longer wheelbase creates a grounded and planted feel. Our large bike has a 1198mm wheelbase. While this number isn't as long as an enduro bike, it is quite long for a 115mm travel trail bike. This longer running length helps create an excellent sense of stability when pointing it down a fast trail. The downside is that it can be a little cumbersome in super tight corners. The Trance has no problem railing through well-laid out corners, but old-school, euro, turns can be awkward and require some brute force.

The Trance is short on travel and big on fun.
The Trance is short on travel and big on fun.

The Trance uses the supple and predictable Maestro suspension design. While this isn't an especially flashy or cutting edge technology, it works well. This design delivers solid small bump compliance and feels good on bigger impacts. Our test bike came stock with a Fox Float DPS Evol shock while the higher end models use a DVO Topaz. The Fox Float DPS comes with a volume spacer installed. Throughout the first several rides, we found the suspension to be a little too progressive. Running 30% sag, testers weren't utilizing anywhere close to the full shock stroke. After a few weeks, we removed the volume spacer and thought the bike felt significantly better. We began using the full stroke of the shock and the ride was a bit more comfortable on chunky trails.

Handling is sharp on this bright blue bicycle. The bike responds well to rider input and it is relatively easy to get this bike to react. It feels precise and surgical when picking its way down a trail. The short-travel package creates a reasonably playful ride with little energy lost into the suspension when hopping up on the back wheel. The Trance slaps corners effectively so long as they aren't too tight. This rig feels confident and balanced taking the airborne route over obstacles in the trail.

The build kit on our Trance 29 2 was worked well on a whole. The 130mm Fox 34 Performance went relatively unnoticed and is a decent specification in the light trail bike application. The SRAM Guide T brakes provided adequate stopping power although the lever felt decisively cheap and bulky. This bicycle runs a 2.3-inch Maxxis Minion DHF up front and a 2.3-inch Minion DHR II in the rear. These are both excellent tires, but we would have loved to see some wider rubber on this bike. It is 2019 and 2.5 and 2.6-inch tires are becoming commonplace. Wider rubber not only adds traction but also some additional damping as you can run lower tire pressure.

This bicycle is a slick climber despite its 31+ pounds of mass.
This bicycle is a slick climber despite its 31+ pounds of mass.

Climbing Performance


The Trance 29 is a capable and reasonably efficient climber. This bicycle weighs over 31-lbs, and certainly will never be mistaken for a featherweight that floats uphill. Still, this bike is perfectly capable of multi-hour, grueling, grinds. The build kit was serviceable on the ascent, and the drivetrain was very okay. The climbing position is comfortable and the cockpit is nice and spacious.

This bike sets you up in a reasonable climbing position. The measured 74.8-degree seat tube angle is steep enough to feel efficient, but it is slacker than some of the newer crop of bikes. The recent trend of trail bikes features 76-77-degree seat tube angles that place you directly on top of the cranks. This helps maximize power transfer and is quite comfortable. Despite being a touch slacker, the Trance still has a pretty efficient position. The 465mm reach measurement provides enough space for the rider to shuffle and distribute weight. The airy cockpit is comfortable and won't feel cramped on those long grinds.

The Trance is perfectly capable of long  multi-hour  grinds uphill.
The Trance is perfectly capable of long, multi-hour, grinds uphill.

The Maestro suspension delivered a decent climbing feel. It certainly benefits from the use of the shock's climb switch, especially on smooth climbs or fire roads. The climb switch stabilizes the suspension and eliminates pedal bob. If you leave the shock in the open position, there is some pedal bob, particularly when you are standing up in hammering. If you're working up a technical climb, its best to leave the shock open to keep the suspension active and maximize traction over the choppy terrain. One quirk about the Giant is that the bike sits fairly deep in its travel. Even with the use of the climb switch, it sits in a deep sag point. This isn't too problematic, but we did find pedal strikes to be an issue. You need to be careful about where you slip in pedal strokes in tight quarters.

Uphill handling was predictable and about what you would expect from the longer and slacker geometry. When punching up technical pitches the bike feels longer than a lot of short-travel bikes. As a result, it is has a nice rock-crawler feel when you get it on a good line. On the flip-side, it can be more difficult to change directions quickly if you botch your line. It is reasonably easy to hop this bike up and over obstacles.

This bike can crawl right up rocks when it's on a good line.
This bike can crawl right up rocks when it's on a good line.

The build kit on our Trance 29 2 worked well on the climb but didn't wow us. We are starting to see SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrains on more and more bikes at this price point. The NX Eagle provides a nice gear range but it feels a little cheap and clunky. In addition, it is significantly heavier than GX Eagle. The NX Cassette alone is 165 grams, nearly .4 pounds, heavier than the GX cassette. At OutdoorGearLab, we are not weight-weenies, but that's significant. Some testers stated that they would prefer a GX 11-speed drivetrain to the NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. The 2.3-inch rubber was fine, but wider tires would increase climbing traction on loose or mixed trail surfaces.

Photo Tour



Value


At $3100, the Trance 29 2 is a decent value. The performance is definitely impressive. Frankly, this bike rides very well. This bike is among the most fun, short-travel 29ers, on the market. That's a high compliment. The build kit is only okay. As we continue to see more and more impressive build kits at the $3000-ish price range, the Trance 29 2 doesn't jump out as particularly impressive.

Even tame terrain is pretty fun aboard this bright blue bicycle.
Even tame terrain is pretty fun aboard this bright blue bicycle.

Conclusion


Giant absolutely nailed it with the new Trance 29. This sensible bike makes sense for a lot of riders in a lot of locations. This bright blue bicycle blends climbing efficiency with a high fun-factor and excellent descending. The Trance scoots uphill like a bike with 115mm of travel should. When it's time to charge back down the mountain, the aggressive geometry creates a confident and fun ride. The only notable drawbacks are that it requires the removal of the shock's volume spacer to make the most of your suspension. In addition, the build kit is just a little underwhelming. Still, this bike gets two thumbs up for its practical and well-rounded on-trail performance.


Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens