Giant Trance X Review: Computer Controlled | 2021 Field Test

– It's weird like you push down on it. If it's just on level ground
and you push down on it, you're like, it's my shit locked out? What's going on? You're like, did I forget to
leave my suspension locked out? But that's not how it works. (upbeat music) – Hey everyone, I'm Mike Levy and welcome back to
another Field Test video. This time around, we're
talking about Giant's Trance X. It's 135 millimeter travel
bike, with 150 millimeter fork. And Giant says," It's the
one trail bike to do it all." We're gonna talk about
suspension first, as always, and the Trance X's 145
millimeters of travel. It's controlled by the Maestro
dual link suspension design.

It's a co-rotating system, both
the links rotate clockwise, and it's been around for
a very long time now. But there's something new
here, adjustable geometry. The adjustment range
is pretty wide as well. Whereas some of these bikes
offer just a third of a degree, or three or four millimeters of bottom bracket height change, Giant gives you 0.7 degrees of adjustment for the head and seat angle, and 10 millimeters of bottom
bracket height change.

Giant says that the Maestro's
dual link suspension creates a virtual pivot
point somewhere around here, and that it's independent of
breaking and peddling forces, the Holy Grail. The shock is a metric trunnion mount, of course, as are most of these days and the lower shock mount
actually does double duty as the rocker links main
pivot and the shock pole, thereby saving some weight. This is the Trance X Advanced pro 29 0.

Long name, it's the highest-end model and it comes with Fox's
live valve suspension. That's computer controlled suspension, that adds low speed compression
damping automatically. Now we're gonna talk
all about that later on, so stay tuned for that. The name's been around since 2005, but of course, this is
the longest, slackest and probably the lightest version ever. It's carbon fiber everywhere
including the upper link, everywhere except that lower
rocker link which is aluminum. Now all that adds up to a weight that Giant says, is just
2,100 grams with the shock.

Now that's almost half the weight of the Actofive P-Train frame, now to be fair, that's
a steel fund triangle and it's made in pretty small numbers, but it's still much lighter
than some of the others. Now like a lot of companies, Giant has some fancy sounding names to describe some of the
things they've done here, but the gist is, big tubes,
mean lower weight and less flex. Now you're gonna find that everywhere, especially down at the bottom bracket where you'll also find a 92
millimeter wide press fit shell. That's where you're also find, a set of ISCG chain guide tabs, and Giant has done a good job
with frame protection as well.

There's a thick pad
underneath the down tube, and on top of the chain stay. There's internal cable routing,
but it's not passed through. So I definitely wanna point that out where most of these other trail bikes on the new carbon frames, you could push the cable in, and it comes through the other side. You don't have to lose your temper, you don't even have to throw any tools. With the Giant, you're gonna
have to do a little bit of fishing to get it out. Onto the geometry, I'm five foot 10, and this is a large size Trance X, with a 486 millimeter reach. Now it has that adjustable geometry, that we talked about earlier, and that gives it a
65.4 degree head angle, and 76.2 degree seat angle. The carbon fiber Trance X's,
well they start at $4,300 and there's a few to choose from. And if you want the fanciest
model, it's this one behind me, it's $8,500 and that gets
you carbon wheels from Giant, Fox's live valve suspension, and an XTR drive train. That's enough about
the parts and geometry, let's talk about setup, and then how the new Trance
X rides out on the trails.

(upbeat music) Let's get through set up. We installed our control tires, of course, and that's a minion
upfront, inflated at 21 PSI and a dissector in the
back, inflated to 23 PSI. The exact same as all
the other trail bikes here at the Field Test. Now
this bike, as I mentioned, it comes with Fox's live valve suspension. Interesting note, it comes
with a placeholder battery, that looks just like the real battery. So I spent about 20 minutes
trying to turn it on, until I realized that it had
just a fake battery on it. I'm not so good at this tech stuff. So once you've got your battery in there, it's pretty much just the same
as a normal suspension setup after you've selected
your live valve mode. You still need to pump it up
to the correct air pressure, and select your rebound and low speed compression setting on the fork. (upbeat music) So what does all that fancy stuff do for you when you hit the climb? Well it turns the Trance X
and do a fricking rocket ship.

This bike had the fastest
climb by a long way. We're gonna get to our
climbing times in a bit, but that's the gist of it. Live valve takes what is essentially a 30-ish pound trail bike, and turned it into something
that feels like a 24 or 25 pound almost cross-country bike. It's extremely efficient, but what it doesn't
have is that locked out, feeling that a, well, a lockout has. Lockouts don't let the suspension move, and that's not the case here.

And of course, live valve
acts a little bit differently on the climbs than it does on the descent or when the bike is in the air. There's sensors on the
fork and at the rear axle that know what angle the bike is at. So it gives you a firmer feeling when you're climbing up the hill, but it's still not that
super locked out feeling that a race bike would have. What I'm trying to say
with all that is live valve doesn't give you that
firmly locked out feel that a race bike does where it feels like no matter what bump you hit, the suspension, ain't moving. That's not the case here. The rear wheel can still move and it's not entirely
an active feeling bike, like a something with DW link where you wouldn't lock it out at all, but in the end of the day, it makes something that's
extremely fast and sporty feeling.

So we know the Giant is efficient as hell, but let's talk about handling. Now for this, the Trance
X definitely leans more towards that classic trail bike feel, more towards the Ibis and the specialized, in something like the P-Train
or the longer travel Salsa. In those tight sections,
the Giant can easily be steered around or through
any sort of rudy or rocky mess. And it really lets you pick
your lines as you're going, whereas on a bigger
travel slacker trail bike, you're basically just saying, "All right, I'm gonna keep
pedaling and see where I get. I know what you're saying,
Levy, I climb to the top of the mountain on my
big travel trail bike, and I don't dab it all." And that's true, the
Salsa and the P-Train, they get to the top of the
hill without me dabbing, even in the tricky spots, but it just feels like less work on a bike like the Trance X, than it does on those
more forgiving bikes. (upbeat music) When I first got the Trance X, I rode it on its own for four, five days, and not back-to-back
against the other bikes.

pexels photo 1036936

And in most places, the
suspension felt just fine. Maybe a little bit
unforgiving here and there, but mostly just fine. But it's a different story when we started doing some back-to-back riding. When the ground was
really rough and choppy, or traction was questionable
in those settings, when I was riding the
bikes back-to-back-to-back, there was a fairly noticeable difference in suspension performance
between live valve, and traditional suspension from Fox. Now keep in mind those
other bikes have higher-end, piggyback shocks or the
higher-end grip to damper. And what it felt like
is basically the bike was getting knocked around a bit more, and I had less traction. You could see it on
video in some sections, where the rear of the
bike would be sliding when I didn't want it to, or even the front of the bike. Overall, it felt a little
bit less consistent, and definitely a bit rougher
and with a bit less traction. Now, part of that difference
is suspension performance, when you're descending might
come down to the fork spec. When you get live valve suspension, well live valve only pairs
with the FIT4 fork damper.

Truth be told when you get the Trance X on less demanding terrain, and doesn't have to be a pure flow trail, it could still be full of roots and rocks, the Giant can be a lot of fun. And this is a bike that
really rewards a rider who likes to dip and dive
and play around on the trail. Where the Salsa and the P-Train, are more for you straight
liners out there, who are just trying to
go as fast as possible, the Giant, well, it's
more of like the Ibis and the specialized.

It rewards somebody who thinks
about their line choice more and is more interactive with the trail. (upbeat music) Let's talk about timing first. And our climb was a mix of
smooth single track at the bottom that went into some
pretty tricky, slow stuff, full of roots and rocks at the top. The Giant had the fastest
time by 19 seconds over the Ibis Mojo, and it definitely felt
like that on the trail. This thing feels like an absolute
rocket ship on the way up. That's a different story
on the way back down. The Giant had these slowest time, seven seconds behind the Mojo. And to be honest, it was
a little bit slippery, and I didn't have a ton of
confidence in the traction. (upbeat music) Let's go over what I
liked about components and a big standout for me again, is this Shimano Drive train. It's hyper glide plus
and I've said it before, and I'm probably gonna
say it a whole bunch more in the near future, you
could shift under load, like never before.

And that comes in handy
on all sorts of climbs, especially technical ones. The other thing I wanna talk about, it's the Fox live valve suspension, and I'm done moaning
about it at least for now, because the upside is that it
creates an incredible climber. If you want a trail bike to go
extremely fast up the climbs. If you're the kind of rider who times yourself up all the climbs, if you care about that sort of stuff, if you're into fitness, well, you're gonna be in the live valve.

All right, let's talk about
the stuff I didn't like. And I'm gonna bring up
live valve suspension again, of course. Well, it makes the bike
an incredible climber, it also makes the
suspension feel quite rough on the descents. I'd equate it to feeling
something like the rear tire has 35 PSI in it, as opposed
to being in the low 20's. To be fair our trails
are quite complicated. They're full of roots and rocks
and things get even worse, or better when it gets wet. Traction is very on,
off and live valve here, well, it makes the bike feel quite rough. But having said that if
you live, I don't know, almost anywhere else in the world that doesn't have super rudy rocky trails. I have a feeling that live
valve won't feel nearly as questionable as it
did here in Squamish. Now when I asked Giant's
thoughts about this, they told me to keep in mind
that the Trance Nameplate indicates this bike
should be equally adept at climbing as it is descending.

For Giant, this translates
into 50% climbing, 50% descending proficiency. It needs to accomplish both tasks equally. If riders are more focused on
pure descending capability, our Enduro-focused reign
29 range is skewed 60/40 toward the descending experience. (upbeat music) Time for pros and cons
and the first one here, if you're looking for a trail
bike to cover a lot of ground, that doesn't have to do double duty on some pretty sketchy terrain, well, the Trance X trail bike
might be the one for you.

The other thing with this
live valve suspension, it's extremely fast and efficient. And if you're into the tech, it's hard to not get excited
about some of this stuff. (upbeat music) Let's talk about cons, and I'm gonna bring up the packaging of live valve suspension. Now this is not entirely all Giants fault. Fox's live valve suspension
requires wires to work, the sensor at the back and the front, it's all connected to the microprocessor, and then you got this battery up there. The whole thing is just, well, it's not very well
integrated into the frame. And along those same lines, there's no frame storage
integration here on the Trance X. While you have specialized
and trek out there with holes in their down tubes, that I think they could
fit Anthony Massari in their down tubes, Giant, well, they don't have
any way to carry anything.

And not only that, the
internal cable routing, isn't tube in tube. It's all internal, but just
rattling around in there. (upbeat music) Let's be honest here, unlike
some trail bikes out there, the new Trance X is not
pretending to be an Enduro bike. And Giant's decision to spec
electronically controlled suspension for increased
pedaling performance, definitely tells you what
the bike is meant for. And none of that is gonna make
it the cool bike to have out, of our field test group of trail rigs.

So why would you have the Trance X? Well to cover a ton of ground, of course. It's live valve suspension
means that it's incredibly fast and efficient on that sort of terrain. So while it might not be
forgiving on the rough descents, as bikes like the specialized or the Ibis, or especially the Salsa and P-Train, is a great choice for someone
who's more fitness focused and wants to do a ton of miles. That's it for Giant's all new Trance X. Let us know what you think
about it in the comments below, and make sure to subscribe, so you don't miss any
field test video reviews, and round table discussions
where I argue with Kazimer. (upbeat music).

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