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  1. #1
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    Novice Rider Torn Between the 2014 Giant Trance and Santa Cruz Heckler

    Guys I am still bikeless I was sold on the Trance until I found the Heckler at my local bike shop. They sale mostly Giant and Santa Cruz products.

    Anyhow- Riding a full suspension bike around in a parking lot as a test ride tells me squat about them. Unfortunately I can not test ride them on a trail. I guess all in all its as simple to some as a brand thing. Some prefer one or the other, but with my self I have never owned either Giant or Santa Cruz.

    Those who have ridden both can you give me some honest feed back.

  2. #2
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    Which level trance? there are different levels with different components. Since it is same dealer go with better deal with good components.

  3. #3
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    I've ridden both bikes and they're both great in general, but suspension wise the Giant has the upper hand. The suspension design is the most important decision in a new bike. That being said, the Heckler is simple, a great value and a tough frame. The Heckler is also one of the highest rated bikes on MTBR, but so is the Trance. I personally would go with the Trance.
    The Truth will set you free.

  4. #4
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    What are the prices and what are the specs on the bikes you are looking at.

    The big difference is the heckler is a single pivot suspension:
    Pros: Simple, minimal pivots, light weight, reduced pedal bob.
    Cons: Prone to pedal feedback and interference from braking forces.
    Buy if: You're worried more about long-term durability than a more refined suspension feel. This is the least technically demanding suspension platform so it's ideal for the tool shy.

    The Trance is a Maestro suspension:
    Pros: Can offer good braking, pedalling and pedal kickback performance.
    Cons: Above pros depend on precise setup, is relatively heavy.
    Buy if: You want a supple ride with a strong climbing capability. Riders of mid- and long-travel trail/all-mountain bikes love the clean feel of the stop/go action for its terrain-eating ability, but it needs careful shock setup to work optimally.

  5. #5
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    thanks guys, in general I am planning on spending between $2100-3000 so with that said both fall within that range. So I am looking at the Trance X2 $2750 Versus the 2014 Heckler $2999

  6. #6
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    I just went from a Santa Cruz Nickel to the Giant Anthem and its a dramatically better pedal machine than the SC was. I really thought the Nickel was fine for XC and trail with that much travel but one test ride on the Maestro and I was convinced.

    I bought the Anthem 27.5 3 and upgraded pretty much everything, but was surprised there was no lock-out on the rear shock, but it honestly doesn't need it. I have about a mile ride on the street to get to my local trail and I just lock out the fork and go.

    You should be able to get an Anthem 3 for about $2k if they have a couple on hand. I went with the 3 because I needed a bike quick and that was all any of my local dealers had.

    When I was finished swapping everything on mine I ended up with a sub-24# bike, but I spent stupid money on it lol.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  7. #7
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    Forget giant bike. I suggest trek slash, remedy 650b or Santa Cruz Bronson.

  8. #8
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    Up front: I have never owned a SC bike and don't know what their warranty is, or how they service it.

    I have (do) own a Giant, and they have a lifetime warranty on their frames, and they service it very well. When my frame broke, it took less than a week to have my hands on the new one. Warranties are a big deal to me, and I think some people overlook them entirely. Do some research on the SC warranty.

    Now, all that said, I've ridden quite a few bikes. Almost nothing (by which I mean very few bikes) pedal as well as those with Maestro suspension. It's a dialed in platform that works very well. That alone couldn't necessarily sell me a bike, but if everything else was pretty equal, that would certain tip the equation for me.

  9. #9
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    I am big on warranties also. Just bought a 2014 Subaru Outback and paid the extra to get there 100,000 mile warranty. Killer!

    What ever bike a buy will be up on top. Already bought the Yakima roof bike rack!

  10. #10
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    if you're a novice rider, you're not going to notice the subtle differences between the two...they're both really nice bikes...just buy one and enjoy it...you can't go wrong with either one...

  11. #11
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    ^^^ This is the best advice so far. If you're truly a novice, buy whichever one floats your boat and go have a blast.

  12. #12
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    I'd say I am a novice to mountain biking. I was into the bmx scene as a kid into my teens. redlines, gts, mongoose etc. had them all. As far as a mountain bike the last bike I purchased was a hardtail 2005 GT avalanche which I sold 4yrs ago.

    Thanks all for the advice. I will post when I make my purchase.

  13. #13
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    If you have ridden many bmx bikes you know how important fit is so i would consider this primary and even though the heckler is a very good bike i would give the edge for rear suspension to the giant, but then i have a new solo and at this time i would not trade it for anything short of a ktm 450 exc!
    “An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” Marco Polo

  14. #14
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    I think you need to find a bike shop that allows Demo rides. Its a big investment and most shops I know understand this and will set up Demos for you.

    As mentioned above Giant has a very good suspension design and the warranty is lifetime. I keep my bikes around 10 years and slowly upgrade as technology and components advance. For this reason a solid frame and warranty are huge points for me.

    I do not agree that being novice reduces the importance of a bike that fits and works best for you. Your learning curve in the beginning will pretty steep. The better the bike you pick works for you the faster that curve will climb. Further more, myself included, I have seen too many people develop bad habits working around a bike that is not right for them.

    good luck.

  15. #15
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    No one said fit wasn't important; fit is obviously critical regardless of experience. The point is minutia of suspension performance will likely be lost on a newer rider. That rider shouldn't spend a bunch of time agonizing over a bicycle choice based on that.

  16. #16
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    Thanks guys. Ive visited a few of my local bike shops yesterday, actually went to 4 different shops yesterday. 2 of which are Santa Cruz and Giant Dealers, 1 was a Scott and Fuji dealer the last was a Trek and Salsa dealer. Found out one dealer is a Marin dealer, but didn't make it over there. Lots of good bikes out there. Ive also taken a look at Obea & Jamis online.

    Up most importance to me is 1st quality, 2nd warranty, 3rd a good shop to service the bike. I am a sucker for good service and am willing to pay a little more if the service is good. One of the Giant dealers even told me he'd knock a couple hundred off the 2014 Trance 27.5 1. The Scott dealer was a cool dude. Told me to stop by during the week and he would go over the 2013 models and get me a killer price.

    I have more options now though..

    Giant Trance
    Santa Cruz Heckler or Bronson
    Trek Remedy
    Scott 700 series
    Marin Mount Vision or Attack Trail

    Asked each shop/dealer if they had any demo bikes. Each told me the same thing not until spring.

    This site has been a great help. Although I have not posted much I have read dozens of threads.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayAllen View Post
    I have more options now though..

    Giant Trance
    Santa Cruz Heckler or Bronson
    Trek Remedy
    Scott 700 series
    Marin Mount Vision or Attack Trail
    Let the madness begin. The more you learn about your options, the tougher your decision will become and the more expensive it will turn out to be.

    I agonized over my decision. Even putting in geo/specs/price data into a spreadsheet.

    In the end, none of that mattered. I chose the bike that put the biggest grin on my face.

  18. #18
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    I rode a Trance 1 demo for three days last week when I was on vacation in SoCal. I was blown away by the effectiveness of the suspension (currently riding a single-pivot Cannondale). Would not have thought the difference between the linkage suspension and my current single-pivot could be that much, but I found it shocking.

    I'm still debating a bit between a Trance and a SC 5010, as I'm waiting to demo a 5010 locally, but I could definitely be happy riding a Trance. Fantastic bike.

  19. #19
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    The Trance X2 and the Heckler are close, but...

    ...I will give the nod to the Heckler for a few reasons. First, something that no one has mentioned; maintenance or rather the minimal needs for it. The Heckler is as simple as it gets and while no bike is maintenance free the Heckler is close. It allows for you to do it yourself with some inexpensive tools you either already have and around $100 worth of bearing tools from SC. The Giant has no such provisions and I can guarantee you that it's bearings will get noisy/creaky after a season or less.

    Second, in terms of the spec both bikes are close, but there are some subtle differences. The drivetrains are virtually the same, but the Heckler has better brakes (Deore vs Avid) and better wheels (WTB i23/SRAM hubs vs Giant house brand).

    Third, the X-2 is an older model (2012). The '13/14 comparable models are either a much lower spec (Trance 3) or more expensive.

    Finally, my own biases. I have been riding single pivot bikes for over fifteen years. I am a fan without a doubt and I could ride whatever I want. The nuances that fancier suspension designs bring do not outweigh the durability and lower maintenance IMHO. Santa Cruz nailed the single pivot years ago and the Heckler is a great bike that will serve you well if you are looking for a heavy-duty AM/trail bike.
    the going won't get good 'til I'm good and gone

  20. #20
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    I was on the Santa Cruz site last nite using the Builds and Price button. I can get the Heckler D Am for $2599 Awesome. If you change over to the Fox 34 fork the price shoots to $2963. At $2963 I might as well go with the Heckler R AM with the Fox 34 for $2999...

  21. #21
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    When I was a beginner it was pretty apparent how effective a good suspension design can be. When braking, pedaling, descending, and climbing. It's significant for me. Maybe because I am so used to suspension tuning on other things (sportbikes, cars, etc), but there is a reason these bike companies hire ex formula 1 suspension designers to come and make their bikes better.

    Now after saying that, Single pivot bikes are tons of fun and again are very simple.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayAllen View Post
    I was on the Santa Cruz site last nite using the Builds and Price button. I can get the Heckler D Am for $2599 Awesome. If you change over to the Fox 34 fork the price shoots to $2963. At $2963 I might as well go with the Heckler R AM with the Fox 34 for $2999...
    Santa Cruz packages are almost always a better deal. The next thing I would recommend is to ditch the outer chain ring for a bashgaurd and save up for a dropper post. Down the line, replace parts as needed, but as built it is good to go. If you really get into suspension performance and achieving an even better ride then later pony up for a more high-performance or custom-tuned shock ie, a Cane Creek DB Air (my choice) or a Pushed Fox. Good luck.
    the going won't get good 'til I'm good and gone

  23. #23
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    I got the Trance 1 just before Christmas and I'm blown away every time I ride it. I've got 30+ years of road biking experience but only ~5 years of MTB riding and on my 26" FS my stamina greatly exceeds my skills. On the Trance, my confidence has soared and honestly I am a completely different rider. Chances are I'd feel the same way about many of the other bikes comparable to the Trance, but the Trance is the real deal. The component spec is excellent, as are the finer things like internal cable routing and dropper post. The only upgrade I see in the near future may be a lighter wheelset. If you've got a dealer will to reduce the price on the Trance by a couple of Franklins, I'd say go for it, you won't be disappointed!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by HELLBELLY View Post
    [B]The Giant has no such provisions and I can guarantee you that it's bearings will get noisy/creaky after a season or less.
    How exactly do you guarantee this? I'm going into my seventh year on a Maestro bike that's been ridden hard year round and the bearing kit i bought years ago remains unused because all the bearings still work flawlessly.

    As for the OP, i've ridden the Trance, Heckler and Remedy, and they are all fantastic bikes, so if you feel equally comfortable on those bikes, to me it would come down to the best deal and what dealer you feel most comfortable with. Being a novice, you will probably rely on dealer support more than a more seasoned rider.

  25. #25
    Creepy tooth fairy
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    You could be the exception then...

    Quote Originally Posted by SiSandroSi View Post
    How exactly do you guarantee this? I'm going into my seventh year on a Maestro bike that's been ridden hard year round and the bearing kit i bought years ago remains unused because all the bearings still work flawlessly.

    As for the OP, i've ridden the Trance, Heckler and Remedy, and they are all fantastic bikes, so if you feel equally comfortable on those bikes, to me it would come down to the best deal and what dealer you feel most comfortable with. Being a novice, you will probably rely on dealer support more than a more seasoned rider.
    ...as I do not know anyone riding any multi-pivot bike who has not needed to replace bearings every season or so. You are fortunate in this matter. SC warranties their bearings for life and yet I still roached out a couple of sets on my most recent bike. I am big rider (just under 200lbs with gear depending on bacon/beer consumption) and I ride aggressively (recovering freeride jerk) and often (2-4X per week) through the wet and deep woods riding that is common here in GA/NC/TN.

    Regardless, the OP should choose the bike that turns him on the most upon considering all factors. The maintenance on the Heckler is easier and the ride is great.
    the going won't get good 'til I'm good and gone

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