(Warning: Long and nerdy)
The only Giant bike I own is a road bike but I do lurk here since I've been looking around at different FS options for the Spring. I thought I'd share this in case it might be of interest to others who are looking, or if any Trance owners want to chime in.
Up until today, we in CT were having a run of weather without much snow so the trails have been pretty rideable. Yesterday I took out a Trance 2 from my LBS on a two-hour+ ride at a local trail. It was the 20" frame size and it was actually the first ride on the new (06) demo. The folks at the LBS were really good about spending the time to try and set the suspension up correctly - they're not that busy this time of the year here. I have a Reba on my hardtail so I knew a bit about what pressures I should run.
My only MTB is a Fisher Big Sur hardtail, and my only other previous ride on a FS bike was on an FSR-type bike, so you can take my comments with a grain of salt if you want. My overall impression of the Trance was very positive. I think the word I'd choose to describe the suspension would be 'efficient'. My two favorite qualities over my current bike were the technical climbing ability and the ability to take multiple small bumps (roots) without losing speed or traction. I definitely noticed the extra weight on the longer fire-road type climbs, but I never felt any pedal-induced bob. I did smack the pedals / crank ends a few times, but not to the point where I thought bb height was a big issue. Handling-wise I was very surprised at how well the Trance cornered. Like I told the people at the shop when I brought it back, the only thing I would change about the bike would be the tires. I'm not a real tire snob but I think the Bulldogs are pretty sketchy. They don't seem to hold well laterally or hook up too well for climbing, at least for the pressures I tried and the trail conditions here.
I'm 5'11" with fairly-short legs for my height, but other than when I first got on the bike it never felt big. The standover clearance was excellent - I think the numbers Giant give are on the high side, or measured too far forward or something. The top tube on my Fisher is 24.7" - the Trance 20" frame is supposed to be 23.9", and I definitely think it felt like the right size (at least similar to what I'm used to). For the record, I weighed the Trance 2 on my own scale and it came in at 28.4 lb without pedals.
I've still got 2-3 more bikes that I want to demo but I'd have to say the Trance ranks pretty high. I think the RP3/Reba combination is solid and the SRAM drivetrain worked pretty nicely. For $2k I think you get a lot with the T2.
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Thread: Demo'd a Trance