2019 Trance 29-2 review (long read)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    2019 Trance 29-2 review (long read)

    I picked up the new Giant Trance 29-2 in late February. It does split ride time with my main rig, an Ibis Ripmo, but I feel like Iíve had sufficient mileage to give it a fair shake.

    The bike is size XL. Iím 6í2, 34 cycling inseam, 180 pounds before gear and a +2 ape index (basically, tall-skinny-gorilla arms). For purposes of this review, all riding was done on various trail systems in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Iíve been riding mountain bikes seriously for about 15 years and was a decent BMX racer prior to that. Iím about an average climber (generally top 40 percent or so on Strava) and an above-average descender (generally top 5 to 10 percent).

    Most of the mileage has been on various South Mountain trails, most commonly National, Mormon and Corona de Loma for those familiar. These are trails that most riders will choose a much bigger travel bike for. Very, very jagged, steep in spots; basically one long square-edge hit both up and down. This terrain is hard on bikes, tires, suspension and riders.

    I rode the bike stock a couple times then made some changes as follows: WTB Silverado saddle. Laced in a SRAM 900 rear hub. GX drivetrain. Conti Trail King 2.4 front tire and Bontrager SE4 2.4 rear. 50mm stem with some rise and Renthal riser bars.

    IMG_0508 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

    Iím running 20% sag in front and between 11-12mm on the rear, mostly open with very little rebound damping. Iím using full travel on most rides, but the rear in particular is deeper than expected and Iíve only felt small inputs when I reach the end of the travel.

    Iíve owned a lot of bikes over the years, so happy to compare and contrast if thatís helpful for anyone.

    Pros: Overall dialed geometry. Decent price. Excellent deep suspension feel. Incredibly rowdy in general, not just when viewed through the prism of short travel.

    Cons: Iíd like the seat angle to be a degree steeper. Iíd love to have more stack so I donít have to use so many spacers and riser bars. It has literally the most fragile paint Iíve ever seen.

    Long version: This is one of the more unusual bikes on the market today. Iím incredibly and surprisingly pleased with it, but it has to present a marketing conundrum for Giant. It doesnít climb with the alacrity that youíd expect for a bike with 115mm of travel. And it descends with the sort of reckless abandon youíd expect of a burlier bike with much more travel. The closest comparison I could make would be to the Banshee Phantom, one of my favorite bikes of all time.

    Climbing. Iíve gotten pretty used to steep seat angles so I can feel the difference on the Trance. I bumped my seat forward on the rails a bit, but Iíd love to be more forward. The bike climbs fine, but it doesnít have the sense of snap and urgency at the pedals that other bikes do. For instance, my Ripmo feels snappier to pedal. That said, once you get used to it, itís fine. Climbing-wise, the numbers work out to be about the same, the bike just FEELS slower. Technical climbing and traction are both excellent. Smoother climbs are better using the climb switch. The front does stay down on steeps, but doesnít have that planted feel that the Ibis has.

    Just riding along. We donít have a lot of that on the trails I commonly ride. Youíre generally either climbing or descending. The Trance fits well and certainly seems content to just pedal along with what little experience I have here.

    Descending. Wow. This thing is pretty ridiculous even with a relatively low-end shock. The suspension just feels good, much deeper than youíd expect, very controlled with sufficient support in the middle to push off of. I donít generally hit really big drops, but Iíve gone up to about 4 feet or so with no issues, as well as all normal lines and doubling-up rock gaps. No problem. Front end comes up easily. Back end comes up easily. Turns? This is probably my weakest point technically, as most of our turns in Phoenix are flat or off-camber, loose and generally have drops, steps or other ďfeaturesĒ in the middle. No catch-berms here.

    That said, this may be the most natural-feeling bike to lay down in turns Iíve ever experienced. For instance, the Corona de Loma trail at South Mountain. Itís about a 1-mile mostly fall-line descent down the mountain, but it has roughly 20-25 switchbacks on the way down. I PRd this trail on the Trance last week, just blowing through those turns at speed. While the Ripmo is faster overall, you canít whip it through turns the way you can with the Giant.

    Again, Iím surprisingly pleased with this bike. It is a bit of an odd bird, since its climbing and descending manners are nearly inversely proportional to its travel. But itís been a perfect foil to the Ripmo, since theyíre both fun but in different ways.

    This isnít an XC bike. But if a short-travel trail/all mountain bike is on your list, you really should give this thing a shake.

    Sorry for the long post; hopefully itís useful for someone. Thanks for reading.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  2. #2
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    Great review! Matches my feelings on the bike 99%. Just curious as to the fork and shock pressures you are running?

  3. #3
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    Can't remember to the psi, but roughly 265 in the rear and around 88-90 in the front.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  4. #4
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    Cool! Thanks for that

  5. #5
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    Awesome review! Iím currently considering that exact bike. Iím in Flagstaff so I ride here and Sedona mainly. Have you ridden it in Sedona? If so what did you think for it there.

    Also considering a Tallboy or Hightower. Just want something good all around I can grow with. Want a good climber though for sure.

    Iíve demoíd the Trance 29 a few times and liked it. Just a hard choice with so many nice bikes out there.

    Thanks


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotorwind View Post
    Awesome review! Iím currently considering that exact bike. Iím in Flagstaff so I ride here and Sedona mainly. Have you ridden it in Sedona? If so what did you think for it there.

    Also considering a Tallboy or Hightower. Just want something good all around I can grow with. Want a good climber though for sure.

    Iíve demoíd the Trance 29 a few times and liked it. Just a hard choice with so many nice bikes out there.

    Thanks


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    I could see deciding between the Trance and the Hightower, but not the Tallboy.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    I could see deciding between the Trance and the Hightower, but not the Tallboy.
    Tallboy felt pretty comparable to the Trance to me (newer rider). Not as confident on the gnarly downhill as the trance but not bad. Climbed better then the Trance.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotorwind View Post
    Tallboy felt pretty comparable to the Trance to me (newer rider). Not as confident on the gnarly downhill as the trance but not bad. Climbed better then the Trance.
    As well it should, since it's effectively SC's FS XC race offering. The Trance is a trail bike. That's why MSU mentioned the Hightower being a better comparison to the Trance. They are both trail bikes.

  9. #9
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    Iíve owned both the HT and the new Tallboy. The Tallboy is definitely a different class of bike, despite similar travel. I generally like Santa Cruz, but wasnít a fan of that bike. God climber, though, if thatís your thing.

    I havenít ridden it in Sedona. Generally, if a bike does well in Phoenix, Sedona is no different.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Iíve owned both the HT and the new Tallboy. The Tallboy is definitely a different class of bike, despite similar travel. I generally like Santa Cruz, but wasnít a fan of that bike. God climber, though, if thatís your thing.

    I havenít ridden it in Sedona. Generally, if a bike does well in Phoenix, Sedona is no different.
    Gotcha. I havent ridden the HT yet. How do you think it compares with the trance 29?


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  11. #11
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    Pretty similar. The Hightower may actually pedal a touch better at the expense of plush. It's a relatively firm bike. Definitely like that bike, though, but if I had to choose, I'd take the Giant. It's much more of a ripper than you'd believe.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  12. #12
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    Just sold my hightower (and kona heihei) and replaced it with a trance 29 advanced (and a megatower). I've also spent a lot of time on the tallboy. The trance 29 is in between the tallboy and the hightower. I'd say it descends a bit better then the tallboy but not quite as well as the hightower. It climbs a bit better then a hightower (in most situations although there are a few where it doesn't) but not quite as well as a tallboy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    I picked up the new Giant Trance 29-2 in late February. It does split ride time with my main rig, an Ibis Ripmo, but I feel like Iíve had sufficient mileage to give it a fair shake.

    The bike is size XL. Iím 6í2, 34 cycling inseam, 180 pounds before gear and a +2 ape index (basically, tall-skinny-gorilla arms). For purposes of this review, all riding was done on various trail systems in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Iíve been riding mountain bikes seriously for about 15 years and was a decent BMX racer prior to that. Iím about an average climber (generally top 40 percent or so on Strava) and an above-average descender (generally top 5 to 10 percent).

    Most of the mileage has been on various South Mountain trails, most commonly National, Mormon and Corona de Loma for those familiar. These are trails that most riders will choose a much bigger travel bike for. Very, very jagged, steep in spots; basically one long square-edge hit both up and down. This terrain is hard on bikes, tires, suspension and riders.

    I rode the bike stock a couple times then made some changes as follows: WTB Silverado saddle. Laced in a SRAM 900 rear hub. GX drivetrain. Conti Trail King 2.4 front tire and Bontrager SE4 2.4 rear. 50mm stem with some rise and Renthal riser bars.

    IMG_0508 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

    Iím running 20% sag in front and between 11-12mm on the rear, mostly open with very little rebound damping. Iím using full travel on most rides, but the rear in particular is deeper than expected and Iíve only felt small inputs when I reach the end of the travel.

    Iíve owned a lot of bikes over the years, so happy to compare and contrast if thatís helpful for anyone.

    Pros: Overall dialed geometry. Decent price. Excellent deep suspension feel. Incredibly rowdy in general, not just when viewed through the prism of short travel.

    Cons: Iíd like the seat angle to be a degree steeper. Iíd love to have more stack so I donít have to use so many spacers and riser bars. It has literally the most fragile paint Iíve ever seen.

    Long version: This is one of the more unusual bikes on the market today. Iím incredibly and surprisingly pleased with it, but it has to present a marketing conundrum for Giant. It doesnít climb with the alacrity that youíd expect for a bike with 115mm of travel. And it descends with the sort of reckless abandon youíd expect of a burlier bike with much more travel. The closest comparison I could make would be to the Banshee Phantom, one of my favorite bikes of all time.

    Climbing. Iíve gotten pretty used to steep seat angles so I can feel the difference on the Trance. I bumped my seat forward on the rails a bit, but Iíd love to be more forward. The bike climbs fine, but it doesnít have the sense of snap and urgency at the pedals that other bikes do. For instance, my Ripmo feels snappier to pedal. That said, once you get used to it, itís fine. Climbing-wise, the numbers work out to be about the same, the bike just FEELS slower. Technical climbing and traction are both excellent. Smoother climbs are better using the climb switch. The front does stay down on steeps, but doesnít have that planted feel that the Ibis has.

    Just riding along. We donít have a lot of that on the trails I commonly ride. Youíre generally either climbing or descending. The Trance fits well and certainly seems content to just pedal along with what little experience I have here.

    Descending. Wow. This thing is pretty ridiculous even with a relatively low-end shock. The suspension just feels good, much deeper than youíd expect, very controlled with sufficient support in the middle to push off of. I donít generally hit really big drops, but Iíve gone up to about 4 feet or so with no issues, as well as all normal lines and doubling-up rock gaps. No problem. Front end comes up easily. Back end comes up easily. Turns? This is probably my weakest point technically, as most of our turns in Phoenix are flat or off-camber, loose and generally have drops, steps or other ďfeaturesĒ in the middle. No catch-berms here.

    That said, this may be the most natural-feeling bike to lay down in turns Iíve ever experienced. For instance, the Corona de Loma trail at South Mountain. Itís about a 1-mile mostly fall-line descent down the mountain, but it has roughly 20-25 switchbacks on the way down. I PRd this trail on the Trance last week, just blowing through those turns at speed. While the Ripmo is faster overall, you canít whip it through turns the way you can with the Giant.

    Again, Iím surprisingly pleased with this bike. It is a bit of an odd bird, since its climbing and descending manners are nearly inversely proportional to its travel. But itís been a perfect foil to the Ripmo, since theyíre both fun but in different ways.

    This isnít an XC bike. But if a short-travel trail/all mountain bike is on your list, you really should give this thing a shake.

    Sorry for the long post; hopefully itís useful for someone. Thanks for reading.

    Thanks for the review. Nice. The more detailed the better.

    I'm building up this frame for this season. Biggest struggle was what rear rim to build up and what tires to run. Ended up with a new i29mm rear rim and a rebuilt old i30mm for the front.

    SE4 was what I originally planned to use. But that tire I felt might be a bit too burly for a bike I was building up to be snappy. I've already got a burly, ground hugging trail bike, and this Giant was to be more of a xc-trail type rig. Ended up going with a 2.4 WT Rekon out back and a 2.6 WT Forkaster up front. Thought that would be a bit quicker than a rear SE 4 and XR 4 front. Maybe I was wrong.

    Tell me about the SE 4.

    One reason I went with the frame is the STA was not too steep. I get too much pressure on my hands and loose too much power on steeper STA bikes. Shorter travel bikes don't sag as much so I didn't think a steep STA was needed.

    Thanks again for the nice review.

  14. #14
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    I don't know if you're wrong or not as I wouldn't personally run a Rekon/Forekaster here in Phoenix.

    Priorities for rear tires if you ride in a place with nothing but sharp rocks: Carcass strength, then everything else ...

    I've become a fanboy of the SE4 as a rear tire. Been running one on the rear of my Ripmo for months, so it was a no-brainer for me on the Giant. Not terribly heavy, good volume, good sidewall, seems to spin up better than a DHRII and has perhaps 95% of the traction of that tire.

    For me, the DHRII is the tire I compare all other rears to.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by minimusprime View Post
    Just sold my hightower (and kona heihei) and replaced it with a trance 29 advanced (and a megatower). I've also spent a lot of time on the tallboy. The trance 29 is in between the tallboy and the hightower. I'd say it descends a bit better then the tallboy but not quite as well as the hightower. It climbs a bit better then a hightower (in most situations although there are a few where it doesn't) but not quite as well as a tallboy.
    Thanks!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    2019 Trance 29-2 review (long read)

    Did another demo on the Trance 29 today. Really enjoyed it. Decided to pick one up. Giant had a sale for 15% off so that was an added bonus


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  17. #17
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    Rotorwind, was the sale local to your shop or a national promotion? That's a decent discount. Bike looks sweet. Have a great season riding!

  18. #18
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    The 29-2 has been reduced to around $2600. See the Giant site.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    The 29-2 has been reduced to around $2600. See the Giant site.
    I thought that was the case as well, but the U.S. site, today, has it at $3100.

  20. #20
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    Giant's spring sale went through may 5th. They do it every year assisting their dealers with 15-20% discounts and 0% financing.

  21. #21
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    Thanks everyone. Day late, $500 short. Yeah, the sale price is definitely over on the website. Back to retail pricing.

  22. #22
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    Dang, hadn't checked it in the last couple days. WAs a helluva deal for that bike.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXPABIKER View Post
    Rotorwind, was the sale local to your shop or a national promotion? That's a decent discount. Bike looks sweet. Have a great season riding!
    Thanks. Iím enjoying it so far! Sorry you missed the sale.


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  24. #24
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    comparison with Ripmo

    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Dang, hadn't checked it in the last couple days. WAs a helluva deal for that bike.
    even when is not an apples to apples comparison, i have those 2 bikes on mind, if u can have one which one would be?
    do u think the new ripley would be the best of both?

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