Review: 2015 Giant Trance 2

For 2015 Giant builds on the foundation it has laid for it's Trance in 2014. The latest model makes a worthy claim at being the true do-it-all trail ripper that it's always promised to be.
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The Frame


At the heart of the Trance is the hydroformed ALUXX SL frameset with Maestro suspension. Giant is proud to say that it's the lightest alloy 5.5-inch/140mm travel full suspension frame they have ever made. I am glad to see their swooping top tube is back after they abandoned it a couple of years ago in favor of a marginally lighter straight top tube. Not only does it look better to me, it also adds much needed standover height.


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The swingarm is 27.5 specific for the shortest possible chainstays and wheelbase, supposedly resulting in snappy handling. At 440mm the chainstays they are not the shortest, but I didn’t really notice the additional length out on the trail. It is shortsighted to put too much value in a single measurement of a bike's geometry - all the angles, lengths and widths should be considered together, as it's in this melting pot where magic happens.


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Cables are routed internally for a clean look and Giant has managed to do this in a way that doesn't lead to any annoying rattling or slapping that so many frames with internal routing suffers from. Keeping with internal routing, the Trance is compatible with "Stealth" dropper seat posts. The hose for the rear disc brake is still routed down the top of the down tube for ease of maintenance, but can also be routed internally should you wish to do so. More evidence of attention to detail can be found in the integrated chainstay protector. We're seeing more and more of these on frames and can only applaud the industry for adding value and bits where it matters.

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Trance frames feature convertible rear dropouts that allow you to run either 135mm QR (standard) or 142/12 through-axle wheels. I did find it strange that Giant ship their bikes standard with 135mm QR and not, the now widely adopted, 12x142mm.

For 2014 the Trance's head angle was slackened from 69.5 to 67 degrees, wheels downsized from 29" to 27.5" and the top tube was stretched out for a longer front center and better reach which helps when running a short stem. The seat tube angle was steepened by half a degree to a climb-friendly 73.5 degrees. The geometry stays unchanged for the 2015 model.

Overdrive 2

For their 2012 model range Giant introduced a new steerer standard called Overdrive 2. Rather than having a 1 1/8th inch diameter, these forks had a diameter of 1 1/4, and tapered down to 1.5″, which Giant claimed resulted in a 30% increase in stiffness at the handlebar. Although it was unique on their bikes, Overdrive 2 (OD2) was not patented and therefore free for all to adopt.

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There were however 2 practical issues with OD2. First, complete bikes shipped with OD2 forks which is fine if you weren't planning to upgrade and sell the OE (Original Equipment) fork. If you did, you could only sell that fork to another Giant rider with OD2 or to someone with a 1.5" straight steerer, but these are becoming hens teeth and should you find one it would be on a DH bike. Secondly, it used an OD2 stem and finding those aftermarket was a pain to say the least. Only a handful of stem manufacturers developed and launched OD2 compatible stems and most of them disappeared soon after. In terms of it's benefit I'm sure Giant saw a 30% increase in stiffness on a test bench. My initial thought was that that 30% would be over and above what the average rider would be able to feel on the trail and no real benefit in real life.

Why all this historic info you ask? Well going forward Giant has gone back to standard tapered steerer which means forks and stems are readily available and you will find a buyer for your OE fork or stem that came stock on your Giant. Riders rejoice! Note that Giant still refers to their tapered head tubes and steerer as "Overdrive".

Maestro Suspension


First introduced in 2004 the Maestro has seen several evolutionary changes over the past decade to adapt to riders, modern geometry and drivetrain revolutions. In recent years changes have been made to take full advantage of 1x and 2x drivetrains and cartridge bearings have been incorporated in the upper shock mounts to improve the bikes’ small-bump compliance.

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Components


Fork: The Fox 32 Float on the Trance 2 offers a noticeable upgrade in performance over the 2014 Talas and 2014 Float that I've ridden recently. It was easier to get the front and rear suspension balanced to my liking. That being said, at 140mm the fork feels stretched and battles with stiffness. Under load or when the trail gets rough there's quite a bit of twang and it soon feels over-run. This is in part due to the frame's seemingly willingness to go faster and bigger, but in doing so it stretches the Float 32's boundaries. From my experience a RockShox Revelation would have better suited the geometry and the faster, harder riding expected on the Trance.


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Tyres: Nobby Nics are great all rounders for general trail riding, but when pushed hard they battle to offer enough grip to maintain the speeds the frame can handle. Tires with some form of added sidewall protection is a must on most of the trails I ride and it didn't take long for the sidewalls to show signs of damage and wear. Note that the Nobby Nics on the Trance are from Schwalbe’s Performance rather than Evo line.

Wheelset: The Trance 2 runs on Giant's in-house branded rims and hubs. We have ridden several Giant's fitted with Giant rims and hubs and so far they have proven themselves reliable. We can't comment yet on how their hubs hold up after a wet and muddy season. For the type of technical riding the bike is capable of it would be nice to have a hub with quicker engagement - especially when negotiating tricky sections that need half a pedal stroke to make it over or through an obstacle.

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Adjustable Seat Post: It would be nice to see a dropper post standard on all Trance models. It was the one thing I wanted to change most on the bike in all the time I spend on it. Thanks to proper guides and the internal routing option it is an easy enough (if not cheapish) fix.

Drivetrain: Shimano's SLX groupset has become a fan favorite and for good reason. It is tough, strong, and reliable. The 24/38 chainrings paired with the 11-36 cassette provides a good spread of gears whether going up or down.

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Cockpit: A 730mm Handlebar paired with a 70mm stem is definitely a huge step in the right direction. No longer is it almost guaranteed that you will need to swap out the bar and stem to find something that works best for what the bike is capable of. After playing around with different set ups, I settled on a 60mm stem and 750mm bar - purely personal preference of course.


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MRP 2X Chain Guide: The bottom guide does a great job of keeping the chain in place and the ride quiet when the trail gets rough. Seeing one on a bike in this price range is testimony to Giant's attention to detail in speccing the Trance.

On the Trail


Simply put - this bike wants to go fast! The combination of the bike's geometry and suspension coupled to the natural fit and feel the first moment you climb on the Trance lends itself to high speed trail action. Increased small bump sensitivity means traction and grip is good on most terrain. The suspension does feel a little soft when changing direction quickly or when pushing it hard into a corner, but I would put that down to the Fox Evolution rather than the bike's suspension. The supple feel of the suspension means that you can run the shock a little firmer than usual. Giant's Maestro suspension always resulted in a wide tuning range and it's good to see that that has remained unchanged with this latest incarnation.

To suit my liking, I set the shock up in Trail mode and left it there. This also helped getting a balanced feel between the front and rear in most situations. Flicking the switch to Descent resulted in a ride that does not have enough "pop" for me and the shock would blow through it's travel too quick on heavier terrain.


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It is another example of a mid-travel bike where component choice compromises the bike's geometry and ease at speed. Push the bike hard and the fork and tyres battle to keep up. Even with a QR rear axle the frame feels stiff overall with the only discernible flex coming from the Fox fork up front especially when attacking high-load berms or when coming off bigger jumps and drop offs.

On the 2014 Trance 2 27.5 I previously rode, I had the time and luxury to tinker with the fork's internals. In an effort to rid the fork of it's linear feel, I added extra oil in the air chamber to ramp up progression. I think it is something heavier riders or riders riding heavier terrain should consider on the 2015 model, even though it did seem to perform better than the 2014 model during my time on it.

Set in trail mode there is little to no suspension bob. Spinning away on uphill sections is good with very little chain tug even in the small chainring. It was easy to find a good seated position to keep the front end down, even on the steepest of climbs and with the neutral suspension uphill sections were disposed of with relative ease.

Verdict


I still remember when, not so long ago, the Trance was the awkward middle child. Not as fast and nimble as it's younger brother the Anthem, but not as burly and big-hit capable as the Reign.

In 27.5" wheels, 140mm travel and a well-balanced geometry spearheaded by a 67 degree head angle, Giant has found the Trance's sweet point. It is still not as race-focused as an Anthem and won't cope with quite as much as the new Reign, but therein lies it's strength. It's stopped trying to be a long travel Anthem and with more and more downhillers finding a home in Enduro racing it doesn't have to border on the Reign anymore. It sits comfortably in the middle - exactly where most weekend warriors need their bike to sit.

It's light so it can go places and not kill you off. It's fast and agile and will happily play in the forest on single track all weekend. And when the trail turns south it will cope with most downhill sections riders may face on our trails without blinking an eye.

The Trance is no longer trying to be something it's not - the Trance has come home and found it's niche. It's a fast, agile and capable trail-muncher that will happily do a race (XC, Marathon or Enduro) when called upon. As a do-it-all bike, the Trance represents excellent value for money.

Recommend retail is R27,500 at the time of going to press.

Full specifications


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84 Comments

s14phoenix, Jan 13 2015 11:53

This is how you do it :) weighs in at about 13.1kg according to my bathroom scale. will probably add a Giant dropper this week. unless any one a better suggestion ?

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Yes and that make it around 13.7kg fully kitted. not bad. but then you add Snake Skin 2.35 or 2.4 tyres and it gets heavier again. my Hans Dampf SS 2.35 weighed around 750g each  - Unless you are keeping those NN's? They not too grippy.... I however am not sure about the weight difference between a Fox for and the Rockshox they come with now or the Pike even...

Wolf Lyle, Jan 13 2015 12:00

Yes and that make it around 13.7kg fully kitted. not bad. but then you add Snake Skin 2.35 or 2.4 tyres and it gets heavier again. my Hans Dampf SS 2.35 weighed around 750g each  - Unless you are keeping those NN's? They not too grippy.... I however am not sure about the weight difference between a Fox for and the Rockshox they come with now or the Pike even...

To be honest , so far I've had no probs with the stock NN.. running them tubeless, they sealed well . Maybe the Hans will have better grip but so far I haven felt the need. Where else can I drop some weight ? 1x 10? carbon bars ?

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jan 13 2015 12:03

"The Trance's head angle has been slackened from 69.5 to 67 degrees ....."

I don't get it, the 2014 also had a 67 degree HA

He was running a commentary on the change in recent years. The top tube, the head angle, the seat tube angle etc.

Bizkit031, Jan 13 2015 12:05

Yes and that make it around 13.7kg fully kitted. not bad. but then you add Snake Skin 2.35 or 2.4 tyres and it gets heavier again. my Hans Dampf SS 2.35 weighed around 750g each  - Unless you are keeping those NN's? They not too grippy.... I however am not sure about the weight difference between a Fox for and the Rockshox they come with now or the Pike even...

There is only a 74grams difference between the Revelation and the Pike but price is more than a revelation but you are getting a awesome fork in the Pike

DirtyFrank, Jan 13 2015 12:06

Just say again, how much does the Pike weigh and how much does it cost?

somwhere between 1,8 - 1.86 kg vs 1,96 kg for the fox evolution. It is bloody expensive though but you get what you pay for. I still reckon it`s worth the upgrade as my experience with the maestro suspension has always been that the fork always ends up as the weakest link.

Craigwt, Jan 13 2015 12:18

My 2014... Just need to go 1x10 when I get fit again :)

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popcorn_skollie, Jan 13 2015 02:12

My 2014... Just need to go 1x10 when I get fit again :)

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oops

s14phoenix, Jan 13 2015 02:30

To be honest , so far I've had no probs with the stock NN.. running them tubeless, they sealed well . Maybe the Hans will have better grip but so far I haven felt the need. Where else can I drop some weight ? 1x 10? carbon bars ?

 

umm I honestly went a bit completely ape with my trance and did full XTR 2x10 30/42 crank and XX 11/36 Cassette with KMC X10SL Gold Chain, TRX1 (alloy) wheels from the Advanced which is lighter, Raceface Next Carbon Riser, XT Brakes, Carbon OD2 headset spacers, titanium screws everywhere and ally screws everywhere else, KCNC bits where I could and a light gel Cro-Mo Saddle. Even the stem now weighs 120g for 70mm giant one because of the Ti Screws.

 

I then added : Hans Dampf front and rear - tubeless with 100ml Stan's and Giant Dropper.

 

Weight is now 12.5 with everything. The wheelset is pretty light at 1.65kg so no real weight saving available without sacrificing strength. The calculated weight difference to a 1x11 or 1x10 setup will be only about 100g and I don't like the gearing anyway...

 

Point is that even with skinny tyres (which defeat the purpose of a trail bike) Save 500g???

no Dropper  - Save 400g - fitting a light seatpost like a Thomson or similar

other bits and bobs - maybe 100g

and light XC wheels - save 200g - maybe

you will have a close to 11kg 140mm travel XC bike that's very confused about what it is supposed to be.

 

Honestly not all weight saving is worth the bucks.

Iwan Kemp, Jan 13 2015 05:27

you will have a close to 11kg 140mm travel XC bike that's very confused about what it is supposed to be.

 Sounds like a 2006 Reign...  :whistling:

 

In all honesty I wouldn't upgrade anything on this bike for weight. I would add a dropper, HD front, snakeskin something rear and a Revelation or Pike and bomb the trails. (My feeling is if you go Pike it would be good to balance that with a DBInline out back or maybe a Monarch Debonair and then it becomes expensive).

 

1 Upgrade only: Tires. Can still drop your saddle manually (remember the days?!), but when you flat out on the trail it's a bummer. Even worse if you rip the sidewall.

 

2 Upgrades only: Tires and dropper

 

As it stands there it's a whole lot of bike with great kit.

Wolf Lyle, Jan 13 2015 05:51

umm I honestly went a bit completely ape with my trance and did full XTR 2x10 30/42 crank and XX 11/36 Cassette with KMC X10SL Gold Chain, TRX1 (alloy) wheels from the Advanced which is lighter, Raceface Next Carbon Riser, XT Brakes, Carbon OD2 headset spacers, titanium screws everywhere and ally screws everywhere else, KCNC bits where I could and a light gel Cro-Mo Saddle. Even the stem now weighs 120g for 70mm giant one because of the Ti Screws.
 
I then added : Hans Dampf front and rear - tubeless with 100ml Stan's and Giant Dropper.
 
Weight is now 12.5 with everything. The wheelset is pretty light at 1.65kg so no real weight saving available without sacrificing strength. The calculated weight difference to a 1x11 or 1x10 setup will be only about 100g and I don't like the gearing anyway...
 
Point is that even with skinny tyres (which defeat the purpose of a trail bike) Save 500g???
no Dropper  - Save 400g - fitting a light seatpost like a Thomson or similar
other bits and bobs - maybe 100g
and light XC wheels - save 200g - maybe
you will have a close to 11kg 140mm travel XC bike that's very confused about what it is supposed to be.
 
Honestly not all weight saving is worth the bucks.

Some good points there !! You must have spent a small fortune on those component upgrades. I did the big ones first. Pike before it even left the store, then wheelset. Recently the ice tec rotors. Stock breaks still.. may go xt at some point. Settled on a giant dropper. Being fitted in the morning. But I suppose you're right, bike like a trance we not overly concerned about weight. Because it's Damn capable !!

Iwan Kemp, Jan 13 2015 06:00

Good review... no mention of the performance of the wheelset though.

Some thoughts added.

 

"The Trance's head angle has been slackened from 69.5 to 67 degrees ....."

I don't get it, the 2014 also had a 67 degree HA

Worded differently to (hopefully) make more sense.

 

______________________________________________

 

Tell your friends The Hub delivers!  ;)

Louis for real, Jan 13 2015 06:06

 

 

It does. If by blending you mean rip the trails.

 

 

hi Guy

 

I have a trance 26er myself- google "will it blend" watch some vids and you'll see what i mean :)

s14phoenix, Jan 13 2015 10:46

Some good points there !! You must have spent a small fortune on those component upgrades. I did the big ones first. Pike before it even left the store, then wheelset. Recently the ice tec rotors. Stock breaks still.. may go xt at some point. Settled on a giant dropper. Being fitted in the morning. But I suppose you're right, bike like a trance we not overly concerned about weight. Because it's Damn capable !!

 

I had most of the parts carried down from 3 different bikes that I had before but yes if I had to buy it all now it would not be worth it. The classifieds here help matters somewhat.

 

Anyway, upgrades should be tires and dropper.

 

You can then look at stuff like wider bars + shorter stem maybe, your personal saddle choice,

 

Most important thing is that the mods should be to suit your requirement/size/skill etc. and if you don't like droppers then don't even get that... :thumbup:

Spank, Jan 14 2015 08:17

Very good bike. :thumbup:

Wannabe, Jan 14 2015 09:48

Took a friend of mine's Trance for a quick spin (one lap only) of the B Spot at Bloemendal.

It was my first time ever on a FS, he is slightly shorter than me, so the setup was not ideal.

Even though the bike felt a bit "wallowy" under me, compared to my HT 29'er, it was buttery smooth over the rougher sections.

To me it felt like a slow lap (my tired legs also did not help either) but upon downloading my stats, it turned into a PB lap by almost three seconds. 

So to say that I'm impressed is putting it mildly.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jan 14 2015 10:04

Took a friend of mine's Trance for a quick spin (one lap only) of the B Spot at Bloemendal.

It was my first time ever on a FS, he is slightly shorter than me, so the setup was not ideal.

Even though the bike felt a bit "wallowy" under me, compared to my HT 29'er, it was buttery smooth over the rougher sections.

To me it felt like a slow lap (my tired legs also did not help either) but upon downloading my stats, it turned into a PB lap by almost three seconds. 

So to say that I'm impressed is putting it mildly.

HAHAHAHA!!! We TOLD you! Trail bikes should be mandatory equipment. They're soooo much more capable than the other bikes out there. XC? Slap on a lightweight wheelset & tire combo and you're there. All Mountain? Bring it on... Family cruise - any day.

DJR, Jan 14 2015 10:40

HAHAHAHA!!! We TOLD you! Trail bikes should be mandatory equipment. They're soooo much more capable than the other bikes out there. XC? Slap on a lightweight wheelset & tire combo and you're there. All Mountain? Bring it on... Family cruise - any day.

..... and even commute! You should see what mine (2014) does to pavements, potholes and shortcuts over rough ground. Then, after work, I go home via the mountain. All the same, the bike eats it up like sweets laced with sugar! 

Iwan Kemp, Jan 16 2015 06:12

..... and even commute! You should see what mine (2014) does to pavements, potholes and shortcuts over rough ground. Then, after work, I go home via the mountain. All the same, the bike eats it up like sweets laced with sugar! 

 

:thumbup:

Iwan Kemp, Feb 06 2015 02:43

To all current Trance owners: what did you ride before the Trance?

Oomkool, Feb 06 2015 10:26

To all current Trance owners: what did you ride before the Trance?

GT Karakoram 29er

s14phoenix, Feb 06 2015 10:41

To all current Trance owners: what did you ride before the Trance?


Nog a trance - trance x3 2010 26er. Another killer bike

Iwan Kemp, Feb 09 2015 12:09

GT Karakoram 29er

 

What brought about the change and how has it been so far?

Oomkool, Feb 09 2015 09:27

What brought about the change and how has it been so far?

The person I ride with the most has a Cannondale Jekyll and I always struggled keeping up going down technical trails. I still can't go as fast as he does but it's a lot better. The Trance makes it easier to ride a lot better.

Mawbs, Feb 17 2015 08:26

had a teocali some years back then went to an Anthem ( racing bug bit a little ) now on the Trance. Changed back to the ALL mountain as i missed just Bombing anything ....so far its been totally flippin awesome :thumbup:  

gozzi24, Feb 17 2015 03:46

To all current Trance owners: what did you ride before the Trance?

 

Cannondale SL2. I hated it