I feel obliged to do a review of the Giant Trance, partly because I have covered almost 50 odd miles on this Demo version from Tamed Earth, but primarily because its a damn good bicycle.

The first downhill I did on the Trance was the little drop from the top of Gibbets, heading down towards Temple-of-the-four-winds. I remember raising an eyebrow then, and a few other occasions. This bike really likes being pointed downhill.

Great suspension and geometry, average kit spec.

Fox does the bouncy bits front and rear, with 140mm travel both ways. I set the sag in the usual way – eyeballing about 1/3rd sag, but when in ‘open’ mode the shock wallowed alarmingly, causing pedal strikes. So upped the pressure a bit, but to be honest, didn’t set it to open again, the pedal (trail) setting was spot on, so I never felt the need. That said, a bit of rebound tuning would have sorted the wallowing feeling in open mode anyway. The Fox float fork was outstanding, fit and forget, I didn’t touch it after initially setting the sag.

Crikey, is that a killer whale in the background?

This is Giant’s build 2, so its Shimano SLX all the way. Now I like SLX kit, on the whole its great vale for money, and bombproof. But running a 2×10 with a chain guide makes it noisy, the shifting felt vague and unreliable. When shifting just one up or down, you take that little effort to detention the chain for the shift to occur, and its frustrating when it doesn’t happen, or worse, happens two or three pedal strokes later, and promptly hops two gears up. That said, this was a new bike, and no doubt there was some chain stretch, and the conditions were atrocious. So a bit of re-indexing may have solved the problem. I think we are so used to a 1x(x) drive-chain these days, it takes some getting used to the piano playing required on a 2x(x) system. I found it frustrating. The brakes were ok, and the dropper (Giants proprietary) worked well. The dropper lever was positioned close to the front derailleur trigger, so it was cramped up front.

Obligatory close up.

What really let this bike down were the tyre choice. At 2.25″, the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s are not only too narrow, but they’re also the cheapest, having fitting the significantly less grippy Performance model. In the mud, they simply refused to track, and slipped sideways-throwing the bikes line off and effectively stalling. After 25 sloggy miles, this is frustratingly energy sapping (sorry if I bored Steve with my complaining!). Neither Giant nor Schwalbe are doing themselves any favours with this tyre choice.

It does have a convenient mud storage compartment.

Good bits

This is a cracking bike, point it downhill and it was really, really good. The suspension is spot on, and encourages you to go, throw it off whatever you see around you. Any reason to slow down (like horses or walkers) is shout-out-loud frustrating, because it’s so much fun. It climbs like a billy goat, the shock does well to keep the rear planted on the steep stuff. Its light too at 13.5kg. This is a very good machine for Thursday night bike rides, and would be just as capable in the Alps. I would be very happy with this as my primary bike, sure, I would stick wider bars and a 1×10 drive, maybe even beef up those forks to Float 34’s, but at a stock build (as ridden) coming in at under £2k? It’s very hard to beat. Those looking at a new steed (Mr White?) this should be high on your list.

Thanks to Tom at Tamed Earth for the loan!

Surrey sludge (sorry Tom!)