Words by: Frans Le Roux | Images by: Ray Cox & Max Sullivan
WE LIVE IN A TIME WHERE BIKES ARE MORE VERSATILE AND THE LINES BETWEEN TRAIL AND ENDURO START TO GET BLURRY. ENTER THE NEW GIANT TRANCE X 29 2 – FOLLOWING ON THE SUCCESS OF THE NEWLY LAUNCHED TRANCE29; THE GLOBAL GIANT CREATED THIS EVEN MORE CAPABLE RIPPER!
Giant Bicycles are certainly on a roll locally when it comes to proper trail mountain bikes. Back in 2018 they launched their Trance29 in both carbon and aluminium. Think of the Trance as a more capable and forgiving Anthem. More travel, more reach, bigger tyres and more fun. I was so impressed with the Trance29 Advanced that I used my hard-earned money to actually buy one. That is where the new 2021 Trance X 29 comes in – a more aggro version of the already capable Trance 29.
I can’t remember the last time I threw my leg over an aluminium frame, which is not a bad problem to have I guess, so naturally I had some preconceptions on how the bike would differ in weight and feel compared to the carbon model.
As per usual, Giant have paid attention to detail when it comes to the paint job, from afar the bike is very subtly branded, in a rather neutral off-grey/green colour. However up close and especially in the sunlight, you can see the clean lines and sparkling glitter finish, along with a striking silver Giant and Trance X logo on the head and top tube respectively.
I was excited to see what the wide hoops and big travel could handle, but nervous as to how the bike would go uphill. Unfortunately we did not weigh the Trance X but I can confidently say that it is at least 2.0+kg heavier than my own Trance Advanced carbon bike.
I had the flip chip in the low position, giving me a slacker head angle for the big hits, and a longer wheelbase for grip in the corners. Unlike most flip chip equipped bikes, the one on the Trance X makes quite a big change. I didn’t test it the other way around, but if you’ll be riding some flatter terrain or doing some longer rides then it is nice to have the option.
I was rather impressed on the first climb of the day. With the suspension on the middle setting, I casually climbed my way up some loose terrain with very little pedal bob thanks to the Maestro suspension linkage. Head angle and weight seemed to play little part in my climbing comfort but I did start to hurt a bit when the road got to around 20%, I quickly reminded myself that I was only going up to have fun on the way down.
The bike handled the big hits on the way down the trail well. To be fair, this was expected from a burly Fox 36 fork with 150mm of travel. What blew my hair back was the amount of grip in the flat corners! With the Giant Contact Switch dropper post all the way down, I had the bike leaning underneath me, gliding through the corners with more grip than usual (think boerewors to a rusty braai grid). I’m not too sure if it is the longer wheelbase, the new 2.4” Dissector Maxxis tires or that super stiff Alu frame, nonetheless I was blown away. Steep drops, rough terrain and gnarly corners are where you want to take this bike, and you won’t be disappointed.
The overall ride quality is what you’d expect from a big travel bike. I did enjoy meandering along some gravel roads with the suspension fully unlocked because I wasn’t in a hurry and I thought why not just be as comfortable as possible? We are all obsessed with carbon and we desperately want the lightest bike possible. After thoroughly enjoying the Trance X it became apparent that there is still a place for good quality aluminium. That same quality comes at a comparative bargain when compared to its full carbon stable mates.
The rest of the build kit is more than adequate to keep you going. Shimano SLX 4-pot brakes, a 780mm
wide handlebar, wide rims capable of swallowing 2.5”tyres, Fox Float DPS shock and Giant’s own Romero
saddle finish this build. The saddle was a bit too narrow for my personal preference, but we’ll always revert
back to our preferred choice. Value for money and smiles per mile made me wonder why we are so infatuated with carbon. If you’re a keen rider who wants to explore the limits, try your local enduro or head
down that black route near your house, make sure you get to demo an alu Trance X. I would happily have this aluminium beast towering over my carbon bikes in the garage, although … I wonder how the carbon