Friday, November 30, 2012

Giant Trance X 29er 1

2013 Giant Trance X 29er 1

By Jeff Morgan

                Recently I have had the opportunity to check out Giant's 2013 Trance X 29er 1.  This is the second tier model for this bike but it still retains the high standards set by the previous Trance models.  The main difference between this bike and the old Trance is that this is a 29er.  Giant has taken their proven Trance X and adjusted the geometry to offer it as a big wheeled bike with 5 inches of suspension.
Here is how it comes equipped:
Sizes      XS, S, M, L, XL
Colors   Black/White/Red
Frame   ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum, 5" Maestro Suspension
Fork       Fox 32 Float 29 CTD w/ 15QR thru-axle, OverDrive 2, 120mm Travel
Shock    Fox Float CTD Boostvalve
Handlebar           Giant Connect SL, Low Rise, 31.8
Stem     Giant Connect SL, OverDrive 2
Seatpost              Giant Contact Switch w/ Remote, 30.9
Saddle  Giant Performance MTB
Pedals   N/A
Shifters SRAM X7, 2x10 Speed
Front Derailleur SRAM X7
Rear Derailleur  SRAM X9 Type 2
Brakes  Avid Elixir 3, [F] 180mm, [R] 160mm
Brake Levers      Avid Elixir 3
Cassette              SRAM PG 1030 11x36, 10-Speed
Chain     KMC X10
Crankset              SRAM S1000, 24/38
Bottom Bracket                SRAM, Press Fit
Rims      Giant P-XC29er 2, Double Wall
Hubs      [F] Giant Tracker Sealed/CNC w/ 15mm Axle, [R] Giant Tracker Performance, 32h
Spokes DT Swiss Competition, 14/15g
Tires      Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 29x2.25 TL Ready Evolution Folding

And here are the numbers:
Inches   Degrees               Degrees               Inches   Inches   Inches   Inches   Inches
XS/14.5 69.5        74.0        21.7        4.1          17.8        42.9        25.2
S/16       69.5        73.0        22.4        4.1          17.8        43.1        25.4
M/18     69.5        73.0        23.4        4.1          17.8        44.1        26.4
L/20       69.5        73.0        24.1        4.1          17.8        44.9        27.2
XL/22     69.5        73.0        25.0        4.3          17.8        45.8        28.1

The Bike:
The Trance X 29er 1 comes loaded with some pretty nice componentry.  It is equipped with a Sram X7/X9 2x10 drivetrain.  The 2x10 drivetrain is a solid addition to this model, it provides you with all the gearing you need to get to the top of any trail that your legs can make it up, and even a few that you might think you can’t.  The X7 shifters are not the flashy bling parts that we all love, but they are solid and get the job done.  Giant has put the Sram X9 type 2 rear derailleur out back and it provides crisp shifting with very little chain slap.  This combo shifts quickly and quietly and has held up very well with little adjustment needed. 

You will also find this bike equipped with a full complement of Fox Float suspension.  Up front it has the Fox Float 29 CTD with a 15mm quick release thru-axel.  Out back is the Fox Float with CTD boost valve.  The suspension on this bike gives you five inches of travel, not bad for a big wheeled bike, but it actually feels closer to six inches as you flow through the trails.  Both the shock and fork feature Fox’s new CTD technology.  CTD stands for Climb, Trail, Descend and is activated by a three position switch located on the shock and fork where you would normally find your lockout or pro pedal switch.  In climb mode the shock and fork are locked out and the bike becomes almost rigid and it works great on paved or fire road climbs.  The trail mode is where I usually found myself riding.  In trail mode the suspension is set so that you have some travel while climbing which helps out with traction on those loose, steep singletrack climbs but still gives you plenty of squish to rail the fast flat and light downhill trails.  In the trail mode the bike felt like a five inch bike, fast and fun.  The descend mode really opens the suspension up and gives the bike a bottomless feel.  In this mode you can bomb a downhill section, feel it was easy, then look at you travel ring on the fork and you realize that you used every inch of travel and did not even notice.  But, remember to switch back to trail mode for the climb out because the bike will wallow while you grind your way up.  The way I found to climb on the Trance X29er was to put the fork in climb mode and the shock in trail, setting it up this way made it fly up everything.  For most descents I left the fork and shock in trail mode and found that it worked great, but for the really nasty descents nothing beat the descend mode.

The braking is handled by Avid in the form of the Elixir 3.  I have never been a huge fan of Avid brakes, most of them I have used make a lot of noise and in the hottest part of the summer I saw Avid Elixer 3’s coming into the shop where I work frozen closed.  That said, I had no problem with these brakes.  The Elixers were able to stop the bike when they needed to and made less noise than any Avid’s I have used in the past.  While I would rather see this bike equipped Shimano XT brakes (my favorite brakes) I really can’t say anything bad about the Elixer 3’s, they worked great!

Schwalbe and their Nobby Nic tires have been tasked with traction.  This bike is the first one that I have used this tire on and I found it perfectly up to the loose, dusty conditions of my local Southern California trails.  There was always plenty of traction while climbing, not a lot of slipping and sliding.  They seemed to grab really well in the turns when the bike was laid over to one side or the other.  The Nobby Nics were a great choice for this bike, their grip gave me plenty of confidence to really push hard into the corners and go for it on the descents.  Great grip, great tire, great choice.
All in all the Trance X 29er is in my opinion an almost perfect trailbike.  It has a great array of components, a comfortable cockpit, and great handling.  There are some changes that could be made, but most of them could be taken care of by getting the Trance X 29er 0 model which comes fully equipped with Shimano XT components.  The MSRP on the Trance X29er 1 is listed at $2,775 and is a good match for the value that you get from this model.  I you want a 29er but also want more than four inches of travel then this might be the bike you are looking for!