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Tested: Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1

July 15, 2016
9,288 Views

When it came time to choose my long-term ride for the season, the Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 was at the top of a very short list. Even researching other brands, nothing checked all the boxes like this machine does. It’s ultra capable, extremely versatile and comes at a price that will leave room for a bike trip or two to enjoy it on.

I have reviewed several Maestro suspension equipped bikes from Giant over the years including the Trance, Reign and Glory.  Therefore, this review will only echo what has been said about that platform, which is that it’s buttery smooth, extremely efficient and forgiving to set up. You don’t need to be within 2psi to hit the sweet spot. The bike remains composed through varied terrain and feels balanced.

When Giant bumped up to the tweener wheel size in 2014 they also nudged the bike along from its XC’ish roots to the very capable trail bike it is today. This 2016 Trance Advanced 27.5 1 may very well be the best all-round Ontario Trail bike ever made. That’s quite a bold statement to make but there is very little I would change about this bike to have it meet all my needs as a one bike to rule all option. If built up with a 32mm fork, the bike is sub 26lbs and ready to race XC. Toss on a 160mm fork and some burlier tires and you’re ready to enter your first Enduro.

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This is a bike that has been refined over the years and with this Fox sprung, Shimano 11 speed XT drivetrain, there is little room to improve this build. Giant, a brand known for providing some of the best value at the register pulled out all the stops when delivering the Trance Advanced 1 for $4,999.00 CAN. A carbon bike with this build from its competitors could run you well over $1,000.00 more. But that care to the bottom line was achieved without cutting any corners and the ride feels like that offered by a much higher-priced bike. Which raises the question of what ‘boutique’ is really getting you when you can get this Trance, ready to roll for under 5k. This aggressive trail ready Trance Advanced 1 tips the scale at 26.07 lbs (without pedals).

 

2016 Giant Trance Advanced 1 27.5 build details:

Fork: Fox 34 Float Factory, Kashima, FIT4 Damper, 15mm Thru-Axle, 140mm
Shock: Fox Float Factory Kashima
Shifters: Shimano XT, Rear only
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT, Shadow+
Cassette: SHIMANO XT, 11-42, 11-Speed
Brakes: Shimano XT, Hydraulic disc, [F] 180mm [R] 160mm
Hubs: Giant TRX, [F] 15mm [R] 12x142mm
Rims: Giant P-TRX 1C Composite 27.5″ WheelSystem
Crankset: SHIMANO XT, 32T
Tires: [F] Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 27.5×2.25″, EVO Folding, Snakeskin, Trailstar, TL Ready [R] Nobby Nic, 27.5×2.25″, EVO Folding, Snakeskin, Pacestar, TL Ready
Stem: Giant Contact SL
Handlebar: Giant Contact SL Trail, 31.8
Saddle: Giant Contact SL, Neutral
Seatpost: Giant Contact SL Switch, 30.9

Weight: 26.07lbs (without pedals)
MSRP: $4999 (CAN)

 

The Frame

The Trance Advanced 1 features Giant’s Advanced-Grade Composite mainframe with ALUXX SL-Grade rear triangle. I’ve been on the fence about whether Giant and other manufacturers should offer full carbon frames, rather than with aluminum stays, but this bike is actually stiffer than many of my full carbon frame bikes. The weight is comparable and it costs a third of the price. The stays are cheaper to manufacture and replace should you damage them. If there is no loss in performance or weight gain, this is a logical place to save some bucks. That being said, if there was a full carbon Trance Advanced SL or Reign available, I would be all over that.

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The frame has clean lines with well thought-out cable routing and frame protection.

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Large ports make snaking internal cables a breeze. They also stay in place and don’t break after a few installs. No rattling either!

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Proper chainstay protector with integrated cable guide. Not sure how other, more expensive, manufacturers miss the mark on such a simple and necessary feature.

 

This colour scheme and graphics are maybe the best Giant has ever produced in this line. Whereas in the past, Giant has maybe been overly conservative on looks, this Trance is current and turns some heads. I will however say that I prefer the matte finish I had the previous year to this more glossy finish. I find it has more of a shiny, sorry to say, plastic look than that of the raw carbon matte frame. But that is a personal preference, which has no bearing on performance. It’s the same badass Advanced Grade carbon as the matte version.

 

Fit and Geometry

At 5.7″ I have always ridden a size small Giant frame.  Even in my Giant NRS days, I rode a 16.5″ bike.  We were rocking 100mm stems in those days though.  Last year I sized up to a medium for my Glory as reports indicated that the small Glory may not have the reach I was after. I’ve been happy I did and have since been looking at sizing up my other bikes as well.  I am on the bubble between small and medium according to Giant’s size chart but opted to try the medium and run a shorter stem if need be.  I typically prefer the ride with a 50mm stem anyway so the logic was sound.  Smalls of the past fit ‘ok’ with a 60-65mm stem but I just had so much seatpost showing that I started to wonder how much performance I was loosing riding this monopod style setup. During early testing last fall I ran the medium with a 50mm stem and while I liked it, never felt quite right. Earlier this spring I swapped back to the stock 70mm stem and the bike felt noticeably better.  I think this was more about the slight rise in the stem as Giant frames have a relatively short head tube length. A 50mm stem with a few more spacers below it combined with a 780mm bar will likely be where I will land. Though like with the super long seatpost, I don’t like to run a pile of spacers under my stem.

The Trance has reasonable lengths and angles even when measured against today’s ultra modern trail bikes.  The 73.5° seat tube angle provides a solid positions over the pedals while the 67° head tube angle strikes a nice balance between steering precision and stability on steep fast trails.  There is no wheel flop on climbs or skittery descents until things get good and rowdy.  The bike feels roomy enough with ample reach and top tube length.  The kids who don’t mind looping out on climbs may ask for shorter stays but for me, it all worked perfectly.

 

The Build

Everything from the oh-so-perfect Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin shoes on Giant P-TRX 1C Composite rims, to the F1 level shifting provided by the Shimano XT cockpit on this bike is dialed. This is my second season riding Giant’s composite wheels and I have to say that I am actually trying to source them aftermarket for another bike.   I have a few sets of Enve wheels but actually prefer these for many of the trails I ride. They have stayed true and offer a better level of compliance compared to many carbon rims I’ve tried. I’d love to see the inner width bumped up on these however. The Fox bits are what really put this Trance over the top and make it the best Trance yet.

The Fox Float 34 with Fit4 3-Pos damper can be tuned to perfection. Like on most of my bikes, I run it in open mode and adjust the low-speed compression to taste. I ran the Fox Float rear shock in the medium setting for most of the time I was on it. Open mode adjust in 3 position also worked well but I found that the medium setting best balanced the suspension front to back.

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Fox Float 34 Factory right hand top cap where you can adjust the open, medium and firm settings with option to adjust low-speed compression in the open mode.

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The Fox Float shock at the heart of Giant’s Maestro Suspension on the Trance.

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The Fox Float has open, medium and firm platforms available at a flick of the switch with a 3 position refinement available in the open mode.

 

This Shimano XT group is maybe the best out there at the moment, both in its price range and above. The gear range provided in Shimano’s new 1×11 group is more than adequate for our Ontario trails, including the ultra steeps found in our ravines. The 32t front chainring matched with the 11-42 cassette out back was able to comfortably handle everything I rode. Those with bum knees or wanting to spin up the climbs can easily swap to a 30t ring. The XT shifter provides tactile, crisp and exact shifting from multiple release options. This is the best XT group ever produced and it suits this bike’s performance and style. Even with the advent of an electronic XT group, this would be my first choice.

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Simply the best performing brake shifter combo for the money.

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Shimano XT Crank with 32t front chainring. No dropped chains with this combo.

 

I have been very happy with the Giant brand Contact SL, bar, stem and dropper post but the saddle is of the minimalist variety and likely something I would upgrade to a WTB Silverado or similar. This is my third bike with Giants dropper post and I have not had issues with any of them. Though more drop would be welcomed.

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Giant Contact SL stem and bar combo. No complaints here. Rise and sweep felt comfortable on this 760mm wide composite bar.

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Remote lever for the Contact SL dropper post. Easy to install and adjust on the fly.

 

 

The ride

The last Trance I rode was the top of the line Trance Advanced 0 which came decked out in SRAM XX1 with a Rock Shock Revelation 32mm fork. The only knock this model received was that a burlier fork, such as the Rock Shox Pike or Fox 34, would have allowed the bike to shine when things got rowdy. My take was that this really only showed the versatility of the Trance line and that it was at home both as a lightweight XC/trail bike and a more capable all-mountain ride. There was always an SX model with a 160mm Fox 34 that was up to the task. The Revelation it came with is a very underrated fork and I was satisfied with how that Trance handled the wide variety of terrain I tested it on. However, it had its limits and as good as the Revelation was I don’t think any 32mm fork will really allow a trail bike to shine. This 140mm Fox 34 Float equipped Trance blurs the lines between the XC biased Trance of the past and the ultra capable Reign of today. With 5.5 inches of capable rear wheel travel and 140mm up front, this bike strikes the perfect balance for just about everything our trails can deliver. With more travel up front, some burlier tires and wider bars, this bike is on another level.

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Adam Robbins running the Trance Advanced 1through its paces.

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I have come to love the Maestro suspension platform. The traction is simply remarkable, even under braking. It feels like my Glory at times when it gets really choppy and believe me, that’s a good thing. I have ridden bikes that I feel climb better, particularly out of the saddle, but the overall ability of the Maestro suspension is hard to beat. You definitely feel like you’re ‘in’ this bike: pumping corners through your thighs and hooking up like there is no breaking point. The rear travel is consistent with no dead spots.

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This was my first ride on the new Fox 34 Float Factory Kashima fork. I have a few bikes with the 36 RC2 version, which I have found to be quite harsh at times. This FIT4 dampened 34 has ample support and is smooth throughout the stroke. Matched with the Fox Float Factory Kashima rear shock, this bike sticks to the trail but still feels plenty poppy. This is one of the most well-rounded and predictable platforms out there.

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Final Thoughts

The stars aligned when this bike was born. It comes in an era when the Trance is as refined as it can be before it potentially heads into the boost and plus size world. I already hear rumblings of a completely redesigned Trance for 2017. It hits dealers floors at a time when Shimano has delivered its best trail group ever and Fox is back on top of the suspension game with the remarkable FIT4 damper in the 34. This is a seriously capable bike that rides like a dream and can span just about everything from aggressive XC to full on Enduro. For our trials here in Ontario, this is maybe the best there is at or near its price point.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca/

When it came time to choose my long-term ride for the season, the Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 was at the top of a very short list. Even researching other brands, nothing checked all the boxes like this machine does. It’s ultra capable, extremely versatile and comes at a price that will leave room for a bike trip or two to enjoy it on. I have reviewed several Maestro suspension equipped bikes from Giant over the years including the Trance, Reign and Glory.  Therefore, this review will only echo what has been said about that platform, which is that it’s buttery smooth, extremely efficient and forgiving to set up. You don’t need to be within 2psi to hit the sweet spot. The bike remains composed through varied terrain and feels balanced. When Giant bumped up to the tweener wheel size in 2014 they also nudged the bike along from its XC’ish roots to the very capable trail bike it is today. This 2016 Trance Advanced 27.5 1 may very well be the best all-round Ontario Trail bike ever made. That’s quite a bold statement to make but there is very little I would change about this bike to have it meet all my needs as a one bike to rule all option. If built up with a 32mm fork, the bike is sub 26lbs and ready to race XC. Toss on a 160mm fork and some burlier tires and you’re ready to enter your first Enduro.   This is a bike that has been refined over the years and with this Fox sprung, Shimano 11 speed XT drivetrain, there is little room to improve this build. Giant, a brand known for providing some of the best value at the register pulled out all the stops when delivering the Trance Advanced 1 for $4,999.00 CAN. A carbon bike with this build from its competitors could run you well over $1,000.00 more. But that care to the bottom line was achieved without cutting any corners and the ride feels like that offered by a much higher-priced bike. Which raises the question of what ‘boutique’ is really getting you when you can get this Trance, ready to roll for under 5k. This aggressive trail ready Trance Advanced 1 tips the scale at 26.07 lbs (without pedals).   2016 Giant Trance Advanced 1 27.5 build details: Fork: Fox 34 Float Factory, Kashima, FIT4 Damper, 15mm Thru-Axle, 140mm Shock: Fox Float Factory Kashima Shifters: Shimano XT, Rear only Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT, Shadow+ Cassette: SHIMANO XT, 11-42, 11-Speed Brakes: Shimano XT, Hydraulic disc, [F] 180mm [R] 160mm Hubs: Giant TRX, [F] 15mm [R] 12x142mm Rims: Giant P-TRX 1C Composite 27.5" WheelSystem Crankset: SHIMANO XT, 32T Tires: [F] Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 27.5x2.25", EVO Folding, Snakeskin, Trailstar, TL Ready [R] Nobby Nic, 27.5x2.25", EVO Folding, Snakeskin, Pacestar, TL Ready Stem: Giant Contact SL Handlebar: Giant Contact SL Trail, 31.8 Saddle: Giant Contact SL, Neutral Seatpost: Giant Contact SL Switch, 30.9 Weight: 26.07lbs (without pedals) MSRP: $4999 (CAN)   The Frame The Trance Advanced 1 features Giant’s…

9.1

Amazing!

Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 1 Review

The stars aligned when this bike was born. It comes in an era when the Trance is as refined as it can be before it potentially heads into the boost and plus size world.

Performance

9

Build

9.5

Fit

8.5

Value

9.5

Reliability

9

User Rating : No Ratings Yet !
9

Marc Landry is a Toronto, Ontario based action sports photographer. Honing his skills on local and World Cup cycling circuits, Marc has since expanded his subject matter to include several outdoor adventure sports. Marc is in his element when surrounded by the energy that top athletes radiate. The relationships he forms with his subjects is apparent in his images and is part of what defines his look. He is most at home in the mountains and his preference for long glass and elaborate lighting setups has become his signature style. Born and raised in Ottawa, Marc now lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter

Fox 34

5 Comments

  1. Nice review Marc. Giant always seems to deliver good value. Maybe not the “sexiest” bike out there, but being so isn’t going to get you down the trail any better, is it? One thing I have found on my non-Giant bike equipped with the new 1x XT is that the chain falls off the biggest cog if you backpedal more than a half revolution or so. No problems when riding, but sometimes a PITA when positioning pedals when stopped before riding a feature of some sort. Does the Trance share this trait?

  2. Thanks @rob_nadolny I have had this issue in the past and while it can be simply an issue with a poor chainline, there can be other factors at play. One thing that resolved the matter squarely in the past for me was switching from the stock KMC chain to a Shimano chain. I have not had this issue on the Trance with XT group but did have it on my Reign with XX1 last year and the chain swap fixed it.

  3. @rob_nadolny

    That is a common observation of the M8000 1x drivetrain. Mine does the same thing. Though, I don’t know of anyone who’s had an actual issue with it on the trail.

    It’s an issue Shimano is aware of, but ultimately solving that problem could potentially create two more issues when actually pedalling forward. The reason it happens is due to the shift profiles on the cassette. So they could modify the shift profiles to keep the chain from falling off, but that would compromise shifting in and out of the largest cog. Alternately, they could move the chainline of the chainring inwards somewhat, but that is likely to cause a poor chainline in the smaller cogs. Many aftermarket chainring manufacturers make inset chainrings to solve the issue, but it causes the chain to rub against the second smallest cog when you are riding in the smallest cog. This causes an undue loss of drive efficiency, chain life and cog life.

  4. There’s a guy on Pinkbike trying to sell that wheelset in the GTA. It’s been up for months.

    I ride the Anthem Ad. 1, with almost the same spec, and I agree that it’s just about perfect when value for money is considered. It came with a reg. seat post, but I threw a dropper on. The XT stuff works soooooo well. That backpedaling thing is just not an issue anywhere but on a stand. The Fox susp. is dynamite. I’m not sure how they can improve on the FIT4. The carbon rims are great. Take tons of abuse, but I do take issue with the slow hub engagement. I’m not one to complain about this, but it’s bad. I love my bike and would definitely buy another Giant.

  5. Great review! Spot on. After having been away from riding for a while (out of country) I came back and needed a bike, or three. ANYWAY – picked the TA27.5-1 up under recommendation of my friend and LBS owner. Speechless. This thing rips – it does everything here in BC that I can throw at it except for the double-diamond or “red” flagged trails with ease. Has tonnes of pop, totally predictable, amazing stiffness-to-weight ratio, and the Maestro suspension while new to me (I’m a former RM guy), just slays in all the right ways. Tracks like a razor, takes everything I can throw at it, feels buttery smooth on the fast ST, and gives appropriate feedback when things get hairy. 1×11 is bombproof – NO chains slips – shifting is so exact – and the setup with front and rear Fox is just incredible. 2 months in, almost 100 hours of lung and limb powered 3-5 hour sessions daily, and not even the slightest creak, crack, ping or tick out of the machine. Had to air-up the shock and fork, but that’s to be expected. Perfect bike for 80% of what I do. Bought a Reign Advanced 1 for the other 20% Can’t beat this platform, quality or value. Super impressed.

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