2017 Giant Trance

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Sterling Lorence
Date Aug 1, 2016

I’ll be the first one to say that being an editor of a mountain biking publication is a good gig. Giant media camps have a habit of making it even gooder. For the introduction of the 2017 Giant Trance to the international media, they chose the South Chilcotins as a venue. Well known as the Chilcotins are, they’re not easy to access. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from Vancouver, depending on your vehicle and comfort level with off-road rowdiness. So they organized a little shortcut:

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Here comes another plane load of beer-swilling MTB editors. It’s about 1 hour and 10 minutes from YVR to…what’s the Tyax Lodge airport code? TYX? I think I’d call it HVN.

For the last 16 years, Dale Douglas, owner of Tyax Adventures, has been guiding, flying, and hosting mountain bikers in the Chilcotins. Safe to say that he is the driving force behind the development of mountain biking in one of the best known, remote locations on the planet. In case you were wondering about his mtb pedigree, he built the famous Dale’s Trail on Mt Seymour in North Vancouver. NSMB adopted Dale’s Trail for a few years – here’s a little Matt Dennison vid from a while back – and it remains a favourite with just about everyone I know that rides on that mountain.

So, all credit due to the crew at Giant for picking an ideal venue to let us put some hard miles on their new trail bike. If 2014 was all about Enduro bike mania, with a hangover that lasted well into 2015, then this year is definitely the domain of the shorter travel shredder. And while most of them are 29ers (with chubby options), Giant stayed within the lines they painted for themselves a few years ago and introduced the latest Trance as a one-wheelsize pony. And that wheelsize is 27.5. No plus-sized option is officially mentioned, however you can run up to 2.6″ tires in the new Trance frame, and the fork is a Boost-spaced Pike, so it technically is plus ready if you’re inclined. Clever move, Giant. Stick to them 27.5 guns but allow the dabblers to load the other barrel.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

The 2017 Giant Trance in all its…no, that’s not going to work. Anyway, here it is. The Reign and Glory – introduced in 2014 – were stunners, and the new Trance picks up the torch.

The design notes for the new Trance probably won’t surprise you:

  • It is longer by about 10mm.
  • It is lower by 5mm.
  • It is not slacker, though – head angle remains constant at 67 degrees.
  • Also the same is the true seat tube angle of 73.5.
  • Like the previous Trance, travel is 140mm out back but gets a 10mm bump for a total of 150mm up front.
  • A tweaked Maestro suspension tune was designed to improve the bike’s ride height and mid-stroke support.

It’s almost comical how common that longer/lower (and, usually, slacker) refrain has become, except that it would be easy to overdo one of those attributes, and most designers are doing a good job of preserving an equilibrium. The Trance is no exception. Want to see some numbers? You want to see some numbers.

2017 Giant Trance Geometry

There’s your Trance geo chart. Long-leggers will be pleased to see the actual seat tube angle is a 73.5. Giant was sure to remind us that the previous Trance was already solidly in the long, low, slack category for a trail bike, so this is not a new route for them. Other than a cockpit tweak (the 70mm stem and 750mm bar were a tad long and narrow for me) the geometry of the 2017 Trance felt very well thought-out.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Let’s have another look. Trunnion mount shock. Internal cable and stealth dropper post routing. Longer reach. Lower BB. Giant-branded carbon wheels (felt nice) and bar (a bit narrow).

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

The new linkage is carbon, reshaped, stiff, and very shapely. Get used to trunnion mount shocks, they’re gonna be everywhere. Also get used to easier to flick rebound dials.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

We’ll break down the new wheels from Giant in a future article. Literally – Andrew Major will probably want to tear ’em apart and get all nerdy about bearings and pawls and springs.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

There are some long climbs in the Chilcotins, but the route we rode felt like it had an inordinate amount of all-or-nothing grunts. SRAM’s 50-toothed Eagle rings were welcomed by all.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Nary a QR or axle lever. The 2017 Trance makes you take out an allen key to remove the front or rear wheel, but that means no more cankles banging off rocks in the back, and a sleeker look up front as well.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Guess how many flats the 12 of us had over two days? Two. We rode over and past enough shale and sharp rocks that that felt like a really low number.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

The Giant-branded cockpit parts were fine. Nothing too flash, which will please many but I felt like the nice graphics on the rest of the bike could have used some subtle highlights as a complement. 31.8mm carbon bar and stem look old school now but that didn’t affect performance. I liked the texture and diameter of the grips.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Giant’s seatpost lever is ergonomic and takes about three flicks to get used to. The posts were a bit sluggish, however.

Giant Trance Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

The internal cable routing on the 2017 Giant Trance is well-executed, if a bit pedestrian. No rattling around inside, though.

 

 

Trance

This is the 2017 Giant Trance. As a reminder, “Advanced” denotes carbon in Giant’s lineup. I’m not sure if this is the Trance 2 or 3, but will update spec/photos as soon as we have it.

2017 Giant Trance Pricing

We don’t have complete spec at this time, but the Trance Advanced 0 models we were all riding were equipped with X01 Eagle, 150mm Pikes, Guide Ultimate brakes, and Giant dropper posts, saddles, cockpits, and carbon wheels. Schwalbe Nobby Nics worked great in the Chilcotins’ mixed bag of shale, sand, dirt, and mud.

2017 Giant Trance Advanced 0: $8,050 USD
2017 Giant Trance Advanced 1: $4,950 USD
2017 Giant Trance Advanced 2: $4,125 USD
2017 Giant Trance 2: $2,700 USD
2017 Giant Trance 3: $2,100 USD

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Do you guys wanna take a 20-minute flight over remote BC alpine terrain, get dropped off on a pristine glacial lake, ride for 12 hours over two days and eight river crossings, sleep in a horse camp, and return in time for happy hour? Ok, buckle up and put on your headsets and let’s hit it.

Riding the 2017 Giant Trance

On the terrain we covered (Lorna Lake to Spruce Lake on day one, and then onto Tyax/Tyaughton Lake on day two for those keeping track), we didn’t do a lot of sustained low or medium angle climbing. Instead, it was mostly very steep and punchy ascents. Sometimes long and punchy to the extent that as soon as you left a stroke awry, you were getting off to walk. We kicked off the ride with a 45-minute hike-a-bike on day one – you could pedal a few sections (if you could keep your balance long enough to grab a pedal and get a stroke in) and test out how the bike hooked up and climbed while using SRAM’s 50t Eagle ring out back.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Know how descending shots never look as steep as they actually are? Ditto climbing shots. This was full-blown Eagle, with a nasty loose switchback. And the Trance gobbled it right up, shock in open mode, without any stress. It’s tight, too. No problem. This corner was one of several revelatory climbing moments on the new Trance.

Verdict: the Maestro is tuned such that I never felt compelled to pull the shock out of fully open, pedal bob was not noticeable, and the added traction was outstanding. In fact, on several sections, I felt like I was climbing pitches that I may only have approached in the past on slickrock. Suffice to say the Trance climbs steep and technical stuff extremely well and in this situation I have to admit that the 70mm stem felt like a savvy spec. Still, I’d be inclined to run 60 or even 50, with wider bars.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Eat a big breakfast, because you’re really small out here.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Also, leave your ego behind and just pick up your bike and walk. No one cleans every climb in the Chillies.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Kevin Dana is the PM responsible for Giant’s performance mountain bikes. The Giant staff usually kept to the back of the group, but every now and then Kevin would come careening into a stop zone on his back wheel. Dude can rip. It shows in the bikes he brings to fruition.

Descending. While there aren’t many areas in the Chilcotins where the descending is technical (at least by BC trail riding standards), the key to riding properly there is maintaining enough control that you don’t tumble down an off-camber scree slope into a river 100 ft. below, or go over the bars into the trees and suffer an injury that would require an evacuation. That’s because no matter where you have a problem, you’re hours and hours away from a helicopter being able to get to you if you can’t get out under your own power.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Don’t be the guy that puts a front wheel out of place and tumbles into the rushing river down below.

So, confidence and poise are key, as are complete confidence in your equipment. Therefore, even if we weren’t often in super challenging descending situations, there is plenty of speed, lots of linked turns with questionable visibility, and some truly narrow singletrack that was formed decades ago as gold miners and other prospectors scratched their way along the countryside in search of riches.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

The paradox of riding in the Chilcotins: you can’t afford a bad crash, but the trails encourage you to let ‘er rip.

In other words, don’t be the dick that f*cks up and hurts yourself, because it’s going to be everyone’s problem when you do. Our pre-trip instructions were to ride at 70% at all times. And honestly, for the first hour on day one, we were mostly at about 60. We started with a creek crossing that felt like a tightrope routine over an icy, glazed string, and then we basically hiked straight up for 45 minutes. So the first time we pointed it down and Sterl was pointing his 70-200 at us, I know I was just taking time to try to find the bike’s balance point while trying not to let the headrush-inducing views pull me right off the trail. By hour two, we were probably all violating the 70% rule. The Trance lets you hit it with the whip and it’ll reward you, so there was a lot of whipping going on when we could see around the next corner – and sometimes when we couldn’t.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Airport terminal on Tyaughton Lake.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Good template for a proper product presentation.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Jeff Schneider is responsible for Giant components and he’s put some good thinking into some of their goodies. We’ll dig a little deeper in future articles.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Life is a postcard up at Tyax.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Loading up the shuttle vehicle.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Andrew Juskaitis is not a pilot, but he does head up product marketing at Giant.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

There’s something comforting about flying around in a plane that has been in service since the 60s.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Looks like Giant blue.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Chilcotin parking lot.

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“Alan. Al-an. ALan. ALAN. ALAN. Alan…”

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Group one got to see this black bear. We didn’t even see his poops.

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Scenes from Spruce Lake.

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Six river crossings will motivate you to watch your shoes even closer than a s’more bound marshmallow.

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Morning at the Spruce Lake tent site.

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Tools of the trade.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Nighttime camp vibes.

The Trance climbed with confidence and traction that made me feel fitter than I am, and descended smoothly and capably, though we didn’t have a chance to ride it in truly demanding, steep conditions. Still. you can jump on the Trance, tell it to sit, and it’ll hunker down immediately. It may not be the most playful trail bike, but it doesn’t lack liveliness. I certainly wondered a few times just how fast it would feel if it came equipped with bigger wheels, and that is not my usual perspective, but the recent crop of trail-bred 29ers has proven that big wheels don’t automatically preclude tons of fun.

Giant Launch in Southern Chilcotins, BC, July 2016

Plan a trip to the Chilcotins – it is an incredible experience to ride your bike in such a beautiful, remote place. You can drive there via Whistler and Pemberton, and camp or rent a cabin, unless you want to stay in style at the Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa.

It’s easy to spend time on a bike for two days and say you can’t conclude a review without more time. No doubt I’d love to spend a couple of weeks on the Trance on the trails I know best, and that would reveal a few things that would round out a comprehensive review. However, after two days aboard Giant’s new trail killer, I can say that it took no longer than an hour to feel comfortable, two hours to want to push it, and by the end of day two I was fully confident laying it into turns that had unknown amounts of grip and camber, or shoving the front end into rooty sections at speed. I’m left with a bit of an unusual impression because it almost seems like it was underwhelming, but the reality is that the new Trance was a hell of a lot of fun to ride, and never put a foot out of place. It’s more of a Waltzer than a Tango partner, but that is no insult, just a trait. If you’re after a trail bike that literally defines the genre, and aren’t keen on a 29er, the Trance’s balanced suspension performance and geometry may be the refined mount that you’re after. I know I’m looking forward to more time on one so I can see how it does on the trails around home.


If you’re a fan of past Giants, the new Trance Advanced will surely

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Comments

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Aug. 4, 2016, 12:20 p.m.

I've had a few weeks on the new Giant dropper and think it's excellent. The return speed is a little slower than other droppers I've had (Command Post, Reverb, Lev) but I definitely wouldn't call it a sluggish post in terms of performance.

Reply

extraspecialandbitter
0
ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Aug. 3, 2016, 3:14 p.m.

I think Giant is stalking me… or I'm stalking their bike launches. One of the two. First I was at Tenquille the same weekend as the "new" Reign Launch and now the new Trance launch at the same time… spooky. Who's following who!
The weather you had at Lorna was much nicer than ours. Saturday was 5C with a steady drizzle. The mud pits from Grant Creek to Lorna Lake were awful… lowest point in the trip for sure. We were so cold when we got to Lorna that we curled up in our tent and just passed out without cooking dinner.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 7, 2016, 12:55 p.m.

That sounds horrid! Hopefully enough time has passed now that you can laugh about it - a little.

Reply

yukon-alvin
0
Yukon Alvin  - Aug. 2, 2016, 2:29 p.m.

Sterling, best “in the wild” lighting job I have seen in a
long long time. And the other shots are
ok too… amazing work. I think you just sold a trip for next year

From an old school photog

Reply

0
49%  - Aug. 2, 2016, 10:34 a.m.

Beautifully done article. Those shots! 😮 Revisiting Spruce Lake just moved way up the list.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 7, 2016, 12:56 p.m.

Yeah anytime you know you'll have Sterling's shots to back you up, the writing becomes a lot easier to spit out.

Reply

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Aug. 2, 2016, 10:08 a.m.

Love the Chilcos. Bike's a looker too.

Reply

hambone
0
Hambone  - Aug. 1, 2016, 10:58 a.m.

Any word on CAD pricing?

Reply

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