2014 Giant Trance

Giant Trance, Blister GEar Review.
2014 Giant Trance 1

Giant Trance 1

Size Tested: Medium

Wheels: 27.5″

Travel: 140mm

The Build

  • Fox 32 Talas CTD Evolution
  • Fox Float CTD Evolution
  • Shimano SLX, hydraulic disc

MSRP: $3,500

Rider Info: 5’9”, 150 lbs.

Days Tested: 1

Locations Tested: Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, Nevada

The Caveat

Last month, we tested bikes on the rocky trails around Boulder City, Nevada during the Interbike Outdoor Demo. We’ll wrap up our First Looks with the Norco Range, so stay tuned. But before we get to our initial impressions of the Trance, an important caveat:

(And if you’ve already read the intro to the review of the Pivot Mach 6 or the Devinci Troy, feel free to skip this part and scroll down to First Impressions.)

Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we didn’t get much time on each bike—at most around an hour, and with many bikes it was just a 25-minute loop. 25 minutes can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for our customary in-depth, BLISTER analysis.

In addition, these bikes are set up by mechanics at each company’s booth, and while these guys do a great job, there isn’t really time to get each bike dialed for how I’d normally set it up. (If nothing else, I probably would have put wider bars on most of the bikes I rode.)

And then there are the trails. Interbike’s Outdoor Demo takes place at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City. It’s a little bastion of awesomeness that overlooks the pit of despair that is Las Vegas, and the trails are fantastic: super rocky, with lots of sand, some rocks, some jumps here and there, and did I mention the rocks? Most of my time on these bikes was spent on the more cross-country oriented trails, even though the DH trail system is (in my opinion) the crown jewel of the Bootleg trail network.

The XC trails have a good mix of flowy corners, short punchy climbs, rock gardens, and a bit of chunder.  All in all, they’re decent for testing out the different aspects of a given bike, but to really develop a feel for how a bike works, there’s no substitute for riding it for a long time on a lot of different types of trails.

So with all that in mind, let’s talk about the Trance.

First Impressions

Within the Trance lineup, the “1” has the top-of-the-line build kit on an aluminum frame. Giant also offers the “Advanced” line of Trances with carbon fiber frames. The geometries of the Advanced line are identical to those of the aluminum models, but the bikes come with nicer parts and weigh a bit less.

The Trance 1 and the SX (which replaces the much loved Reign) share an identical frame; the SX just comes with longer travel suspension that also serves to slacken out the head tube angle a bit, and we look forward to putting time in on the SX, too.

The Trance 1 comes kitted out with an SLX / XT parts mix and Fox suspension front and rear, giving 140mm travel front and rear. All of the 2014 Trances have 27.5″ wheels.

Giant Trance 1, Blister Gear Review.
Noah on the Giant Trance, Boulder City, Nevada.

A Few Comparisons 

Out of the bikes I rode at Interbike, the Trance 1 falls into a category that includes the Devinci Troy and the Santa Cruz Bronson. Overall, I found the Trance 1 to sit more on the “XC” side of the spectrum than either the Bronson or the Troy. Both of those bikes are pretty happy to be rallied down a trail, and while the Trance didn’t mind it when the speed picked up, it was more content to cruise along at a mellower pace.

And to be clear—this isn’t a bad thing. If you’re in the mood for a cruisy ride, the Trance is a great option. And if maybe you come across a jump or a drop in the middle of that cruisy ride, well, the Trance is okay with that too.

More than most of the bikes I rode at Interbike, the Trance is pretty “neutral” feeling. By that I mean it doesn’t fall squarely into any of my semi-generic descriptors that I usually pepper throughout these reviews. It’s not overly “playful,” nor is it really a “charger.” It’s just a straight-forward, good bike. It doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but it doesn’t do anything poorly, either.


The suspension pedals reasonably well—not as well as the Bronson, but better than the Troy. It also does a decent job with bump compliance (more or less on par with other good bikes in this category). I didn’t find it to wallow or dive through its travel, and I didn’t feel like the suspension was overwhelmed by hard hits. It’s not as playful as the Troy nor as stable as the Bronson, but it strikes a nice balance.

Giant Trance 1, Blister Gear Review.
Noah on the Giant Trance, Boulder City, Nevada.

Bottom Line

Giant has developed a reputation for making bikes that work well for a lot of people and that offer a lot of bang for the buck. The Trance 1 is no exception. For around $3,500, you get a great bike with a solid parts spec that will work well on a wide variety of trails.

Riders that know exactly what they want may look for a bike that’s a bit more purpose built, but riders looking for an all-arounder, or riders who aren’t quite sure what traits they want in a bike should check out the Trance 1.

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