Compare-O Bottom Line: Scalable Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 0 a lightweight, versatile winner

27.5 Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

This article is part of the Mtbr’s Enduro Compare-O. See all the stories in this special section here–

The $7725 Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 0 may well posses the most versatile frame in our test—no minor accomplishment in a group crowded with bikes purpose-built for versatility. We say “frame” because out-of-the-box our Trance Advanced came spec’d more like a cross country bike, and climbed like one too. But as we learned by taking a ride on local shredder Allan Cooke’s enduro-spec’d version, just a swap of fork and tires can significantly push this bike up the aggro scale, further proving its breadth of capability.

This fact is not lost on Giant who offer the Advanced in a cheaper ($6,400), slightly heavier “SX” version that goes with a longer, burlier Fox 34 Talas 140-160mm fork instead of the 120-140mm RockShox Revelation found on this bike. The SX also comes with the piggy back-equipped Fox Float-X CTD rear shock instead of the RockShox Monarch spec’d on our non-SX version. For once in our lives we sort of wished the manufacturer sent us the cheaper version of their bike, but more on that later.

Giant’s Maestro suspension is used across their entire line of full-suspension bikes. Consistent with our past experience, it did not disappoint on the Trance Advanced. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Maestro, Please!

For now, let’s talk about how the Trance Advanced’s Maestro suspension performed as a platform. In a word, incredibly. Giant’s done nothing but improve and refine Maestro over the years, which was pretty darn good when it debuted nearly a decade ago. Used across Giant’s full line of dualies, it may well work best on the Trance, through their XC-tuned Anthem version and DH iteration seen on the world championship-winning Glory are no slouches either. In its current, more tidy format, the system has been optimized and seems to compliment the 27.5-inch Trance perfectly.

It was a foregone conclusion that this bike could climb–at a feathery sub-25-pound curb weight, the Trance Advance ascended well with the shock in pedal mode, even up techy, rock-strewn slopes. When locked out, the TA felt like a hardtail, making short work of fire road climbs and would-be transfer stages.

“The Giant felt so fast uphill I was looking down to see if there was a hidden motor somewhere,” raved one test rider. “An absolute rocket. Hands down the fastest climber I rode in the entire test. Zero pedal induced bob. Zippy out of the saddle acceleration.”

Long climbs were light on the legs thanks to the TA’s efficient pedaling and sub-25-pound weight. In its stock form, test rider Jason (pictured) thought the Trance Advanced 27.5 0 would be a good choice for a multi-day endurance race like the Brec Epic. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

That enthusiasm, however, began to wane both on downhills, and when we pushed the TA hard in corners.

One tester noted that descending was “not the Giant’s strong suit,” and that the Trance Advanced “was capable enough to deal with the obstacles, but far from being confidence-inspiring or feeling as bottomless as many of the other bikes with comparable wheel travel.”

Almost every rider complained about the stock 2.25-inch wide Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires’ lack of cornering grip—on this and every other bike they were on—and one rider even tried to swap wheels with another test bike to avoid them (we didn’t let him).

The stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo 2.25-inch-wide tires had many riders standing up the bike in corners to find traction. They were quick to break loose and inspired no confidence. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Adding to the anemia was the the flexy-for-the-sitiuation RockShox Revelation up front. Though perfectly acceptable for some bikes, we found the Rev’ under-gunned when the going got rough and rocky. Combined with the aforementioned tires, one might assume this review would start getting ugly, but it doesn’t…it just gets a little intentionally convoluted.

Continue to Page 2 for more on the Giant Trance Advanced 27.5 0 and full photo gallery »

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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