Staff Rides: Levy's Giant Trance
Mike Levy's Giant Trance Advanced 29
I used to go to this fancy foreign restaurant daily, ordering the same thing over and over again until the predictable happened; one night, my body said, ''Nah, that's enough of that.'' Or something along those lines, but less polite and very untimely. Sure, the '' fancy foreign restaurant'' was called Thai-Way and maybe it was in my local mall's food court and maybe it was also 73 straight days of '3 Item + Noodle or Rice.' Anyway, the point here is that too much of even your favorite stuff can get old, and it can't be saved by an extra egg roll or nine chili sauce packets.Sometimes, you just need something different and out of the norm. You know, like a vegetable, or maybe a strange bike that makes every ride more interesting.
Giant's 115mm-Travel Trance Advanced 29The fashionably black contraption pictured above started off life as a medium-sized (442mm reach) Giant Trance Advanced 29 that arrived for our 2018 Field Test series. This rig aside, I don't think it's out of line to say that Giant's catalog isn't exactly full of exciting, headline-grabbing bikes. Don't get me wrong; they do (and have done) a lot of cool stuff, but forward-thinking designs haven't really been their forte lately. And then this Trance Advanced 29 pops up out of nowhere with big wheels, small travel, some interesting angles, and without the usual Fox or RockShox suspension. Bravo, Giant. It doesn't hurt that the matte and gloss black combo looks amazing. That isn't even subjective.
If you didn't catch the Trance's Field Test review, I could sum it up with this: We liked the versatile, fun-loving bke a lot. Even so, I don't think Giant got the nod that they deserve for making this playful rig, a bike that is very un-Giant in a lot of ways.The 442mm front-end on my medium is also around 10mm shorter than what 2019 probably expects a 5'10'' guy to be on. Here I am, though, liking the tighter cockpit (the Hixon is a virtual 50/780mm combo) and I've also been very comfortable. Maybe there's something to this new trend of shorter reach numbers and less travel? I joke, and I also know damn well that a long, slack, smartly designed bike can make you feel like a rockstar, but I keep going back to more modest geometry and really enjoying myself.
Trust and DVO Suspension
No, that clearly isn't DVO's fork on the front anymore. The Sapphire works very well, but then Trust's linkage fork showed up and, well, look at it on the Trance; it's like it was made for it. It's basically the same color (the most important thing), offers 130mm of travel (just like the Sapphire), and I need to use it a lot so I can tell you guys how it works (review soon, I swear).
|Have my skills miraculously improved for no good reason? Possibly, but I rarely get better at things, so it's time to do some back-to-back'ing with the Message and the bike's stock Sapphire.— Mike Levy|
What I'd like to find out is how this bike's 115mm compares to what Yeti have done with the back of the SB100. That short-travel rig manages to run at 32-percent sag while pedaling smoothly and, more impressively, not smash into the end of its stroke all the time or feel like it's ramping up too quickly. My opinion is that Yeti leads the pack when talking about short-travel suspension meant to be ridden hard, but we'll have to see how the Trance compares.
Wheels and Rubber
The bike's wheelset is going to be a bit controversial. Syncros' Silverton SL wheels, which weigh just 1,250-grams for a set, were designed exclusively for cross-country racing. I guess that means I'll have to do some cross-country races in this bike, then. They spin on DT Swiss internals and ceramic bearings right off the shelf, and yes, that's one-piece carbon fiber construction all around. As in the hub, spokes, and rim are all molded together into a single unit.While that sounds like some wild, sci-fi shit, it's an approach that's been around in the road world for decades, and their wheels can easily cost over three times the $3,500 USD asking price that the Silvertons command. More dentists in that world, I suppose.
12-Speeds and some Titanium
The Trance's drivetrain is a lot less eclectic than what I was using the last time I did one of these articles. Well, I guess there are a couple of chunks of titanium hanging off of it. Cane Creek's eeWings weigh just 400-grams, sport a 30mm titanium spindle, and come with a ten-year warranty. But most importantly, look at them. I've had them on a few different bikes over the last season and there hasn't been a single issue.Rigidity-wise, they feel great to me but I'm not exactly Andre the Giant, either. Anyway, they look great, weight a little, cost a lot ($999 USD), and have been reliable.
For pedals, I was using a set of Look's new X-Track Race Carbons that I said good things about in my review of them last March. However, things took a turn for the worse a few months back when I started pulling out of the SPD-compatible mechanism during every ride. That can be the stuff that nightmares are made of if it happens at the wrong time, especially on take-off, so I did the reasonable thing and picked up some new cleats. Only, that didn't solve the issue, which is a bummer because it was their secure feel that won me over last year.The X-Track's are still trucking along otherwise; the axles are straight, bearings are relatively smooth, and there no fatal gashes in the bodies. Too bad I can't use 'em anymore, though.
The shifter, cassette, and rear derailleur are straightforward SRAM units, and the same goes for the 34-tooth chainring up front. Nothing crazy there, but I'll be putting the new wireless AXS stuff on this bike for testing soon, so they'll be some beeps and bops in the Trance's future.
To get my seat out of the way, I'm using Fox's new 175mm-travel Transfer that works just like the original version, at least until my Reverb AXS test post shows up soon. The Transfer came with a remote from Race Face (they're the same post) that, despite being aluminum, feels cheap compared to OneUp's plastic remote. I also prefer how the OneUp version sits close against the handlebar, and because the Transfer is activated in the same way as OneUp's dropper, I can use their remote with Fox's party post without issue.
The original Transfer's quick rebound and audible top-out noise have been carried over to the long-travel model, as has the great reliability. One of my favorite Tioga seats is bolted to the top of it as well, and not only because it has the pee-drain opening in the middle - it's flexible shell also makes it very comfortable.
As for the funky handlebar, it's a one-piece, carbon fiber Hixon SL IC stem and handlebar combo that costs $329.99 USD. I know, I know, but doesn't it look neat? I think so, and it also weighs just 290-grams, making it one of the lightest setups out there; there are actually stem and bar combinations that both cost and weigh more! I'm a sucker for integration when it makes sense, and because I think Syncros nailed the Hixon's roll, I never felt the need to change anything. Kazimer, on the other hand, missed being able to roll his handlebar forward or backward as needed, so he's ditched his.The Hixon makes a load of sense if you have the money to spend, but man, does it look strange from a rider's POV. So much so that it's almost distracting sometimes. I might end up using a more traditional setup on the Trance for that reason.