Bike review: Giant Trance 2 Advanced

It’s been over a year and a half since I purchased my Giant Trance.  I’ve had plenty of time to test every aspect of this bike, in all kinds of conditions with over 550 miles of trail riding.  So, this will be a pretty comprehensive review.

Geometry:  This was my first new bike in over ten years. Things have changed…  A lot. The new style of lower and slacker isn’t just a slight migration into the 2015’s.  It’s a huge jump.  Coming from a 2004 Litespeed Niota, the difference was difficult to get used to.  The Trance was 4 full inches longer than the Niota, and nearly three quarters of an inch lower, even with the larger 27.5 wheels. The headtube angle, at 67-degrees was another leap from my previous 71-degree headtube.  Everything about this bike was different.  Everything.

Handling:  As you can imagine, from the changes in geometry, this bike was a complete departure from the feel of my old bike.  When I first got on the bike it felt like a boat.  Slow handling, too long, too big, and it felt like it just wanted to fall over in the corners.  Yet oddly enough the cockpit felt good.

The sheer length of the bike forced me to make some major adjustments to my riding style and positioning. But after a few rides, I started to really appreciate the new trend in geometry.  And it wasn’t until I rode the bike up in the mountains, that I truly became a fan of the new Lower, Longer, Slacker movement. 

Climbing (which I hate) was smooth, and simple.  Even on really steep sections.  I don’t contribute this, so much to the geometry of the bike, rather more to its amazing suspension.  The Meastro suspension was probably the most amazing feature on this bike.  I’ve had a Cannondale Super V, GT iDrive, and the Niota, all of which claimed the best climbing ability.  None of them can touch the newer, more advanced capabilities of the Meastro.  Which if we’re being honest, is as it should be. Very little bob, and I didn’t feel like I was losing all my efforts to the suspension.

Descending (which I love) was even better than the climbing.  Again, advancements in suspension design should, and do, make all the differences in the world.  Control and a rather plush ride, for 140mm of travel, was absolute when bombing some downhill sections.  And for as soft as I ride it, it didn’t feel sluggish over tabletops or too soft in the tight berms. Nor did I feel like I wanted more travel.  However, I make note that the geometry did play a huge part in the downhill handling.  The bike was incredibly stable at higher speeds. It made quick work of rock gardens and felt surprisingly nimble in tight technical areas. A+

While pedal strikes really started to plague me, I soon realized the pitfalls of “Lower, Longer, Slacker”. And as much as I’ve altered my riding style, this one issue seems to linger. I’m not really going to put this in the “Cons” category, because I think there’s still room to change my habits, but this one is definitely a pain in the ass.

I did shorten up the stem a little bit with a 40mm.  But I don’t think it was completely necessary.  I also changed the grips to some ODI Rogues…  I’m not a fan of the paper-thin grip.  And I changed out the seat to a WTB Volt.  Although the stock “Contact” seat was actually not too bad, so again, none of these items can be added to the “Cons” list.

Couple of Cons: 

First, the rear shock (RockShox Deluxe RT) never felt smooth.  From the time I got it, it felt like it stuck at the top end, and then felt rough all the way through its compression stroke. I never really gave it much thought until my wife got her Intrigue, with a Fox Float DPX2.  WOW, what a difference.  I’m feelin’ kinda gypped. Seriously.  Either I got a busted shock, or it’s a piece of shit.

Second, the dropper post was bad.  It worked great for the first few rides, then started acting real slow. This was my first dropper post, so I wanted to see if it was how I set it up.  I went through a few ideas on the forums, reinstalled it, replaced the bent cable ferrules (from being jammed into the frame too far), and re-lubed the internals.  No luck.  So, I stopped using it so much.  Once maybe per ride.  It sucked.  And by month 8, I had to stop using it completely.  If I pressed the lever, it wouldn’t stay down.  Eventually it wouldn’t stay up either. And yes, there was plenty of slack in the cable to allow for return.  So, I replaced the internals.  Now it works fine.  Just a bad post, I guess.  As a side note:  The lever that came with this dropper is…  well, it works, but it’s not “user friendly” as levers go. And it’s kinda stabby during a crash (as I found out).  I’ll be replacing it soon with an aftermarket lever. Or the new OEM lever.

Overall I’d give this bike 4 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth the money.  It’s ride and handling are tight as hell once you get use to the size of the bike. And after riding it for a year, I’m able to plant some solid opinions.

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