The components on our test bike are solid: Shimano XT, augmented with Giant Contact SL bars, stem and dropper, as well as Giant TRX1 composite wheels. It’s a solid value for the price; the only component gripe we had concerned the relative fragility of the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires, although to be fair, our test loops were murdering all tires indiscriminately.


Check out the rest of the Mid Travel class


Suspension performance drew positive marks from all testers. Supple, with nice resistance to bottom-out, and at the same time admirably indifferent to pedaling inputs, the Trance makes the most of 140 millimeters of travel, and does so in an unobtrusive, efficient, businesslike manner. None of us bothered to run the rear compression damping in anything but the open setting. Suspension aside, the bike felt more agile and playful than much of its competition, with a demeanor that made it a blast to jump, wheelie and punch into turns. Given the superb agility, high-speed straight-lining wasn’t quite as auto-pilot calm as with some of the longer-travel, longer-wheelbase, less-maneuverable bikes in the category.

Quibbles were limited to the narrow bars, the use of Jagwire cable housing and two testers wishing they could have a 29- inch version. Others disagreed, feeling that larger hoops would hamstring an otherwise fun bike, and that people who wish for different size wheels than what is spec’d are suffering from late-stage consumer-choice proliferation disaffection.