August has been a very busy month here in British Colombia. Its the funny season in the Bicycle Industry. We start getting sneak peek’s of 2013 bikes and who could forget Crank Worx. Recently I have been riding a 29er Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon to see what all the hype has been about with the ‘Big Wheel’. As a rider who has only known the world of the 26 inch wheel I was always against the trend of the 29 inch wheel. It just seemed that the bigger wheel would feel clumsy. But against my better judgement I decided to try out a 29er.
The first thing I noticed was how good it climbed on fire roads and how easily it dealt with rough terrain at high speed. As a former XC racer I just felt at home on the bigger wheels but it does have its draw backs. The wheelbase tends to be that bit longer than a 26inch and you get that feeling that you are riding ontop of the wheels a bit more. It doesnt tend to like steep technical climbs as the front end doesnt like being lifted up over obstacles. On the downhill the longer bike isnt happy on tight steep stuff but overall on certain terrain it is better.
I used the basis above to make my comparison for the new Giant Trance X29. Thanks to the bossman at Steed Cycles, Kim and Colby at Giant Bicycles Canada I was given the opportunity to test the new bike. Giant have been playing with the idea of creating a 29inch trail bike for the last few seasons and finally in 2013 they have released this weapon.
First off lets look at the bike as a whole. The frame uses the same Aluxx Sl tubing that you find on most of the Anthem’s and Trance’s. No Carbon? Well Giant feel that they dont need a carbon frame just yet as this bike weighs in at 28lbs for a medium. It gives the same strength and keeps the costs down. Its using the reliable Maestro linkage system that all its other bikes have. It gives a nice neutral feel and climbs very well. In fact so much so that there may not be a need for all the adjustment on the new Fox CTD rear shock. The 120mm of rear travel feels like it has a bit more. I put this down to the bigger wheel.
The next cool feature is the internal routing of the cables. From the factory the brake cables are not run through the frame but can be done at a later stage. This will be an issue for stores building the bikes as it would take a while during the build process. The look is very clean thou. The new livery is very bold and make the bikes look more expensive than they actually are. One of the burning questions online about this bike has been…Why is the rear end not 142mm? Well after riding it I can now answer that one…..It doesnt need it. Why you ask? It is stiff enough already. The rear end is all one piece so doesn’t flex. The cost of producing a frame with a 142mm drop out and a hub would only add to the final retail price of the bike. Which is not good for the end use.
The build kit on this model is great for the price (
$4250)(edit will retail for $3899). It has a full XT Shadow Plus groupset with a 2×10 set up. The gearing suited the bike perfectly. You tend to stay in the larger ring most of the time but when you shift to the smaller ring the pedal feedback is not too bad. The XT trail brakes are probably the nicest levers Ive used and suit the kind of riding you will be doing on this bike.
The rear shock has the new CTD adjustment and I found that I left it in the ‘T’ mode most of the time. This allowed it to grip on the climbs and make it feel ‘poppy’ on the rolling stuff.
The Giant Contact Dropper Seatpost offered 100mm drop with a cable operation. The lever feel was a bit tricky but with a bit longer on the bike I could get it into a better position. The action felt good thou.
The wheels are Giant branded and build by DT Swiss. They are strong and light and wrapped in Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s. Some people don’t like the tire’s but for me personally I don’t mind them. They ride well and are predictable in dryish conditions. If you wanted to use this bike for general Trail/All Mountain I would fit a wider tire to give a better feel.
So what is the verdict? Well lets touch on something first that I had read on other reviews. The sizing. Since I had ridden other Giant’s before I knew straight away that I wanted to test the medium. I am on the border of being too big for the medium but feel the large is too long for me. This turned out to be the perfect choice. On the medium it fit just right. When I jumped up on the bike I didnt feel like I was riding ontop of the wheels like other 29er’s. When I looked down it felt like I was riding on a 26inch wheel. The bike felt like it could be chucked around a bit more. The dropped crossbar gave me more room to move around on climbs and in the tignt turns.
On the first day testing in Pemberton we rode the switchbacks that are apart of the Nimby 50 race and it loved the steep climbs and tight turns. It excelled on the fast rolling singletrack on the hard packed sand. The short chainstays(17.8?) make the rear end feel like it is right under the seat which means it is easy to move around tight bends or down steeper drops. The 69 degree head angle loves the fast stuff and drops.
Dropper Seatpost lever.
Internal routing and Overdrive 2 Headtube.
If there was one thing I would change on the bike out of the box it would be the Fox Float 32 forks and fit a new 34 with CTD. This would transform the bike into a total trail slayer.
So overall I will say that I felt very at home on the Trance X 29 and can see it being a successful bike for 2013. It can be used as a racer or an all day rider. Change up a few bits and it could be a bike that does everything. I would love to try it out on the North Shore and see how it handles the tough stuff. It would be the perfect bike for Squamish. With 3 models coming out starting at $1900 up to $4250. Will it put an end to the regular Trance? I don’t think so. I think it will forge a new segment that has been started by bikes like the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT.
The future is bright for Giant….The future is 29er……Oh wait maybe its 650b? Who cares….They all have wheels and go offroad. Just get out and ride.