The Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 flew under the radar last week, launching a day before the bike’s analog, carbon version. If you haven’t heard about it yet, we don’t blame you. We were a little surprised to have one show up at the shop without any fuss or commotion. So here it is, in all its glory, the E bike version of the Trance X 29. We couldn’t be more stoked.
Let’s start this off with a little housekeeping. “Trance X E+ Pro 29” is way too long for me to type out for the rest of this article. Let’s just agree to call it the Trance from here on out. If I mention a different version of the Trance, I’ll use its full name so you know I’m not talking about this one. Cool beans?
Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 geometry, sizing and build kits
The Trance is pretty much everything you can ask for in an e bike. The geometry is good, the motor is good, the battery life is good, it looks good, and the best part is how good your wallet feels after only spending $5700. Alright, your wallet is still going to be sad — that’s a lot of money. Relative to most electric mountain bikes on the market, though, it’s a really good price/value.
Let’s start with geometry. It has pretty much every modern feature you could ask for. The reach is roomy at 508mm in a size XL in the “low” setting. The Wheelbase is 1297mm, the head tube angle is 65.8 degrees, and the seat tube is steep at 76 degrees. You’ll notice I mentioned the “low” setting. That means there’s also a “high” setting. The Trance X 29 platform is the first bike to use a flip-chip with Giant’s Maestro Link. Unlike others, this flip-chip makes a pretty substantial change. The head tube and seat tube angles steepen by 0.7 degrees. Most notably, the bottom bracket comes up a full 10mm in the “high” setting.
The motor takes up quite a bit of room near the BB. The chainstays end up being pretty long in this bike to accommodate the powerhouse. At 472mm, they are the longest chainstays I’ve ridden. Some folks may love that – others are going to hate it. Long chainstays give you more stability, but it comes at the expense of maneuverability. We’ll get more into that in the ride impressions section.
I’m 6’2” and typically ride XL bikes. I found the XL Trance to be a good fit for me. Interestingly enough, Giant does not have a size guide online for the Trance X 29 platform at writing. Your best bet will be finding one in real life and taking it for a quick spin. That said, it fits very much like the Reign 29. You could use the available size guide as a reference.
Giant offers The Trance in two build kits — the Pro 1 (tested) and the Pro 3. The Pro 3 retails for $5000 and comes with a 12-speed Shimano Deore kit and a RockShox Gold 35 fork. The battery and motor are the same between the two kits. The Pro 1 retails for $5700 and comes with much better components for only an extra $700. It comes with an XT/XTR drivetrain and brakes, Fox 36 Performance Elite FIT4, and higher-end giant branded wheels. The fork alone is almost worth the $700 upgrade.
Considering some other high-end aluminum analog bikes retail in the high $4000’s, it’s great to see the Trance come in at $5700 with a battery and motor. Giant has been killing it with the value of some of their 2021 bikes.
Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 Ride Impressions
It’s a little weird talking about how an e bike climbs — five out of five stars, 10/10, top of the class. Of course, it climbs well; there’s a motor in it. As with analog bikes, there’s more to climbing than pure efficiency and power, however. Geometry is a huge factor in making a bike go uphill well. The Trance has excellent climbing geometry — the seat tube is steep, the head tube isn’t overly slack, and the body position is centered nicely between the wheels. The additional power from an e bike can exacerbate poor geometry. For example; If the front end is light and wandery, the motor will make it even worse. You’ll find yourself doing a sweet wheelie into the bushes.
I’ll touch on the motor here. But first, a little bit of honesty. I’ve ridden five to six e bikes in the last year, but I don’t feel as qualified to talk about the motor and electronics as some other folks. I can talk geometry and suspension performance all day, but I have less experience when it comes to motors. I’m coming at all of this from an analog biker’s perspective. So, here we go. The Trance’s motor feels very smooth and natural. The power doesn’t kick in immediately, but it ramps up very naturally. There’s no harsh transition from off to on. I spent the majority of my time in the two lowest modes. They provided enough boost to get up all but the steepest and loosest pitches. They kept the bike’s power low enough that I could easily control it through uphill corners. Any faster, and I found myself having to brake into uphill corners. That just felt wrong. I dallied with the more powerful assist settings and found they worked really well on open roads and wide trail sections. After riding some heinously steep pitches, I’ve decided that hill climb challenges should find their way to eMTB.
As far as battery life goes, I rode over 17 miles and 4,000 vertical feet of climbing and still had more than half of the battery left. Again, I mostly used the conservative power modes.
A perfect electric mountain bike would go uphill like it has a battery and motor, and go downhill like an analog mountain bike. I think the industry will get there, but for now, most offerings in the eMTB market ride downhill like big, burly machines. The two biggest things I notice with e bikes are the overall weight and the longer chainstays. Combined, they tend to make the bike less maneuverable, less lively, and pretty hard to bunnyhop. One thing they do really well, though, is plow through rough terrain like its a newly paved highway. The added mass and wheelbase make for a very stable ride quality. The suspension tends to work far better as well. If you do some digging on the internet, you can learn all about sprung vs. unsprung mass on a bike (or truck, motorcycle, ATV). The basic idea is the lighter the relative weight of your wheels and all the stuff attached to them (unsprung weight), compared to the weight of the frame and rider (sprung weight), the better the suspension will perform. Or in other words, a heavy frame with light wheels and tires makes your suspension feel better in bumpy terrain. It will keep the wheels on the ground for more traction and control. The Trance is a master of traction and control. The rougher the trail, the happier it is to glide over every rock and root as if it wasn’t there. I would argue that the aluminum frame also helps with keeping the Trance quiet in the trail chatter. It gives the bike a softer, flexier feel, which is great for rocky terrain.
Jumping is a bit of a mixed bag on the Trance. Here’s the kicker (see what I did there?) If there’s a lip to do the work for you, it jumps great. The heavy frame feels more stable in the air when compared to an analog bike. If you think about your weight relative to the bike’s, the heavier it is, the less impact rider input will have on its trajectory. Similar to a motorcycle that’s more stable in the air. The trick is, having the right speed coming into the jump. If you’re coming up short, it’s going to take a big effort on your part to get extra height/distance on the jump. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to carry speed on the Trance. I ended up overshooting most of the jumps anyway. If you’re trying to bunnyhop off every little rise in the trail, you might be a bit disappointed by the amount of air you get. I don’t know of anyone buying an e bike for their jumping prowess, however.
Corners took a little getting used to. I’m pretty used to braking late when it comes to corners. I like to stay off the brakes until the very last moment. That approach doesn’t work so well with a heavy e bike. I ended up coming in way too hot, dragging the back wheel through the corner while I tried muscling the front wheel around it. It wasn’t pretty. The Trance takes a little more oomph to get around tight corners. Braking a bit earlier combined a healthy dose of bike lean, and it gets around a corner just fine. You have to show the bike who’s boss. As a friend once told me, “ride the damn thing, or it’s going to ride you.”
- Smooth motor feel
- Can be a bit cumbersome
Who is The Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 for?
Every new mountain biker that asks me which bike they should buy is going to hear the same answer from me. It’s tough to beat the Giant Trance X 29 platform in terms of versatility, performance and price. So, the same advice applies to new eMTB riders. I’m easily going to be able to recommend the Giant Trance X E+ Pro 29 to folks looking for their first electric mountain bike. Or, hear me out, people looking to get their first mountain bike ever. Maybe they just want to start in the digital age. Who am I to judge?
It’s also an excellent option for folks on a budget. $5700 is always a lot of money — there’s no way around it. Relative to a lot of the other e bike option on the market, however, it’s not too outrageous.
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