Never in the history of bikes have two bikes been more similar. Alright, that’s a bit of a stretch. Either way, the Orbea Occam and Giant Trance X are two peas in a pod. They both live in the “bikes that climb way better than they should” category while being very well-rounded descenders. Their travel numbers, geometry, and target riders are nearly identical. So what separates these two? Stick around to find out.
I recently spent a decent amount of time on the Trance X for a review and couldn’t help but compare it to the Occam in almost every way. It had been quite a while since I had thrown a leg over the Occam, though. I figured it was time for a trail bike showdown. So, today we are pitting the Giant Trance X against the Orbea Occam in the ultimate, best-ever, be-all-end-all, infinitely definitive trail bike showdown.
This list could go on forever. These two are so similar it makes more sense to say what’s different rather than list the similarities. But, for the sake of being thorough, I’ll list a few of them here. It’s worth noting that for this test I rode the Orbea Occam M10 with the 150mm fork upgrade and the Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 1.
- Geometry – see chart below.
- Travel amounts – Occam has 5mm more rear travel. Front travel is identical.
- Price – Occam costs $88 more as specced.
- Weight – Occam weighs .08 lb. more than the Trance X
- Components – Similar level drivetrains and brakes. Similar suspension. Similar cockpits. See chart below.
Please note that the Occam geometry is based on the stock 140mm fork. Orbea doesn’t supply a geometry chart for the 150mm fork setup. I ran the geometry through a few online bike geo calculators and found that the HTA and STA are about 0.5 degrees slacker with the 150mm fork. The reach shrinks by 5mm while the wheelbase grows by 5mm. As a side note, if you’re considering the 150mm fork upgrade, do it.
key differences Orbea Occam vs Giant Trance X
It takes some digging to find differences between these two bikes. Here are some of the more significant ones I found.
- Adjustable geometry – The Trance X has adjustable geometry via a flip chip (all testing for this showdown was done in the low setting)
- Tires – The Trance X comes with a Maxxis Minion (f) and Maxxis Dissector (r) while the Occam has a Maxxis Highroller (f) and Maxxis Rekon (r).
- Suspension platform – Giant utilizes the Maestro Link while Orbea uses a pivot at the rear axle.
- Wheels – The Trance X comes with Giant’s TRX 2 Carbon wheels while the Occam comes with DT Swiss 1650 alloy wheels with a Star Ratchet drive.
Ride Impressions Orbea Occam vs Giant Trance X
I spent a week riding the Occam and Trance X in the desert. I rode a handful of different trails and always made sure to do back to back laps so I could feel the differences in ride quality between the two. For the setup, I tried to get the suspension to have a similar feel between them. The fork was easy to setup as the internals are identical between the Fox Factory 36 and the Fox Performance Elite 36. I ran the same air pressure and compression settings on both forks. For the rear suspension, I obviously ran different air pressures and damper settings, but found settings that provided a consistent feel between the two bikes. For the tires, I ran 30 PSI in the rear and 28 PSI in the front.
Let’s start with the Occam. When I reviewed the Occam last year,I rode it in the stock 140mm fork setup. I found it to be one of the most fun and responsive bikes for smooth, flowy trails. This time I was riding it with the 150mm Fox 36 and I still stand by my original statement. With the bigger, burlier fork, it now gets an added degree of capability for when things get rough. The 150mm fork doesn’t take away from the bike’s lively character or its fun factor. In fact, it doesn’t take away anything – it only adds. If you’re looking at an Occam, I would 100% recommend the 150mm fork. Anyway, let’s talk about how this bike rides.
The Occam climbs better than most bikes. Period. Considering it has “all-mountain” amounts of travel, the Occam is an exceptional climber. it is fast, responsive and ultra-efficient. It holds its own with the likes of the Santa Cruz Tallboy, Ibis Ripley and Yeti SB115. In fact, it feels a lot more like a short-travel trail bike than it does a bike with 140mm of rear travel. The climbing position is relaxed and centered with your weight right over the cranks for good, efficient pedalling. The suspension design is very good at minimizing pedal bob and allows the bike to move forward quickly under pedalling forces. On smooth climbs, the Occam is faster and more efficient than the Trance X. I suspect it’s a combination of the tires and suspension design. The Occam however, isn’t as good on rough climbs as the Trance X. The efficient rear suspension isn’t as forgiving on uphill bumps and the back wheel tends to snag rocks and ledges. The bike is easier to navigate through tight and twisty technical sections.
The Occam is one of the most lively and responsive bikes I’ve ridden in the past year. It makes smooth, fast terrain very fun to ride. It gets airborne easily, loves to corner and gathers speed at a scary rate. While the Occam climbs more like a short-travel trail bike, it descends like one too – although it has some extra squish to cover your butt when things get rough. When the going gets rough, the Occam has enough travel to get you out of most sticky situations. It wont always be pretty, but you’re most likely going to survive. Even with the added 10mm of fork travel, the Occam keeps its shorter travel feel — it doesn’t instantly become a monster truck. It’s happier to jump over the chunk than it is plowing through it with reckless abandon. It’s not so much the head tube angle or fork travel that holds it back either. It more in the rear suspension design. The same qualities that make Occam so lively, poppy and fun to ride, are the ones that keep it from being ultra-stable and planted.
I recently spent quite a bit of time on the Trance X. The entire time I was riding it, I couldn’t help but compare it to the Occam. They shares many of the same good qualities. The Trance X is fast — uphill and downhill. The suspension is supportive yet great for smoothing out terrain and holding your momentum. It feels a little more “all-mountain” than the Occam, but still retains that lively and responsive ride quality that a good trail bike should have.
I’m going to make a bold statement here. The Trance X is the most capable technical climber I have ever ridden. There, I said it. Come at me with your pitchforks — I’m ready. I’ve been able to clean difficult climbs more consistently and easily on the Trance X than any other bike I’ve ridden. It has to be a combination of the suspension design and geometry. Giant seems to have found the perfect blend of efficiency and activity for the rear suspension on this bike. It’s that little bit of an active suspension design that allows the trance to get up and over obstacles easier than other bikes. There’s gobs and gobs of traction as well. It’s not so active, though, that you’re just bobbing up and down instead of moving forward. It’s not just suspension design either. the trance X has a bit of a forward weight bias. It’s one of the first things I noticed about the bike. Keeping your weight more over the front wheel is great for control and traction. It all adds up to a very competent technical climber. The Trance X does well when the climbs are smooth, but the Occam takes the cake there.
Like the Occam, the Trance X descends more like a trail bike than it does an all-mountain bike. It also has the quick, lively and energetic feel. The Trance X is a bit bigger than the Occam. The increase in reach and wheelbase is what gives the Trance X that extra degree of stability and control on rough trails. It handles rocks, ledges, roots and bumps better than the Occam. The rear wheel is able to move up and out of the way of obstacles allowing you to keep your speed. It’s not so big and slack however, that it becomes unwieldy or tough to navigate. The handling stays quick and precise without being twitchy. I felt more comfortable pushing the pace on rough sections when riding the Trance X. That forward weight posture is a double edged sword. It’s great for cornering with more front wheel traction, but it does get a bit dicey when the trail gets steep. It pulls your weight a little further forward than you’d like. The Trance X is great for rocky and rough trails as long as they aren’t too steep.
Orbea Occam vs Giant Trance X conclusion
So which one should you buy?
Both of these bikes are incredibly well-rounded and balanced. They do as well uphill as they do downhill. In my mind, they are ideal trail bikes. They climb very well without compromising too much on the DH like shorter travel trail bikes. It’s really tough to separate the two, but I was able to find a few differences.
Trance X – if you have rougher, rockier terrain that’s not overly steep, the Trance X is going to be one of the most versatile bikes out there. It climbs like a rocket while handling bumps and chunk just fine — uphill and downhill. Once things get really steep, the forward weight distribution can get a little dicey.
Occam – I’ve yet to ride a more fun bike on smooth terrain. It’s super responsive, quick, and lively. It jumps well and is easy to move around underneath you. It doesn’t respond to bumpy descents as well — the rear wheels hangs up on square-edged hits. It’s an incredible climber, especially on the smooth stuff. On technical climbs, it’s easy to pick your way through the rocks. The ultra-efficient suspension platform does cause the back end to bounce around a bit, though.
If you want to see for yourself rather than trusting a stranger from the internet, check out our demo bikes and take one for a spin.