Skip to main content

Giant goes lighter and deeper with 2008 line of trail bikes

Image 1 of 36

The 2008 Trance X0

The 2008 Trance X0 (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 2 of 36

The new frame design

The new frame design (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 3 of 36

The presentation

The presentation (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 4 of 36

Team Giant rider Ameil Cavalier

Team Giant rider Ameil Cavalier (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 5 of 36

Putting the Trance X0 through the turns.

Putting the Trance X0 through the turns. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 6 of 36

The Maestro linkage

The Maestro linkage (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 7 of 36

The Trance platform

The Trance platform (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 8 of 36

The Giant Trance X0 on display with the beautiful Northstar at Tahoe in the background.

The Giant Trance X0 on display with the beautiful Northstar at Tahoe in the background. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 9 of 36

The new frame design is much more simple than the original.

The new frame design is much more simple than the original. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 10 of 36

The rear shock placement is only slightly higher, minimizing the change in the center of gravity.

The rear shock placement is only slightly higher, minimizing the change in the center of gravity. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 11 of 36

Clean lines in the frame design allow for simple cable routing and more realistic bottle cage placement.

Clean lines in the frame design allow for simple cable routing and more realistic bottle cage placement. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 12 of 36

The Maestro linkage is the same as 2007 -- i.e. still good.

The Maestro linkage is the same as 2007 -- i.e. still good. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 13 of 36

The presentation : Dennis Lane and Kevin Dana explain the new features of the Trance X.

The presentation : Dennis Lane and Kevin Dana explain the new features of the Trance X. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 14 of 36

The Northstar at Tahoe Resort was an able host.

The Northstar at Tahoe Resort was an able host. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 15 of 36

Let's ride! A Trance X0 for everyone, and everyone on a Trance X0.

Let's ride! A Trance X0 for everyone, and everyone on a Trance X0. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 16 of 36

Paging Doctor Frank… Mechanic Frank Trotter gets ready to assemble and dial in everyone's test machine.

Paging Doctor Frank… Mechanic Frank Trotter gets ready to assemble and dial in everyone's test machine. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 17 of 36

Frank Trotter makes some last minute adjustments before the first ride.

Frank Trotter makes some last minute adjustments before the first ride. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 18 of 36

The Northstar trails are given the final tweaks. Yes, going over this would be the right idea.

The Northstar trails are given the final tweaks. Yes, going over this would be the right idea. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 19 of 36

And we're off! Down the first trails!

And we're off! Down the first trails! (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 20 of 36

Giant Media Manager Andrew Juskaitis makes sure we are riding at top speed.

Giant Media Manager Andrew Juskaitis makes sure we are riding at top speed. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 21 of 36

Putting the Trance X0 through the turns.

Putting the Trance X0 through the turns. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 22 of 36

Team Giant rider Ameil Cavalier puts the screws to the Trance X0.

Team Giant rider Ameil Cavalier puts the screws to the Trance X0. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 23 of 36

Cavalier makes sure the rear shock is working.

Cavalier makes sure the rear shock is working. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 24 of 36

Why use two wheels when you can just ride on one?

Why use two wheels when you can just ride on one? (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 25 of 36

Quit joking around and take in the sights!

Quit joking around and take in the sights! (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 26 of 36

Well-ridden bikes show the evidence of a long day on the trails.

Well-ridden bikes show the evidence of a long day on the trails. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 27 of 36

Giant opened one of its first factory stores at Northstar.

Giant opened one of its first factory stores at Northstar. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 28 of 36

Naturally, the Giant store also carries road bikes.

Naturally, the Giant store also carries road bikes. (Image credit: Chris Milliman)
Image 29 of 36

The 2008 Trance X0

The 2008 Trance X0 (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 30 of 36

The brushed and anodized finish is covered with minimal decals to match the minimalistic frame design.

The brushed and anodized finish is covered with minimal decals to match the minimalistic frame design. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 31 of 36

The Trance platform comes in a variety of flavours to match your budget, including the Trance 1.

The Trance platform comes in a variety of flavours to match your budget, including the Trance 1. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 32 of 36

Mmmm, carbon. The Trance Advanced features a composite design to keep the weight low.

Mmmm, carbon. The Trance Advanced features a composite design to keep the weight low. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 33 of 36

The Trance 2 features a lower price point for those looking for a good all-around trail bike.

The Trance 2 features a lower price point for those looking for a good all-around trail bike. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 34 of 36

The Cypher adapts the Trance model for women, with specific geometry and componentry.

The Cypher adapts the Trance model for women, with specific geometry and componentry. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 35 of 36

The all-mountain Reign also gains a simpler frame design.

The all-mountain Reign also gains a simpler frame design. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)
Image 36 of 36

The Reign is Giant's answer to the 6"-travel all-mountain bike.

The Reign is Giant's answer to the 6"-travel all-mountain bike. (Image credit: Giant Bicycles)

Tech feature: Giant 2008 global media mountain bike launch, July 16, 2007

Giant is putting its mountain bikes front and center for the 2008 model year. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski heads to Lake Tahoe, CA to ride the newly reopened resort trails, and came back (mostly) unscathed and grinning from ear-to-ear with this report on Giant's latest trail offerings.

Giant Bicycles successfully launched its multi-link Maestro suspension system just two model years ago and has rapidly expanded the design into a wide-ranging line of mountain bikes that cover the gamut from short-travel cross-country race machines all the way to full-on downhill and freeride rigs. For 2008, Giant has focused on shedding weight from its existing offerings and filling in a noticeable hole in its travel range.

Lighten up already

The most obvious target for Giant's gram-cleaving campaign was the Trance trail bike. While its 107mm (4.2") Maestro suspension offered enviable pedaling and bump absorption capabilities, few could ignore its less-than-ideal performance at the scale: aluminum frames hovered near the 3.2kg (7lb) mark, nearly half a kilo heavier than much of its competition.

That blemish on an otherwise clean record certainly didn't go unnoticed by the Giant development team when it began work on the bike's replacement. According to Dennis Lane, Director of Product Development, "The Maestro suspension continues to work exceptionally well for us, but at the same time we are dedicated to make the frame design lighter and faster. There is a little bit of movement but it really is the best balance of pedaling efficiency and rear end compliance that still puts it at the leading edge. Now we have our most complete line-up in mountain bikes with the Maestro system. There are other bikes whose suspension is not as good but when their frame is a pound or two lighter you can have a pretty awesome riding experience. So when we looked at our Trance, we had internal frustration just wishing it was lighter."

The pierced down tube configuration of last year's frame has been replaced with a simpler and more elegant design with a conventional bent tube layout and nary a superfluous bit of metal in sight. In combination with new hydroformed aluminum tube shapes, the 2008 version sheds a substantial 250g (0.55lb) yet, according to Giant, is actually 10.5% stiffer in torsion thanks to careful shaping of the head tube area. The new frame architecture also leaves more realistic room for a water bottle, and cables are now routed along the down tube to reduce ghost-shifting.

Ted Renwick, senior industrial designer, said that increased use of hydroforming played a critical role in the frame's redesign. "The frame used to be more forged but by using hydroforming we were able to reduce the weight and increase the strength. Also, the angle cut of the dropouts means we have a larger surface to weld which means increased strength."

Similar attention was paid to the longer-travel Reign. In this case, however, the changes are even more dramatic: Giant dropped 738g (1.6lb) from the 153mm (6")-travel frame and increased torsional rigidity by 23%.

Filling in the gaps

A brand-new 127mm (5")-travel Trance X splits the difference between the Trance and Reign to occupy just about the only hole in Giant's 2007 lineup. The new ALUXX SL aluminum Trance X frame is based on the updated Trance design, but is designed to handle a little more abuse than its slightly more XC-oriented cousin.

Not surprisingly, Giant uses its Maestro design for the new Trance X and stressed that no changes were made to the system other than slightly raising the pivot locations to accommodate the travel increase. Refinements to the ancillary bits, however, include a lightweight 'co-pivot' design that uses a single shaft for both the lower linkage and the lower shock mount.

Even with the additional travel, the Trance X is still reportedly 244g (0.54lb) lighter than the 2007 Trance, and only a whopping 6g heavier than the standard 2008 version. Similarly to the new Trance and Reign, careful hydroformed tube shaping is also said to produce a 13.75% stiffness increase.

According to Product Development Manager Jeff Menown, the 2008 Trance line essentially takes the best aspects of its Anthem XC-race line and translates them into a top, all-around trail bike that is able to handle just about any up-and-down challenge while still remaining light and quick. "We are breaking into multiple flavours with the Maestro suspension," he said. "The Trance perfected the Anthem's positive aspects - and the Trance X is the next reasonable step up."

Giant will also offer the new Trance X platform in a women's-specific version dubbed the Cypher. Changes include a shorter top tube and longer head tube for a better fit, as well as women's-specific componentry and colorways.

The finishing touch

Giant expands the reach of the understated finishes first introduced on some of its carbon fiber 'Advanced' models into much of the rest of the line. According to Product Development Manager Kevin Dana, the new aesthetic "is a philosophy of honesty with the materials." Unlike some of the more garish hues Giant used in the early 1990s (yellow must have been on sale back then), the new look is more in keeping with the newly minimalist design of the latest generation of frames.

Giant will make liberal use of brushed aluminum, tinted clearcoats, and hand-masked heat decals for 2008. Dana claims that both of these techniques can double or triple the time spent on a more conventional paint job (depending on the amount of hand masking), as well as increase manufacturing costs. For example, the Trance X goes through four distinct steps: brushing, bead blasting, anodizing, and finally decal application.

In spite of the additional expense (which apparently will not be passed to consumers) Giant feels that the look of the bike is an important and often underdeveloped part of the whole. In some cases you actually have to look rather carefully to even see the applied labels, but that might be what Giant wants you to do. As Dana puts it, "A bushed finish can't hide any imperfections."

EnTrance me

The Trance X was easily the highlight and showpiece of Giant's global media launch this year, and the varied terrain at the recently revamped Northstar at Tahoe resort made for an ideal testing ground. Our top-of-the-line US$3500Trance X0 loaner was well-equipped with Fox suspension front and rear, Shimano XT/XTR transmission, Race Face Deus XC crankset, Avid Juicy 7 brakes, and Mavic Crossmax wheelset.

Although not stunningly featherweight at approximately 12.2kg (27lbs) for a medium frame, it was still light enough to raise a few concerns on the numerous drop-offs that litter the Northstar grounds. Actually, the inner conversation during the maiden ride went a little something like this:

"Having a lighter bike sure makes a difference going uphill!"

After getting over the initial 'weight shock' of the Trance X0 the riding was superior. Day two was saved for the epic ride - a 3.5 hour march at 2650m (8700ft) around the singletrack rim of Tahoe, overlooking both the Lake and Carson City, Nevada, that was well-stocked with table tops, steep drops, gnarly switchbacks and tracks as narrow as road tyres.

Overall, the Trance X0 took everything in stride, with the ample travel generally leaving room to spare. The minimalist frame nevertheless delivered a solid and responsive ride quality and handling was spot-on. Naturally, two days of riding doesn't prove much in the way of long-term durability, but the frame's solid feel and some decidedly abusive riding by Team Giant riders Jarod Rango and Ameil Cavalier at least bodes well.

Final thoughts

Giant already had the brackets of its suspension bell curve well-covered with the Anthem and Glory but what it has done now is fill in the gaps in the middle as well as improve on what was already there.

According to Lane, "We have great bookends and are now focusing on the core market and making those bikes the best they can be."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1