A bike for the season
Review and photos: Randy King
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Every dog has its day, and there is no mountain bike perfect for all trails. Yet sometimes you end up on the right trail with the right bike and it’s like puzzle pieces clicking together. Aha! That’s why they added that component … I see why they made the frame like that … Railing the Giant Trance X4 down the natural sandstone stairs of Phoenix’s National Trail, the bike’s seemingly odd set up and parts mix worked together and shone in operation.
On those sandstone stairs the Giant Trance X4’s Marzocchi Bomber 33R coil fork, eThirteen bash guard, 2.35″ (60MM) tires, 7″ (180MM) front brake rotor and beefy WTB Devo Team saddle all made sense. I was glad they were there for me as I tried to gauge grip, depth, speed and flex on the fly and on less than four hours of sleep.
Giant made waves when it introduced its Maestro suspension design in 2005. Bike magazines raved about the Trance and Reign models, the 100MM (4″) and 140MM (5.5″) travel trail models. I rode the original Trance while shopping for my next big mountain bike. It did everything it was supposed to, but did not inspire. Big Mountain Riding contributor “Dig” King bought a used Reign. He loves the beefy, rough and ready frame and components that handle his rough riding style. It rocked on Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab. However, he is not a fan of pedaling +30 pounds (13.6 KG) of bike up hills.
Enter the Trance X. It’s sort of an in-between one, as DMB would say, and is a case for 5″ (125 MM) as the best all-around suspension length. The bike handles itself well on climbs, although it is on the heavy side of 30 pounds. But this is a time to trust Boris “The Blade” from Snatch, when he said “Heavy is good. Heavy is sign of reliability.” Heavily built is what you want when picking your way through a gauntlet of sharp-edged rocks and very prickly vegetation. This was my first time riding a legendary Marzocchi fork. The coil 33R felt rock solid, though it shared other characteristics with a rock too. At just over 5 pounds (2.3 KG), the fork adds a lot to the Trance X4’s overall portliness. It made the bike feel a bit front-heavy. Wheelie drops were not easy for my jet-lagged and sleep-deprived body with 5 pounds of fork and big tires up front. Fortunately, the coil “Zoke” could handle any fudged drop ins.
In the end, the question is would you buy this bike? My answer, your hard-earned bones may be better spent on a higher-model, even if it’s a used one. The Trance X4 is fun, but the weight would get old soon on prolonged climb. I know from my own Fox TALAS fork that lighter air forks can dish up just as much beef as this coil ‘Zoke. In short, I like it … but it can be even better.
©2010 Big Mountain Riding