Giant have just released the world’s lightest full power e-MTB! // Trance X Advanced E+ Elite
If you’ve visited any of the hundreds of popular trail hubs scattered across Australia over the past few years you’ve probably lost count of the number of Giant e-Bikes that you’ve seen being ridden around.
Indeed, Giant’s e-MTB range have been extremely popular amongst riders for a few key reasons; they offer great geometry and handling right out of the box, they’re also known for having ‘best in class’ reliability with all of the bikes electrical systems including the Yamaha motors that they’re fitted with – and speaking of which those Yamaha motors are nice and quiet, nice and smooth and yet they’ve still got plenty of grunt when you want to go all out in boost mode. And of course, being Giant their bikes offer great value for money and their dealer base around the country are known for offering great customer service. But, aside from all of those stella credentials there has been one slight negative about Giant’s e-MTB line-up which is they’re bikes tended to be on the heavier side that’s for sure. Now, what if we told you that Giant have just developed an all-new e-Bike that is a gigantic 4kgs lighter than their previous lightest bike, and the new bike is said to have really impressive handling and ride quality? Well, it’s all true and 4 different models of the bike are currently on their way to Giant dealers across Aus.
[E]volution Mag scored an exclusive invite to head over to the deserts of Utah and spend a few days test riding the ‘Elite’ on a bunch of stunning trails. But before we dive into the nitty gritty details of our trail notes from the trip, first let’s get an overview of the new bike and explore some of its new tech features and all the key details that you’re keen to know.
Full carbon frame
Mullet/mixed wheel setup
150mm front, 140mm rear travel
Maestro suspension design
85Nm Giant SyncDrive Pro2 motor
400Wh Giant EnergyPak Smart battery
200Wh Range extender auxiliary
RideControl Ergo 3 grip integrated remote
Integrated top tube display
Flip chip geometry adjustment
Four spec models
Sizes: S – XL
Claimed weight 18.8kg
First, let’s break down the numbers
The Trance X Advanced E+ Elite will be available throughout Australia in four different spec levels and the top end model tips the scales at 18.4kg for the complete bike. And when you consider that this bike puts out a whopping 85Nm of torque that beauty the lightest full power e-MTB on the planet! Now, keep in mind that bike comes fitted with Fox Live Valve suspension which actually isn’t overly light weight when you consider all of the extra wires and parts that that gear needs to operate, so in actual fact we’re pretty confident you could make a few spec changes and get one of these bikes comfortably sliding into the 17kg bracket. Now, 17 or 18 kilos sure is pleasantly light but yes you would be right in thinking that there are already quite a few other light weight ‘SL’ e-Bikes on the market that boast similar numbers on the scales, however there is one key difference that really sets the Trance X Advanced E+ Elite apart from the pack and that is the amount of power, or torque, that its stock motor produces.
We’re talking a massive 85Nm which is the same if not more grunt than most ‘full powered’ e-Bikes have under the bonnet, but of course this bike is still a few kilos lighter than any of those bikes. Impressive stuff indeed!
Who’s this bike designed for?
Giant have aimed the ‘Elite’ model at riders that want one bike that can handle pretty much any kind of trail. That being the case, they haven’t skimmed on travel delivering the bike with 150mm up front and 140mm in the rear, plus they’ve tailored the frame with nice, relaxed geometry, great standover clearance, a roomy cockpit. Giant have also designed the new bike around a ‘mullet’ wheel set-up, and they’ve done that for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because Mullet set-ups provide a fantastic balance between ultimate speed and ‘roll over’ up front with the 29” wheel leading the way, and that 27.5” wheel in the rear allows the bike to be nice and nimble and really easy for the rider to move the bike around underneath them whilst riding in order to place the bike on the exact line that they want out there on the trails. The other big benefit that Giant have been able to capitalise on by using a 27.5” rear wheel is that it’s allowed them to really shorten up those rear chainstays, which again aids the lack of effort that it takes to manoeuvre the bike and lift the front wheel up into the air (or in other words it makes the bike really playful and fun to ride rather than just a big heavy planted beast that you’d struggle to get off the ground). And finally, a flip chip in the rear linkage allows the rider to quickly and easily optimise the bikes geometry to their particular liking by adjusting the head angle by half a degree, the seatangle by 0.7 degrees, and the BB height by 10mm.
When it comes to constructing carbon frames Giant never fail to impress with their attention to detail and finish quality. And the frame on this bike is certainly no exception. The new ‘Elite’ range will consist of 4 spec models, all of which share the same carbon frame, except for the most affordable model which gets an alloy rear end but still retains the lovely carbon front triangle. Giant are offering 4 frame size options for each model ranging from Small through to XL.
Yamaha are kicking a*s again!
That’s right, this bike features a brand-new motor called the SyncDrive Pro2, which has of course been developed in collaboration with Giant’s motor partners over at Yammy. As we mentioned before, the new motor has been supercharged to deliver a massive 85Nm of torque which is also combined with a max 400% support ratio. Or in other words, way more power and way more support assistance than most motors you’ll find in the ‘SL’ e-Bike category. Now the other thing to keep in mind about the new motor is that it is much smaller in size that any Yamaha motor we’ve seen spec’d on a Giant before. And the massive benefit about that when you’re out riding is that the motor is now much more compact, it doesn’t have that big bulky mass anymore which means the ground clearance is way, way better than we’ve ever seen before from any Giant e-MTB, which will certainly be a welcome piece of news for riders that have a current model Trance E+ or Reign E+. And to be honest, during all of the time that we spent riding the bike over in Utah I never knocked or scuffed the motor cover a single time.
Fancy a hi-tech battery?
Another very interesting, and very cool detail about this new bike is its battery which features some tech that has never been used before in e-Bikes. Giant teamed up with Panasonic to develop a revolutionary high volume 22700 battery cell for use specifically for their e-Bikes. This new technology is claimed to have a higher cell discharge capacity capable of powering a full-power 85Nm motor with the same cell count (20) as a typical light e-MTB. Called the EnergyPak 400, it is a 400Wh hour battery which weighs 2.3kg. The battery isn’t easily removeable from the bike, which we actually don’t mind as we feel the idea of being able to access a bikes battery simply by lifting a cover can often be a little gimmicky, instead, Giant have opted for a fixed battery solution and they’ve housed it as low as possible in the bikes downtube in order to improve the bikes balance and centre of gravity. Thinking that 400Wh might not be enough juice for the trail adventures you have in mind? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that Giant have developed a 200Wh battery extender and they’re going to be available right away.
Control is at your fingertips
Giant have spec’d this new bike with a pair of two controllers: the first is the RideControl Go button which also doubles as a display screen that has been neatly integrated into the top tube of the frame. The second is the handlebar remote which is called the RideControl Ergo 3 which sits neatly along side the left hand grip up on the handlebars. Another thing to note about the Egro 3 controller is that it is very compact and clutter free and it’s also very easy to navigate the small paddle levers in order to change power modes, etc. Great bit of designing by the Giant team with that new remote we reckon.
How does it ride?
As you can judge by the photos in this article, the trails that we tested the new bike on over in Utah were super rocky and quite technically challenging with lots of steep, sharp climbs and certainly no shortage of highspeed rough descents. Right away as soon as I hoped on the bike at the beginning of day one’s ride it felt very comfortable. It didn’t feel like I was sitting on it, more so it felt as though I was sitting in it. The bikes overall low weight was immediately noticeable as soon as I had to hop out of the saddle to navigate the bike up the first technical bit of trail – it took far less effort than I’d expected given that we were riding e-Bikes. The most notable thing of all though is the insane amount of power that the bike has at its disposal. Riding a regular full weight e-MTB with 85Nm feels like a lot of power but as I discovered when you couple all that power with a significantly lighter bike it feels crazy powerful. If you’d told me after we finished riding on day 1 that the bike had 120Nm of torque I wouldn’t have questioned it! Haha. Now usually when I ride e-Bikes I tend to spend most of my time up in Boost mode and I like to have a ‘fun time not necessarily a long time’ but when I rode this bike I actually spent most of the time on the trails in the lower settings, and even then the bike accelerated like an absolute rocket, even up the steepest pitches.
Agree to disagree about changing the bike?
One of the benefits of attending a media camp is that you’re surrounded by a bunch of other journo’s who have all ridden the same bike or gear and inevitably you end up chatting with one and other during the trip over a beer or a bowl of cereal about how you’ve found said bike or gear to perform. After we’d finished riding each day during this particular launch I got chatting with a couple of the guys from our group and we all seemed pretty impressed with the new bike and convinced that Giant seemed to have found the perfect balance between light weight, engine power, and battery range. But there were also few comments from guys that would have preferred to see a 29” rear wheel spec’d on the bike and their reasoning for that was pretty much that they figured a bigger wheel just seemed to make more sense in the current market and it would enable to bike to roll a little smoother. Personally, I couldn’t agree less. One of the things that really stood out to me whilst I was riding was how playful the bike felt and I could tell a lot of that was credited to the mullet wheel set-up. Also, I’ve been a Giant fan for years and ridden a million of their bikes and so I’m well aware that when you couple a Maestro suspension linkage with a 29” wheel the amount of rear travel reduces and the chainstays grow like they’ve been doused with fertiliser.
To be honest, I wouldn’t wish for either of those changes for this bike. The mullet wheel set felt dreamy under all trail conditions we’d encountered; flat out descending, seat up climbing steep pinches, general traversing and also plenty of off camber section. And certainly the ‘Elite’ doesn’t need any extra rear wheel rolling assistance given that the bike already packs so much power in the motor. I would confidently say that 99% of riders from all different ages and ability stages are really going to like the mullet set-up on this bike.
This bike definitely represents a significant leap forward for Giant in the e-MTB market and it clearly puts the brand as a front runner in the ‘mid to lightweight e-MTB’ category. I’ve spent a lot of trail hours riding Giant e-Bikes in the past, my current ‘personal’ bike is actually a Reign E+ and obviously the reason I bought it is because I like the way it rides and I like the feel and reliability of the Yamaha motor. The new Trance X E+ Elite however takes all of the things I like about my ‘ol Reign E+ and super charges them.
It is light and nimble enough that fast, flowing trails and tight technical singletrack are exciting to ride. This bike also addresses the only real shortfall about owning an ‘SL’ e-Bike which is if you’re out riding with people who are on full powered regular e-MTB’s you’re pretty much guaranteed to be at the back of the pack struggling to keep up, but, thanks to its 85Nm of torque you’ll be up front setting the pace if you’re aboard the Trance – and I can tell you right now which of those positions I’d prefer to be in! [R]