[R]eviewed // Giant Trance E+ X 1 ‘alloy’ 

The latest generation Trance X E+ range comes out swinging with a ton of new features and performance upgrades over the previous versions and one of the things that is really notable on the new bike is how beautifully integrated and ‘clean looking’ its appearance is.

The bike now features an LED information display seamlessly integrated into the toptube and there’s a new ‘super compact’ controller for switching through the various power modes. Would you say Giant have really upped the ante with the new bike across the board?

Without a doubt the answer is yes! Giant have done a great job in the refinement of their control and battery indicator/ride mode display. We are seeing all of the bigger players in the e-bike game move towards the minimalistic approach to these areas and it’s a good thing from my perspective, keeping the cockpit streamlined and distraction free, yet still offering everything that you really need. The ergonomics of the controls are second to none from any newly released machines that we have ridden in recent times!

Hit us with the bike’s key numbers?

Sure, the Trance X E+ 1 comes exclusively as a 29er, sporting 150mm worth of fork travel and 140mm of Maestro rear travel. Within the rocker link there is a high/low geometry setting via a flip chip, this alters the geo either side of the below geo numbers, but my medium was sporting a 460mm reach, 66 degree head tube angle, 76 degree seat tube angle, a chain stay length of 473mm and wheelbase of just under 1240mm. The length of the chain stay is unfortunately a necessary evil for Giant, to be able to fit the motor in along with their patented Maestro suspension linkage system. While the number itself did scare me a bit when I first got the bike being a shorter guy, I learnt to ride with/around it and there are attributes where the long backend does excel for sure!

Obviously the bike features a full aluminium frame. Tell us a bit about its overall finish quality and construction?

As most riders are well aware Giant are no strangers to producing some of the nicest alloy frames money can buy. Their metal bikes always feature silky smooth welds and tubing shapes. Being one of the giants (see what I did there, eh!) when it comes to production numbers in the industry, it is awesome to see the extra mile they go to on these frames to draw everything together so cleanly. On the flip side, we have had a few trail marks score the paint where it maybe should have held up a little better, but to the eye the glossy black and burnt orange look great in person.

I’m loving the minimal graphics and branding too!

Interestingly weight wise the Trance X E+ ‘Alloy’ is only a couple of hundred grams heavier than the carbon Trance X E+ Advanced (and of course a lot more affordable at the cash register), and having ridden quite a few carbon e-MTB’s how much different, if at all, have you found the feel of the alloy?  

I have actually ridden one of the latest generation carbon e-MTB’s from Giant and the only really noticeable downside of the alloy Trance X E+ is that its rear end does have a little bit of flex. I would say that this is most likely due to the frame material, but also the length that they had to made it to squeeze the motor in while retain the Maestro linkage system. That said, it’s a small compromise considering the dollar saving over the carbon bikes and I think it is also important to keep in mind that there are actually some positives in having a little flex in certain areas of a bike. In this instance, the rear wheel can ‘move’ out of the way from some rocks, roots etc on the trail, rather than deflecting completely which could result in throwing you offline.

This bike is powered by the latest generation ‘SyncDrive Pro’ motor from Yamaha which boasts more power over the previous model and also claims to have significantly less friction meaning that once the bike hits its peak assistance speed of 25kms it’s a much smoother pedal. When you’re out on the trail riding the bike how does the power delivery feel and how does the Yamaha motor compare to some of the other e-MTB motor units that you’ve ridden recently?

I like it! This was my first extended experience with a Yamaha manufactured motor and boy, is it peppy! All motors seem to be hovering around that 80-90Nm these days, the SyncDrive Pro unit sits bang in the middle at 85Nm, but it definitely feels like it could be higher compared to others that claim an 85Nm output. The way the motor introduces the assistance isn’t quite of quick as other brands, but once in the power it’s very intuitive. With 5 individual ride modes at your thumb tip too, you can really tune in to how much of a helping hand you want from the brute of a motor. The way it reacts to being over the 25km/h threshold is welcoming too, very little resistance is felt pedalling beyond that on smoother trails and you really can’t notice drag from the motor at all if the trail is on the rougher side of things.

Tell us a bit about the various power modes that the bike comes pre-programed with and how the RideControl App works in allowing you to customise the various functions of the motor?

The RideControl system has 5 individual ride modes, the middle of which being an adaptive mode of sorts which I actually found to be my favourite and ‘go to’ setting during most rides. That said, with so many modes you can really tune the effect the motor is having on your ride from trail to trail, or even depending on how you’re feeling on the day. With a sleek and minimal light up indicator located on the top tube showing your selected power mode along side the current battery capacity, there are minimal distractions which I was loving. There is an aftermarket bar mount HUD available too though if that’s what you prefer.

Another notable upgrade inside the new Trance X E+ arrives spec’d with is a massive 750Wh battery. Did you find that that monster gave you more than enough juice for multi-hour back country adventures?

Absolutely! Once you start getting north of 700Wh you have got enough juice to really get out there, or do more laps of your local descents than your body probably wants to! Obviously Km range varies a lot depending on rider weight and how much vert you are climbing between any descents, but this is more than enough for several hours on the pedals, or a handful of after work hit outs without stressing about plugging that charger in.

Alright let’s talk about how the bike rides. The Trance E+ is pitches as Giant’s do-it-all e-Trail bike. Having racked up dozens of trail hours aboard the new bikes do you reckon it hits its brief in real life?  

I think so for sure. I reckon that a e-MTB with this amount of travel opens up so many different avenues of riding. Nimble and sharp enough to enjoy riding techy flatter trails at lightening speed, strong enough to have a crack at the biggest of gaps and will happily rip through anything in between. We really have tried to ride any and every variation of trail on this bike and there have been but a few occasions where it felt like it was out of its depth, which admittedly were on trails and features that it had no place being, but carried on anyway!

e-Bikes make not so exciting terrain a great laugh, the Trance X E+ takes this to the next level by being so versatile.

Does the bike feel lively and playful out on the trail?

For sure, being on the shorter end of travel for modern e-bikes, that’s exactly the feel that this bike dishes out on trail. Even for a full size battery machine, the bike is very responsive to any input, not wasting any effort bouncing around on such long travel suspension. It can certainly hold its own when hauling ass too thanks to that lengthy chain stay.

‘Bang for your buck’ wise the Trance X E+ 1 retails for a good chunk under ten grand and it still comes with a nice build spec and that whopping 750Wh hour battery. That being the case, if you were looking to buy yourself a new e-MTB would you prefer to spend an extra few grand in order to get a carbon frame model, or would you happily save the cash and happily opt for this alloy machine instead?

Giant have always been one of the go to brands when it comes to offering really good value for money and a strong mix of smart spec choices and quality frames to suit. And that is certainly the case here as well, I think they’ve done an excellent job in keeping that characteristic ring true in the new Trance E, while a carbon version would be the Gucci way to go about things, the alloy version really does perform amazingly on the trail. I really don’t see that the smiles per hour would be any higher on the trail to warrant dropping the extra cash. While there are some technical advantages to a carbon constructed frame, these advantages go both ways and it does depend on what the rider is chasing, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better performance.

Trance E+ X 1 ‘alloy’

Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade aluminium front and rear triangle w’ carbon rocker

Sizes: S, M, L, XL

Travel: 150mm up front, 140mm rear. 

Fork: Fox 36 Float Performance

Shock: Fox Float X Performance

Motor: SyncDrive Pro, 85Nm, powered by Yamaha

Controller: RideControl Ergo 3, grip integrated

Display: RideControl GO, frame integrated LED displayANT+

Battery: EnergyPak Smart 750Wh

Dropper: Giant Contact Switch

Saddle: Giant Romero Trail

Drivetrain:  Shimano Deore XT, 12 speed

Brakes: Shimano Deore XT 4-pistons w’ 220mm rotors

Rims: Giant AM 29” 30mm inner, tubeless ready

Hubs: Shimano MT410

Tyres: Maxxis Assegai 29×2.6”

Price: $9299 

Browse: www.giant-bicycles.com