At € 5,999, GIANT’s top-of-the-range Trance X E+ 1 model is one of the cheapest bikes in our big group test – does that make it one of the hot candidates for our Best Buy tip? Both the handling and the motor system with its optional range extender, based on Yamaha’s PW-X2, are distinctive in the lineup.

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For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review

GIANT Trance X E+ 1 | SyncDrive Pro/625 Wh | 150/140 mm (f/r)
24.90 kg in size L | € 5,999 | Manufacturer’s website

As one of the largest bike manufacturers in the world, GIANT have the capabilities and know-how to develop and design their own ecosystem of components around the motor instead of using a complete, ready-made collection of parts like most other manufacturers in this test do. The € 5,999 GIANT Trance X E+ 1 relies on an 80 Nm SyncDrive Pro motor based on Yamaha’s PW-X2 drive unit. The minimalist remote, motor software, connectivity solutions as well as the modular battery system with an internal 625 Wh battery and optional 250 Wh range extender (€479.90) are all developed in-house by GIANT. In purely technical terms, the system is well integrated into the alloy frame. Visually, however, the Trance X E+ 1 stands out with its pear-shaped motor and voluminous down tube. A high-quality guard protects the motor and battery against impacts and stray rocks. Earlier than any other bike manufacturer, GIANT recognised that eMTBs are exposed to higher forces and thus require more robust frames and components. With a maximum payload of 131 kg, the highest in this test, the Trance X E+ 1 is also a good choice for tall and heavy riders. Very cool!

We would have chosen a different spec for the Trance X E+ 1

The 12-speed drivetrain is a wild mix of components consisting of an outrageously-expensive Shimano XTR derailleur and heavy SLX cassette combined with a KMC chain. A Shimano XT shifter rounds off the odd mix. Given the high system weight of 24.9 kg, the lightweight XTR derailleur adds no significant value. We would have used a less expensive derailleur and invested the extra cash in replacing the FIT4 damper of the 150 mm FOX 36 Performance Elite fork with the far superior GRIP2 damper. In combination with GIANT’s Maestro linkage, a FOX DPX2 Performance shock manages 140 mm of rear travel. The ergonomic and tidy cockpit, the generous dropper post and the 29” wheelset are all produced in house by GIANT and work flawlessly. The wheels roll on 2.6” MAXXIS rubber with an Assegai EXO tire at the front and a DISSECTOR EXO+ out back. Unfortunately, the thin casing of both tires makes them rather susceptible to punctures. Shimano XT four-piston brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear deliver reliable deceleration. Excellent!

Powerhouse
The powerful GIANT SyncDrive Pro motor, which is based on Yamaha’s PW-X2 unit, pushes powerfully on steep ramps and doesn’t care about cadence fluctuations. However, that comes at the cost of a natural riding experience.
Range boost
Alternatively to a conventional bottle cage the optional 250 Wh EnergyPak Plus battery (€ 479.90) can be attached to the down tube. This expands the total battery capacity to 875 Wh.
Maestro magic
As usual, the Maestro linkage generates tons of traction, provides good support and always offers good reserves – and that’s despite the “conservative” 140 mm travel.

GIANT Trance X E+ 1

€ 5,999

Specifications

Motor SyncDrive Pro 80 Nm
Battery EnergyPak Smart 625 Wh
Display Giant RideControl ONE
Fork FOX 36 Performance Elite 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Performance 140 mm
Seatpost GIANT Contact Switch 125–170 mm
Brakes Shimano XT M8120 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/XTR 1x12
Stem GIANT Contact SL 35 40 mm
Handlebar GIANT Contact 35 Trail 780 mm
Wheelset GIANT e-TR1 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI EXO/DISSECTOR EXO+ 2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 24.90 kg
Perm. total weight 156 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 131 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

Optional 250 Wh range extender (€ 479.90)


Much better than the standard display
The RideControl Ergo Remote is ergonomic, robust and displays the current support level and charge status via LEDs. This is so much better than the standard Yamaha remote.
Big Surprise!
The MAXXIS DISSECTOR at the rear is known for its good rolling characteristics rather than its grip. However, in combination with the Maestro linkage, it generates tons of traction and sticks to the ground, even on steep climbs. Rear wheel spinning out of control? Nope!
Our recommendation: LOW
A flip-chip allows you to adjust the geometry. That being said, the Trance X E+ 1 is already so steep and extreme in our preferred “LOW” setting, and we wouldn’t recommend using “HIGH”

The geometry of the GIANT Trance X E+ 1 is polarising: while at 480 mm, the reach for size L, the 472 mm chainstays are by far the longest in the test. With a stack of 622 mm, the front is very low, which becomes particularly evident on descents. Without a pronounced kink in the seat tube, the effective seat tube angle remains unchanged regardless of saddle height and makes for a central riding position, placing the rider almost directly over the bottom bracket on flat trails. Even with all the spacers stacked under the stem, the riding position is front-heavy and puts a lot of pressure on your hands. After a long ride, it feels as if you’ve been doing press-ups all day. The GIANT prefers a day in the mountains over a stroll around the lake. With its peculiar pedalling position and powerful motor, the Trance X E+ 1 is in its element on steep gravel climbs.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 425 mm 450 mm 475 mm
Top tube 575 mm 605 mm 635 mm 665 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm
Head angle 65.8° 65.8° 65.8° 65.8°
Seat angle 76.0° 76.0° 76.0° 76.0°
Chainstays 472 mm 472 mm 472 mm 472 mm
BB Drop 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm
Wheelbase 1,202 mm 1,233 mm 1,265 mm 1,297 mm
Reach 423 mm 452 mm 480 mm 508 mm
Stack 608 mm 613 mm 622 mm 631 mm
Helmet POC Tectal | Glasses 100% Speedcraft | Backpack USWE Patriot 15 Protector
Jersey Leatt MTB 1.0 | Shorts Leatt Shorts MTB 3.0 | Kneepad Leatt Knee Guard 3DF 5.0
Shoes Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0 | Socks POC Essential Road Sock | Gloves POC Essential

For climbing enthusiasts – the GIANT Trance X E+ 1 on the trail

Uphill, the SyncDrive Pro motor is a powerhouse! Completely unimpressed by cadence, the Trance X E+ 1 Pro ploughs its way to the summit. Instead of shifting down gears to negotiate obstacles and steep ramps, you can simply shift to a more powerful support mode or trust the smart automatic mode, which always provides enough power. Though the sensitive and very powerful motor engages as soon as you put the slightest pressure on the pedals, giving a powerful jolt and surging forward, the GIANT is great fun to ride. That’s thanks to the central riding position, super long chainstays and Maestro linkage, which generates tons of traction despite the low profile of the DISSECTOR tire. All in all, the GIANT is predictable and very forgiving on techy terrain, transforming alpine trails into a playground. Not only uphill-veterans but also beginners will enjoy the good-natured character of the Trance.

The range of applications of the Trance X E+ 1 is very narrow. Nonetheless, if you spend most of your time touring in the mountains and riding steep climbs, the geometry and motor of the GIANT are very exciting.

Tuning tips: stack all spacers under the stem|riser bar

While the GIANT Trance X E+ 1 feels at home on steep uphills, downhill it’s a different story altogether. The low front and, above all, the long chainstays, are constantly trying to lever you over the bars. While most of the time, the long frame saves you from diving into the loam head first, the front wheel literally sticks to the ground, making it hard to play with trail features and change lines spontaneously. When negotiating obstacles on flat trails, even active and aggressive riders become mere passengers onboard the Trance X E+ 1. On the other hand, the GIANT is planted and composed in open corners, always generating good traction on both wheels, despite the shallow tread of the rear tire. Whether you’re shredding flow trails, downhill tracks or techy terrain, the GIANT manages to feel sluggish and nervous at the same time and isn’t much fun to ride.

Riding Characteristics

7

Agility

  1. sluggish
  2. playful

Stability

  1. nervous
  2. stable

Handling

  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Riding fun

  1. boring
  2. lively

Motor feeling

  1. digital
  2. natural

Motor power

  1. weak
  2. strong

Value for money

  1. poor
  2. top

Application

Forest road

1

Flow trail uphill

2

Flow trail downhill

3

Technical single trail uphill

4

Technical single trail downhill

5

Downhill tracks

6

Conclusion

The GIANT Trance X E+ 1 is one of the most extreme bikes on test. With its geometry and unique drive unit, the GIANT is an excellent climber and great bike for alpine tourers and climbing enthusiasts alike. Once you turn its nose downhill, the GIANT is not as confidence inspiring and safe as it is uphill. Despite its low price, the Trance X E+ 1 can’t secure an award because its range of applications is simply too narrow.

Tops

  • climbing qualities
  • high maximum permissible weight
  • modular battery system

Flops

  • front always sticks to the ground (downhill)
  • workmanship
  • battery cover rattles

You can find out more about at giant-bicycles.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review

All bikes in test: Cannondale Moterra Neo Carbon 1 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 (Click for review) | CENTURION No Pogo F3600i (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC SLT Nyon (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 160 C:62 SLT Kiox (Click for review) | Ducati TK-01 RR (Click for review) | FLYER Uproc6 9.50 (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE (Click for review) | GIANT Trance X E+ 1 | Haibike AllMtn 7 (Click for review) | KTM Macina Kapoho Prestige (Click for review) | Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Team (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 29 Trail 8 (Click for review) | ROTWILD R.X375 ULTRA (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom eRIDE 910 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon PMAX (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | STEVENS E-Inception AM 9.7 GTF (Click for review) | Thömus Lightrider E2 Pro (Click for review) | Trek Rail 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Whyte E-150 RS 29ER V1 (Click for review)


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Words: Felix Stix Photos: Various

About the author

Felix Stix

Felix is chief of testing and undoubtedly one of the best test riders in the world. With a degree in sports engineering, excellent mountain bike skills, his love of technology and as a certified bike guide, Felix has everything it takes to make comprehensive and fair assessments of bikes. His legendary group tests are internationally known and feared, though they tend to be a bit longer due to his love of detail and technical deep dives. Every year, he reviews around 100 bikes, specialising in the subject of tires, motors and suspension, before putting on his skis come winter! His know-how is incorporated into each of our reviews, ensuring the quality of our work stays high!