Monday, September 22, 2008

How do I like the Trance?

I like it alright. Better than alright. Do you like to ride all kinds of trail, from smooth windy singletrack, to rough rocky downhills? Do you like to be able to ride to the trail with out bobbing like a hobby horse? Do you like no popping Aleive like PEZ after a ride? I do.
The three ride locations were Rocky Road, Lake Crabtree, and the Newlight trails.
Rocky Road is a semilegal trail(Meaning it is illegal but the trespassing is not enforced, usually. If you ride here and get busted, I had nothing to do with it) The trail mixes sweet flowing(for short, frustrating distances) single track, rocky downhill, and abusive rooty climbs.
Lake Crabtree is all twisty singletrack, pretty smooth with some rooty sections, and short easy climbs.
Newlight trails is the longest of these three. It has some good smooth singletrack, lots of rocky sections, longer climbs thru rough rooty/rocky sections, rock piles, log obstacles. Overall the hardest of the three trails.
I have already gone over suspension setup. The only other thing I did was set my tire pressure. I went by feel, but the pressure is between 30-35 psi. The tires are Kenda Nevegals and hooked up well at this pressure. They stuck to loam, roots, and rocks and the open blocks cleaned everything but dog poop.
My last two bikes were a Giant Two2One,
a single speed with front suspension and a Cannondale M800,
a full rigid technical trail bike. So this dual spring thing was new to me.
The Trance is just 2.5 pounds heavier than the Two2One and you don't even notice that because it tracks so well and soaked up everything the trail could throw at it. I was much faster thru the rough sections. Fast enough to get in over my head a couple of times. The suspension managed to soak up my mistakes with the only crash from a washed out wheel. Lowering the front tire pressure helped this a bunch.
I am used to the laser sharp tracking of my Cannondale and never thought a FS could compare. I was wrong. This bike goes where you point it and when you point it the wrong way it goes anyway. So for the twisty single track, job well done.
Now for the rough downhill stuff(And yes, I know this is not like doing the down hill at Sugar) What we were riding was fairly steep, rocky, with stepped drops up to around a foot. I could run over this stuff in full control, with no scary moments. Makes you wonder how Greg Herbold did it on a Mag21 and two inches of travel.
Now we come to the climbing. The Maestro(What Giant calls their suspension linkage) set up is supposed to reduce bobbing. Even they admit it does not eliminate it. When seated, it works really well. But for the rougher climbs featuring lots of rooted steps, I needed to get out of the saddle.I feel I do, this could be a matter of needing to retrain my riding style after years of full rigid bike. Out of the saddle I got more bobbing than I would like. This could be due to not getting to fully tune the suspension yet. I was able to reduce it using the Propedal feature, but I want to try and get the Maestro working as advertised. I know the fork was set a little to stiff and giving me some trouble bucking off of roots rather than compressing into and over them, and this was forcing me to get out of the saddle and do more lofting to clear obstacles. I was not thrilled with this performance, but I need to have some time to get the bike setup better(and maybe work on my technique) before I pass a final judgement on the rough climbing ability.
Overall a great bike, at the end of the ride I was beat tired not beat up. Good parts choice, tho I would have liked adjustable blow off on the fork and adjustable compression damping. I would also have liked tubeless tires to match the tubeless wheelset.(No slam on the Nevegals, they performed well.) The bike is as light as anything you will find with five inches of travel, and looks damn good to boot.

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