Which stem on Giant Trance?

Sergio is ripping a technical singletrack in Brazil called Dircuito das Pontes, and he’s wondering about his cockpit length. With video …

Hi Lee

Loved the site and the book. 😉

I bought a Giant Trance 2 2008 just two weeks a go. I have been riding hard … this track…

The track is awesome but the Trance feels a little too big although it flies down the track. I am really thinking of getting a shorter stem.
I am thinking of an allmountain raceface 90 mm 8º, or a thomson but they only have 0º and 10º on the 4x and 5º on the elite and they are a bit pricey! My stem is 120 mm !!

I need some input from you … I am 6 feet high and ride the L. I want to improve handling on fast switchbacks! Do you think a shorter stem will break the geometry of the bike and do you know well the Giant Trance 2 2008? Can I do pumptracks and DJ?

I will apreciate any info! Thanks Lee


Hey Sergio,

That trail looks like a lot of fun. I love all those tight corners.

I don’t know that bike specifically, but I’ve only heard good things about it.

– I think a 90mm stem would improve your bike’s overall handling, especially on such a technical trail.

– If you want to pump and jump, go even shorter — more toward 50mm.

– Either way, try a cheap stem (around $40) before you invest in a Thomson.

– Stems are so easy to change, you could have two cheap stems — a 50 and a 90, or maybe a 70 and your 120? — for different types of riding. But: It’s best to pick one stem and stick with it.

Don’t forget technique

Is that you in the video? If so:

– You are steering too much. Rather than turning your bars to turn your bike, focus on leaning the bike.

– Look through the turns! Your head appears to be stuck straight ahead. On a trail that tight, you need to look through the trees.

Be the trail. Rip the trail!

— Lee

8 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Sorry for the essay, but:

    I had a Trance and I loved it. The trails where I rode it are similar to that trail: tight. I am 5’10” and it was an M. I ran a 50mm stem. If you are hammering all day across the desert then maybe a 120 would be fine to stretch you out, but that stuff looks too tight.

    For pump tracks, the Trance won’t go as well as a hardtail, but no suspended bike will as suspension is the enemy of pump. I could not go through my favourite BMX racetrack rhythm section on my Trance as fast as I could on my STP (which is not as fast as my BMX).

    On jumps built by MTBers with FS bikes it will be just fine. On steep BMX-style jumps with short transitions and steep lips and landings that need to be pumped hard to get enough speed for the next jump, it won’t go as well as a HT. But, again, no FS will.

    If you do get a cheap stem, get one with four bolts on the front. The two-bolt ones tend to creak a little, especially for a bigger, stronger guy.

    When you take the stem off, drop the fork out of the crown and clean the dirt off the lower bearing of the headset. It is already there.

    The pivots on Maestro bikes are well covered and you should be able to do thousands of miles before a routine overhaul. Even if they look muddy, resist the temptation to take the bolts out to clean them. Don’t ever use a jet-wash on a bike. If you do have to undo one of the black bolts, put Red Loctite (where the liquid is blue) on the threads and CHECK snugness after a few miles. DO NOT overtighten the drive side black bolts. They are the top caps. I have snapped one off and only the rebuild kit saved me (which is worth buying if you know others with Trances and Reigns of any year. It also has a useful schematic). Use a short Allen wrench on those top caps.

    At .15 to .16 seconds, the rider turns the bars quickly rightleftrightleftright. One might be able to get through that without turning the front wheel at all. Stand up, roll, and rock the entire bike from one side to the other to stop the bars hitting each tree. Your torso remains facing down the trail, only the bike and your arms move. It is similar to standing up and climbing: bike rocks side to side, wheels point stright. There is no change of direction. An advanced technique for when the gap between two trees is narrower than the bars is to pop a quick wheelie and turn the bars 45 degrees (easier with a short stem). Though getting this wrong, even at slow speed, is disastrous! Wrap one layer of teflon tape under your shifters and brakes so they rotate around the bars when you hit a tree. Old motocross trick.

  2. tony says:

    surprised no one commented on thumb position on bar. Def has something to do with “oversteering” and possibly reach,no?

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    I was gonna jump on that one, but my friend The Mighty Peter Smith ™ rides like that and he always kicks my butt.


    That does look insecure at the very least. And I sure would hate to hit something hard by surprise, get jolted forward and have my thumb catch on the top of the bar like that. The ulnar collateral ligament is WEAK, and it really hurts when it snaps.

    Better to wrap your hand around the bar and drive any wayward forces into your palm.

  4. Nige says:

    I have an 06 Trance 1 and have changed to a mini DH bike Im 6 foot tall and ride a medium with a 65mm easstern DH stem (run it as high as I can). Changed the wheels to some heavy duty ones with Maxxis 2.35 high roller rubber also seat post is low but not uncomfortable. Being West Australian I also use 5ten shoes and flat pedals aka Sam Hill style helps with the confidence when you get a big drift happening on the pea gravel. This little bike rocks on the most extream turain obviously up hill performance is reduced but going down is inspiring. It also helps to turn your pro pedal off and increase the speed of the rebound it will shootyou out of corners rather than wallowing which I found when I first got it.

    Also get some spare mech hangers they tend to be soft I usually go through one a month always carry 2 spare with me.

  5. Chris says:

    Nige, have you tried running a SRAM or a Shimano Shadow rear derailler? They don’t hang out so far so you are less likely to hit them. I guess you also know that the Meastro hangers for 08 onwards are different to yours.

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