Jumping onto the Giant was akin to getting a shot of adrenaline straight in the arm

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Giant Stance 27.5 (2016)

Weight:
Weight:

Pros:

  • Light, fast and efficient

Cons:

  • XC30 fork lacks steering precision

Product:

Giant Stance 27.5 (2016) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£999.99
This product is featured in: The best cheap mountain bikes.

Twelve months have passed since we last tested the Stance. In that time, Giant has switched the accent colour on the frame and fork from blue to green and made some subtle changes to the specification — specifically, the stem is now 10mm shorter and the handlebar is 30mm narrower. The world’s biggest bike manufacturer has taken one step forward and two steps back.

Buy now: Giant Stance (2017) from Cyclestore for £1099

Video: Secrets of Better Riding: Braking and pedalling

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At first glance, the 120mm travel Stance looks pretty much like any other Giant full-suspension bike. It sports Giant’s signature fluid-formed aluminium tubing, and a vertical shock position that’s driven by a rocker link set-up. At the opposite end of the RockShox Monarch R shock, the Stance also benefits from the weight saving afforded by Giant’s Co-Pivot technology, that sees the shock and main suspension pivot share the same mounting hardware.

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Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice that the lower-link, that plays an integral part in Giant’s Maestro suspension, is absent. Instead, the Stance uses a single pivot design in conjunction with flex points on the seatstay to eliminate the need for additional pivots at the dropouts. This reduces weight, complexity and cost. Hardly surprising then, that the Giant Stance is 0.5kg lighter than the closest competition in this test and almost 2kg lighter than the GT.

Suspension

A key part of the weight saving on the Stance is the 120mm-travel RockShox XC30 fork. It’s the only fork on test to sport alloy upper tubes, rather than steel. And with its slender 30mm legs weight is further reduced — all of the other forks come with beefier 32mm uppers. The obvious downside of the lightweight fork is that there’s an appreciable reduction in stiffness and steering precision, compounded further by the smaller 9mm quick-release dropouts.

Spot the ball (bearings): give up, Giant uses flex instead of a pivot here

Spot the ball (bearings): give up, Giant uses flex instead of a pivot here

Travel gradients on the body of the RockShox Monarch R shock mean getting the sag dialled in couldn’t be easier. Sorting the rebound damping proved a little trickier, and we suspect this is due to the additional spring force stored in the alloy seatstays when they flex.

Components

As a cross-country bike, the narrow 690mm bar and longish 80mm stem offer an acceptable aerodynamic tuck for bombing down fire-roads or pottering along towpaths. As a trail bike, however, they dramatically reduce control and confidence on all but the most sedate terrain.

XC30 fork isn’t tough enough for trail riding, but it’s light for XC

XC30 fork isn’t tough enough for trail riding, but it’s light for XC

The triple chainset is also a bit dated, and with no clutch in the rear derailleur we had to resort to sticking the chain in the big ring just to increase chain tension and help keep it from derailing. The non lock-on grips proved just as tricky as the chain to keep in place.

Performance

In terms of application, travel and attitude, the GT and Giant are the most closely matched bikes in this test. Out on the trail however, the Giant feels tighter, lighter and way more responsive. In fact, jumping off the GT onto the Giant was akin to getting a shot of adrenaline straight in the arm.

Monarch shock works hard to control the FlexPoint back end

Monarch shock works hard to control the FlexPoint back end

The high was short lived however, as it didn’t take long to reach the limits of the spindly RockShox XC30 fork. Even with its wider range of damping adjustment, the XC30 couldn’t keep up. It made the whole bike feel flimsy, and heavier riders will really struggle with confidence on faster trails.

Fitting a shorter stem helped with the mind games, as it allowed us to get more weight over the rear wheel on steeper descents. This also helped overcome the initial resistance of the Flex Point suspension around the sag position, improving both traction and comfort.

The rearward shift in balance also meant that we could ride the Giant harder than before, but then the fork felt even more overpowered. Given the choice, we’d forgo the weight savings of the RockShox XC30 fork in favour of the stiffer Sektor. Then again, maybe we’re losing sight of the Giant Stance’s true calling, as an entry-level cross-country bike.

Buy now: Giant Stance (2017) from Cyclestore for £1099

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Verdict

Giant has the focus of the Stance firmly fixed on XC. And as an XC bike, it’s by far the best option in this test. It’s light, it pedals like stink and the generous frame proportion make it a comfortable companion for chalking up the training miles. Also, with an XL size option, it’s still one of the best options for taller riders with £1k to spend. It could be so much more, however. With a wider bar, shorter stem and a beefier fork, the Stance could be a short-travel trail bike with rapid acceleration and a tight, reactive suspension response. Maybe next year...

Details

Frame:ALUXX-Grade aluminium, 120mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch R
Fork:RockShox 30 Gold SoloAir, 120mm travel
Wheels:Giant Tracker Sport hubs, CR70 rims, Maxxis Ardent 27.5inx2.25in tyres
Drivetrain:FSA Dynadrive chainset, Shimano Alivio shifters and r-mech, Altus f-mech
Brakes:Shimano Altus 180/160mm
Components:Giant Connect 690mm bar, 80mm stem
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:13.9kg (30.6lbs)
Contact:giant-bicycles.com
Size ridden:L
Head angle:68.4°
Seat angle:70.7°
BB height:343mm
Chainstay:435mm
Front Centre:711mm
Wheelbase:1,146mm
Down tube:682mm
Top tube:605mm
Reach:445mm
  • Made In Machines

    The monarch seems to get badly reviewed here and on the boardman but not on the bossnut. How comes?

  • Jamie Baker

    would the way to fix the sensitivity problem be to fit a debonair air can

  • Anthony Tait

    Hi guy’s, this is one of 3 bikes I am going to get on the cycle to work scheme. The others are the boardman team full sus 650b, and the other is the lappierre raid fx. Out of the 3 which would you go for? Not many reviews on the raid fx, loads of fantastic reviews on the boardman. Any honest comments would be much appreciated.

  • Richard Fernandez

    I’ve owned my Stance 2 now for over a month and I have been extremely satisfied! It’s handled all the terrain I’ve ridden plus more. It was nice to know there was a Full Suspension bike in the price range I was comfortable with and no regrets!

  • Danny Milner

    Hi Martin,

    Yes, the aim is definitely to fully test the Stance in an upcoming issue. Good idea about running one as a longtermer as well – it’s certainly an interesting bike to look at in terms of durability.

  • Plyphon

    Love the angles on this frame. I wish the Canyon Nerve series would adopt this slack geo. I don’t need more than 120mm, but I really like the stability inherited from more ” downhill orientated” bikes.

  • martin golder

    Also just noticed this is the exact same article as the ‘first ride’ in the magazine from 3 months ago. Any chance of a proper review? Put a shorter stem on, tweak things like with others you ride.

  • martin golder

    Wouldn’t this be interesting as a longtermer, gives a bit more variety to the choices the puvlic can buy instead of usually incredibly expensive bikes.