Giant's entry-level e-bike cuts the rear suspension travel to 125mm but does it still give you a great bang for your buck? We compared it against the benchmark models at this price point.
The Stance E+ 1 is a shorter-travel 29er e-bike that strips back some of Giant’s proprietary suspension tech to deliver a ride that is both smooth and affordable. However, with two Stance E+ models, both under £4k, Giant has pitched them at keen price points – territory where most brands are only offering hardtail e-bikes. The fact that you can drop into a Giant dealer, take a proper look at the bike and get properly sized up makes it an even more appealing proposition. That all sounds great, but how does it perform out on the trail?
We’ve recently tested plenty of budget full-suspension e-bikes mostly from direct-sales brands. E-bikes such as the Vitus E-Mythique LT, dished out an enticing blend of motor performance, dynamic ability and value, so we were keen to put the test miles in on this similarly priced – but shorter travel – Giant Stance E+ 1.
Need to know
- Entry level e-bike platform with 125mm travel and 29in wheels
- SyncDrive Sport 75Nm motor is paired with a 625Wh battery
- RockShox 35 Silver fork pumps out 140mm travel
- FlexPoint suspension design reduces complexity and cost
- Colour LCD controller and display is clear and easy to use
- Stance E+ 2 available for £3,499
Motor and battery
The Stance E+ 1 still boasts a full power Yamaha made SyncDrive Sport motor with 75Nm torque which is combined with a 625Wh removable battery to ensure that you’re not being short-changed on either power or range.
The removable battery pops out of the underside of the downtube in the same way as Giant’s high-end e-bikes, so you only need a T25 Torx tool for removal. You do need to tighten the T25 battery latch securely though when reinstalling the battery, otherwise it rattles inside the frame.
Also, if you want to ride further in the higher power modes, the Stance E+ 1 is compatible with Giant’s 250Wh EnergyPak Plus range extender.
So what’s missing then? The biggest difference between the Stance E frame and Giant’s other e-bike platforms is that it uses a single pivot FlexPoint suspension design. So rather than getting Giant’s signature twin-link Maestro suspension, the Stance E+ 1 has aluminium flex stays with fewer pivots, bearings and links and associated cost savings when it comes to manufacturing the frame.
For the Stance E+ platform, Giant employs its top end ALUXX SL aluminium so there is potential weight saving when combined with the FlexPoint suspension design. Any weight reduction is masked by the more affordable mix of components though – the top-end Stance E+ 1 weighing a hefty 26.44kg (58.26lb) without pedals.
And it’s worth noting that the bike comes fitted with the lightest casing Maxxis EXO tyres, so if you plan on riding the Stance E+ 1 on serious mountain bike trails, you are going to want more robust tyres from the off, which will instantly nudge the weight of the bike up to over 27kg. These Maxxis tyres are also a harder compound, so they keep the tempo high while boosting the range from the 625Wh battery.
How it rides
Off the scales and on the trails, the Stance E+ 1 masks its mass pretty well. And while it only has 125mm of rear travel, the suspension is very effective once you get it set up correctly. Which isn’t as straightforward as it should be. Neither the Suntour shock or RockShox 35 fork have sag o-rings fitted as standard so to take some of the guesswork out of the initial suspension set up, I slapped a zip-tie on both. Even then, I was quite a way off on the initial shock pressure, a harsh metallic bottom out on the very first drop, a stark warning that 30% sag was simply too much for the shock to handle.
Increasing the pressure in the air can and reducing the sag to 25% instantly fixed the knock though. But I couldn’t shake the idea that surely it couldn’t cost that much to fit a small rubber bump stop in the shock, right? But maybe when you’re trying to build a capable e-bike for under £4k, that’s just a step too far.
With the sag dialled my focus quickly shifted to the rebound damping, or the distinct lack thereof. The Suntour Raidon rear shock basically has bullet fast rebound until you get to the final three or four clicks of adjustment. So the usable range is really narrow. I found a setting I was happy with though, and given that the bike only has 125mm travel, the rear end still offers really good traction with a much bigger appetite for rougher terrain than the numbers suggest.
In fact, the rear suspension felt well balanced with the 140mm RockShox 35 fork, at least until you started charging hard, then the action of the fork would start to feel erratic and out of sync with the rear end. Basically the RockShox 35 Silver fork is slow to return when deep in the travel, then it rapidly speeds up as the fork reaches full extension. And no amount of dial twiddling could eliminate that.
One thing the Stance E+ has in common with the high-end Giant Trance E that I tested in our E-Bike of the Year test is that it is a full 29er. And even with its dramatically different suspension layout, the Stance E+ 1 still sports really long chainstays – 467mm to be precise.
And while the longer rear stays should provide a really balanced ride for anyone on the XL bike, there’s an obvious forward weight bias on the three smaller frame sizes. As such, it’s pretty hard to pop the front end up over a fallen tree, or to manual through a ditch, even for an experienced rider.
On the flip side, the long stays enable you to run the handlebar really high for a more commanding riding position and the front end remains securely planted even on the steepest climbs. It makes the front tyre really easy to load on flatter turns too. Ultimately though, Giant needs shorter back ends on the smaller frame sizes to offer smaller riders a more balanced and dynamic ride. And if that means designing the bikes around a 27.5in rear wheel or adding some sort of dropout flip chip, then I’m all for it.
The compact Ride Control Dash display is crystal clear and easy to read, and while it’s painfully slow to navigate between the different screens for cadence, range, speed etc, toggling between the power modes is easy and fast. I also like that there’s a button on the display for adjusting the brightness of the screen, so you don’t need your blue light blocking glasses for evening rides.
Get on the gas, and Giant’s SynDrive motor offers a really smooth power curve, and at lower rpm, around 70 or so, it’s pretty quiet. Start revving at 90rpm and above and the motor starts to whine. Still, it’s not so loud as to be off-putting and it’s common to a lot of systems. The motor also has the usual rattle when coasting, which is accompanied by a loud disconcerting clunk when you first start pedalling again. I can only assume this is the freewheel in the motor engaging. Still, once you’re motoring along it’s not an issue.
There’s no clunkiness to the drivetrain and shifting is fast and smooth as the 10-speed chain glides effortlessly across the Shimano LinkGlide cassette. Paired with a 36t chainring the compact 11-43t cassette gives the Stance E+1 a gear range that is more tailored to trucking along at a good click, not winching your way up steep techy climbs, even if the longer chain stays really lend themselves to the latter.
There could be so much more to the Stance E+ 1 than simply racking up the miles though. It’s a remarkably capable bike, and the only number that’s off in terms of geometry is the chainstay length. With a shorter back end and tougher tyres Giant could really expand this bike’s horizon. But until that happens, if you’re looking for a new e-bike that doesn’t cost more than your car, then the Vitus E-Mythique LT VRX has more travel, a better spec and is actually lighter than the Giant, and it only costs £400 more money.