Still a lightweight, beautifully-constructed bike but revised geometry and fatter tyres now make it a total ripper
It’s been three years since we last tested the Giant Stance and a lot has changed in that time. For starters, the price has shot up by £400.
Giant Stance 2 review
On the surface, Giant’s signature fluid formed aluminium frame looks exactly the same as the 2016 Stance we tested. It still delivers 120mm travel from a flex stay rear end. The shock is still mounted vertically and the Stance still benefits from the weight saving afforded by Giant’s Co-Pivot technology, where the lower shock mount shares the same mounting hardware with the main suspension pivot. And, at 13.73kg, the Stance 2 is still the lightest bike in this bracket by quite some margin.
Dig deeper into the numbers however, or simply throw a leg over the bike, and it’s clear that the latest Stance has adopted a very different position. With increased length in the frame, the lowest effective BB height in test, and a slack 66.4 degree head angle, the new Stance breaks free from the XC shackles that always held it back.
Other updates see the rear dropout spacing increased from 135mm to 141mm. The rear wheel is still secured by a 9mm quick release lever, but the move to a wider rear end makes for a much stronger and stiffer rear wheel, while also increasing tyre clearance. The extra space now occupied by larger volume 2.4in Maxxis Ardent tyres, which are good all-rounders.
With 120mm of travel and the same level of adjustment as the Suntour Raidon suspension fork on the Jamis Dakar – air sprung, with external rebound and a lock out – it would be easy to assume that the Suntour Axon fork on the Giant offers the same lacklustre performance. In fact, the opposite is true. The fork on the Giant has fantastic small-bump sensitivity that generates lots of traction and control – the 15mm QR increasing steering precision, tracking and confidence even further.
Best of all, the fork feels perfectly balanced with the 120mm rear end, so there’s no disconnect between both ends of the bike, even if the rear end dished out 5mm more travel than claimed. Bonus!
We’ve criticised Giant in the past for dumbing down the build kit on its entry-level bikes, but no such complaint can be levied at the latest Stance 2. With wide 780mm handlebars, short 55mm stem and a 150mm dropper post, it has the best finishing kit in test. It also shows just how light the Stance frame really is, because dropper posts typically add 0.5kg to the overall weight of a bike.
One obvious area where the Stance lags behind the competition is the 2×9 Shimano drivetrain. That said, the shifting is slick and it offers a really wide range of gears, which is great for grinding up long, steep climbs or bombing fire road descents. The twin chain ring design also offers a less obvious advantage: because the relationship between the chain line and suspension changes when you shift to the smaller ring you increase the anti-squat on the climbs, which makes the Stance pedal more efficiently. It’s also why it feels weird when you forget to shift up to the big ring before sprinting into a decent.
With all of the revisions Giant has transformed the Stance 2 from a timid XC bike into a rowdy trail slayer. The riding position and geometry are dialled, the cockpit is sorted and the supple response from the balance suspension gives you the confidence to really motor.
Even the twin-ring drivetrain has advantages, the new style front derailleur doing a pretty good job at keeping the chain in place. No mean feat given that the Shimano rear derailleur on the Giant does not sport a chain-stabilizing clutch to add tension to the lower portion of the chain. And with no chain stay protection, the Stance is every bit a loud as it is fun to ride.
When we tested the Stance 2 back in 2016 we said that all it needed was a burlier fork, shorter stem and a much, much wider bar; and Giant could definitely be back in the mix. Well, Giant has certainly delivered. In fact, it has over delivered. With the wider 2.4in Maxxis tyres, QR Boost rear end and revised geometry the latest Stance is a completely different proposition. Yes, it’s still light and efficient, so it covers ground effortlessly, but the new version will have you smashing every turn, boosting jumps and buzzing with adrenalin, rather than simply beating your riding buddies up the climbs.