PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Giant Stance 1
Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Anthony Smith
The Giant Stance 1 is billed as “the perfect entry to singletrack fun,” and with 29” wheels, 120mm of rear travel, and a sub-$2000 pricepoint it sure looks like it could fit the bill, at least on paper.
It's built around an aluminum frame that uses Giant's 'Flexpoint' suspension design, a link driven single pivot that does away with chainstay or seatstay pivot and relies on the flex of the frame to allow the suspension to go through its travel instead. It's a fairly common design on shorter travel trail and XC bikes, and eliminating those pivots does mean there are fewer bearings to maintain.
The 29” Stance is a relatively new addition to Giant's lineup, so it was surprising to see that the frame still has a front derailleur mount, and uses a quick release for the rear wheel rather than a thru-axle. I can't think of the last time I headed off-road with a quick release rear end – more on that in a bit.
Giant Stance Details
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 67.5°
• Seat Tube Angle: 75°
• Reach: 454mm (L)
• Chainstay length: 438mm (size L)
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 31.6 lb / 14.7 kg
• Price: $1,800 USD
As far as components go, the Stance is right in line with what you'd expect at this pricepoint, and there's even a dropper post, in this case Giant's Contact Switch post. A 130mm RockShox Recon SL fork is paired with a RockShox Monarch R shock, which is about as simple as it gets when it comes to adjustments – air pressure and rebound are the only two things to worry about. SRAM's SX 12-speed group handles shifting duties, and Shimano's two-piston Altus brakes try to slow things down, with mixed results. Maxxis' fast rolling Forekaster tires are found on both wheels, and they're tubeless ready. Taping the rims and making that conversion early on is a highly recommended step.
The Stance's geometry is on the more conservative side of the spectrum – it has the shortest wheelbase the shortest reach (454mm for a size large), and the second steepest head angle (67.5-degrees) out of all eight bikes that we had in for the Field Trip. The chainstays measure 438mm on all sizes, and the seat tube angle is 75-degrees. Climbing
The Stance is a fairly quick climber, thanks to those fast rolling tires and the relatively light weight. It does have a bit of an old school feel to it; there's a sharpness to its handling that requires more attention to keep it on track. The climbing position itself was comfortable - the seat angle isn't the absolute steepest, but the front center of the Stance isn't that long either, which means that the 624mm top tube length is fairly typical for a size large frame.
There's no compression dial or climb switch on the Monarch R shock, but I never found myself wishing for those adjustments. The Stance's 120mm of travel is well managed, and it felt plenty efficient when standing up and cranking. However, it's definitely not the stiffest frame, a trait that became more apparent when descending.
The Stance's conservative numbers don't hinder it too much on the climbs, but the steepish head angle and short reach are much more noticeable when gravity takes over. There's a distinct lack of stability at speed, especially on rougher portions of trail. It was in those chunky sections that the Stance's limitations really showed up – the frame felt flexy and tall, and when the low-powered brakes are added into the mix it's not a recipe that inspires confidence.
More than anything, spending time on the Stance underlined the importance of good geometry. Yes, the Stance is aimed at cross-country and light trail riding, but even so, a slacker head angle, longer reach, and lower standover height would go a long way towards helping riders of all ability levels feel more comfortable in technical terrain.
When it comes to the parts spec, I'd say the brakes are the weakest link. The levers are gigantic – there's enough room for using three fingers, which sort of makes sense, since you'll probably need to use all three fingers in order to generate enough power to slow down in the steeps. I was surprised to find that the difference between the M310 brakes on the Stance and the Acera-level brakes on the Kona Honzo was very noticeable. Neither brake offers a massive amount of power, but at least on the Honzo it was possible to slow down in a semi-reasonable amount of time.
The RockShox Recon fork's performance wasn't really anything to write home about either. It gets the job done, once you inflate it well past the recommended pressures printed on the lowers, but that requires trading out traction for more support.
The final note has to do with the quick release rear end. That's a potential deal breaker, in part because it limits the number of replacement options. It's also one more thing to worry about. Most of us spent years riding bikes with quick releases without too many issues, but a broken axle or a wheel that slips in the dropouts is much more likely with a quick release compared to a thru axle.
Who is the ideal candidate for the Stance? Aggressive riders on a budget should look elsewhere, but beginners or cautious riders looking for a traditional-feeling trail bike may find that the Stance has everything they need.
It's worth taking a moment to mention the Giant Trance 29. It's priced at $2,100, but for that extra $300 you get several significant upgrades, including a Marzocchi Z2 fork, Fox Float DPS shock, Maxxis Minion tires, and Shimano MT400 brakes. That frame uses Giant's Maestro suspension design, and it's a little longer and slacker than the Stance. $300 isn't insignificant, but it could be worth it for riders looking for better performance at a still-reasonable price.