Giant Stance 27.5

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The Giant Stance pay-off line is ‘conquer steep climbs and sail down singletrack with confidence’, but does this entry-level 27.5 full-suspension match up to those ambitions?

We all know that first impressions make a big difference in the cycling market. In that regard, the Giant Stance immediately catches the eye… well, the black and cyan model we were sent to test sure did. So much so, in fact, that the Compleat Golfer boys next door couldn’t resist coming by for a few more ‘chats’ than usual when we commuted on the Stance – cycling is the new golf, of course.

It turned out, their intrigue was matched by people in taxis along Main Road and fellow riders on Cape Town’s trails… everybody we rode past (yes, we did, on occasion) did a double-take. So on first count – looks – Giant has done a great job with the Stance. You’ll want to be seen riding it.

Of course, the more difficult ‘deliverable’ on an entry-level bike is a ride that feels as good as it looks, as inevitably the words ‘entry level’ mean ‘heavy with fidgety, cheap components’. The fact is, the Stance is built around an ALUXX aluminium frameset so you’ll need a full hand to lift it, but this is also a trail, not pure XC or marathon, bike so 13.5 kg is not tank-like.

On the plus side, the components are more mid-range than pure entry-level, namely a RockShox 30 Gold Solo Air 120mm travel fork and Monarch R rear shock; Shimano Alivio shifting and M355 hydraulic braking. Also, while the Maxxis Ardent tyres do a great job, the Giant alloy rims are a bit weighty.

Before you ask, again, the answer to “where have Giant cut the majority of the costs?” is that the Stance doesn’t feature their signature twin-link Maestro suspension design, and instead comes with a much simpler and obviously cheaper single pivot, which they’ve called ‘FlexPoint’. It means you’re not getting the fully active, completely efficient and total braking independence that you get on other Giant full-sussers like the Anthem or Trance – less buck equals less bang. The downside of the single pivot system is that the chainstays will flex through the suspension path but failure is not expected and either way, the simpler system will be cheaper to maintain in the long run.

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That all being said how does the Stance do in its core boasts – taming steep climbs and singletracks?
As a given when you live in Cape Town, every trail ride involves climbing. Being mid-winter when we tested it, the Stance had some added challenges to overcome. In truth, it handled the climbing – whether short or lengthy, dry or slippery, smooth or rocky – surprisingly well, and that was the impression following a week off with a bout of flu. The bike does feel somewhat sluggish on the flat and rolling jeeptrack, but it can’t be criticised in the climbing department where its weight didn’t hold us back unduly.

In terms of singletrack? Well, considering Strava was going crazy with PBs after our first go descending, we believe this is where the Stance is at its best. The added weight (compared to more mid-range full-sussers) aids momentum for lighter riders, while 120mm travel was sufficient to sail over all roots and rocks we encountered. Put that together with the dexterity that the 27.5 wheels give you and the ‘woohoo’ you let out might make you feel like cheating on your 29er more often.

In terms of some nitpicking, the rubberised grips that come standard on the bike need to go as a matter of urgency – they twist and shift sideways on the high-rise handlebar. Also, sitting towards the front of the very comfortable Giant connect saddle can have you feeling a bit disconnected from the full effect of the rear suspension.

Final Verdict
In these times of austerity, the price of the Giant Stance is obviously a big plus. It’s usually easy to pick the bones out of what you lose out on when you lower the price of a bike but as an entry into full suspension, it ticks all the necessary boxes – value for money, comfort and most importantly, functionality.

Giant Stance
Price: R18 495
www.giant-bicycles.com