The Giant Stance 1 impressed our testers with its nimble handling, nice component spec, and impressively light weight for the price and awarded it our Top Pick for Climbing Award. Generally with full suspension mountain bikes the less they weight, the more they cost, but this is not the case with the reasonably priced Stance 1 that tips the scales at 28.7 pounds for the size large we tested. It also boasts a well thought out build that features Fox suspension, a Shimano SLX 1x11 speed drivetrain, dropper seat post, and tubeless wheels and tires. Testers found the Stance 1 to be a very efficient uphill performer, with agile handling characteristics both up and down the hill, although it seemed to get twitchy and inspire less confidence as speeds increased. Overall, the Stance 1 is a capable trail bike for riders who like climbing, responsive handling, playfulness, and don't push the limits of downhill speed.
Giant Stance 1 2018 Review
Cons: less confident at speed, geometry feels a little outdated
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy this Bike?
Giant claims their Stance 1 full suspension mountain bike is the "perfect gateway to single track trail performance." Testers agree that this is a good assessment of this lightweight, quick handling, and capable trail bike with a nice component specification. Less aggressive riders looking for a versatile and responsive ride that excels at climbing and low to medium speed descents would be wise to consider the Stance 1.
If you just can't possibly spend that much money, we would recommend the Marin Hawk Hill 2 with a confidence inspiring and playful ride, but a less impressive component specification, for $195 less than the Giant Stance. If you're more interested in high-speed downhill fun then the Kona Process 134 SE, with its long wheelbase and reach, craves the fall line and could be a good option for you.
If you really want to get more aggressive on the trail, then our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, has got you covered with a beefy build, progressive modern geometry, and only costs a couple hundred dollars more. The Canyon doesn't quite have the quick handling of the Stance 1, but if you're looking for an affordable aggressive trail bike we think it is the way to go.
Our testers agreed that the Stance 1 was a lot of fun to ride in most situations. It excelled at low to medium speeds, with a tight turn radius and impressively responsive nimble handling. This bike was very adept and comfortable to ride uphill, with a light and efficient feel and comfortable riding position. The bike's lightweight and shorter wheelbase made it especially playful at lower speeds on the descents, with excellent cornering capabilities. Testers also universally agreed that the Fox suspension package spec'd on the Stance 1, especially the Rhythm fork, offered supple performance and tuneability that the Rock Shox Recon forks found on several of the other models in our test selection couldn't touch. Overall, the Stance 1 was versatile, capable, and really fun to ride but wavered slightly as the speeds approached eye-watering on the descents.
On the descents, the Stance 1 was most capable and fun to ride at lower to medium speeds. It features 120mm of front and rear wheel travel suspended by a Fox Rhythm 32 fork and a Fox Performance rear shock. With a reasonably slack head tube angle of 67.1 degrees, and the shortest wheelbase, 1151mm, and reach, 444mm, in our test selection, the Stance 1 offered quick handling, a tight turn radius, and a playful demeanor. Giant's Flexpoint single pivot rear suspension combined with the Fox Performance rear shock to offer some of the best small bump compliance and bigger hit performance of all the bikes in our test selection. That said, the Stance 1's 120mm of front and rear wheel travel isn't exactly meant for brawling, it performs best on smoother trails and those with only moderate technicality, as it can get a little overwhelmed when the going gets super rough.
To enhance the descending capabilities Giant has created a nice component specification, with a TranzX dropper seat post with a 1x remote lever to lower the seat down and out of your way. They've also spec'd a nice wide 780mm handlebar and short stem that offers a comfortable cockpit and adds to this bike's already responsive handling. The addition of Maxxis Ardent tires setup tubeless from the factory is also a bonus in this price range, providing excellent traction in most situations.
The same short wheelbase and reach of the Stance 1 that make it so great in the slower and tighter riding tend to hamper its abilities at higher speeds. Testers found it to feel somewhat "twitchy" and less stable on high-speed straightaways and sidehills making it less confidence inspiring than other bikes in our test selection like the Marin Hawk Hill 2 or the Kona Process 134 SE, both of which performed better at speed. While we generally enjoyed the traction of the Maxxis Ardent tires, the rounder profile and shorter knobs weren't our favorites for aggressive cornering at higher speeds.
The Stance 1 impressed our testers with its performance while climbing, earning itself our Top Pick for Climbing Award. The bike's impressively lightweight, efficient power transfer, comfortable climbing position, and quick handling characteristics made it easy and fun to climb in virtually all situations. The bike's short wheelbase made it especially well suited to tackling technical sections of trail and tight uphill switchbacks. The Fox Performance rear shock offered excellent support and small bump compliance, as well as a 3 position (open/descend, trail, and climb) compression dampening switch. The Stance 1 climbed quite well in the open position but proved to feel more efficient while climbing on single track in the trail position. The climb position of the switch feels almost like a full lockout and our testers agreed that it is best for use on extended sections of pavement.
The Stance 1 has the shortest reach of all the bikes in our test selection at 444mm for the size large we tested. That short reach, coupled with a 67.1-degree head tube angle and a 72.8-degree seat tube angle made for a nice upright, comfortable, and centered rider position while climbing. This position weighted both wheels nicely while climbing, providing great rear wheel traction and a planted front tire that never felt like it wanted to wander. The Maxxis Ardent tires provided good climbing traction and low rolling resistance. Giant has spec'd a Shimano SLX 1x11 speed drivetrain on the Stance 1 with a 30 tooth front chainring and an 11-46 tooth cassette that offers an impressive amount of range that should be suitable for most riders while climbing.
As mentioned several times already, the Stance 1 has a great build for this price point. One of the highlights of the build for our testers was the Fox Rhythm 32 fork which easily outperformed the Rock Shox Recon forks spec'd on three of the 8 models in our test selection. The Fox fork offers more tuneability in the form of rebound and compression damping adjustments, as well as a smoother and more supple stroke. The Fox Performance rear shock was a great part of this build, providing external rebound adjustment and a 3 position compression dampening switch.
The Shimano SLX 1x11 speed drivetrain was also an impressive addition to the build of the Stance 1. With a 30 tooth front chainring and an 11-46 tooth cassette, it offers lots of range, as well as stiff SLX crank arms for maximum power transfer and smooth shifting that Shimano is known for. The SLX rear derailleur also features their "Shadow" clutch technology to maintain chain tension and prevent dropped chains.
The Stance 1 rolls on Maxxis Ardent tires, 2.4" in the front and 2.25" in the rear, set up tubeless on Giant's XC-1 27.5" tubeless ready wheelset. The Stance has boost spacing both front and rear with thru axles on both providing a little extra stiffness in the system. The Ardent tires have a relatively round profile and shorter knobs that provide good traction in most situations, although they weren't especially confidence inspiring at speed and they seemed prone to washing out in loose conditions.
The Stance 1 is spec'd with a TranzX YSP-19 externally routed dropper seat post with a 1x style shift lever. The dropper lever is mounted to the left side of the 780mm Giant Connect handlebar with comfortable Giant branded grips.
The low point of the Stance 1's build, if we had to find one, is the Shimano BR-M365 hydraulic disc brakes. The brakes are spec'd with a 180mm front and a 160mm rear disc brake rotors, and they do a decent job of slowing this bike down. That said, our testers thought they felt a bit underpowered and they would have enjoyed the increased confidence and control of a more powerful set of brakes on this otherwise very well put together bike.
With a retail price of $2,145, we feel that the Giant Stance 1 is a great value for the right consumer. This bike is very lightweight and boasts a nice component spec for this price point. Assuming you're after a very efficient climber with a quick handling ride up or down the hill, then the Stance 1 has got you covered.
Other Versions and Accessories
Giant makes a full line of mountain bikes for all types of riding, with 2 models of the Stance including the Stance 1 reviewed here.
The Giant Stance 2 retails for $1,530 and features an SR Suntour Axon RL-R fork and Expion R rear shock. It features a Shimano Deore 2x9 speed drivetrain, M315 hydraulic disc brakes, and Giant XC-2 tubeless wheelset and Maxxis Ardent tubeless tires.
Giant really impressed our testers with the combination of value and performance that the Stance 1 has to offer. For the price, the Stance 1 is an impressively lightweight bike with excellent climbing abilities and responsive handling that offers a playful and versatile ride at low to medium speeds on the descents. The Stance 1's performance is complemented by the well thought out component specification which easily outperformed most of the other bikes in our test selection. We feel the Stance 1 is a great bike to take your riding to more advanced single track trails, or for virtually anyone looking for a great value in a lightweight and versatile full suspension mountain bike but doesn't push the limits of downhill speed.
— Jeremy Benson