Giant Stance 29 1 review

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The Giant Stance 29 1 is a refreshingly affordable mountain bike. Yer classic entry level full-sus trail bike. Aluminium. 29er. 140mm fork, 125mm rear travel. Oodles of own-brand kit.

  • Brand: Giant
  • Product: Stance 29 1
  • From: Giant Bicycles
  • Price: £2,399
  • SQUIRREL_TEXT_13042815
  • Tested by: Benji for 4 months

Pros

  • Decent geometry
  • Decent build kit
  • Great value

Cons

  • Even shorter stem please
  • Fork durability unvouchable for
  • Not exactly aesthetically exciting

For the model year 2024, Giant’s entry level range of full suspension mountain bikes has had a significant revamp. The Stance range is comprised of a trio of models. There’s a bottom of the ladder Stance with 27.5in wheels and then there are two 29er Stances. This Stance 29 1 is the top end Stance.

All the Giant Stance models use a FlexPoint rear suspension design. There’s no Giant Maestro branded dual-link stuff to be found here. Instead there’s essentially a rocker-driven single-pivot layout. Having said that, the FlexPoint rear stays stuff does perform like a pivot point; it just bends along its length instead of being a rigid member pivoting around a bearing/bushing.

Regardless, the FlexPoint system works just fine (more on this later) and no doubt offers some cost-savings in terms of construction, assembly time and parts required. It probably saves a bit of weight too but not really a significant amount to be concerned with on a budget bike like this.

£2,399 is a seriously impressive price for a bike that is as capable as this Stance 29 1 is. Sure, there’s a whole load of in-house Giant’s-own stuff used to hit this price point but for the most part, the Giant kit looks suitable.

It’s easier to reel off the stuff that doesn’t have ‘Giant’ written on it! Drivetrain, brakes and tyres. I think that’s about it. Yep, Giant really do show how giant they are with this bike. The entire cockpit is Giant (stem, bars, grips, headset even). The dropper and saddle are both Giant branded. So too are the wheels. And yep, the 140mm travel Crest fork up front is a Giant item. Oh, hang on. The air sprung Raidon R rear shock is from Suntour.

Still, you get the idea. This is a very Giant mountain bike. Even the aluminium used in the frame is Giant’s proprietary Allux alloy.

Enough about aluminium, let’s get to brass tacks. Is all this Giant own-brand stuff any good? The answer is overwhelmingly “yes”. Niggles? Only one. Personally I find 50mm stems too long these days (sorry!) but most riders will be fine I suspect, especially those on Small and Medium sizes who get 40mm stems instead of the 50mms on L/XL.

The Contact Switch AT dropper is brilliant. Smooth, easy action, notta lotta sloppa – and is internally travel adjustable too (170-200mm). The Romero saddle is neutrally lovely. The bars are wide and high enough (780 x 35mm) and aren’t harsh despite their 35mm girth. The grips are… pretty good to be honest. But then again, I really like push-on grips (they’re comfier!). I can imagine some people sticking their bottom lip out at the lack of lock-ons. But I’d much rather have cheap push-ons than cheap lock-ons, thanks.

The wheelset deserves special mention. Tubeless from the get go, nicely made, no undue signs of bearing rumble or loss of true. They have a nice general ride feel and pick-up. The wheels are something that I’d not really be in any hurry to upgrade, which is a real boon for a budget bike.

Right then. This here Giant Crest 34 SL RCL fork. This is by far the most significant item on this bike isn’t it? Is it any good? Truth be told, it is fine. It’s certainly not as slick and capable as more expensive forks (surprise) but it does the job decently without being flexy, unpredictable or sticky/notchy.

I’d be fine with running the Crest fork for a couple of years before upgrading to something with more sophisticated air spring and damping behaviour. As it is, you sort of do have to make a binary choice of comfort versus support; you can have a supportive but harsh fork or a divey but cushy fork, basically. During that aforementioned two years, I’d also recommend dropping the lowers and doing a quick clean-out and re-lube service. It doesn’t feel like it’s a fit and forget fork. But yeah, I’d have this Crest over a Suntour or even budget RockShox any day.

As for the rear suspension, I’ll come clean and say that I made a schoolboy error for the first couple of weeks with the Giant Stance 29 1. I was running the wrong amount of sag. Basically, the rear shock doesn’t use the whole length of the exposed shaft. The stroke length is actually only 45mm (the exposed shaft is around 50mm). So, I ended running far too much sag. Like 40% or something. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a bike that – whilst rather rad and fun in terms of geometry – just collapsed through its travel at the slightest hiccup or sneeze. (To be fair, the little Raidon R shock deals well with bottom outs!)

Once I’d realised my error and put hods more air in (to run 14mm of shock sag) things improved greatly at the back end. The 2024 125mm rear travel Stance 29 now delivers a bit more than previous 120mm Stances and it delivers it pretty well all told. A but like the Crest fork, the rear suspension is a bit can’t-have-it-both-ways, except not quite so pronounced. It partly depends on the rider.

Personally, I was fine running it quite fast in terms of rebound and with a decent sag. I don’t mind a bit of bobbing about and/or have a relatively ‘calm’ pedaling style so bob is not too much of an issue. Some more ‘propulsively focussed’ riders will benefit from running less sag and/or more rebound damping. Which is fine and totally doable. More expensive fancier rear shocks work better. Who knew?

On to the not-Giant bits ‘n’ bobs. Starting with the drivetrain, SRAM SX Eagle will never win any prizes for being lightweight. Or taut shifting. But it works fine, offers a properly broad gearing range and doesn’t feel or sound rough when you’re pedaling it around.

The brakes are from Shimano: catchily-named BR-MT420 4-potters with 180mm rotors at each wheel. And they were totally flawless throughout the test. Hugely better than the SRAM Level/Guide things you often find on bikes at this price. I’m not even sure they’d even ever worth be upgrading. Possibly some good quality aftermarket pads? Maybe larger diameter rotor(s) at some point? Whatever. No rush either way.

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_13042815

Which leaves us with the Maxxis tyres. And they were totally acceptable. Sure, the Dissector on the rear is rather slidey for a lot of UK conditions but it’s manageable until it wears out. And the DHF is still shout-from-the-rooftops brilliant great, even it this DHF is just a non-3C OEM version.

Let’s round things off with a couple of very important things. Frame feel and geometry. Ultimately, the Giant Stance 29 1 is a fun, sprightly feeling machine. Although the long swingarm has a nice/helpful bit of give to it, it’s certainly not a flimsy mess. Nor is the frame a lifeless iron rod. The chassis feel is on par with bikes of pretty much any price in my opinion. Really, really nice. Giant know its aluminium.

Oh, and muchos kudos for having proper room for full-size water bottle inside the main frame and having accessory bolts under the top tube. No, there is no internal frame storage. (Am I allowed to say that I’m a bit over internal frame storage now? I certainly don’t really miss it when I don’t have it)

Geometry. AKA The Big Issue. I wouldn’t say that Giant has nailed it but the numbers on the Stance 29 work well. There’s a proper amount of reach. The headtube length is decent. The standover (and dropper insertion) is good. The seat angle was just about steep enough (especially once the saddle is slid forward on its rails a bit).

Which leaves us with the usual two niggles of mine: chainstay length and head angle. Aye, sorry to be boring but I do think the bike would handle better with longer stays and a degree or two lobbed off the head angle. Thankfully the Stance 29 has the sheer reach/wheelbase and BB drop to help offset these numerical niggles and the bike managed to cope with some pretty hair-raising technical trail tasks asked of it. It gets down, up and around pretty much everything just with differing degrees of velocity and nursing.

Overall

Giant is making some great every(wo)man bikes at the moment. It can be a victim of its own mainstream-ness. A Giant will never be cool. Which, to my mind, is making it more and more cool all the time. Giant could get away with cutting way more corners but it doesn’t. Neither does it fire up the marketing machine and re-invent things for the sake of it.

With the Giant Stance 29 1 the behemoth bike brand is playing to its strengths: well-designed, good-handling full suspension mountain bikes with decent own-brand kit at a price that is unarguably pleasing to see. This could possibly be our Mountain BIke Of The Year in fact, for all kinds of reasons.

Giant Stance 29 1 specification

  • Frame // ALUXX aluminium, 125mm
  • Shock // Suntour Raidon R, 190×45
  • Fork // Crest 34 SL RCL, 140mm
  • Wheels // Giant AM 29 alloy rims on Giant Tracker Performance hubs
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.5in WT EXO
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Dissector 29×2.4in WT EXO
  • Chainset // SRAM SX Eagle, 170mm, 30T
  • Brakes // Shimano BR-MT420, 180/180mm
  • Drivetrain // SRAM SX Eagle, 11-50T
  • Stem // Giant Contact SL 35, 50mm
  • Handlebars // Giant Contact SL TR35, 780x35mm
  • Grips // Giant Sole-O
  • Seat Post // Giant Contact Switch AT dropper, 30.9mm, 170-200mm
  • Saddle // Giant Romero

Geometry of our size XL

  • Head angle // 65.5°
  • Effective seat angle // 76.5°
  • Seat tube length // 475mm
  • Head tube length // 125mm
  • Chainstay // 440mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,260mm
  • Effective top tube // 654mm
  • BB height // 40mm BB drop
  • Reach // 500mm

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Review Info

Brand: Giant
Product: Stance 29 1
From: Giant Bicycles
Price: £2,399
Tested: by Benji for 4 months

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Giant Stance 29 1 review
  • matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    What’s the warranty and customer service like?

    johnnystorm
    Full Member

    Seems incredibly over priced to me?

    £2400 for SX and bottom tier everything else. 😬

    nickc
    Full Member

    Seems incredibly over priced to me?

    Rally? Seems dirt cheap, what d’you think would be the “right” price for it?

    ads678
    Full Member

    The Giant Stance 29 1 is a refreshingly affordable mountain bike

    Nah, check out Marin if you want affordable. Rift zone 1 is less than 1700 and has deore 11 speed, and x-fusion suspension. Rift zone 2 is 2225 with deore 12 speed, marzocchi bomber z2 forks and rockshox deluxe rear shock. Proper bargains!

    Alpine Trails look awesome for the prices as well.

     

    johnnystorm
    Full Member

    @nickc

    Some good examples from Ads above but off the top of my head there was the Jamis Dakar with Deore and Judy’s that’s half the price (£1200) and was £700 last year.

    The Sonder Cortex/Evol are ~£1800 for the  SX model and the Stance RRP gets you NX with Decent rockshox, etc.

    Even a Stumpjumper alloy with SX is £2100 at RRP.

    The top of the line Boardman with a Pike & SLX is a couple of hundred cheaper.

     

     

    ravingdave
    Full Member

    Next to those models above it doesn’t look great VFM.

    snotrag
    Full Member

    I would assume the shock is in fact 50mm stroke but with a lump of plastic clipped onto the shaft to limit the travel, would be interesting to check and see if the frame will work with it (might be the flex stays that are the limiting factor there).

    elray89
    Free Member

    Interesting how bikes are getting 10mm more travel every 2 or 3 years. My first MTB was a 2016 Giant Stance that I got second hand and it was 27.5 with 120mm on either end…then they went to 130mm a couple years ago and now it’s a regular old trail bike.

    Does Giant have a “downcountry” style offering in the works? Anthem Evo or something?

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

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