It was a cool, grey day as fellow mountain biker Cliffy, Pat and I pedalled out through George's leafy suburbs towards the Outeniqua Mountains. Cliffy's not an eBiker as a rule, usually riding his feather light conventional hard tail, preferring to keep things simple. On this occasion though, he was on my regular steed, a 2016 Haibike Sduro FullNine RX, Pat was on her small version of the FullNine and I was on a brand new Giant Stance E+ 2, lent to us by Maartin van Rensberg at Ride Life in George. Cliffy wanted to show us a particularly beautiful place up in the mountains but, at the same time, I wanted to get a feel for the differences between the Haibike and the Giant.
We'd collected the Giants (Pat had taken the Liv Embolden E+ out for a couple of rides - review to come) a few days previously from Ride Life. I'd heard a lot about them - good things - but when I climbed aboard for the first time I was a little taken aback with just how different it was to my Haibike. The Giant has a longer top tube (630mm), slacker head angle (66.5°), longer wheel base 1 231mm and way more suspension travel (140mm rear and 150mm front) than the Haibike and so you're more stretched out in the roomier cockpit. Is this bad? Noooo, not at all, just different to what I'm used to.
Our first ride on the Giants had taken us to Witfontein Nature Reserve - a regular destination for us and we had tweaked a few things en route - seat height, angle, break lever position, handle bar rotation etc, so when we headed into the forests the settings were about as good as we were going to get them. That extra travel certainly made a difference, the "feel" of the ride strangely reminiscent of my old Morewood Shova ST, and it soaked up the bumps and irregularities beautifully.
As we started the climb that takes you to the radio mast we noticed the motor noise - a little louder than that of the Liv (and my Haibike for that matter), louder than I thought it would be. Maybe it was new, the belts and cogs and things needing to bed in... Whatever, the power was there in boat loads and it came on smoothly and controllably as I prodded the up button on Giant's "RideControl ONE" controller on the left hand side of the 800mm handle bar. It's neat and clean, with tiny, bright LEDs indicating power level and battery life. No digital display though. Pity, I missed it - I like to know my speed, cadence, trip distance etc as I ride. There is an optional display available (which I'd get if the bike were mine) and you can Bluetooth connect the bike to a Giant App on your phone that allows you to control, tune and view a bunch of readouts and settings. Nice, if you enjoy fiddling with things.
Time for a bit of single track and that's where I almost came unstuck... That slack head angle, and longer wheelbase means that the bike is not quite as, ummmm, nimble as my Haibike. It doesn't turn in as sharply and precisely as my bike does, and after a few wide eyed, sphincter tightening incidents, sense prevailed and we trundled home, a little confused.
We went back to Witfontein again the next day, now feeling a little more at home on the bright blue Giant. (Love the colour scheme by the way.) We climbed the regular forestry roads and once again headed for the single track. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about the handling... This time it was much better. Actually, this time it was fabulous. The suspension took care of the roots, rocks and bumps, and once you get the idea of actually "putting" the bike into the corners it tracks beautifully, handling all the twisty turnies with aplomb. This was nice. This was what I had expected.
And so when Cliffy, Pat and I had pulled up the 3,5km climb into the Outeniquas and Jonkersberg on that cool, grey day and stopped for a quick breather, I asked Cliffy if we could swap bikes. The difference between the bikes is huge. About as different as you can get - no wonder that I battled initially. The Haibike is very much more upright, very comfortable and less "sporty". Cliffy looked thrilled with himself on the Giant - starting to get the idea of ebikes. Much later on the way down, after we'd climbed high into the mountains and had plotted a few more routes, Cliffy hooked a left and tackled a particularly steep track. He later commented on one of our Facebook posts, "I did a technical climb with ridiculous ease. It was a climb that there was no way I would have been able to do on a normal bike!! Unbelievable!!" Clearly the bike was a hit.
What we like:
- The bike looks awesome in electric blue and black livery, and the slack head angle adds to its appeal.
- Smooth power delivery. Long suspension travel just soaks up the bumps.
- After I had got used to the bike, the handling was just awesome.
- Lots of torque and battery power.
- High end components like brakes, shifters and derailleur.
What we like less:
- No display, although this is easily rectified by fitting an optional one (at a cost of course).
- Noisy motor.
Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
Frame ALUXX SL-grade aluminium, Advanced forged composite upper rocker, 140mm Maestro suspension system
Fork Fox 36 Float Rhythm 27.5+ 150mm, EVOL, Grip Damper, Sweep adjust, Boost 110x15QR, e-Bike optimised
Shock Fox Float DPS Performance, EVOL Large Volume sleeve, 3-position lever, 185x52.5mm Trunnion mount, custom tuned
Handlebar Giant Contact 35 Trail, 35x800mm
Stem Giant Contact SL 35
Seatpost Giant Contact Switch, dropper, 30,9mm, under bar remote lever
Saddle Giant Contact, Neutral
Shifters Shimano SLX
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XT, 11-Speed, Shadow+
Brakes Shimano BR-MT520, 4-piston, hydraulic disc, 203mm
Brake Levers Shimano BL-MT520, i-spec II
Cassette Shimano HG-M7000, 11-46T, 11-Speed
Chain KMC e.11 Turbo, EcoProteq, e-bike optimized
Crankset Praxis Wavetm 36T Cold Forged 4130 premium steel Praxis e-Cadet+ custom forged crankarm set
Rims Giant AM 27.5+, Tubeless ready, 35mm inner width, e-bike optimized
Hubs Giant eTracker Boost, Sealed cartridge bearing, 6-bolt, [F] 110x15 [R] 148x12mm Thru-axle, e-bike optimized
Spokes Sapim E-Lite [r] Race [f], e-bike optimized
Tyres Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5x2.6" Foldable, Tubeless, EXO, Dual compound [F] Maxxis Rekon 27.5x2.6" Foldable, Tubeless, EXO, Dual Compound [R]
Motor Giant SyncDrive Pro, 360% tuneable support, powered by YAMAHA
Sensors Giant PedalPlus 4-sensor technology
Display Giant RideControl ONE, remote button
Battery Giant EnergyPak 500, 36V 13.8Ah integrated Lithium-Ion