Giant’s STP series has been around for four years now, designed by US legend Jeff Lenosky and once used by the Athertons. The latest version is slicker and sharper-looking but still delivers a ride with standout agility and a great attitude.
Nobody could fault the STP 1 for its superb performance-for-price ratio. It's perfectly rigged and shaped for pumping, jumping and general play, with increased versatility just a tyre change away.
Ride & handling: Agile yet surefooted trail bomb
Despite being a massive global brand, Giant have a reputation for getting their specialist bikes bang on – often with a radical edge that you might not have expected such a big company to take a chance on. The STP is a cracking example of that with an immediate, agile and reflex reactive ride that grabs you and shakes you awake straight away.
The super-short stem and low bar let you spin and stir the front wheel around for the tightest line or slide correction in any situation. The forward weight distribution and instant handling can make the front wheel turn inside the natural corner line and tuck under the frame, and this jack-knifing effect makes novices nervous.
But once you’ve bitten the dust a couple of times as a result of this, you’ll be more aware of the STP’s limits, and the generously long top tube does keep it feeling stable and surefooted even when you’re sliding through a gravel turn. The super-short rear end snaps round very quickly on the ground or in the air and power delivery is immediate.
The rest of the frame, stiff cranks and the Maxxis Holy Roller tyres, along with a light complete weight for such a burly bike, maximise the power-to-speed translation so you’re never short of acceleration or momentum. The tight frame and bolt-through fork keep line choice crisp and precise too, although again, the hyperactive steering means it’s always a radical rather than restful ride.
Frame: Top quality, stable yet agile frameset
Giant are one of the world’s biggest and most advanced alloy frame producers and they haven’t skimped on the plumbing quality of the STP. The inset headset head tube is ring-reinforced to prevent it from getting distorted if you insist on pulling nose landing drops on a regular basis and the Giant logo is moulded into the front for a subtle look.
The hydroformed down tube includes a long moulded throat gusset for extra reinforcement. The top tube also splays into a broad triangulated stub for the wishbone-style rear stays, with the seat tube penetrating through it for a super strong joint. A massive machined chainstay yoke tucks the rear wheel right in while sneaking the rectangular to round chainstays between the fat tyre and chainset.
The offside seatstay gets a reinforcing plate to combat disc brake torque and Giant have removed the redundant V-brake mounts from the original STP frame. There’s still no ISCG mount, even though both complete bikes come with a chainguide as standard. In terms of sizing, both the 14in and 15in bikes are very low-slung, with just a 2.5cm (1in) difference in top tube length and just under half that between the two head tube heights.
Equipment: Cracking component selection for the cash
Despite this being the cheapest of the two STP options, Giant have loaded it with some luxury detailing. The matching blue Marzocchi fork and grips are the most obvious touch. The MRP chainguide and the easily adjustable Pivotal saddle and seatpost are both Giant custom items. Giant themselves supply the short upswept block stem and the low riser bars that even out overall cockpit height. The stem bolt is hollow so you can route a brake through it for barspins.
Massive Maxxis Holy Roller 2.5in tyres are a top street/trail choice that’ll scuff and slide without worry. Their high-rolling speed adds even more snap to the super responsive STP ride too. Don’t expect to stay upright on wet mud for long though. Truvativ’s super-strong Hussefelt cranks run on a reinforced extra wide Howitzer bottom bracket. The top and bottom wrap of the MRP keeps the chain securely anchored in madder freeride moments and usefully protected if you’re trying trials.
While cable disc brakes don’t cut the mustard with long-distance or high-wear riders they’re easily repairable, so they’re perfectly fine for dirt jump work and these Hayes units certainly don’t lack bite. The colour-coded Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 2 fork gets a maximum security 20mm bolt-through axle, plus air preload and rebound adjustment. Replaceable pin pedals complete a very sorted spec, considering the high quality frame.