Don't know your TCR from your Defy? We Propel you into the extensive (Advanced, even) range from the Taiwanese Giant which is the world's largest bike manufacturer
Someone at Giant had some foresight when they founded the company in 1972. They probably didn’t know it would eventually achieve the bicycle equivalent of world domination, but the brand certainly lives up to its name now.
Giant is generally accepted to be the world’s largest bike manufacturer. It’s got factories in their home region of Taiwan, as well as China and the Netherlands, and specialist stores all over the world.
In the early days, Giant was the manufacturer of the majority of bikes sold under the name ‘Schwinn’ – at one point making over two-thirds of the brand’s models. When that relationship ended in 1987, Giant moved in the direction of making bikes with its own badge on the head tube.
The venture was successful, and in 2017 Giant is a worldwide company – you’re never far away from a retailer carrying its bikes. As well creating road, mountain, hybrid and e-bikes, Giant also manufactures its own components and equipment – ranging from helmets and shoes to wheels and GPS computers.
One of Giant’s most famous developments is that of the Compact Road Design, sported by its pro riders in the late 1990s.
This simply means that the top tubes slope down from the head tube to the seat tube, reducing the size of the front and rear triangles to create smaller shapes which are lighter and stiffer.
In 2011, Giant demonstrated its dedication to women’s specific products, by separating its women’s bikes and kit and placing these items under a dedicated brand: Liv. The Liv brand, they claimed, was the first dedicated and extensive offering in women’s cycling and each model is built from infancy around a female rider.
Both Giant and Liv bikes are prominent in the pro peloton, with the brands sponsoring both the men and women’s squads of Team Sunweb, and thus claiming wins as high profile as the Giro d’Italia (Tom Dumoulin), the women’s Tour of Flanders and RideLondon Classique (Coryn Rivera).
As per any major bike brand, Giant produce a wide range of bike families, designed around different styles of riding. Each of these is then split into models, at assorted different price points.
We’ve taken a detailed look at:
- Giant Contend: entry level road bike
- Giant Defy: endurance road bike
- Giant Propel: aero road race bike
- Giant TCR: all rounder race bike
- Giant Trinity: time trial and triathlon bike
- Giant cyclocross/adventure road bikes (TCX, AnyRoad, Revolt)
- Giant hybrid bikes (Escape, Rapid, FastRoad, Cypress)
- Giant e-bikes (Dirt-E+, Full-E+, Ease-E, Prime-E, Quick-E, Road-E)
Here’s the lowdown on the most popular road and hybrid model families within Giant’s absolutely massive stable…
The Giant Contend is the brand’s entry level aluminium road bike. If you’re starting out on your journey with two wheels, this is likely to be the one you’re considering. Likewise, if you want a reliable commuter or a winter bike you can trust through the seasons, it’s a good bet.
The geometry is designed to feel fast and fun, but with a high enough stack, short enough reach and long enough wheelbase that stability and comfort are well taken care of, too.
With the introduction of disc brakes and an ‘SL’ (super light) frame material, models do travel north of £1,000 for those looking to spend more.
At the base of the hierarchy is the basic Giant Contend, available in two different builds with prices from £475. The frame uses the brands ALUXX-Grade Aluminium, which is butted to keep the weight low in some areas and to maintain stiffness where it matters.
The fork is a hybrid composite carbon, with what Giant calls the ‘OverDrive’ aluminium steerer. OverDrive features a lot in the Giant lingo, and means that the casing is oversized, as are the bearings – thus creating a stiffer front end.
The Giant Contend SL, from £849, shares the same geometry, but the frame material is boosted to ALUXX-SL Grade Aluminium. Here, double-butting is used to further drop weight where possible, the base aluminium used is higher grade and more forming methods are used to manipulate the tubes. The SL models also make use of the ‘D-Fuse’ seatpost which dampens out vibration and road buzz.
The top end versions are Giant Contend SL Disc models, starting at £999. As you’d expect, these come with disc brakes – which are significantly more effective in wet conditions. As per all the models above, the Giant Contend SL Disc bikes come in two iterations with different spec levels – but both come with Giant’s own Conduct Hydraulic disc brakes.
The Giant Defy is the brand’s endurance road bike. The aim of the game in its creation was to offer a comfortable ride that can be enjoyed all day long, whilst still offering handling that feels fast and enough stiffness to provide quick acceleration. It’s a bike that’s been raced at one-day classics by the brand’s sponsored pro riders, so it’s no slouch.
The range is entirely disc only for 2017, with every model featuring Shimano hydraulic disc brakes as well as 25mm tyres.
- The Giant Defy model family in detail
- Giant Defy 4, 2013
- Giant Defy Composite 1, 2014
- Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2, 2015
The basic Giant Defy Advanced comes in three different build specs, starting at £1,549. All three feature their Advanced-Grade Composite frame, matching material at the fork along with an OverDrive steerer which promises front end stiffness and control.
Move into the realm of the Giant Defy Advanced Pro, also in three build specs from £2,499, and the steerer used is the OverDrive 2 which Giant say offers greater stiffness over the standard OverDrive. Another nifty addition is the ‘RideSense’ monitor. This wireless sensor can send wheel speed and cadence info to an ANT+ computer.
Finally, there’s the Giant Defy Advanced SL1, which comes in at £3,699 for the only model and sports the ‘SL’ (super light) version of the Advanced Grade Composite, reducing the overall heft of the frame.
The Liv women’s bikes have an entirely independent geometry, built from conception around a female rider. However, the Liv Avail is available in aluminium and carbon versions and mirrors similar qualities of the Defy.
Giant Propel models are currently on sale as rim brake only builds, but a disc version was spotted at the Tour de France, so changes can be anticipated there in 2018 and beyond.
Being an aero bike, the Propel is more race focused than the aforementioned Defy. Wind tunnel data has been used to create a watt saving frame with features such as an aero seatpost, integrated cables and a curved seat tube all contributing to wattage savings. All the bikes use Giant’s SpeedControl SL brake system, with the calipers hidden behind tubing to save from creating extra drag.
The basic Giant Propel Advanced, starting at £1,825, comes with an Advanced Grade Composite frame and the OverDrive steerer. Go for the Shimano Ultegra Di2 model at £2,849 and you also bag Giant’s SL1 Aero Wheel System, with wide 55m rims.
Moving on to the Giant Propel Advanced Pro, from £2,649, all the bikes come with deep section wheels and more integrated cable routing. The OverDrive 2 steerer is used, which is stiffer than that on the basic Advanced and these models enjoy the ‘RideSense’ data recording sensor which will communicate cadence info to an Ant+ computer.
The top end aero collection comes in the shape of the Giant Propel Advanced Pro SL family. These start at £3,599 and feature the SL grade composite as well as a stealthy integrated seatpost which drops the weight and saves watts, though offers less adjustability than the other builds. This is the bike used by pro team sprinters, so it’s the one to go for if every second counts.
Whilst the Liv women’s bikes are not ‘women’s versions of the men’s bikes’, the Liv Envie is the aero road bike within the brand’s range and shares many of its technologies with the Propel.
The Giant TCR goes down in cycling history as an icon in its own right. It’s an all-rounder race bike, that’s well renowned for offering plentifully in the stiffness arena whilst maintaining a notably low weight. A disc brake model with Shimano Ultegra Di2 came in a 7.7kg when we tested a size 56.
Being a long-standing favourite, there’s models to suit a range of pocket sizes.
First, there’s the Giant TCR Advanced. These start at £1,199 and come with Advanced Grade Composite frames and the OverDrive steerer along with fairly basic wheelsets. Then there’s the Giant TCR Advanced Disc models, which start at £1,775 and share similar characteristics, with Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes.
Those with a little more need for speed might look at the Giant TCR Advanced Pro bikes, from £2,299. These boast the stiffer OverDrive 2 steerer, as well as the Giant SLR 1 wheel system. This carbon rim wheelset comes shod with tubeless tyres in all cases – and they’re genuinely well performing wheels, so none of this ‘great bike, needs new wheels’ malarky that almost always adorns bike reviews.
There’s also a disc model of the same, for £3,799 with Shimano Ultegra Di2.
For women, Liv has launched a brand new all-rounder. The Liv Langma tips the scales at 6.05kg and has a redesigned front end which offers aero advantages, whilst still offering stiffness enough to be raced by the female riders of Team Sunweb at the Giro Rosa.
Giant Trinity triathlon and time trial bikes
Giant’s Trinity bike is available built up as a triathlon bike, or in a UCI legal guise in a TT bike frame. The key difference is in the fork, since UCI rules limit the shapes available for manufacturers. In all cases, the seat tube follows an extreme line around the rear wheel and seatposts are integrated, as are cables.
The Trinity Advanced is the basic model, at £1,799. The tube shaping is designed to beat resistance and the brakes are hidden, whilst a standard stem means adjustability is kept high.
The Trinity Advanced Pro comes with lots of storage space, making it a contender for Ironman triathletes. Models start at £2,799 and use a AeroDrive Tri carbon fork plus tri geometry and integrated front hydration, top tube storage plus down tube water bottle.
For those who can’t think of anything worse than running after a time trial, the TT specific model comes as a frame only for £2,599 with a UCI legal AeroDrive TT carbon fork.
The Liv time trial bike is the Avow, which comes with all the same storage and hydration facilities, and there’s also a Liv Envie Advanced Tri which uses the road bike frame and handlebars, but comes with clip on extensions.
Giant cyclocross bikes
The semi-muddy-semi-road range from Giant contains several model families with assorted degreed of gnarly loaded into their design philosophy.
The Giant TCX – available in ‘SLR’ (aluminium frames) from £1,299 and ‘Advanced Pro’ (carbon frames) from £2,299 – is the pure bred cyclocross race bike.
All of the bikes in this range come with hydraulic disc brakes, and notably all but the entry level model uses a single-ring chainring system alongside an 11-speed cassette. This is favoured by CX racers thanks to the simplicity it offers and increased chance of it all working when the mud builds up.
The TCX bikes do have bottle cage mounts, but no provision for luggage. In the Liv range, the Liv Brava is designed to offer the same cyclocross race performance for women.
For those more interested in long, endurance rides across mixed terrain, there are several options. The ‘AnyRoad’ (aluminium) and ‘AnyRoad CoMax’ (carbon) adventure road bikes come specced with mechanical disc brakes and 32mm tyres, meaning they’ll roll well over dirt but the relaxed endurance geometry will lend itself to more comfortable days out.
The top tube on these bikes slopes dramatically, providing a low stand over height and plenty of room for manoeuvrability. By contrast, the aluminium Giant Revolt bikes have a more standard frame shape as well as hydraulic disc brakes and incredibly wide 38mm tyres, making them more equipped for more techy off-road adventures. The Liv women’s model closest to these adventure style bikes is the Liv Invite.
Giant Hybrid bikes
Hybrid bikes combine the quick and nimble frames of road bikes with the rough and ready wide tyres and flat bars of mountain bikes. They’re comfortable commuters and also popular among fitness riders seeking an upright position and the ability to enjoy the rough roads of parks and canal paths without too much rattling.
The Giant Escape, with models from £349, is a traditional hybrid. It’s got a road style frame with 32mm tyres to dampen out bumps from below. A triple chainset and large ration cassettes mean that plenty of gears are on offer for the hills.
There’s a version with hydraulic disc brakes for better all weather stopping as well as a ‘city’ variant for those after the additional convenience of a rack. In the Liv range, the Liv Alight answers similar needs.
Taking the speedstakes up a notch, is the aptly named Giant Rapid. All of the bikes in the family, starting at £599, use Giant’s SL grade aluminium frame alongside hydraulic disc brakes. Designed with quick city rides at front of mind, the 28mm tyres are more road going – they’ll accelerate more quickly but won’t suit off-road sections as well as those on the Escape.
The FastRoad (aluminium) and FastRoad CoMax (carbon) are mirrored in the Liv Thrive and Liv Thrive CoMox. These are even more road going models. The frames feature similar technology to the ‘AnyRoad’ adventure bikes. Shod with 25mm tyres and disc brakes, these are just as at home on sporting weekend rides as city streets, the flat handlebars being the real marker of their hybrid category.
Leisure rides are answered for men in the Giant Cypress and women have the BeLiv and Liv Flourish – each with independent geometry that focuses on an upright, comfort orientated position. There’s also a folding bike, the ‘Giant Halfway’.
Giant Electric bikes
Every single model in the line up comes with disc brakes, to ensure fast stopping regardless of weather, and the bikes use Giant’s own engineered motor.
The mountain e-bike range comprises of a hardtail ‘Dirt-E’ whilst those seeking thrills to the full might prefer the full suspension Full-E+.
The ‘Ease-E’ and ‘Prime-E’ offer upright commuter positions, the Prime version coming with a Monoshock fork for additional comfort. Those after a little more speed will look towards the ‘Quick-E’, with its traditional hybrid frame and flat bars, or the ‘Road-E’ with drop bars.