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.
All of Giant’s frames are designed in-house, and the brand makes its own carbon, as opposed to buying in pre-preg composite to mould. The brand also manufactures its own components and equipment – ranging from helmets and shoes to wheels and GPS computers.
Many of the top end 2019 bikes also feature Giant’s own power meter, the Giant Power Pro, fitted as standard. This crankset power meter uses a magnetic USB recharging system and promises +/- 2 per cent accuracy.
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.
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.
All of the Liv bikes are built from the ground up and have their own frame geometry, but they fall into similar categories and technology is shared between the two.
We’ve taken a detailed look at:
- Giant Contend: entry level road bike
- Giant Defy (Liv Avail): endurance road bike
- Giant Propel (Liv Envie): aero road race bike
- Giant TCR (Liv Langma): lightweight, all rounder race bike
- Giant Trinity (Liv Avow): time trial and triathlon bike
- Giant cyclocross/adventure road bikes (TCX, AnyRoad, Revolt, Liv Brava/Invite)
- Giant hybrid bikes (Escape, Rapid, FastRoad, Cypress)
- Giant e-bikes (Dirt-E+, Full-E+, Ease-E, Prime-E, Quick-E, Road-E)
Below is the lowdown on the most popular road and hybrid model families within Giant’s absolutely massive stable…
Useful links for road bike shoppers…
Giant Contend 2019 road bike
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.
Models start from a wallet friendly £579, with an aluminium frame, carbon fork and Shimano Sora alongside Tektro rim brakes.
Across all iterations, the fork is made from carbon and Giant uses what it calls the ‘OverDrive’ steerer. OverDrive features a lot in the Giant lingo, and it’s their name for a tapered steerer (they did invent the concept), which makes for better handling and more stiffness through the front end.
With the introduction of ‘SL’ grade aluminium, which is lighter, the entry point is £899 with Shimano Tiagra. Then, there’s SL Disc models, from £999 – both models use Giant’s SL Conduct hydraulic discs. There’s a few more notable upgrades, such as the ‘D-Fuse’ carbon composite seatpost, which irons out some of the bumps.
Giant Defy 2019 road bike
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 went entirely disc only for 2017, and this has continued – with every model featuring Giant’s Conduct disc brakeset plus 28mm 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 £1,499. 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 £2,799, 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. The top end model, at £4,499 comes with Giant’s power meter crankset, too.
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 2019 road bike
As its speedy sounding name may suggest, the Propel is the brands aero road bike.
The Giant Propel Disc uses flat-mount technology, thru-axles front and rear and Giant says that during aerodynamic testing its disc-brake integration produced less drag than traditional caliper brakes.
The disc models now also boast integrated a new integrated Contact SLR/SL Aero handlebar/stem unit, with internal cable routing. The tubeless ready Giant SLR WheelSystem also comes with aero spokes and a taller 65mm rim depth at the rear.
- Giant Propel Advanced SL 0
- Giant Propel Advanced 2
- Giant Propel Advanced 3
- Giant Propel Advanced SL1 Disc
The basic Giant Propel Advanced, starting at £1,599, comes with an Advanced Grade Composite frame and the OverDrive steerer. Go for the Shimano Ultegra Di2 model at £1,800 and you also bag Giant’s PA-1 wheel system with wider rims. The Propel Advanced 0 comes with Ultegra Di2 and the wind cheating Giant SL1 Aero WheelSystem.
Moving on to the Giant Propel Advanced Pro, from £2,799, and 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 Propel Advanced Disc comes with hydraulic stoppers, the wider rim rear wheel mentioned above and integrated bar and stem. This comes with a Shimano 105 groupset for £2,299 or Ultegra groupset for £2999. If you go for the Propel Advanced Pro Disc (£4,499) this is boosted to Shimano Ultegra Di2, the integrated power meter, and SLR components over SL.
The top of the range models are the Propel Advanced SL 1 and SL 0 Disc bikes – £5,899 and £8,999 respectively. These use SL-Grade carbon, which is lighter – and come with Shimano Ultegra Di2 or Shimano Dura Ace Di2 – depending upon your budget.
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.
Giant TCR 2019 road bike
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 £1,299 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 £1,749 and share similar characteristics, with Giant Conduct SL Hydraulic disc brakes.
Those with a little more need for speed might look at the Giant TCR Advanced Pro bikes, from £2,399. 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 three Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc models from £2,599 with Shimano 105.
Topping off the range, you’ll finds the Giant TCR Advanced SL and its disc companion. The rim brake version starts at £3,499 with Shimano Ultegra. The power meter is fitted on models over £4,499 and the disc brake variety sports Ultegra Di2 and deep section wheels, for £5,499.
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 has been raced at the very top level – raced by Team Sunweb, it was the bike used by Tom Dumoulin during his reign as World Champion.
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. The 2019 models aren’t up yet, but we’ll hazard a guess that they’ll make an appearance soon.
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 2019 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. The entry level SLR comes with Giant Conduct Disc brakes, whilst other models use SRAM Rival 1 hydraulic stoppers.
All of the bikes in this range come with hydraulic disc brakes, and use 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 is a traditional hybrid. It’s got a road style frame with 35mm 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, plus disc brakes.
There’s a ‘city’ variant for those after the additional convenience of a rack and in the Liv range, the Liv Alight answers similar needs.
The FastRoad (aluminium) and FastRoad Advanced (carbon) are mirrored in the Liv Thrive. These are even more road going models. The frames feature similar technology to the ‘AnyRoad’ adventure bikes. Shod with 28mm 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.