The Giant Defy is an endurance focused model that boasts a hint of zip. There are seven models in the range at very different prices: we demystify the differences
The Giant Defy range has always been created with endurance rides at front of mind. With three different frame options – the Giant Defy Advanced, Giant Defy Advanced Pro and Giant Defy Advanced SL – there’s a total of eight models with varying specifications.
The Giant Defy line up for 2018 is exclusively carbon only and all models sport disc brakes. Carbon is a compliant frame material which promises to dampen road buzz, and disc brakes offer quick stopping in all conditions – positive features for all-weather riders looking to log the miles across the seasons.
The Defy places a focus on comfort – and as a result the geometry is designed around a slightly longer head tube and shorter top tube – this will place the rider in a more relaxed position to suit long days on the bike.
This said – there’s plenty of zip in the frames. Indeed, with Giant supplying Team Sunweb with their race winning bikes, the Defy Advanced SL is the team’s bike of choice for tough roads and one-day classics.
All models use a compact 50/34 or mid-compact 52/36 chainring set up, alongside a fairly wide ratio (11-32 or 11-30) cassette. This gearing should make spinning up hills easy – but the wide ratio nature means that gaps between gears will be larger than those found on a race bike.
Giant Defy’s frame jargon explained
Most bike manufacturers developing their own frames will give names to technologies they invent along the way, and Giant are no different. There are two such notable features that you’ll find mentioned in the Giant Defy descriptions.
What it does: Makes the front end stiffer, improving handling
What it is: Across the Giant Defy range, you’ll find their OverDrive steerer – which is set apart by the use of oversized headset bearings to provide 15% greater stiffness compared to a standard set up. The Advanced Pro and SL models use the OverDrive 2 which the brand claim is a further 30% stiffer.
Giant D-Fuse technology
What it does: makes the rear end more comfortable
What it is: All riders investing in a Defy will enjoy Giant D-Fuse Composite technology at the seatpost – which means the tubes are shaped to create a ‘D’ shape which dampens vibration to offer a smoother ride.
OverDrive steerer + D-Fuse seatpost = fun but comfortable ride
When we last tested the Giant Advanced Pro 2, the handling and agility stuck out to us as being particularly good (see: OverDrive). It was also noted that though the frame lent itself to endurance duties (see: D-Fuse), it was far from a complete armchair of ride.
All in, the Giant Defy is a healthy compromise between the two camps of ‘race bike’ and ‘endurance bike’.
If you’ve decided that’s what you’re looking for, then we’re here to help you differentiate between the seven standards in the range.
Giant Defy Advanced road bike
The Giant Defy Advanced range shares the same frame as those models higher up the ladder. This means that riders buying the lower end bikes will enjoy a very similar overall experience to those splashing out.
A notable differance is the use of the OverDrive steerer – the front end won’t be quite as stiff as that of the Advanced Pro, with its OverDrive 2 steerer, but Giant is still confident it’s an improvement upon standard set ups found elsewhere. The finishing kit is also Giant’s Connect, with a Giant Contact saddle in Neutral – where higher end models use SL (super light) versions.
You can get the Giant Defy Advanced in three different builds. The models start at £1499 and increase to £1849. The key differences between them are in the groupsets – whilst Shimano Tiagra shifting will be perfectly adequate, Shimano Ultegra will be that little bit crisper and lighter – which is pretty much where the extra cash goes.
Here’s what you get for your money at each level…
Giant Defy Advanced 3 2018 road bike – £1499
The Advanced 3 comes with Shimano Tiagra derailleurs, as well as a matching crankset. A Shimano press fit BB features alongside Giant’s own SR 2 Disc Wheel Set and 25mm Giant P-SL 1 tyres.
Giant Defy Advanced 2 2018 road bike – £1699
Available as pictured above, or with a bold orange paint job, the Advanced 2 swaps Tiagra for Shimano 105 across the majority of the groupset, with the same gear ratios. The wheels are one step up, with a Giant PR 2 Disc Set.
Giant Defy Advanced 1 2018 road bike – £1849
At this level, Shimano Ultegra derailleurs sit alongside a 105 cassette, whilst the wheels and brakes remain at the same level.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro road bike
Moving into the Defy Advanced Pro range, all three models enjoy an OverDrive 2 full composite steerer. Across the range, you’ll find Giant SLR 1 disc wheelsets, which are just that bit lighter than those speced on basic Advanced models. The tyres are tubeless ready Giant Gavia AC in 25mm and the bikes come with some tubeless sealant to keep you going – the idea of ditching clinchers means you’ll be free from punctures.
Since we’ve moved up a rung, the finishing kit – handlebars and stem – are all Giant Connect SL and the saddle is the Giant Contact SL – representing a slight weight saving.
All three models feature Giant’s ‘RideSense’ – a new chainstay integrated wireless data transmitter that uses ANT+ to transmit wheel speed and cadence information to a cycling computer, saving you investing in a cadence sensor if you’re not getting this info via a power meter or other mode.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro models start at £2699 and top out at £3999 – again the key differences between the three are in the groupsets, with the most expensive choice featuring electronic shifting.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 2018 road bike – £2499
Kicking off the selection is the Giant Defy Pro 2, with Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes featuring 160mm rotors. Derailleurs, cassette and crankset are all Shimano 105, whilst the shifters are Ultegra again and wheels are Giant SLR 1 carbon rim disc wheels.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2018 road bike – £2899
The key change here is the use of Shimano Ultegra throughout. The wheels, finishing kit, and gear ratio all remain the same.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro 0 2018 road bike – £3999
The biggest change represented by the price hike is the introduction of Shimano Ultegra Di2. Whilst all the frames are electronic shifting ready, at this level the bike comes with the system ready fitted.
Giant Defy Advanced SL road bike
Top of the tree and available in only one iteration, is the SL (super light) creation.
Professional grade carbon features through the frame and steerer, and the OverDrive 2 steerer is joined by a ‘MegaDrive’ downtime and ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket shell. Whilst the frame material is lighter, these two additions offer greater stiffness – creating a more race driven bike than the other horses in the Defy stable.
Giant Defy Advanced SL 1 2018 road bike – £5249
Shimano Ultegra Di2 is joined by Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes and Giant SLR 1 Disc carbon wheels with Giant Gavia AC 0 tubeless tires. The finishing kit includes Giant Contact SLR handlebars, saddle and stem.
Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 2018 road bike – £7499
The range topper has arrived – the SL 0 comes with Dura Ace Di2 and matching hydraulic disc brakes, along with can’t-be-beaten Giant SLR 0 disc composite wheels.
Which model should you go for?
All of the Defy models will provide you with an enjoyable ride, if – albeit slightly more buzzy than most endurance bikes offer – comfortable ride quality is what you seek.
The more you favour a slightly more aggressive edge to your ride, the more likely it is you’ll be happier moving up the models. The Advanced Pro and SL’s OverDrive 2 steerer will provide that little extra kick when you want to smash it out of a corner or red the red line on a descent.
At the top end, the Advanced SL saves you a little weight thanks to the adjusted carbon layup – so it’s a bike to be considering if you’re at a point when the seconds really do make a difference to you – or if you plan trips abroad in search of long and laboured climbs.
For commutes, club runs and sportive duties, the basic Defy will probably tick your boxes – buy it might be worth upping the spend if beating your mates to the town sign is the difference between a good weekend and a bad one.