There can't be many faster bikes than this for under £2K. But it’s a bit complicated: if you like a lot of trick non-standard bits then you’ll love the Giant but as an everyday bike it might be overthinking things. If you're after pure speed you won't be disappointed.
Geometry not too aggressive
Good spec for the price
Not as straightforward to fettle as a non-aero bike
By Simon Smythe published
The Propel Advanced is Giant's aero bike, relaunched in 2017 with the top models having disc brakes and a high level of integration. The Giant Propel Advanced 1 is at the lower end of the range and has rim brakes and a standard cockpit.
The Propel platform at both ends of the range is all about speed, although the geometry is not overly aggressive – a classic 73° parallel.
The Taiwanese brand says the latest version of the Propel Advanced is re-engineered with Giant’s AeroSystem Shaping technology – a result of extensive CFD analysis and dynamic wind-tunnel testing – which means that every tube shape and angle is optimised for minimal drag.
For an aero frame, especially at this price point, it is also very light – 8.16kg total for the size M/L here. Giant uses its Advanced Grade Composite carbon-fibre, and says that a 'modified monocoque construction' eliminates the outermost composite sheet, making it lighter without affecting ride quality, strength or stiffness.
There’s a lot of attention to watt-saving detail: the Giant Propel Advanced 1 gets aero mini-V type calipers that sit flush with the fork blades and seatstays and the gear cables enter the top tube behind the stem rather than the down tube. This is another nice touch, but ideally if you lower your bar height you'll need to recut the cables to avoid loops above the height of the stem.
However, there's nothing you can do about the long runs of exposed cable down to each brake noodle, which must offset the aero savings.
There’s a full Shimano Ultegra set-up and the other components are Giant’s own. The stem has clever aero spacers but it would have been nice to get a bar with aero tops.
The aero seatpost uses a wedge expander which gets stuck very easily and can require judicious use of a hammer, making it awkward to fettle on the fly.
The Giant P-A2 alloy semi-deep section wheels are good, bucking the trend at this price point where inferior wheels are frequently specced to save money, necessitating an immediate upgrade. They also come set up tubeless with Giant’s Gavia tyres, which we liked.
The Giant Contact saddle is very hammocked and requires exact height and tilt to feel comfortable. But, as ever, you can swap it out.
The Giant Propel Advanced 1 is so fast that any minor snagging is soon left way behind.
I snatched Strava PRs all over the place on it. The Giant just seemed to be a mile an hour faster everywhere for the same amount of effort. I wasn't using a power meter to back this up but unless someone spiked my morning flat white with an extra shot of elixir of life I can be sure I'm not producing more watts than ever on my regular segments.
With its horizontal top tube and comparatively short length of exposed aero seatpost there will never be much compliance at the rear; it is firm but not harsh. The front end isn’t quite as stiff as you'd expect from the tapered steerer and oversized bottom bearing, possibly down to the thin aero fork blades. However, both ends combine well to produce satisfyingly responsive handling that's not twitchy.
I was pleasantly surprised by the diminutive brakes, which supplied powerful stopping and plenty of feel.
For your money you get a very sophisticated machine. A lot of R&D has gone into its design and how it works with the components around it, and that’s impressive.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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