Our visit to Giant allowed us to test ride the new Defy in both aluminium and carbon guise. The pre ride presentation saw Giant staff sing the praises of their engineers. We heard details of the material-testing processes, the R&D processes and final product testing processes.
The alloy Giant Defy’s basic geometry is the same as previous models but every part is different and more refined.
The seatpost is D shaped, curved at the front and flat at the back, which Giant assure us is to give increased comfort through improved compliance. The toptube is D profiled too, an inverted seatpost giving more compliance (or flex, as we used to call it).
The rear end is sleek and featured thinner seatstays and neater bridging. Attention to detail on the dropouts is good as well. Up front the headtube is beefed up a bit without looking overblown so the proportions are right. Along the bottom end the drivetrain has stiffer chainstays to deliver the power more efficiently and this certainly shows during riding.
We used a typical English backroad course for the test run and although there weren’t any proper climbs the bike excelled on the few inclines we took in. Very good at handling the potholes and bumps. Very stable in the bends and no dramas during decelerations. An excellent ride overall.
The Carbon version comes with disc brakes as standard and is Di2 ready with improved cable routing through the frame on one side only. The disc brakes just work, and work, and work. Near silent even with new pads, very predictable, very dependable with a great light feel at the lever. Clever angling of the dropouts removes the worry of QR wheels flexing under braking and makes the use of ugly thru-axles unnecessary. Ride score 9/10.
Peter Thompson: Manchester shop.
I rode the Aluminium Defy 1 first and you can tell straight away this bike was made by one of the world’s leading aluminium frame engineers. Defy 1 blends comfort and control perfectly. The frame is stiff yet compliant, the D-Fuse seatpost adds damping and a PowerCore oversized bottom bracket adds efficient power transfer to the rear wheel. I rode this bike for about 12 miles over level crossings and rougher country roads. So it was a great opportunity to test out the vibration, damping and compliance. We had a few smaller hills too, giving us a great chance to test out the bike’s climbing abilities. The Giant Defy 1 was a fantastic all-day riding bike and, at £899 with all new Shimano 11 speed 105, is extremely hard to beat. I was thoroughly impressed.
On the second ride on the 12-mile route I rode the Defy Advanced Pro 2. This bike is perfect for Sportive or Epic Solo Endurance style rides. The Defy Advanced is incredibly comfortable but still extremely responsive. Its Advanced-grade carbon frame has endurance geometry and a D-Fuse seatpost, which is great for rougher UK roads, and disc-brakes that give you more control in all types of weather or road conditions. I was really surprised at how comfortable this bike is whilst still being snappy and great at climbing hills. It’s the perfect machine for munching up the miles.
Once again, a huge thanks to Giant for putting on this day for us.
Simon Cortis: Bruntsfield, Edinburgh
Giant Defy 1 Aluxx
I had expected plenty of comfort from the bike, but I was surprised by the ride quality. The Defy proves that the preconceptions of aluminium as a harsh, unforgiving material are unfounded, and I found the ride quality comparable (although different) to my steel road bikes. The 11-speed groupset was precise and smooth. Upgrading to 11 speed offered a wide range at the back without big jumps between gears. I found the head tube a bit long, but for an intermediate level road bike, it was very well set up.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2
The Advanced Pro 2 was an interesting ride. To be honest, I forgot about the disc brakes throughout most of the ride, and in dry weather, I tend not to find mechanical discs drastically different to good road calipers, although I can see the advantages if caught in the rain, and it’s nice to know that the consistent stopping power is there if it is needed. For me, the biggest surprise was the lateral stiffness of the frame. It responded like a race bike when putting a burst of power through the pedals. With a frame this good, buying a TCR or Tarmac for the performance benefits starts to seem unnecessary, and I feel that for most people, the Giant Defy Advanced will give the best of both worlds.
Ben Norris: Bruntsfield, Edinburgh.
…after coffee, a detailed presentation was given to show us the benefits of the models we would go on to test out. I felt all the important points were covered, questions were answered and the Giant guys were honest about their bikes.
The day was well staffed. There was not a hint of attitude if we asked a curve-ball question or voiced a different opinion, plus the fact that the Giant guys accompanied us out on the ride reinforced my faith in the brand.
Giant’s ‘for riders by riders’ attitude really is a key way to win respect.
Giant Defy 1
I found the Giant Defy 1 Aluxx to be very planted from the beginning. My personal preferences would have been to remove a few stem spacers and get a bit more engaged. The fact that you can remove spacers to lower the stem reinforced the bike’s potential to a wide market. On the road the bike was smooth and responded well when an extra burst of speed was necessary. The new for 2015 11-speed 105 groupset worked faultlessly and gave me more than enough range to stay up in the big ring all the way round our 12 mile course.
I felt the addition of the new D-style defuse seat post and the lowered seat stays bolstered the bikes comfort and its longer distance potential for the sportive market.
Verdict: a surefire winner for me.
Giant Defy Advanced 1
Having started on the aluminium bicycle I was keen to try out the carbon model. The similar geometry means customers can upgrade, or they can keep their aluminium model as a winter bike when the time comes.
With the addition of the new disc brakes and the revised manufacturing of the frame the Defy Advanced worked as well on the road as it did on paper.
Being a chap of the bigger, heavier persuasion I was keen to see how the bike sprinted as I have found other models have gotten a bit flexy in the past. It climbed and kept up with the pack well and delivered the speed when I wanted it too.
I was left wishing we could maybe have gone out once again as it was an incredibly comfortable ride – tribute in part to its superb Fizik Aliante saddle,
To sum up, I really appreciated the day and the opportunity to learn more about Giant bikes.
Tim Docherty: Bruntsfield, Edinburgh.
My favorite bike from the Giant demo day was hands-down the new Defy 1. For me Giant have nailed it this year on looks, ride and price! I’m a massive fan of the new logo though it does seem to be dividing opinion a little. The thing that struck me most about riding the Defy was its stability at speed, I’ve had road bikes that were a bit twitchy when heading downhill but sat in the drops it felt very sure footed. Endurance framesets do have a tendency to compromise on bottom bracket stiffness but a nice solid platform has been created for out of the saddle efforts. The days of aluminium frames being characterized by a harsh ride feel are gone with road vibrations getting cut almost as well as the carbon fibre Defy Advanced. The latter still has the edge in this respect however.
A good-looking, high spec’d and amazing value mile-munching machine. There’s not much not to like!
Tom Rowley: Manchester shop.