The Cooperative first met Torquil Hall as a teenager he purchased his trusty Revolution Country Traveller from our Leeds store and set off to explore Scandinavia by bike. Three years later he was back, working in our Leeds shop and sharing his expertise with customers. Although he’s recently moved to a very busy (and rather more lucrative) job with a legal firm, but still riding the Country Traveller to work most days, Torq was still more than happy to make the time to test our Giant Propel Advanced Pro 2 up England’s longest paved climb. This bike is available to demo from any of our shops.
Giant Propel Advanced Pro 2 Review
From the outset I must confess I own, race (and adore) a Giant TCR. She’s quick over all the roads I ride and she’s a dependable girl. Therefore, when given the opportunity to ride Giant’s aero dynamic equivalent I thought I’d try see if it could handle a rather dirty day out on some classic British back roads. To that end I decided to take this aero bike up the highest paved road in England (Great Dun Fell) on a very windy late winter day. A combination of twisty back lanes, A-roads, puddles and very steep climbs set at the foot of the North Pennies provided ample opportunity to really get to know the Giant Propel. Not to spoil the surprise but it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Straight away I felt reassured by how immediate the Giant felt when putting a bit of pressure through the pedals. The handling is responsive, secure and fills you with confidence – something many bikes struggle to do. These are characteristics very high up on my agenda for a road bike as a nice snappy change of direction comes into use whether it’s surviving a busy bunch in a road race or darting across lines to dodge a puddle.
Very soon I reached the bottom of the monstrous Great Dun Fell. Climbing up to 830m over 4.5 miles and several 20% ramps, it’s not exactly where you’d think to take an aero bike. On the approach to the climb the Propel felt comfortable; filtering out road buzz and bumps well. As soon as the road pitched up though the frame still felt stiff in the right places. Out of the saddle you really feel like all your power (even such little power in my case) was being transferred into forward motion.
Sat at 830m of altitude the idea of descending on carbon rims in a cross wind on an aero bike wasn’t filling with me with glee but to be honest the Propel handled things far better than I expected. I will admit that on the steeper sections I would have quite liked some disc brakes just to give me some more modulation and confidence to let the bike loose on the damp surfaces (how convenient that one can purchase a Propel with discs!) but vitally the bike feels well balanced on the descents. Indeed later in the ride, on the smooth curvy descent of Hartside the bike felt in it’s element. Solid, quick and so smooth in the turns.
What Else I Like
My second favourite thing about the bike was the wheels. The carbon deep sections fitted to the Advanced Pro 2 spec give the bike an incredible feel. On the flat the bike absolutely charges along. A bike at this price shouldn’t feel this quick but the Propel just gallops down the road when you give it a bit of welly. I can’t fully describe the feeling but if you’ve ridden deep sections before you’ll know it, the only difference with the Giant being you’ve spent far less for the privilege. Admittedly they’re not the snazziest of wheels on offer but I’d describe them as decent and far better than the wheels that come on most bikes out of the box.
This groupset on this bike was Shimano 105 and not to labour the point – we all know it does the job well and at a price that won’t break the bank. It’s the groupset of the people. It doesn’t feel quite as refined when you’re trying to change up when the drivetrain is under load and it’s not as light as more expensive Shimano but you’ve got 11 speed, it’s can take a bit of a beating, the shifters feel nice in the hand and when you crash in your first road race it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to replace a derailleur. It’s a great choice for a bike you’re going to riding a lot on typical British roads where the components are going to take a bit of a bashing.
One thing to note is the brakes themselves are Giant’s own aero offering. As I’ve alluded to earlier, when the surface got steep and slippery I would have preferred discs but that is my only issue with this bike. People who aren’t going to be regularly riding down stupidly steep roads in the wet need not worry about this though as the brakes are still perfectly competent.
The other notable feature if the bike is the aero handle bars fitted upfront. The large surface area to the tops make quite a comfy place for your hands when you’re taking things steady. Sat on the shifters also feels very natural, something I haven’t liked about other aero bikes I’ve ridden. Personally, I would have preferred a little more bar tape toward the centre of the bard but that’s easy enough to sort.
To conclude, The Giant Propel is a cracking bike. Giant do a great job of making decent bikes that doe the job without messing around trying to re-invent the wheel and that’s exactly what makes me love the Propel. It handles like a dream, doesn’t break your back when the road get’s rough and on the flat it absolutely flies. Even climbing out of the saddle it feels positive. If I’m being picky the rim brakes left something to be desired, but a disc version of this bike would address that.
Overall, I think this bike is one of those special machines that is at home taking on a big day out in the Dales or bashing out some major turns in a summer road race. It’s feels responsive when you want it to be whilst also being comfortable enough for a long day in the saddle. In the real world a versatile bike like this is really worth it’s salt. If you’re someone who wants to do some big miles and get into some road racing without considering re-mortgaging, I highly recommend this bike.