Giant have a reputation for producing great value-for-money machines, and their entry-level Defy 2 doesn't disappoint. For the aspiring sportive rider or someone looking for their ﬁrst road bike, its mix of comfort, performance and stable handling is worthy of serious consideration.
Ride & handling: Comfortable and confidence-inspiring with fault-free handling
The 2010 Defy is similar to last year’s model, except the colour is Giant’s corporate blue rather than red, the stem is squarer in proﬁle and the brakes are now Shimano Sora rather than Tiagra.
That's understandable. When you’ve got a winning reputation for producing good quality, competitively priced machines, you’re not going to want to tinker with the formula too much.
Out on the road, we’re immediately reminded of the ride quality of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2009 Bike of the Year, one of its cousins from Giant’s racier TCR range.
It’s the sort of ride that’s ideally suited for somebody looking to buy their ﬁrst serious road bike, for training, sportives and any day-to-day fast riding.
At 9.4kg (20.7lb) it’s no featherweight but its ride inspires conﬁdence, combining a decent turn of speed when you put the hammer down with the sort of reassuring, fault-free handling that won’t put off less experienced roadies. And it does all this while making sure you’re comfortable in the saddle.
Chassis: Tough hydroformed aluminium frame plus carbon fork
Aluminium may have a reputation for being an unforgiving material, but as with any material, it’s what you do with it that really matters.
Like Specialized’s Allez bikes – direct competitors to Giant’s Defy range – there’s an oversized down tube and head tube (not as extreme as the TCR’s) but the already quite narrow sloping top tube becomes noticeably ﬂatter and narrower where it meets the seat tube, serving to reduce overall stiffness. The forks are carbon ﬁbre with an aluminium steerer.
It’s good to see eyes for a rear rack in the seatstays. This enables you to use the Defy for commuting or even occasional light touring with panniers or rack-mounted bags attached. The hydroformed Aluxx frame is certainly tough enough to cope with an extra few kilos of luggage without any grumbling.
Equipment: Mix of quality Tiagra, Mavic, Kenda and own-brand kit
A Shimano Tiagra groupset forms the heart of the Defy 2’s kit, the wheels have Mavic CXP 22 rims, Sapim spokes and Giant hubs, and that same Giant branding – as beﬁts the world’s biggest manufacturer of high-end bikes – is evident throughout.
The composite seatpost, saddle and bars, the stem and even the bar tape all bear the Giant logo, with the Cane Creek headset and Kenda Criterium tyres about the only notable exceptions. That said, the way things are going it won’t be long before the Taiwanese bike-builder is making those too!
The 25mm tyres add a little more comfort than 22-23mm racing rubber, but for a bike with front and rear mudguard eyes, it makes ﬁtting ’guards a very tight procedure.