Giant Defy Advanced 1 £2350

Further innovation from the original innovators

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

A top-quality wheelset and Dura-Ace mech hint at the Defy Advanced 1’s credentials - and the riding experience matches expectations.

Giant is a company that’s not afraid to push design boundaries – this is the firm responsible for the compact frameset in the early 1990s - and the Defy Advanced continues this tradition, with a new carbon platform forming the basis of a stable of four highly capable steeds.

At the ‘cheaper’ end of the range are the Shimano 105 blend Advanced 4 and 3 at £1500 and £1650. A further jump past the Ultegra-based Advanced 2 at £1950 brings us right up to our Advanced 1 test rig at £2350, which benefits from a final boost in spec from, among others, a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and a Dura-Ace rear mech.

Ride & handling:  capable and confidence-inspiring, with swift acceleration

Out on test, with the hoarse rasp of a Transit van growing ever louder at our heels, the extra forward impulse of the Defy Advanced's wide, stiff bottom bracket shell was there for the taking, helping us get past the steep, blind, left-hand bend before getting caught. 

An overall weight of just under 8kg, thanks in large part to a svelte frame (1166g) and fork (366g), helped fend off the convergence of the overtaking van, the blind turn and the oncoming gravel lorry.

With geometry favouring straight line stability due to a 72.5 degree head angle and 6.3cm of trail, we had a fight on our hands every time we got up out of the saddle to re-invigorate momentum, but it’s definitely a bike we’d recommend.

Chassis: design innovation with mainstream appeal at a featherlight weight

As well as featuring well-established carbon monocoque technology, the Defy frame and fork incorporate several recent design trends which have yet to become accepted in all tech circles. 

In the bottom bracket zone, Giant has decided to use integrated bearings, dispensing with the current threaded external cup design. The increased stiffness brought about by the extra buttressing of an even wider bottom bracket shell is definitely noticeable when you put your foot down. 

In the fork, a super oversized lower bearing sits directly on the carbon crown, while for the bottom bracket, a fairly easy press-fit holds the two ‘fresh-off-the-drawing-board’ bearing cups by Shimano. Two questions come to mind: will there ever be a Campag-compatible version, and how long will the press-fit bearings survive the grinding paste thrown up by wet winter conditions?

Equipment: race-worthy Shimano Ultegra, with Dura-Ace upping the stakes for the rear mech

The Defy was equipped with a truly comfortable saddle in the form of a Fizik Aliante and, despite the oval seatpost, proved very comfy.

The forgiving Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset  is a favourite with many of our testers and the biggest 700x25 section tyres on the planet – Michelin's fast-rolling and confident Pro 3 Race treads - shrugged off the pavé section of our test loop.

A touch of Race Face finishing kit marked the outer boundaries of an average length cockpit. The Revolution alloy anatomic bars were chopped short and racy, and although they measured 42cm centre to centre, they traded width in the tops for extra wrist clearance in the drops.

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