Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 review£1,999.00

The cheapest Advanced Pro Defy gains hydraulics

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The Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3 is the most affordable Defy Advanced Pro, but still isn’t cheap. However, a lot of your money is going in to that Advanced-Grade Composite frame.

Continuing Giant’s Compact Road design, but focused on endurance riding, our frame has a head-tube so substantial it makes the virtually straight fork look slim. Both the top tube and down tube flatten before meeting the seat tube, with the top tube narrowing, while the down tube flares to brace the huge Powercore bottom bracket area.

The Defy feels assured and accurate, with mid-corner kicks or line changes unable to unsettle it

The rear end combines deep, asymmetric chainstays and flattened seatstays that are dropped below the top tube, allowing the upper seat tube to flex more. The slimline D-profile carbon seatpost flexes more readily than a round tube.

With the stem at its lowest, we were only a little higher than our usual race position, and ideally placed for lengthy, sporting rides. Giant’s Contact SL bar and stem are well finished and sensibly stiff, with fine ergonomics, particularly the flattened bulges on the tops that are superb for climbing or cruising. Shimano’s 105 drivetrain is supplemented with the new 105-level hydraulic levers, which look huge but feel familiar and are very slick in use.

Every inch the modern endurance machine, from the compact frame and dropped seatstays to the hydraulic brakes
Every inch the modern endurance machine, from the compact frame and dropped seatstays to the hydraulic brakes

Stand on the pedals, and the Giant’s potential shows, with the solid crank plus unmoving bottom bracket and chainstays sending pedalling force resolutely rearwards, while pulling on the bar to accelerate highlights the front’s lateral rigidity. The Defy always seems to have more to give, making it surprisingly fast across almost any roads.

Giant’s SL-1 Disc wheelset has rims 23mm wide and 30mm tall for a mix of rigidity, stability and agility, and they open out the P-SL1 25mm tyres to 27mm for extra grip. While grippy, the tyres do wear quite fast, but that extra volume adds comfort to an accomplished, if fairly firm, bump-taming machine. The Defy feels assured and accurate, with mid-corner kicks or line changes unable to unsettle it. Great small-bump shock absorption reduces fatigue over time.

Those wheels aren’t the lightest, but are reliable, while the hydraulic brakes are a great upgrade from the previous cable-operated units and remained efficient and predictable.

The Defy Pro 3 offers a fine ride in a quality package and crams a lot of knowhow in its classy frame. But Giant has stiff competition now, and the disc endurance sector is heating up by the month. Only time will tell if this Giant can defy the odds.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Robin Wilmott

Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK,
Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 178cm / 5'10"
  • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
  • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
  • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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