Giant’s Defy is a familiar sight in the BikeRadar offices. The Taiwan-based company has become one of the biggest producers of bikes in the world since it started making bikes under contract for European and American companies back in the 1970s.
Its bikes are also regular winners on the professional circuit, under the likes of Marcel Kittel and Tom Dumoulin for the Giant-Shimano team, and Marianne Vos for Team Liv-Shimano, and – like Specialized – the company has been opening its own dedicated stores.
For 2015 the Defy range has had a bit of a revamp, with a few design changes – some of which are immediately evident. The Defy 0 is also significantly cheaper (£200 less in the UK) than the 2014 model.
New dropped seatstays and a D-Fuse seatpost for the 2015 Defy
The most immediately noticeable change is that the seatstays have been dropped, for a look resembling BMC’s. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it isn’t something that we could honestly say we felt. Giant was the main force behind the development of the modern compact road frame, and while theoretically a more compact rear triangle will be stiffer and the seat-tube more flexible, our testers’ posteriors didn’t notice much difference in what is already one of the best-riding bikes in its price bracket.
The seatpost has also changed from last year – the new D-shaped carbon post will only fit one way, so your saddle will always be in line. You could say it’s a solution to a problem that didn’t really exist, but a carbon seatpost is always welcome and it certainly plays a part in the Defy’s plush and controlled ride.
The kit has been tweaked, too, but we’d argue that it’s nigh-on impossible to tell the difference between the Shimano 105 front derailleur and cassette of this 2015 model and the Ultegra on the 2014 model. More significant is that the new cassette is 11-32 rather than 11-28, offering you a considerably lower bottom gear. The bigger jumps between gears are only really an issue if you’re racing; for the great majority of us a low bottom gear is our friend.
The Defy strikes a superb balance between comfort and agility
One slight issue on our test frame is that the bottle mount on the seat tube is so low we found the chain hit our bottle cage during frame-flexing out-of-the-saddle sprints – so check out bottle cages before buying.
Overall, though, this new Defy offers as good a ride as you’ll find for the money. The riding position is well balanced between relaxed sportive and race bike aggressive. It’s fast, very well specced, and the compact frame is dynamic; you could race on it, train on it, break sportive personal bests on it… Or you could just go out and enjoy any sort of riding on it. That Giant achieves all this at a price that competes so well with online retailers should ensure that, for 2015, the Taiwanese behemoth stays at the top table.
The Defy 0 is not available in the US or Australia. In these markets, the slightly cheaper Defy 1 is the closest option with same frame and a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset.