Giant’s Defy Advanced is a bike we’ve always recommended for its blend of endurance comfort and thrilling handling. For 2015, though, Giant has made a bold statement: all its carbon Defy models will be disc brake only.
- Buy if… You’re looking for an exhilarating ride that’s stiff yet smooth
The new frames are designed around such stoppers, not just standard models with added mounts, and are no heavier than the previous versions, with the Pro frame weighing around a kilo.
The D-shaped carbon D-Fuse seatpost adds rear end comfort
Giant has retained and refined its Overdrive 2 front end combination of 1 1/4-1 1/2in headset and full carbon fork with tapered steerer, keeping it free of any movement that would hinder steering precision. Precise is exactly what you get. The way the Defy handles high speed corners and challenging switchbacks is truly impressive; on our test loop we smashed a PB descent with some challenging corners by more than 20 seconds, and that was on a wet, foggy winter ride.
Pedal response is just as impressive, with Giant’s massively stiff PowerCore bottom bracket shell and robust chainstays translating every turn of your legs into pulsing pace. And although it feels significantly firmer than the previous model, the Defy isn’t any less comfortable, with the new D-fuse carbon seatpost making the rear end smooth, aided by the Fizik Aliante saddle, still our sportive seat of choice.
The Defy is a little stiffer than before, but remains comfortable as well as nimble and precise
The finishing kit elsewhere is spot on for the money: a stiff stem and great ovalised compact drop bar from Giant’s own Contact SL range; the SL-1 disc wheels are typical Giant quality – smooth, tightly-built hubs with a mid-height disc-specific rim (no brake track) matched to supple 25mm Giant tyres that offer great grip in the wet or dry; and a full Shimano 105 11-speed drivetrain that provides snappy and speedy shifting that’s smooth and practically silent with it.
The one obvious spec compromise to keep the overall price down are the brakes. Rather than Shimano’s matched hydraulics you get TRP’s cable-operated Spyres. They’re the best performing cable discs we’ve tried, but they can’t quite match SRAM or Shimano’s hydraulic systems. To get that with your slice of Defy goodness you’ll go a price bracket up and look at the Advanced Pro 1.