When it comes to topping the charts for an eternity the Giant Defy is up there with the likes of Bryan Adams. For 2014 it moves to 11-speed Ultrega while still retaining its affordability – but is it still the no-brainer option?
- HIGHS: A super friendly, versatile balance of comfort and speed with the latest 11-speed gears
- LOWS: The unchanged frame and fork are heavy, and it feels dull compared to most dynamic opposition
- BUY IF… You want a totally proven, smoothly efficient all-rounder with the latest ‘plus one’ gear technology
On an initial ride, it immediately felt familiar and comfortable. The seatstays taper to the flat top tube for a compliance that syncs with the smooth rolling 25c tyres. Even on the roughest roads, there’s a distinct glide to proceedings.
The oversized fork steerer and stem give accurate placement and clearly communicate feedback on grip from the sticky-compound front-specific tyre. The head angle is fractionally more relaxed than average, with a steeper seat angle to emphasise front-end grip. The result is a frame that isn’t fazed at the front, even on twisty, leafy, wet descents.
The ride position treads a similarly balanced line. It allows you to get low enough drop your elbows and push the pace with conviction, but is also relaxed enough to let you roll out the miles without feeling like you’re letting the performance potential of the bike down.
Any reservations we had about the long arms and acute cable angles of new Ultegra 11-speed vanished as we began to appreciate the slightly smaller jumps and smoother transition between gears. Early rides were vocally summed up with phrases such as: “I can’t see a reason why you’d ever want to stop riding this bike.”
Sadly for Giant, there are some reasons why you might want to consider riding something else. Its competition includes bike such as the Focus Culebro SL1, Cannondale CAAD 10 105 and Specialized’s Allez Race C2, which are lighter and more performance orientated. In comparison, the Giant seems to lack a bit of firepower when the speed picks up and the climbs get steeper.
Aesthetically, the top alloy Defy has dropped the smoothed welds of last year, although it still has dedicated mudguard and rack mount add-ons.
So, while it is still an outstanding all-rounder that’s perfect for a lot of rides and riders, more characterful bikes are now mounting a strong challenge to its previously unassailable position.
Note: the Defy 0 is not available in the USA or Australia