Giant Contend range explained: which bike is right for you?

The aluminium Giant Contend range is designed to combine performance and versatility, but which bike is right for you?

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Giant Contend

The aluminium Giant Contend range is designed to combine performance and versatility in an affordable package.

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With bikes priced from £625 to £1,499, the 2020 Contend range is home to Giant’s cheapest road bikes, but you’ll still find some of the features found on more expensive models in the Taiwanese brand’s line-up.

In fact, the Giant Contend SL 1 was one of our favourite rides in BikeRadar’s £1,000 Road Bike of the Year awards for 2020.

Who is the Giant Contend for?

Giant Contend SL1 road bike
The Giant Contend SL 1 was our of our favourite bikes in our £1,000 Bike of the Year test.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

The Contend range is categorised as an “all-rounder” by Giant and is designed to cater for a variety of riders. That includes new cyclists looking to buy their first road bike, through to cycle commuters and sportive riders. With a relaxed riding position, the Contend is designed with comfort in mind, rather than head-down racing.

The lower spec models in the range are aimed at the beginner rider, who wants to experience road cycling or maybe commute by bike, without spending too much cash. 

Higher spec models offer a bike for the endurance rider who is looking for a comfortable riding position to tick off the miles, and who doesn’t want to move to a carbon frame, but still wants quality components.

As you move up the range, the majority of bikes have hydraulic disc brakes for more confident all-weather stopping. The most expensive bikes add tubeless-ready wheels and tyres too.

Meanwhile, the Contend AR range has increased clearance for larger tyres and extra grip if you want to go off-road, while still being able to keep up a good pace on tarmac.

Giant Contend 2020 range overview

There are four different framesets offered by Giant for the Contend. Two are designed for use with rim brakes, two are compatible with disc brakes. 

  • Contend – the most affordable frame, compatible with rim brakes
  • Contend AR – second-tier frame, compatible with disc brakes and with clearance for wider tyres
  • Contend SL – the most expensive rim brake frame
  • Contend SL Disc – the top-tier Contend for disc brakes

All four frames are made from aluminium, with two different grades of alloy available: the Contend and Contend AR are made from Giant’s more affordable ALUXX-grade aluminium, while the Contend SL and Contend SL Disc get up-spec ALUXX SL aluminium to lower the weight. 

All frames are paired with a tapered carbon fork with oversized headset bearings. Giant calls this ‘Overdrive’ and the technology, said to improve steering performance, is common on the company’s bikes.

With the different specs available through the range, the complete line-up extends to eight bikes in all.

Shimano FC510 chainset with 105 gears on Giant Contend road bike
There are four frames in the Contend range: two for rim brakes and two for disc brakes.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

What can you expect as you move up the range? Well, apart from upgraded shifting and braking components, higher spec models come with a carbon seatpost for extra compliance and lower weight, substituting for the alloy seatpost on lower priced bikes. 

Both the carbon and alloy seatposts are D-shaped, utilising a technology Giant calls ‘D-Fuse’ to apparently improve comfort. 

All bikes come with 28mm tyres as standard, except for the Contend AR models, which come with plumper 32mm tyres if you want to take to the gravel.

Shimano groupset components are specced across the board, with generous gearing to help out on hills.

All the Contend models make use of Giant’s status as the largest bike maker in the world to offer a good mix of own-brand components, including Giant’s wheels and tyres. Sizes for the Giant Contend go from S to XL. 

The Contend also uses Giant’s compact frame geometry, in which the top tube slopes down from the headset for a smaller frame that’s lighter and stiffer than a frame with a horizontal top tube. It’s a concept Giant pioneered in the 1990s and now commonplace on road bikes.

Giant Contend 2020 bikes

Let’s take a closer look at the Giant Contend range, starting with the most affordable bikes. 

As a global brand, you’re likely to find Giant bikes wherever you are, but the exact models and specs available may differ from one country to the next. We’ve focused on the UK here but have also made a note of US pricing where available.

Giant Contend 1 and 2

The entry-level Contend range consists of the rim brake Contend 1 and 2 bike, both using the same Aluxx-grade aluminium frameset, paired to an all carbon tapered fork. Giant says you can fit tyres up to 32mm width in place for the 28mm version supplied.

Both bikes get a 50/34t compact chainset paired to an 11-34t cassette, providing a wide spread of gears ideal for new cyclists or riders who live in a hilly area.

The Contend 1 and 2 are aimed at new cyclists who want an affordable road bike or riders upgrading who don’t want to break the bank.

Giant Contend 2 (2020) spec

Giant Contend 1
The Giant Contend 2 is the most affordable bike in the range.
Giant
  • Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset with FSA Tempo chainset
  • Tektro TK-B177 rim brakes
  • Giant S-R3 wheelset
  • Giant P-R3 AC 28mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse alloy seatpost
  • 9.9kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £625 / $680 (Contend 3 in the US)

Giant Contend 1 (2020) spec

Giant Contend 2
The Giant Contend 1 uses the same frame but with Shimano Sora components.
Giant Contend 2
  • Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset
  • Tektro TK-B177 rim brakes
  • Giant S-R3 wheelset
  • Giant P-R3 AC 28mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse alloy seatpost
  • 9.6kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £749 / $950

Giant Contend AR 1, AR 2 and AR 3

The Contend AR range aims to provide a little extra versatility, if you want a road bike that can also turn its hand to a little gravel riding.

With that in mind, all bikes get disc brakes and 32mm tyres, with clearance for 38mm rubber if you want to go wider still. That places it alongside machines such as the new Trek Domane in blurring the lines between road and gravel.

Once again you get hill-friendly gearing, with a 50/34 compact chain and 11-34t cassette on all bikes. All AR also models use the same Giant Contend Aluxx-grade alloy frameset and carbon tapered fork.

The Contend AR range is aimed at riders who are likely to spend most of their time on the tarmac, but who want a bike capable of turning down a dirt or gravel road.

Giant Contend AR 3 (2020) spec

Giant Contend AR 3
The AR has a gravel slant, with 32mm tyres specced on all bikes. The AR 3 gets a Shimano Sora groupset.
Giant
  • Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset
  • Tektro MD-C550 mechanical disc brakes
  • Giant S-R2 Disc wheelset
  • Giant S-R3 32mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse alloy seatpost
  • 10.2kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £949 / $1,000

Giant Contend AR 2 (2020) spec

Giant Contend AR 2
The Giant Contend AR 2 is available in this very smart blue finish.
Giant
  • Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset
  • Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes
  • Giant S-R2 Disc wheelset
  • Giant Gavia Fondo 2 32mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse carbon seatpost
  • 10kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £1,099 / $1,300

Giant Contend AR 1 (2020) spec

Giant Contend AR 1
The Giant Contend AR 1 is the most expensive bike int he range.
Giant
  • Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with a non-series RS510 chainset
  • Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Giant P-R2 Disc wheelset
  • Giant Gavia Fondo 2 32mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse carbon seatpost
  • Giant D-Fuse D-shaped handlebars for increased comfort
  • 9.62kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £1,499 / $1,550

Giant Contend SL Disc 1 and 2

The Contend SL Disc range consists of the SL 2 Disc, priced at £1,099, and the £1,399 SL1 Disc.

Both get an upgraded Giant Aluxx SL-grade aluminium frame, designed for disc brakes, and a compact 50/34t chainset with 11-34t cassette. There’s clearance for tyres up to 32mm wide.

The Contend SL Disc range is aimed at riders who want an upgraded frame with quality components.

Giant Contend SL 2 Disc (2020) spec

Giant Contend SL 2 Disc
Giant Contend SL 2 Disc
Giant
  • Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset
  • Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes
  • Giant S-R2 Disc wheelset
  • Giant P-R3 AC 28mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse carbon seatpost
  • 9.94kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £1,099

Giant Contend SL 1 Disc (2020) spec

Giant Contend SL 1 Disc
The Giant Contend SL 1 Disc is equipped with Shimano 105 components.
Giant
  • Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with a non-series RS510 chainset
  • Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Giant P-R2 Disc wheelset
  • Giant P-R3 AC 28mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse carbon seatpost
  • 9.56kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £1,399

Giant Contend SL 1

There’s only one bike in the rim braked Contend SL range, reflecting the increasing shift to disc brakes on road bikes. 

You get the same Aluxx SL-grade aluminium frame material used in the disc brake SL. However, rim brakes limit clearance, so you can’t go wider than the 28mm tyres fitted.

This bike has slightly sportier gearing than the rest of the bikes in the Contend range, with a mid-compact 52/36t chainset paired to an 11-30t cassette. It’s also the lightest bike in the Contend line-up.

Giant Contend SL 1 (2020) spec

Giant Contend SL 1
Giant Contend SL 1
Giant
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  • Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with a non-series RS510 chainset
  • Tektro TK-B178 rim brakes
  • Giant P-R2 wheelset
  • Giant P-R3 AC 28mm tyres
  • Giant D-Fuse carbon seatpost
  • 9.06kg claimed weight (medium)
  • £999