Pro bike: The Roubaix-winning Giant Defy

Degenkolb’s 2014 Defy Advanced SL wins 2015 Paris-Roubaix

Astride a last-year-model bike decorated with his newborn baby’s footprint and a wooden good luck charm, John Degenkolb sprinted to victory in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix. Degenkolb rode a 2014 Giant Defy Advanced SL equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 35 wheels shod in custom-made 30mm Vittoria tubulars.


Although wide, 27 and 28mm tubulars have long been the standard in the queen of the cobbled classics, a few riders chose to race 30mm tires this year, accepting a little additional rotational weight and perhaps a touch more rolling resistance in exchange for more comfort and suspension. For Giant-Alpecin, mechanics outfitted team race bikes with 30mm tubular casings with VIttoria clincher treads glued to them, while the back-up bikes on the team cars had 28mm versions.  

Along with the rest of his Giant-Alpecin team, Degenkolb raced the Hell of the North on last year’s bikes, the 2014 Giant Defy Advanced SL, because Giant specced still-UCI-forbidden disc brakes on its 2015 model.

We could see the 2015 Giant Defy Advanced SL with disc brakes in professional competition later this year, as the UCI recently announced that “all teams will have the opportunity to use bikes with disc brakes at two events of their choice during August and September”. Then the gates will be wide open for disc in 2016, still under UCI ‘testing’, with the idea being that, “if the experience is satisfactory, disc brakes will be officially introduced to the UCI WorldTour in 2017… the aim is to eventually introduce disc brakes to all levels of road cycling”.

There is only one pro road race in the world where you’ll see a shifter/brake combination like this: there is only one pro road race in the world where you’ll see a shifter/brake combination like this

There is only one pro road race in the world where you’ll see cockpit setups like this 

Giant-Alpecin hasn’t yet decided on which events during the 2015 test period the team will use disc brakes or how many of the riders will be on them, Giant’s road marketing specialist Doug Barnett told BikeRadar.

“As for the 2016 season, we’ll certainly know more after this initial test period in August and September,” he said. “However, I’d add that as our Giant-Alpecin athlete Lars van der Haar was the first to win a World Cup cyclocross event on disc brakes, both Giant and the team have maintained a very forward-thinking outlook on the subject.” 

In the meantime, Degenkolb seems more concerned with sprinting to the finish line than stopping, having notched two of cycling’s monuments, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, with the bulk of the season still ahead of him.

Still, it’s good to have options. Degenkolb’s cockpit showed no less than eight shift buttons and three brake levers. Using Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070, Degenkolb had sprint shifters on either side plus a climbing switch near the stem along with the standard two buttons on either lever, of course. And for feathering the rear brake with the hands on the tops over the cobbles, Degenkolb had a single bar-top brake lever.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at Degenkolb’s Giant Defy Advanced SL. And for the complete story of how Paris-Roubaix unfolded, visit

The clincher tread suggests nearly twice the pressure of what riders use at paris-roubaix: the clincher tread suggests nearly twice the pressure of what riders use at paris-roubaix

Vittoria glued clincher treads onto 30mm tubular casings. The air pressure recommendations are nearly double what most riders used

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: 2014 Giant Defy Advanced SL, size medium
  • Fork: Advanced SL-grade composite, full-composite OverDrive 2 steerer
  • Handlebar: PRO PLT, 42cm
  • Handlebar tape: PRO
  • Stem: PRO Vibe, 120mm
  • Seatpost: Integrated seatpost
  • Saddle: PRO Turnix, 142mm width
  • Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000
  • Shift Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070, w/ sprint shifters and climbing shifter
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000
  • Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000, 11-28t
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000
  • Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000, 53/44t, 172.5mm
  • Wheels: Shimano Dura-Ace C35
  • Front Tire: Vittoria Pavé CX 30mm Team
  • Rear Tire: Vittoria Pavé CX 30mm Team
  • Bottle Cages: Elite Aluminum
  • Computer: Pioneer
  • Other Accessories: Additional top-mounted rear brake lever, K-Edge chain catcher
  • Critical measurments
  • Rider’s height: 180cm/5’11”
  • Rider’s weight: 77kg/170lb
  • Saddle Height: 73.7cm
  • Saddle Setback: 7.2cm
  • Saddle nose to center of bars: 56.5cm
  • Handlebar height (center of hub to midpoint of handlebar): 51.5cm