Giant Defy and Liv Avail endurance road 2015 ranges announced
Giant – and its recently pseudo-independent women-specific brand, Liv – have completely overhauled their Defy and Avail collection of endurance road bikes for 2015. According to Giant, they’re lighter, smoother, more efficient, and with the addition of disc brakes nearly across the line, more consistently controllable in all conditions. The previous version won the coveted Cycling Plus Bike of the Year award in 2013, and this new one seems like an easy candidate for another shot at the title.
The new giant defy advanced sl offers race bike performance but with a smoother ride, hydraulic disc brakes, and (officially) clearance for 28mm wide tyres. as shown here, this top-end defy advanced sl 0 model (size small) weighs just 7.75kg (17.09lb) complete with pedals and a bottle cage:
The new Defy Advanced SL and Avail Advanced SL flagships blur the lines even further between what many riders might expect from a ‘race bike’ and a so-called ‘endurance bike’. The more sharply engineering-centric frame shapes are still less than 900g – a number many dedicated competition frames struggle to hit – and yet Giant also claims that they’re more comfortable than their previous versions.
Key ride-oriented features include seat tubes, and top tubes that are supposedly more apt to flex over bumps than rounder sections; similarly D-shaped seatmasts and seatposts with slim diameters and lots of extension; lowered seat stays that are said to act more like leaf springs than conventional rear-end layouts; and slender fork blades that balance out the ride from front to back.
Much of giant’s ride quality claims can be sourced to the so-called ‘d-fuse’ seatmast and seat tube shape, which features a flattened back side that is said to flex more than a round or oval profile:
D-shaped tubing supposedly adds flex over the bumps
Even so, several design concepts borrowed from the more racing-oriented TCR range place an emphasis on tuned stiffness that reportedly encroaches that bike’s rigidity territory. The OverDrive 2 extra-oversized 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in steerers are bolstered by extremely wide MegaDrive down tubes, which are then connected to PowerCore bottom bracket shells that measure a healthy 86.5mm across. That extra width also lends additional room for the adjoining asymmetrical chain stays to spread apart in order to keep the rear end from wagging under power.
Giant backs this all up with bold in-house testing claims. As compared to the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc, Trek Domane Disc, and Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc, Giant claims the Defy Advanced SL is the lightest chassis by about 230-310g (including the frame, fork, headset, seatpost/seatmast, seatmast head, seatpost collar, derailleur hangers, headset expander plug, and all cable routing hardware). Torsional stiffness and pedaling stiffness values are also supposedly best in class (by as much as 40 percent in some situations) while overall front and rear ‘compliance’ is topped only by the Cannondale, all without any “marketing gimmicks” such as elastomeric dampers or integrated pivots.
The 86.5mm-wide press-fit ‘powercore’ bottom bracket shell anchors a similar wide down tube and seat tube, plus a massive box section for the asymmetrical chainstays:
Trademark features such as the extra-wide ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket design carry over
Of course, not all of those specs apply across the rather wide Defy and Avail ranges. Second-tier ‘Advanced’ frames get slightly heavier carbon fiber blends, telescoping carbon ‘D-Fuse’ seatposts, and OverDrive 2 forks with aluminium rather than carbon fiber steerer tubes. Base-level Defy and Avail models, meanwhile, will get aluminium frames and aluminium/carbon forks with downsized 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered steerer sizes.
Giant goes all-in on disc brakes
While all of the Defy and Avail models are brand new, geometry is wholly carried over – a good thing since they were already highly refined with stable manners and modestly raised front end that’s just 15mm taller on average. Giant has taken the bold step, however, of exclusively using disc brakes nearly across the board for more consistently predictable all-weather stopping performance.
The rear brake caliper on the new giant defy advanced sl mounts to the chain stay, allowing the seat stays to be very slim:
All of the new carbon Giant Defy and Liv Avail models will come with disc brakes only
All carbon models will be disc-equipped for 2015; aluminium bikes will all be rim brake-only. Impressively, Giant looks to have done this without adding any weight – and in fact, says certain complete bikes even end up about 50g lighter than their comparable rim brake-equipped versions. We measured a top-end Defy Advanced SL 0 model at just 7.3kg (16.1lb)
“Our goal was to have a net zero increase,” said road product manager Jon Swanson.
Officially, eliminating the rim brake calipers also yields easy clearance for tyres up to 28mm-wide – although we think many 30mm ones will fit, too.
Tyre clearance on both the giant defy advanced sl and liv avail advanced sl framesets is 28mm – but there looks to be room for 30mm ones:
Tyre clearance is outstanding on all disc-equipped models
Giant has not paired those disc brakes with thru-axles, though – a move that we definitely question.
According to Swanson, this was done so as to provide disc-equipped Defy and Avail owners with more wheel choices. Swanson also isn’t satisfied with current thru-axle standards as they pertain to road bikes, saying they’re overbuilt for the application and insufficiently elegant for the genre.
We’re still a bit disappointed in that move, however, and can’t help but wonder if this means a new road-specific thru-axle system with more behind-the-scenes industry support is pending.
Either way, things look to be heading in a very good direction here and are looking forward to spending more time aboard the new models. So far, we’ve developed a solid taste over two solid days on some rather rough roads in northern Scotland. Look for a First Ride Review shortly.
Women get their own version of the top-end flagship called the avail advanced sl 0, complete with a specific frame shape, carbon lay-up, and componentry but with the same shimano dura-ace di2 9070 group:
Women get the similarly ambitious Liv Avail Advanced SL 0
Key specs and retail prices for the complete US-spec Giant Defy and Liv Avail ranges are as follows (UK models and prices are TBD):