Giant’s Defy has long been the brand’s go-to endurance machine, aimed at delivering a more relaxed riding position than the TCR and graced with a frame that aims to deliver comfort with minimal detriment to performance.
Like the rest of Giant’s road range, it has been through several iterations, culminating in this latest Defy Advanced 1. Giant actually has two Defy Advanced ranges, with six models in total. Both ranges share the same frame and fork but the critical difference is the lower range (in which this model sits) foregoes the integrated stem and cable routing to keep costs down.
The Defy Advanced’s carbon frame is a complete mix of tubing shapes that vary Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes are quality stoppers according to location and the specific job they need to do. Take that enormous head tube, for example, it’s oversized not only to create a stiff and solid junction with the top and down tubes but also to internally route the cables that enter behind the stem/steerer. This is juxtaposed to a rear triangle that is elegant in both dimensions and shaping.
One looks at the frame tube measurements and angles and there’s no doubting its intentions. The size large on the test equates to a 58cm and the frame is dominated by a whopping 205mm head tube. Angle-wise, Giant has settled for a middle-ground set-up, somewhere between standard road geometry and what I call ‘fast’ (road-inspired) gravel. A 72.5° head angle keeps enough race bike steering speed but combines well with the longer wheelbase and lengthier chainstays to keep the Defy from being too much of a handful on long days or when nipping along bridleways and forest tracks.
One of the biggest changes Giant has made is an increase in tyre clearance in order to allow for wider and more versatile rubber choices. It comes standard with Giant’s 32c Gavia tubeless tyres but will swallow up to a 35c tyre for more adventurous excursions.
Like the majority of its competitors, Giant has opted for an integrated cable approach. In the Defy’s case, the gear cables enter at the side of the head tube while the thicker (and more rigid) brake hoses enter behind the stem. The top-level Defy Advanced Pro range is fitted with an integrated stem that routes these hoses neatly and hides them completely from sight. This lower-priced Advanced 1 is fitted with a standard stem, meaning these hoses are completely on show and there is no thought given towards neatening up what is, quite frankly, a mess. The cable routing was my biggest disappointment with this bike and it’s an area I think Giant needs to improve.
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August 06, 2020