Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 review$4,999.00

The endurance legend enjoys its latest evolution

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The Defy is a key bike for Giant. It’s the brand’s biggest-selling bike, so any time a new Defy arrives on the scene you know it’s been thought about long and hard.

The new Defy shares the slender dropped stay design of the previous generation and Giant’s signature oversized OverDrive head-tube. Similarly, this model is disc brake-only, albeit updated with flat mounts and fully internal hose routing.

As an endurance bike, designers worked on compliance, front and rear. At the back, the Defy features the company’s D-shaped D-Fuse seatpost design, first seen on the TCX. It’s not just the shape of the post that contributes to compliance, either, the material and fibre orientation make the post flex fore-and-aft in a controlled manner, which you can really feel when riding.

Giant’s Stealth stem keeps cables nice and tidy up front
Giant’s Stealth stem keeps cables nice and tidy up front

Up front, Giant has introduced a D-Fuse handlebar, using that D-shaped profile. The effect here is just as pronounced: when you’re up on the hoods during a climb and honking on the bar it feels like any other, but get down in the drops on a descent and you can feel the comfort-giving flex.

Giant designed the bar so the fibre orientation allows it to flex when being ‘pushed’, like the downward pressure of your weight shifting if you hit a rut or pothole. When you pull on the bar, when sprinting, for example, it’s 30 percent stiffer than the company’s stiff Contact SLR bar.

The bar is held in place with Giant’s Stealth stem, designed to keep the front-end fuss-free and to internally route the cables. On the top-of-the-range Di2 model this works superbly because the hydraulic hoses and Di2 cables route together.

On the mechanical models it’s a sort of halfway house; the gear cables route along the stem and underneath the shroud, which bolts on top, but the hoses still route in a more traditional way into the port on the head tube.

The Defy Advanced Pro 1 offers comfort and speed at the very highest level
The Defy Advanced Pro 1 offers comfort and speed at the very highest level

Shimano’s brilliant mechanical Ultegra handles shifting and stopping, and the 50/34 with wide 11-34 cassette means you’ve got a very wide spread of gears, with a 1-1 bottom gear that’ll keep you turning the cranks on the steepest climbs.

Giant hasn’t skimped on the brake rotors, using Shimano’s excellent IceTech units, although I’d choose a 160mm front rotor for my XL bike.

On the road, the compliant yet stiff chassis drifts from butterfly-on-a-breeze smoothness to solid, responsive attack mode when in a fast corner or technical descent.

The tubeless 28mm AC1 tyres provide a spectacular blend of cushioning and grip, and run on a great set of carbon rims rotating on quality hubs with DT Swiss internals.

The Giant Defy proves that endurance bikes don’t have to be boring
The Giant Defy proves that endurance bikes don’t have to be boring

Giant includes its RideSense sensor, which attaches to the non-drive chainstay to provide you with speed and cadence data, so while not watts they’re the next best things.

Brake rotor size aside, my other niggle is the Contact SL saddle, in Neutral guise. It’s fairly flat in profile and didn’t feel as comfortable to me as the Prologo which I'd also tested recently, but saddles are a personal thing.

The Defy is a superb bike. It blends comfort and a vibration-controlled ride with a snap in its handling and responses that put a smile on your face. You really enjoy comfort and speed at the very highest level with this bike.

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 specifications

  • Sizes: S, M, ML, L, XL* (*tested)
  • Weight: 8.13kg
  • Frame: Advanced Grade Carbon
  • Fork: Advanced Grade Carbon
  • Chainset: Shimano Ultegra, 50/34
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano press-fit
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-34
  • Chain: KMC X11SL-1
  • Mechs: Shimano Ultegra
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheelset: Giant SLR-1 Disc
  • Tyres: Giant Gavia AC1, 28mm
  • Wheel weight: 1.1kg (f), 1.76kg (r)
  • Stem: Giant Contact SL Stealth
  • Bar: Giant Contact SLR D-Fuse
  • Headset: Giant
  • Saddle: Giant Contact SL (Neutral)
  • Seatpost: Giant D-Fuse SL carbon
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc, 140mm rotors

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 geometry

  • Seat angle: 73 degrees
  • Head angle: 72.5 degrees
  • Fork offset: 5cm
  • Trail: 5.6cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 7cm
  • Chainstay: 42cm
  • Seat tube: 55cm
  • Top tube: 58.5
  • Head tube: 22.5cm
  • Stack: 62.4cm
  • Reach: 39.8cm
  • Wheelbase: 1,042.5mm
Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
  • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 112cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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