Giant Defy Road Bike Review

Giant Defy Review

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Headset bearings, tube shape, variety of sizes


No pedals, difficult part replacement/cable repair


These are dedicated, performance-oriented bikes designed for long rides – and that’s the only purpose you should buy them for.

Our Rating




Giant’s Defy line is a set of rugged, performance-oriented road bikes

The 2018 line includes three different models: The Defy Advanced 1, 2, and 3. Each version is designed to offer outstanding performance over the longest, roughest rides, making these bikes most suitable for endurance challenges.

In some places, the tube shapes are subtle, while in others, they are more prominent. The original aero-shape seatmast (or seatpost, depending on the model) has been replaced with Giant’s D-Fuse flat-backed profile, which debuted on the TCX cyclocross model. The seatstays are made of gossamer-thin material and attach lower on the seat tube to help minimize vibration from reaching the saddle.

Here are the rest of the details you need to know.

Tech specs

FRAME SIZE: 38.7 to 40.8 inchesBRAKE TYPE: Giant’s Conduct Line Of Hydraulic Disk BrakesSHIFTER: Shimano 105/Shimano TiagraRIMS: Giant PR-2 DiscTIRES: Giant’s Gavia AC 1 Tubeless Tires 700×25

The three models of the 2018 Defy line have distinct specs.

Frame Size

Each of the three models comes in either five or six frame sizes. Measuring the wheelbase (the distance between the center of each wheel in a straight line), the frame sizes are:

  • Advanced 1: 39 to 40.8 inches
  • Advanced 2: 38.7 to 40.8 inches
  • Advanced 3: 39 to 40.8 inches

The frames are sized for riders from 5’2″ (Extra Small, Advanced 2 only) to 6’4″ (Large, all models). Giant strongly recommends that you check with an authorized dealer to determine which frame size is most appropriate for you.

The Advanced 2 is most notable for being the only frame that goes down to 5’2″ riders – the others start at 5’6″.

Brake Type

All Defy models use Giant’s Conduct line of hydraulic disk brakes. These are designed to work in both wet and dry environments, allowing for a consistent level of stopping power no matter how bad the weather gets.


The Defy uses two different models for the Shifter.

  • Advanced 1: Shimano 105
  • Advanced 2: Shimano 105
  • Advanced 3: Shimano Tiagra

Both of these are lever-based shifters, which integrate with the brake levers and make it easier to change gears at a moment’s notice.

More importantly, this type of integration means you don’t have to take your hands away from the brakes. If you haven’t used these types of shifters before, spend some time practicing with them before you go on any dangerous rides.

Even smarter, Giant has built the technology inside the handlebar. This is a difficult task because you don’t want your bars to flex all of the time.


All models use the Giant PR-2 Disc, a tubeless system. This is an essential part of the bike’s overall theme of durability.

Tubeless tires are better over rough terrain, and that’s a critical factor to consider if you’re planning to take the Defy to its limit.

Giant Defy ReviewGiant Defy On The Road


All models use Giant’s Gavia AC 1 Tubeless tires, a 700×25 size that can be folded.

This makes it easier to carry a spare on the off-chance you need to change your tire in the middle of a ride.

It’s worth noting that while tubeless flats are rare, they’re more likely on bikes like this because of the intended use: long rides on rough terrain. We strongly recommend carrying at least two folded spares on any long trip.

Price Range

Each of the models is priced differently. Giant’s MSRP for each model – as of this review- is:

  • Advanced 1: $1500
  • Advanced 2 : $1650
  • Advanced 3: $1850

Discounts may be available from individual retailers, but the price of each model isn’t likely to change much until next year’s models come out.

Giant does allow a monthly payment plan depending on the model you get.

What We Like

The Defy line is a group of bikes that make no compromises – and with this price range, they shouldn’t be.

We were particularly impressed with the composite frame, which features a blend of carbon fibers and resin to create a stiff, low-weight material. It’s not obvious to the eye, but this composite also has a variety of vibration-absorbing particles, which is critical for maintaining comfort on long, rough rides.

Other things we like include:

  • Smarter tube shaping that helps reduce rider fatigue
  • Oversized headset bearings that improve steering
  • Internal cable paths, which improve the look of the bike and reduce the chance of cables getting caught on something
  • A variety of sizes for each model, clearly designed to provide maximum performance for riders of different heights

What We Don’t Like

While these are excellent bikes in general, there are a few issues we have with them. The biggest issue is the price – these are not cheap bikes. That said, you can get a high-quality, performance-oriented bike for considerably less than Giant is asking. The only reason to spend $1500 on a bike is if you want everything it’s offering.

Other points of concern for our team include:

  • Difficult part replacement, since many of the components are unique and may not be available outside authorized retailers
  • Difficult cable repair, since they run through an area that’s not easy to access
  • Lack of pedals (they need to be bought separately)

Buying Advice

Price alone pushes the Defy into a relatively narrow niche of machines.

These are dedicated, performance-oriented bikes designed for long rides – and that’s the only purpose you should buy them for. Any other purpose – up to, and including, shorter rides over similar terrain – means you should look at a different bike instead.

That said, if you’re in the target audience for this bike, it is a solid choice. Everything about these bikes, from the design of the seat post to the choice of tire styles, is focused on the main goal of ensuring comfort and performance during long rides over rough terrain.

One other thing to note is that the three models honestly aren’t that different from each other. A few components (most notably the Shifters) change between the models, but you’re probably going to be fine with the Advanced 3 (the low-priced version) unless you take a close look at the specs and find something you need on the other models.

Also, you’ll need to purchase pedals along with the bike.


The 2018 Giant Defy Advanced PRO line features a series of solid, performance-oriented road bikes. While they’re not the cheapest available, they’re worth looking at if you want a bike that can handle any terrain.

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