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.
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.
Here are the rest of the details you need to know.
FRAME SIZE: 38.7 to 40.8 inches
BRAKE TYPE: Giant's Conduct Line Of Hydraulic Disk Brakes
SHIFTER: Shimano 105/Shimano Tiagra
RIMS: Giant PR-2 Disc
TIRES: Giant's Gavia AC 1 Tubeless Tires 700x25
The three models of the 2018 Defy line have distinct specs.
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:
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".
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.
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.
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.
All models use Giant's Gavia AC 1 Tubeless tires, a 700x25 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.
Each of the models is priced differently. Giant's MSRP for each model - as of this review- is:
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:
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:
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 seatpost 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.