Giant's 2018 Propel line is focused on winning - and every part of this series was designed with that in mind.
The Propel line consists of four models: The Advanced Disc, the Advanced Pro Disc, and two versions of the Advanced SL Disc.
FRAME SIZE: 38.3 inches - 40.2 inches
BRAKE TYPE: Shimano Ultegra, Shimano Ultegra Di2, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
SHIFTER: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic, Shimano Ultegra Di2 Hydraulic, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with Sprint Shifters
RIMS: SLR1 Aero DBL Disc WheelSystem, SLR0 Aero DBL Disc Wheel System
TIRES: Giant's Gavia Race 1 tubeless tires, Giant's Gavia Race 0 tubeless series
The four models of the Propel do have a few differences among their specifications - and if you're focused on winning, these differences matter.
The Propel comes with several different frame sizes, each designed for riders of varying heights.
This year's line is appropriate for riders ranging from 5'2" to 6'5" (except for the Advanced Pro, which does not have an Extra Large version and stops at 6'2").
The wheelbase - the distance between the center of each wheel - goes from 38.3 inches on the smallest model to 40.2 inches on the largest.
A maximum difference of two inches may not seem like much to the casual rider, but it can affect performance, especially during longer races where every little factor adds up.
The four models use different braking systems to help maximize performance.
If you're not already familiar with them, hydraulic disc brakes are an improvement over the older, traditional rim brakes. They generate more stopping power, apply that power more consistently, and are safer to use during bad weather. In races, the fact that you have to use less energy braking means you can put more effort towards maximizing your speed.
The four models of Giant's propel use different shifters.
Sprint shifters are part of the overall Di2 system. Unlike traditional mechanical shifters, sprint shifters use an electronic system to make switching gears on the fly even easier.
As if that weren't good enough, the buttons are custom-installed on handlebars to make it that much faster to use them in a competitive environment.
Like all shifting systems, they take some time to get used to, but they start showing their real value on complex courses. If you mostly race on straight tracks with minimal turns, these won't be nearly as important.
The rims on the Propel line are subtly different from each other.
Dynamic Balanced Lacing is a relatively recent development that maximizes the tension of spokes while a wheel is in motion. Put simply: the pushing spokes are secured lower than the pulling spokes, and the change in leverage while the wheel is moving balances the tension to create a stiffer wheel. This is a good thing since stiffer wheels offer better control in tight situations.
The 2018 Propel series uses two tire models.
The Advanced and Advanced Pro use Giant's Gavia Race 1 tubeless tires, while the Advanced SL models use Giant's Gavia Race 0 tubeless series instead.
Both of these tires support folding, but since they're meant for relatively short-distance races, you don't need to carry extra tires around like you would for a longer trip.
Giant's MSRP for the Propel line varies wildly based on the model you're getting.
At the time of this review, the prices were:
This is a huge spread for a single line of bikes, and ultimately comes down to one question: How much are you willing to pay for performance?
What We Like
We were most impressed by the Propel's Aerosystem shaping, which was carefully designed to minimize drag. As we mentioned above, small things add up when you're racing - anything that improves your performance is worthwhile.
We also liked:
What We Don't Like
The pricing of the models feels a little excessive, even with the monthly payment plans Giant accepts. These are racing bikes, and you're either in it to win or you're not.
The internal cable routing is nice, but it also makes repairs harder if they're necessary, so it's a bit of a mixed bag there.
Giant's Propel line is about winning - and winning isn't about going halfway. If you're truly serious about success, it's hard to justify getting anything less than the very best.
On the other hand, we're not totally convinced that the difference in performance justifies the drastic change in price between the top and bottom models. $$$$ to $$$$ isn't so bad, but over $$$$? Ouch.
Either way, this bike is only for serious, competitive racing. It's great in its niche, but the high cost makes it prohibitively expensive for any other use.
Giant's Propel line is an outstanding series of high-performance racing bikes.
If you're looking for a bike engineered to help you achieve victory, take a look at these models. You may find a bigger boost to your performance than you ever expected.