Giant Propel Racing Bike Review

Giant Propel Review

Price

Pros​​​​

Aerosystem, rims, cable routing, integrated data transmitter

Cons

Price

Summary

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.

Our Rating

90/100

Manufacturer

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.

Tech Specs

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
PRICE RANGES: $3,700 to $11,300

The four models of the Propel do have a few differences among their specifications - and if you're focused on winning, these differences matter.

Frame Size

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").

Giant Propel Outdoors
Giant Propel Bike

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.

Brake Type

The four models use different braking systems to help maximize performance.

  • Advanced Disc: Shimano Ultegra (hydraulic disk)
  • Advanced Pro Disc: Shimano Ultegra Di2 (hydraulic disc, 140 mm)
  • Advanced SL1 Disc: Shimano Ultegra Di2 (hydraulic disc, 140 mm)
  • Advanced SL0 Disc: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (hydraulic disc, 140 mm)

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.

Shifter

The four models of Giant's propel use different shifters.

  • Advanced Disc: Shimano Ultegra  Hydraulic
  • Advanced Pro Disc: Shimano Ultegra Di2 Hydraulic
  • Advanced SL1 Disc: Shimano Ultegra Di2 Hydraulic with Sprint Shifters
  • Advanced SL0 Disc: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with Sprint 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.

Giant Propel Frame + Shifter

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.

Rims

The rims on the Propel line are subtly different from each other.

  • Advanced Disc: SLR1 Aero DBL Disc WheelSystem, with a 42mm front and 65mm rear on a 23mm width. This model is tubeless and full composite.
  • Advanced Pro Disc: SLR1 Aero DBL Disc WheelSystem, with dynamic balanced lacing on a bladed stainless frame
  • Advanced SL1 Disc: SLR1 Aero DBL Disc WheelSystem, with dynamic balanced lacing on a bladed stainless frame
  • Advanced SL0 Disc: SLR0 Aero DBL Disc Wheel System, with dynamic bladed lacing and a DT Aerolite/Aerocomp stainless frame

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.

Tires

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 Propel Indoor Traning

Price Ranges

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:

  • Advanced Disc: $3,700
  • Advanced Pro Disc: $5,700
  • Advanced SL1 Disc: $7,000
  • Advanced SL0 Disc: $11,300

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:

  • The different rim depths
  • The internal cable routing
  • The integrated data transmitter, which can help measure performance

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.

Buying Advice

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. $1000 to $2000 isn't so bad, but over $7500? 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.

Conclusion

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.

This post was last updated on June 2nd, 2018 at 05:59 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start BikesReviewed.com. In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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