£3199 › The en­durance leg­end en­joys its lat­est evo­lu­tion

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

The Defy is a key bike for Gi­ant. It’s the brand’s biggest­selling 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 brakeonly, 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 fore­and-aft in a con­trolled man­ner, which you can re­ally feel when rid­ing.

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 per cent 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 as 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.

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 we’d choose a 160mm front ro­tor for our XL bike.

On the road, the com­pli­ant yet stiff chas­sis drifts from but­ter­flyon-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.

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,our other nig­gle is the Con­tact SL sad­dle, in Neu­tral guise. It’s fairly flat in pro­file and didn’t feel as com­fort­able to this tester as the Prol­ogo on some of the oth­ers on test, 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. The price might be the low­est here, but you re­ally en­joy com­fort and speed at the very high­est level.

Be­low The new Defy comes with Gi­ant’s sig­na­ture over­sized Over­Drive head-tube Bot­tom Gi­ant’s Stealth stem keeps ca­bles nice and tidy up front

The Defy Ad­vanced Pro 1 of­fers com­fort and speed at the very high­est level HIGHS Com­fort in spades and han­dling fi­nesse LOWS Sad­dle is just okay and big­ger bikes need a 160mm ro­tor on the front BUY IF You want a bike ca­pa­ble of the long­est rides, on any ter­rain, that’s as ca­pa­ble go­ing up as it is con­fi­dent com­ing down

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