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Giant Defy Advanced 2 review

16 Apr 2021

Mid-range carbon endurance bike packing comfort for almost any occasion

Cyclist Rating: 
Sky-high comfort • Fatigue-fighting geometry • Wide choice of gearing • Predictable handling • 32c tubeless tyres • Versatility as standard
Non-series chainset is a minor quibble

The past 12 months have pulled a lot of things into sharp focus, and I’d confidently state that the Giant Defy Advanced 2 is very close to the perfect bike for the type of riding that the more reflective riders among us have been doing recently.

With race and sportive calendars instantly erased with the advent of a global health crisis, many of us have turned to our bikes for the simple act of remaining fit – or in the case of newer converts to road cycling, getting fit.


Factor in the point that group rides have, on and off, been all but banned for the majority of us, and we’ve nothing to prove – no sprinting for signs, no playfully spitting your mates out the back on a punishing climb…

For the rider whose goals have simply become covering big miles in maximum comfort – for the joy or riding, an escape from the house, or to rediscover the simple art of reverie – the Giant Defy Advanced provides all that you need.


Words of comfort

Many facets of the Giant Defy Advanced 2 combine to make it one of the most comfortable bikes on which to swallow up distance. A fairly short top tube (545mm) for a size M example brings bars closer to saddle, ensuring maximum rider flexibility isn’t the key to enjoyment.

Buy the Giant Defy Advanced 2 2021 now from Rutland Cycling

A 72.5° head angle provides a sure-footed response to steering input and, while it does facilitate fast turning when required, doesn’t drop the bike into a corner with alarming rapidity. That’s a bonus in an bike that’s designed for the sportivist or leisure rider.


Throw in the fact that the head tube is a lengthy 160mm, and you’re sitting more upright than on a more committed road bike, which is easy on your back and adding to the fatigue-fighting nature of the bike. Cushioned contact points cosset the rider from the harsher intrusion of road vibration without robbing feedback.


Alloy Giant Contact SL D-Fuse handlebars (420mm wide on our size M bike) have a small amount of flex in them to prevent numb wrists; your rump is supported by a flexible yet well padded Giant Approach saddle which tops a vibration-isolating composite Giant D-Fuse seatpost; and the icing on the cake is a set of Giant Gavia Fondo 1 tubeless tyres wrapped around the rim’s of Giant P-R2 Disc wheels.

The 32mm diameter of these tyres, designed to be run anywhere from 50-75psi, gives a wide contact patch for good grip and a natural shock absorber from their relatively low pressures (their lightly treaded nature also makes this bike suitable for light off-road riding).


Equipped for everything

Of course, you can have all the comfort in the world, but it’s not going to make a bike great if the rest of the performance package doesn’t back it up.

The Giant Defy Advanced 2 runs a Shimano 105 groupset (with the exception of the slightly heavier than 105, non-series 50-34 R510 chainset), which offers the ideal combination of precision gear-shifting and braking for the budget. Shifting through the 11-speed, 11-34 cassette reveals no distinct jumps between ratios, which makes it ideal for climbs which sap your legs the further they progress.

Buy the Giant Defy Advanced 2 2021 now from Rutland Cycling

And with a smallest possible gear of 34-34, there’s no doubt you’ll climb just about any mountain in the saddle of this bike. Get out of the saddle and punchy climbs in the big ring become an enjoyable workout. The 9.06kg weight of the Giant Defy Advanced 2 does little to hold you back, either.


It’s not all ‘easy street’

There will come a time in every ride when, intentionally or otherwise, you find yourself living out some kind of pro rider fantasy. Mine was one particular descent in the Leicestershire countryside, where the Giant Defy Advanced 2 imbued sufficient confidence to attack a winding downhill section near farmland.

The road surface was far from perfect, with mud and grit littering the tarmac, but with those Gavia Fondo 1 tyres beneath the bike, I forgot myself. Belting it up an equivalent uphill incline on the other side of the valley I’d dropped into, I had plenty of power in reserve to soldier on in the 50-tooth chainring.


Bikes like this take it so easy on a rider that, when the time comes, you find yourself with more power in reserve than you expected. And it’s on moments like these that the stiffness of the Advanced-Grade carbon frameset is a bonus – a small rear frame triangle lets you get the power down with minimal losses, while the front end feels direct and purposefully planted when negotiated rapid downhill turns.

Buy the Giant Defy Advanced 2 2021 now from Rutland Cycling

More than summer lovin’

Yes, this might be close to the ideal summer bike for a good 80% of road riders, but it’s also well enough equipped to be your only bike, for all conditions and climes. For starters, if you fancy some off-road fun, the frame has clearance for 35c tyres, opening up your choice to include truly gravel-ready equipment.


The hydraulic Shimano disc brake setup (160mm front, 140mm rear), while excelling on dry roads, is also perfectly capable of hauling you up on soaking wet surfaces.

The frame is peppered with mudguard mounts on the rear dropouts, fork crown, rear of the seat tube, and there’s a removable bridge included, which can be bolted in place across the seatstays (be warned, however, this job is more fiddly than a violin warehouse).


It might be moderately lamentable that Giant hasn’t used a 105 chainset for full unification of the groupset, but the amount of weight its replacement component adds is more than made up for by the performance, comfort and enjoyment dished out by the Giant Defy Advanced 2.

Buying your first carbon bike this summer? Fancy giving your creaking back a break? Hopeful that European sportives will soon be back on the riding calendar? This is the bike for you.

Buy the Giant Defy Advanced 2 2021 now from Rutland Cycling


Frame Giant Advanced-Grade carbon composite frame and fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105, hydraulic discs, 160/140mm rotors
Chainset Shimano FC-R510, 50-34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-34
Bars Giant Contact SL D-Fuse, alloy
Stem Giant Contact, alloy
Seatpost Giant D-Fuse, composite
Saddle Giant Approach
Wheels Giant P-R2 Disc, Giant Gavia Fondo 1 tubeless tyres, 700 x 32c
Weight 9.06kg (size M)

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews


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