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Giant Defy Advanced 3 review

25 Jul 2016

Page 1 of 2Giant Defy Advanced 3 review

Verdict:

The Giant Defy Advanced 3 is a great entry-level carbon endurance bike and the 2016 model is a significant improvement over 2015.

Cyclist Rating: 

Giant’s disc-equipped Defy Advanced 3, like all the Defy family, is designed for endurance – covering big miles in serious comfort with the ability to entertain, should the fancy take you. Like the entire model family, it’s solely available with disc brakes. The Taiwanese firm reckons speed, confidence and control are this bike’s calling cards. We tested the slightly more handsomely equipped Advanced 2 last year, and it will be interesting to see how this Tiagra-wearing incarnation fares against similarly priced competition. 

Frameset

Giant Defy Advanced 3 frame

Giant’s ‘Advanced Composite Technology’ is actually T700 carbon-fibre, commonly found in many more expensive frames. The Defy Advanced family frame has a number of distinctive features, not least the noticeably steeply sloping top tube, which leads to a particularly compact rear frame triangle. The stiffness this adds is countered by the D-Fuse seatpost, a lot of which is exposed thanks to the steep angle of the top tube, which aids in the task of reducing vibration from the road.

A tapered steerer (1 1/4-1 1/8in) combines with a stocky, fat 145mm head tube to boost torsional stiffness at the front. In fact, the frame is identical in material and construction to those found on the much more expensive Advanced Pro range. It’s a real treat. The Giant’s wheelbase is just shy of a metre – outright speed and rapid cornering are not what this bike is built for – it’s primarily aimed at providing long-distance comfort. A measured steering head angle of 72.3° isn’t going to provide instant, razor-sharp turning, but does offer a very pleasing compromise between stability and rapid cornering speed.

Groupset

Giant Defy Advanced 3 disc brakes

The Shimano Tiagra shifters and mechs are perfectly adequate. They’re a step down in performance from 105 and add to the all-up bulk, but all these bikes are on a par weight-wise. An easiest gear of 34x32 means taking it up a hill will be as stress-free as possible, and we reckon TRP’s Spyre twin-piston mechanical disc brakes are the best you can get without going hydraulic.

Finishing kit

Giant Defy Advanced 3 saddle

The own-brand 40cm compact handlebars have a fairly shallow drop, are wrapped in thick, padded tape and are attached to the steerer by a 100mm alloy stem. The bars are satisfyingly flexible, though not overly so, which adds to the overall vibe-dampening ride. The seatpost is easy to adjust, and its D-shaped profile means it’s impossible to align incorrectly. 

Wheels

Giant’s own-brand equipment extends to the spinning bits, too – an SR-2 disc-specific wheelset has
a 30mm section rim and, like all our bikes apart from the Specialized, uses a regular quick-release rather than a bolt-thru axle. The wheels, while pretty weighty, are built to suffer the rigours of UK roads and even the odd trail. They’re noticeably free of flex, and in terms of durability will probably be the only things on Earth, alongside cockroaches, to survive a nuclear war. Special mention goes to the own-brand rubber – the front and rear-specific compounds hit the mark, and with 85psi in them, the P-SL1 tyres promote confidence even in tight, rapid, downhill corners and flatter the brakes performance in the wet.

The ride

British B-roads around our way are appalling – sometimes we wonder if the council forgets they’re there. Local government gripes aside, the Giant Defy Advanced 3 is one of the most instantly forgiving bikes we’ve ridden on local roads. Running a bet-hedging 85psi in its 25c tyres provides a comfortable ride from mile one.

Giant Defy Advanced 3 review

In common with all three of the Defy Advanced models (which range from this bike at £1,149 to the Advanced 1 at £1,599), the frame is a stunner. Looks aside, the sizeable expanse of carbon-fibre that makes up the Giant’s ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket area allows power to travel almost seamlessly from crank to tarmac, further assisted by chunky, box-section carbon chainstays. Lighter wheels would improve the package but the SR-2 hoops fitted to our test bike coped admirably with climbing in the 50-tooth chainring, and some serious sprint efforts. In terms of comfort, for the money we’ve ridden few frames that provide as much isolation from road buzz. The long seatpost, wide seatstays and almost perfectly padded Giant Performance Road saddle isolated our posterior perfectly from the imperfections of pitted roads. TRP’s twin-piston brakes are easily modulated with a single finger when all you need is to scrub off a little speed, but will haul you up safely and quickly in all but monsoon conditions should he need arise. 

Handling 

The combination of willing stiffness and easy-going comfort make this bike ridiculously easy to pilot. It’s easy to get a good fit, too, thanks to a low stand-over height and a fistful of stem spacers to play with. Steering is accurate without a hint of flightiness, and if you were to place your hands on the Defy Advanced’s deeply-padded handlebars and set off for a 100-miler, we’d wager you’d return home with nothing more than the usual ache in the legs. It’s built to go the distance and delivers on its promise. 

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 530mm 530mm
Seat Tube (ST) 462mm
Down Tube (DT) 624mm
Fork Length (FL) 374mm
Head Tube (HT) 145mm 145mm
Head Angle (HA) 72 72.3
Seat Angle (SA) 74 73.4
Wheelbase (WB) 990mm 989mm
BB drop (BB) 72mm

Spec

Giant Defy Advanced 3
Frame Giant Advanced carbon frame & fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes TRP Spyre, 160mm rotors
Chainset Shimano Tiagra, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Tiagra, 11-32
Bars Giant Connect alloy
Stem Giant Connect alloy
Seatpost Giant D-Fuse composite
Wheels Giant SR-2 Disc
Saddle Giant Performance road
Weight 9.16kg
Contact giant-bicycles.com
Price: 
£1,149

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Page 1 of 2Giant Defy Advanced 3 review