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Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc 2020 road bike review

5 Jun 2020
Verdict:

The Giant Propel Advanced 2 is a disc-equipped aero speed machine that rewards committed riding

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Pinpoint handling • Wheels perform well in crosswinds • Integrated build • Tubeless as standard
Against 
Fiddly set-up • Saddle isn’t ideal • Carrying a bit of extra timber • Many Ultegra bikes available at this price

Two weeks of solid sunshine, dry roads and barely a breath of wind make for maximum riding enjoyment, as if we need any excuse to escape what has (at the time of writing) become all but a partial lockdown. However, if it wasn’t for bad luck, I often think I’d have no luck at all…

Wheeling the Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc out of the front door for its thrashing around the lanes of Lincolnshire sees a 60kmh gust almost take the bike out of my hand. Ah well, at least we’ll see how the rims perform in a howling gale.

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Always ask a grown-up

Where many manufacturers of aero road bikes present an all too cluttered array of cables and pointy bits to disrupt the airflow, Giant has integrated everything as best it can. In fact, the Propel Advanced 2 Disc has barely 20cm of exposed cabling on the entire bike.

The fiddle being routing the front and rear cables through the top cap of Giant’s SL Aero stem (a £125 component if bought in isolation).

After turning the air of my kitchen blue for an hour, I enlist the help of David Ward, Giant UK’s Product and Training Manager. 'The easiest way to fit it is to ensure the two brake hoses are central, fix them in place with electrical tape, then route the gear cables, clip the cap on and tighten,' he advises.

'Then snip the tape off for a neat finish.' Mechanical emasculation complete, we’re set to go. (Of course, your local bike shop or Giant dealer can perform this task for you.)

 

And boy, does it go?

As one might reasonably expect, the Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc is designed for full-power, full-speed pursuits. The front frame triangle is constructed as a monococque (ie, in one piece) from the Taiwanese behemoth’s own blend of what it calls 'High-Performance Grade raw carbon', mixed with a proprietary resin, with the intention of creating an enviable stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Allied to Giant’s own Powercore bottom bracket/chainstay junction (incorporating an 86mm BB), and asymmetric chainstays designed to counter forces on the drive side, pedalling input powers a near-lossless system.

Add to this a 52/36 mid-compact chainset of the Shimano 105 variety, and the potential to destroy flat and rolling roads is enormous.

With the wind behind me on the opening leg of my blowiest ride this year, speeds upwards of 40kph are the norm. But so, unfortunately, is a slippery arse, as the tip of Giant’s Contact Forward saddle is by no means the most grippy place to perch yourself as you hammer out the wind-assisted clicks.

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It’s the only let down in the comfort triangle for me. Also, be aware that the 970mm wheelbase leads to a fair amount of toe overlap at the front wheel when performing slower manoeuvres.

 

Wind in my sails

Nearing the end of a straight road where I’ve been blessed by a tailwind, a left turn is taken without changing down a gear, and in confidence thanks to the 72.5° headtube angle of the Giant Propel.

However, now the wind is coming from the side and a gust hits me so hard when I stand to accelerate out of the corner that my body acts as a sail, the bike being pushed into the centre of the road.

Two things save me here: the first, I’m used to riding in the gutter, so steer close to the verge and use it to minimise the blasts of crosswind. The second, the yaw-angle-optimised Giant P-A2 alloy rims (65mm rear, 42mm front) of the Propel behave surprisingly well in a howling gale.

Giant comments on its website that, 'Through Computational Fluid Dynamics and wind tunnel data, engineers optimise each tube shape to deliver superior aerodynamic performance.' This is borne out by the bike’s behaviour in these blowy conditions.

One of those iffy moments when the wind takes you off-course, but which helps you test how a bike copes with crosswind!

 

Afraid of heights?

Newsflash: The Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc is not the ideal all-rounder. Yes, it can climb, but no, it’s not the ideal companion for a mountainous ride. Good things first…

The same directness which encourages rapid progress on rolling roads is evident on steep climbs. The 12mm thru-axle connections at the front and rear ensure there’s no noticeable flex or rub, the power-hungry BB area helps maintain what momentum you’ve amassed the best it can, and the front end is firmer than a three-year-old protein bar (I found one in my old commuting bag last week; a well-aimed throw to the head would knock a man clean out).

Additionally, the flat top of the Giant Contact SL bars is the ideal place to rest your palms on a lengthy ascent.

On the downside, the bike’s all-up weight, including pedals, of 9.46kg is not uphill-friendly. Neither is the 11-30 Shimano cassette or 52/36 chainset, which may send you looking for the little chainring quicker than usual.

That said, its stunning braking performance and rapid handling make for some of the most engaging descending I’ve enjoyed in many months.

Its tubeless 25c tyre set-up helps matters throughout, with a supple ride and dependable grip. Puncture-resistance is also far from the front of your mind when you’ve tyres full of sealant rolling beneath you. David Ward does warn, however, 'I wouldn’t advise using a CO2 cannister to fit them, as it can freeze some sealants and turn it solid…'

 

Does it pay off?

Given that a ride on the Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc brings joy in abundance, the question is: ‘Does it offer value for money?’. If your riding is likely to be flat-out more often than not, the performance, frame tech and clever integration across the build make it an easy decision.

But, for £2399, you’d reasonably expect Ultegra equipment, which would make a really good bike a great bike, with less weight to carry around and slightly more slickness to its operation.

Although not as neatly put together, the Tifosi Auriga Disc packs a full Ultegra groupset, is arguably a bigger talking point on group rides (when they’re permitted with people who aren’t in our household), and undercuts the Giant by £300.

Rating - 3.5/5

Spec

Frame Giant Advanced-Grade composite frame and fork
Groupset      Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105, hydraulic discs
Chainset Shimano 105, 52/36
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-30
Bars Giant Contact SL Aero, alloy
Stem Giant Contact SL Aero, alloy
Seatpost Giant Vector, composite
Saddle Giant Contact Forward
Wheels Giant P-A2 35mm, Giant Gavia AC 1 tubeless tyres, 700 x 25
Weight 9.18kg (size S)
Contact giant-bicycles.com

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

Price: 
£2399

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