We take a closer look at Giant's versatile range of aluminium Defy bikes - now with 20 per cent off
Giant are one of the most well-known and well-respected bike brands around – catering for everyone from pros with the Giant-Alpecin team and amateur racers, to sportive riders, social club riders and have-a-go first timers. They’ve developed a reputation for solid, dependable and innovative engineering that’s well-respected throughout the industry.
The Defy is Giant’s endurance platform and includes bikes from £420 to £5,499, with both alloy and carbon frames. Here we’ll focus on the entry-level, aluminium Defy range, which includes seven bikes, with rim and disc brakes. We also had a chat with product manager David Ward to hear all about the range and the technology Giant have developed to create the Defy’s alloy frames.
Better yet, it comes at a time when Giant are offering the aluminium Defy range at20 per cent off RRP. So, what better time than now to reacquaint yourself with the Taiwanese brand’s offerings ahead of the coming winter season? First up, let’s take a look at the two frame levels which make up Giant’s alloy Defy range.
Giant have developed two distinct aluminium frame levels for the Defy – the entry-level Defy 4 and 3 models using what Giant call ‘ALLUX’, which on its own is a high quality material which still delivers impressive levels stiffness. As Ward points out, Giant are very particular about the material they use, even at the base level.
“We go to the extent of smelting our own aluminium, extrude all of our tubes, do all our own forming and do all of the heat treating,” Ward says.
“Everything is done in-house, which means we have total control over what we produce. The entry-level frames use 6061 aluminium, which is actually really high standard, but that’s just our starting point. The 6000 part meaning that it’s heat-treated, and all welding is done by hand, as well.”
“The next step up is ALLUX SL, with the SL standing for ‘super-light’,” Ward continues. “The big difference here is the copper content in the material, which is increased, and what that does is increase the cost of the frame, but most importantly the tensile strength of the frame.”
It means that the Defy 2, 1 (including the disc iterations), and the 0, all use the upgraded material, known as 6011 aluminium. With this ALLUX SL material, even more forming goes on, including fluid forming, which uses pressurised oil to change the shapes of the tubes in the build process.
“It’s at this point we add additional features to the frame as well; for example, a PressFit bottom bracket is fitted to the ALLUX SL-framed bikes, as well as a D-Fuse seatpost, which has to fit specifically into the seattube.”
The D-Fuse seatpost is, as you might have guessed, D-shaped, with the flat of the D facing backwards. Giant claim this profile and design increases compliance in the frame, helping to tackle one of the commonly-held beliefs about aluminium bikes: their perceived harshness.
A bike for everyone?
As we’ve already found out, Giant are one of the few brands that build their own frames with complete ownership of the process. As a result, they’ve been able to focus their engineering on countering the reputation aluminium has gained over years as stiff, yet harsh.
“Because we have total control, we can decide exactly what it’s going to do, the weld points, tube profiles, everything,” Ward says. “For example, the top tube profile on the ALLUX SL frames are very thin but very wide, which gives you much greater compliance.”
Another noticeable feature of the ALLUX SL frames is the smaller rear triangle, which Ward says also helps to improve the compliance of the frame, while actually boosting responsiveness at the same time.
As a result, Ward says, Giant experience demand for the aluminium Defy range from a wide range of riders. “We’ve seen first time road riders, to keen sportive riders and good club riders who want a winter bike that you can stick mudguards on to,” he says.
“You can fit a rack adaptor to the ALLUX SL framesets as well, so even fitting panniers is easy. It’s a very versatile machine, and of course the geometry matches the rest of the Defy range, which is what I refer to as ‘real world’ geometry because we’re not all racers after a super-aggressive position,” says Ward.
Discs here to stay
With the noise of recent incidents in the pro peloton, which came to a head at Paris-Roubaix in the spring, disc brakes are having a difficult, labour intensive birth. Right now, after knee-jerk reactions from the likes of ASO, who initially banned them in their sportives – including the Etape du Tour – the stance has eased somewhat, making them once again more enticing for riders.
The Defy range, namely the 1 and 2 models, also have disc-sporting alter egos. Ward explains: “Very little has been done to the frame to take disc brakes. Of course the chainstays have widened slightly, and the dropout space has gone from 130mm to 135mm to accommodate the disc wheelsets, but otherwise the frame is pretty much the same.
“More and more people are opening their eyes to disc brakes. Some, like myself, are complete converts, and what a lot of people get hung up on is that it’s a ‘disc brake road bike’, when actually it’s just a bike that has discs on it.
“There are numerous benefits – you get more power, more consistent power, lighter rims with less rotational weight for better responsiveness, and although the static weight of a bike with discs might be slightly heavier, when you ride it it disappears.”
Currently, the aluminium Defy range has 20 per cent off – perfect timing if you’re after a bargain first buy, a versatile commuter, sportive bike for next year or a dependable frame for the coming winter. Here’s a rundown of the range.
Giant Defy 0 – RRP £999, now £799.20
The Defy 0 tops the aluminium Defy range, coming in at the popular sub-£1000 mark. The frame is built of the ALUXX SL-grade material, which is Giant’s top offering on the Defy, showcasing all the technology and versatility the brand offers. You’ll find the 0 comes with a predominantly Shimano Ultegra transmission (Giant have swapped in the very competent 105 front derailleur and a non-series chainset and brake calipers to keep costs down), making it suitable for keen racers as well as sportive riders thanks to the 11-32t cassette.
Giant Defy 1 – RRP £899, now £719.20
The Defy 1 comes in at £100 cheaper than the range-topping 0, with the key changes seen in the transmission. Where before there was Ultegra, the 1 features Shimano’s 105 groupset, with a non-series chainset and Tektro dual-pivot calipers. The rims supplied remain the same as the 0, with Giant’s P-R2s used for the rolling stock in tandem with Giant’s own P-SL1 tyres.
Giant Defy 1 Disc – RRP £999, now £799.20
The disc version of the 1 features the same level of componentry as the rim brake machine, but of course features disc brakes in the form of the TRP Spyre Alloy mechanical discs with 160mm rotors. That means the wheelset has also seen a change, with the P-R2 disc hoops shod on this £999 bike (now £799.20).
Giant Defy 2 – RRP £749, now £599.20
The Defy 2 is the cheapest bike to feature Giant’s class-leading ALUXX-SL frame construction, with an RRP of £749. It features Shimano’s newly-updated ten-speed Tiagra groupset, complete with the four-arm crankset and a climbing-friendly 11-32t cassette. The bike also keeps the D-Fuse composite seatpost and carbon composite fork. The wheels are Giant’s S-R2s, tied together with stainless steel spokes and their own Tracker Sport Road hubs.
Giant Defy 2 Disc – RRP £849, now £679.20
As with the Defy 1 Disc, the Defy 2 Disc emulates the equally-specced rim brake version, with changes again seen with the wheelset type. The brakes remain the same as the Defy 1 Disc’s, with a 160mm TRP Spyre Alloy mechanical setup installed.
Giant Defy 3 – RRP £649, now £519.20
The Defy 3 is built with a Shimano Sora nine-speed groupset– again with a go-anywhere 11-32t cassette. The frame is made of Giant’s ALUXX material, which provides ample stiffness for an entry-level road machine Completing the build are the S-R2 wheels, and the same carbon composite forks as higher up the range to help eliminate road buzz through the bars. Available for £649 but reduced to £519.20 with 20 per cent off.
Giant Defy 4 – RRP £525, now £420
The Defy 4 opens the Defy range but for £525 you get a lot of bike for your money. ALUXX aluminium frame technology remains, as does the oversized PowerCore bottom bracket area design which assists with responsive power transfer. The 4 comes specced with Shimano Claris eight-speed transmission and an FSA crankset, and maintains the SR-2 rolling stock as seen on higher-level models.
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