Giant’s first aerodynamic road bike, the Propel, is expected to arrive in the UK in March having been unveiled at the Tour Down Under.
The Propel has been developed alongside Mark Renshaw and Theo Bos of the Giant-sponsored Blanco Pro Cycling team, and selected Blanco riders, including Renshaw, are riding the team issue machine at the first WorldTour race of the season.
The world’s biggest bike manufacturer has bided its time before entering the aero market but has now joined the party with the Propel and the Envie, which Giant say is the world’s first women’s-specific aerodynamic road bike. You can read more about the Envie at TotalWomensCycling.com.
The Propel will be available in the UK in one build – the Giant Propel Advanced SL3 – equipped with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, Giant P-SLR1 Aero WheelSystem (wheels and tyres), Giant Contact SLR Aero composite handlebar, Giant Contact SLR stem and Fizik Arione Kium R3 saddle for £4,499.
Giant claim the Propel is the world’s fastest aero bike, and they have sought to blend the ride quality and stiffness of the TCR Advanced SL with the aerodynamic refinement of the Trinity Advanced SL time trial machine. The Propel frame has been developed using Computational Fluid Dynamics and wind tunnel testing with a dynamic mannequin, and the result is a set of sleek tubes with a notable teardrop profile, rather than the boxy Kammtail profiles of the Trek Madone 7 or Scott Foil.
Integration is key are far as aerodynamic road bikes are considered and the Propel utilises Giant’s proprietary SpeedControl brake system, manufactured by TRP, which hides the linear brake calipers behind the fork and seatstays. There’s also an integrated seatpost and, up front, the cockpit uses Giant’s new integrated Contact SLR Aero handlebar and Contact SLR stem, designed to improve further improves front-end stiffness, control and aerodynamics.
Otherwise, the internal cable routing is compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets, while there’s also an oversized BB86 PressFit bottom bracket, tapered headtube and an ANT+ speed and cadence sensor built into the left chainstay. Claimed weight is 1,675g for a module – size medium frame, uncut steerer, uncut integrated seatpost (including head), brake system and headset plug – which Giant say makes the Propel the lightest among its leading competitors.
“We didn’t rush to market with an aerodynamic road bike,” said Jon Swanson of Giant. “Instead, we made a calculated decision to be deliberate and thorough in order to create something that offers a real advantage.
“Beyond the exhaustive development phase, we performed comprehensive head-to-head testing with a third-party facility to ensure Propel is the fastest aero bike in real-world riding conditions.”
Giant have pitched the Propel against a number of competing aero bikes, including the Scott Foil, Specialized S-Works Venge, Ridley Noah FAST and Cervelo S5, and they say their machine proved more aerodynamic at every yaw angle tested by a third-party wind tunnel, and up to 12 to 36 seconds faster over the course of a 40km time trial.