Taiwanese brand Giant is the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world with a huge range of road bikes designed with various different types of riding in mind.
The vast number of models might seem daunting at first but the range is structured very logically so it’s actually pretty easy to work out which is the best choice for you. The word 'Advanced' in a model name means that the frame is carbon-fibre.
Giant also has a women’s specific brand called Liv that offers an impressively large range.
TCR Advanced range
The TCR Advanced bikes are performance road bikes that are designed to be lightweight, stiff and agile, roughly the equivalent of a Trek Emonda or a Specialized Tarmac.
All the TCR models are made from carbon fibre in various grades, and they come in race geometries: low and stretched.
Giant updated the frames of all of the TCR models for the 2016 model year, the idea being to offer the best stiffness-to-weight possible, and added some disc-braked models to the range.
TCR Advanced SL
Whereas brands like Trek, Merida and Bianchi have all introduced superlight race bikes to the market recently and other brands have concentrated on improving aerodynamic efficiency, Giant has gone after stiffness-to-weight.
The TCR Advanced SL is the flagship frameset in the range with a claimed frame weight of 856g and a claimed fork weight of 302g. It’s the brand’s lightest road frameset ever.
Giant says that the TCR Advanced SL comes out higher than any of its competitors in both a frameset pedalling stiffness-to-weight test and a frameset and wheelset pedalling stiffness-to-weight test, although other brands would doubtless dispute this.
When we got the chance to ride the TCR Advanced SL we described it as “an amazingly stiff race bike that’ll suit aggressive riders who prioritise all-out efficiency and super-sharp cornering in their efforts to get to the finish line first”.
Mixing seated riding with out of the saddle stuff for the steeper bits of our test rides, the bottom bracket was locked in place. It was the same deal in sprints: solid. If you’re a powerful rider who finds some bikes just a bit flexy when you get serious, give the TCR Advanced SL a go.
It’s available as a frameset (£2,099), or in four complete bike builds. The Giant TCR Advanced SL 2 (£3,499) is built up with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset and Giant’s own SLR 1 wheels, while the Advanced SL1 (£4,599, above) has the Di2 (electronic) version of Ultegra and SLR 1 wheels. The TCR Advanced SL 0 is available with a SRAM Red E-Tap wireless groupset (£7,699) or with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (£7,899) and the Giant's superlight SLR 0 wheels.
Giant has added a disc brake model to the range this year, with 12mm thru-axles front and rear. The TCR Advanced SL 1 Disc (£5,299, above) is built up with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.
Buy if: You’re after a lightweight and stiff race bike and you’re willing to pay big money.
TCR Advanced Pro
Although it’s made from a different grade of composite, many of the TCR Advanced SL’s features are carried over to the TCR Advanced Pro, which Giant said they trimmed weight from without sacrificing stiffness when it was revamped for 2016.
A wholesale slimming down took place. Giant reduced the profile size of the top tube, seatstays, chainstays, seatpost and fork legs, and made the walls a more consistent thickness than before to minimise excess weight. The lower headset bearing was shifted up slightly so that it’s more in line with the down tube.
The TCR Advanced Pro is available as a frameset and in three different builds. The most accessible of these is the TCR Advanced Pro 2 (£2,399) that’s built up with a mid-level Shimano 105 groupset and Giant’s SLR 1 wheels.
The TCR Advanced Pro 1 (£2,799, above) is next up with a Shimano Ultegra group and SLR 1 wheels, while at the top of the range you'll find the TCR Advanced Pro 0 (£3,999) with the new Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 components and SLR1 wheels.
There are two disc-braked models in the range. The TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc (£2,999) has a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, while the TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc (£3,999, above) is similar but with Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting. The SLR Disc wheels have 12mm thru-axles front and rear and the frame uses the same grade of composite as the rim brake Advanced Pro 0.
Buy if: You’re performance minded and prioritise frame stiffness.
The TCR Advanced (without an SL or Pro suffix) also got a lightened frameset for 2016 and a new Variant seatpost that’s designed to improve the ride quality and keep you feeling comfortable.
Like the other TCRs, the Advanced is built to Giant’s Compact Road Design. Essentially, this means that the top tube slopes downwards along its length and the frame triangles are smaller than usual. Giant says that this makes for a lighter, stiffer and smoother ride.
We wouldn’t say that the Compact Road Design is inherently better than a traditional configuration, but some people do prefer it, especially because it gives you a lower standover height and a lot of exposed seatpost to soak up vibrations from the road.
The TCR Advanced comes in four different builds. The cheapest of these is the Shimano Tiagra-equipped TCR Advanced 3 (£1,299) while the most expensive is the TCR Advanced Disc 0 (£2,699). This one comes with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and, on paper, looks like very good value for money. In between there's the TCR Advanced 2 (£1,499, above) with Shimano 105 components and the TCR Advanced 1 (£1,799) with Shimano Ultegra.
There are two TCR Advanced Disc models, the cheaper of them being the £1,749 TCR Advanced 2 Disc (above) with a Shimano 105 groupset and Giant's Conduct hydraulic disc brakes. They're actually cable operated with a mechanical-to-hydraulic converter integrated with the stem.
Buy if: You’re looking for a high performance bike with real world pricing.
Whereas the TCR bikes are designed for stiffness-to-weight, the Propels are all about aerodynamics. In that sense, they’re competitors to the Trek Madone, for instance, the Merida Reacto, and the Canyon Aeroad.
Giant has added disc brake Propels to the lineup in 2018 for the first time.
Propel Advanced SL
Giant calls the Propel Advanced SL the ‘world’s fastest aero road bike’. The frame tubes have been designed with aerodynamics in mind, so you get a very deep down tube and a seat tube that’s cut away around the leading edge of the rear wheel – both features common to many other aero road bikes.
That seat tube incorporates an integrated seatpost that’s designed to be more aerodynamically efficient than a standard round post. Giant says that the integrated post saves weight too – about 45g compared to a standard composite seatpost – and adds comfort.
The rim brake version of the Propel Advanced SL is available only as a frameset (£2,599) in 2018.
Buy if: You’re after a pro-level aero road bike.
Propel Advanced Pro
The Propel Advanced Pro is built to the same race geometry as the Propel Advanced SL, it’s just that it uses a different grade of carbon fibre, and whereas the SL comes with the seatpost integrated into the frame, the Pro takes a separate seatpost.
You can get the Propel Advanced as a frameset (£1,549), or you can opt for one of three complete bikes. The Shimano Ultegra Di2-equipped Propel Advanced Pro 0 (£3,999) is the top of the line, but the Propel Advanced Pro 1 (£2,999, above) looks the pick of the bunch in terms of value. It comes with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Giant’s own 55mm deep SLR 1 Aero wheels. The range is completed by the Propel Advanced Pro 2 (£2,699) with Shimano 105 components.
Buy if: You're looking for an aero road bike at a slightly more affordable price.
The Propel Advanced is made from same grade of carbon-fibre as the Propel Advanced Pro but the fork comes with an alloy steerer rather than being a full-carbon design.
The Propel Advanced 2 (£1,599, above) looks good value. This bike comes with Shimano’s mid-level 105 groupset.
If you want deep section wheels, though, you need to go up to the Propel Advanced 0. This comes with Giant’s SL 1 Aero wheels and a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.
Buy if: You want aerodynamic efficiency and are prepared to take a slight hit on weight.
Giant Propel Advanced Disc bikes
Giant has added disc brakes to the Propel Advanced lineup for 2018, claiming that the flagship model, the Propel Advanced SL Disc, has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any bike in its class and a lower drag coefficient at a wider range of yaw angles than the rim brake version.
“One of the key breakthroughs is a new truncated ellipse airfoil shape – a design that lowers drag at a wider range of wind angles than traditional teardrop frame tubing,” says Giant. “Engineers also found that, with proper integration, a disc-brake design can actually improve aero performance compared to rim-brake configurations.”
There’s also a new combined aero handlebar and stem with internal cable routing, and aero wheelsets with different rim depths front and rear, the idea being to reduce drag without compromising control or power transmission.
Two models are built around the top level Propel Advanced SL Disc frame, the more affordable of them (above), at £5,499, being equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components.
The Propel Advanced Pro Disc frame is made with a slightly lower grade of carbon. It has the same Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and is £1,000 cheaper at £4,499.
The least expensive model is the Propel Advanced Disc (above) which uses the same grade of carbon as the Pro Disc but with an alloy steerer rather than a full carbon fork. Built up with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, it’s priced £2,999.
Buy if: You want an aero road bike with even lower drag than its rim brake equivalent.
The Defy is Giant’s carbon fibre endurance/sportive road bike lineup, designed to be comfortable over long distances while still providing plenty of speed. The Defy bikes are shorter in the top tube than equivalent TCRs, for example, and have taller head tubes to put you into a ride position that’s a bit more relaxed and back-friendly. Specialized takes a similar approach with its Roubaix bikes, Cannondale offers its Synapse range, and many other brands have their equivalents.
All the Defy bikes have disc brakes.
Defy Advanced SL
Giant revamped the Defy range in 2015, trimming the weight down to under 900g for the Advanced SL in a medium size. Along with the reduced weight and focus on disc brakes, the other big area that Giant worked on was the comfort. When we tested the Defy Advanced SL here on road.cc we concluded that it had taken a big step forward: this really is an extremely smooth bike.
Giant achieved this improvement by working on the carbon-fibre layup and developing tube profiles and shapes.
The Defy Advanced SL strikes a good balance between the outright stiffness of a race bike and the wallowy softness of some endurance bikes. There's noticeably more frame stiffness when you're putting a load of watts through the cranks compared to many other endurance bikes.
There are two Defy Advanced SLs for 2018. The more accessible of the two is the SL 1 (£5,249, above) with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components and hydraulic disc brakes and the luxury option is the Defy Advanced SL 0 (£7,499) with Shimano Dura-Ace.
Buy if: You want an endurance/sportive bike with disc brakes and a very light weight.
Defy Advanced Pro
The Defy Advanced Pro is made of a different grade of carbon-fibre from the SL and it has a standard rather than an integrated seatpost. That D-Fuse SL Composite post is designed to provide plenty of comfort.
The most affordable of the Defy Advanced Pro models is the Defy Advanced Pro 2 (£2,699, above). This one has Shimano’s highly rated 105 groupset and RS785 hydraulic disc brakes.
Buy if: You prioritise comfort and want the assurance of hydraulic disc brakes.
This is an incredibly popular lineup with three models, all of them equipped with Giant's Conduct hydraulic disc brakes, cable operated with a converter attached to the stem.
The Defy Advanced 3 (£1,499, above) has Shimano’s fourth tier Tiagra components – great stuff that benefits from technology that has trickled down from higher level groupsets.
We’d still be tempted to pay the extra and get the Defy Advanced 2 (£1,699) with Shimano 105, though.
Buy if: You want a bike for comfortably racking up the miles.
The aluminium-framed Contend models are built to almost exactly the same geometries as those of the carbon fibre Defy bikes (above), although they have shorter chainstays. They also come with tapered head tubes and steerers for accurate steering, and a D-Fuse seatpost that’s designed to damp vibration.
There are three flavours of Contend: Contend, Contend SL and Contend SL Disc.
If you're in the market for a bike at the typical Cycle To Work Scheme threshold of £1,000, the Contend SL 2 Disc (£999, above) looks good value with Shimano Tiagra components and Giant's own hydraulic disc brakes.
If you're a fan of lightweight aluminium-framed bikes, then the Contend SL models are well worth a look. Back in 2013, Giant proved it still had serious expertise in aluminium with the brilliant but sadly short-lived TCR SL. We're hoping the Contend SL shares some of that bike's technology and characteristics, though we don't expect it to have a 1,050g frame, and the fork has an aluminium steerer rather than a carbon fibre one.
The entry-level model in the range is the Contend 2 (£575, above) with components from Shimano’s 8-speed Claris groupset.
Buy if: You want the comfort of an endurance road bike and you don’t necessarily feel the need for discs.
Liv Envie range
The designed-for-women Envie bikes are branded Liv rather than Giant, and they’re essentially women’s versions of rim brake Propels. Like the Propels, they’re divided up into different categories. There’s no SL version but there are Envie Advanced and Advanced Pro models along with an Envie Advanced Tri.
The Envie Advanced Pro (£4,299, above) is equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components while, at the other end of the spectrum, there's the Envie Advanced 2 (£1,599, below) with a Shimano 105 groupset.
Buy if: You want an aero road bike in a women’s-specific geometry.
Langma is a new range of women’s-specific carbon-framed road race bikes, designed to be lightweight and efficient.
There are four Langma Advanced bikes ranging in price from £1,299 for the Shimano Tiagra-equipped 3 (above) right up to £2,699 for the 0 with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.
The Langma Advanced Pro bikes use the same Advanced Grade composite but get a slightly different headset system and a full-carbon fork rather than a fork with a carbon steerer. The more affordable of the rim brake models is Langma Advanced Pro 1 (£2,399, above) with a Shimano 105 groupset.
The Langma Advanced Pro Disc (£2,999, above), with thru axles, has a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including the hydraulic disc brakes.
The top level Langma platform is the Advanced SL, made from a higher grade of carbon and available in only rim brake models. The Langma Advanced SL 1 (£4,649, above) has a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset while the £7,749 Langma Advanced SL 0 is equipped with SRAM Red eTap.
Buy if: You want a women’s-specific carbon-framed road race bike that's designed to be lightweight and efficient.
Liv Avail range
The Liv Avail bikes are pretty much women’s versions of the Giant Defys and Contends. It’s a large range containing 10 different models, covering both carbon fibre Advanced models and aluminium-framed bikes.
There are six aluminium Avails, four of them with rim brakes and the other two with discs. The Avail SL 2 Disc (£999, above) has TRP Spyre C mechanical disc brakes while the Avail SL 1 Disc (£1,199) has Giant's own Conduct hydraulic discs.
The rim-braked Avails start with the Avail 2 (£575, above) — the women's equivalent of the Contend 2 — and go up to the Avail SL 1 (£999) with Shimano's 105 components.
Top of the carbon fibre Avails is the Avail Advanced Pro (£3,999, above) with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and hydraulic disc brakes. All the Avail Advanced bikes have hydraulic discs.
Buy if: You’re after an endurance road bike that’s made especially for women.
The AnyRoads are really interesting bikes that are designed for riding both on asphalt and on rougher roads – gravel, towpaths, forest tracks, that kind of thing. Many other manufacturers are producing bikes that are similarly versatile: GT makes the Grade, for example, and Jamis has the Renegade.
The AnyRoad is built with a tall head tube for a fairly upright riding position, and comes with 32mm tyres for grip and comfort on less than perfect road surfaces.
There are two aluminium-framed AnyRoads, the cheapest of which is the AnyRoad 2 (£899, above) with a Shimano Sora groupset and TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes.
The AnyRoad Advanced (£1,799, above) has a full carbon frame. This one has a Shimano Tiagra groupset and Giant's Conduct cable operated hydraulic disc brakes (using a mechanical-to-hydraulic converter).
Buy if: You want a relaxed geometry bike that’s capable of riding on smooth and not-so-smooth roads.
Giant road bikes — the full range
|TCR Advanced 3||£1,299|
|TCR Advanced 2||£1,449|
|TCR Advanced 1||£1,799|
|TCR Advanced 0||£2,699|
|TCR Advanced Pro 2||£2,399|
|TCR Advanced Pro 1||£2,799|
|TCR Advanced Pro 0||£3,999|
|TCR Advanced Pro frameset||£1,549|
|TCR Advanced SL 2||£3,449|
|TCR Advanced SL 1||£4,599|
|TCR Advanced SL 0 Red eTap||£7,699|
|TCR Advanced SL 0 Dura-Ace Di2||£7,899|
|TCR Advanced SL frameset||£2,099|
|TCR Advanced 2 Disc||£1,749|
|TCR Advanced 1 Disc||£1,999|
|TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc||£2,999|
|TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc||£3,999|
|TCR Advanced SL 1 Disc||£5,299|
|Propel Advanced 2||£1,599|
|Propel Advanced 1||£1,899|
|Propel Advanced 0||£2,999|
|Propel Advanced Pro 2||£2,699|
|Propel Advanced Pro 1||£2,999|
|Propel Advanced Pro 0||£3,999|
|Propel Advanced Pro frameset||£1,549|
|Propel Advanced SL frameset||£2,599|
|Propel Advanced Disc||£2,999|
|Propel Advanced Pro Disc||£4,499|
|Propel Advanced SL 1 Disc||£5,499|
|Propel Advanced SL 0 Disc||£8,999|
|Defy Advanced 3||£1,499|
|Defy Advanced 2||£1,699|
|Defy Advanced 1||£1,849|
|Defy Advanced Pro 2||£2,699|
|Defy Advanced Pro 1||£2,999|
|Defy Advanced Pro 0||£3,999|
|Defy Advanced SL 1||£5,249|
|Defy Advanced SL 0||£7,499|
|Contend SL 2||£899|
|Contend SL 1||£999|
|Contend SL 2 Disc||£999|
|Contend SL 1 Disc||£1,199|
|Liv Envie Advanced 2||£1,599|
|Liv Envie Advanced 1||£2,749|
|Liv Envie Advanced Tri||£2,899|
|Liv Envie Advanced Pro||£4,299|
|Liv Envie Advanced Pro||£4,299|
|Liv Langma Advanced 3||£1,299|
|Liv Langma Advanced 2||£1,449|
|Liv Langma Advanced 1||£1,799|
|Liv Langma Advanced 0||£2,699|
|Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1||£2,399|
|Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc||£2,999|
|Liv Langma Advanced Pro 0||£3,849|
|Liv Langma Advanced SL 1||£4,649|
|Liv Langma Advanced SL 0||£7,749|
|Liv Avail 2||£575|
|Liv Avail 1||£749|
|Liv Avail SL 2||£899|
|Liv Avail SL 1||£999|
|Liv Avail Advanced 3||£1,499|
|Liv Avail Advanced 2||£1,699|
|Liv Avail Advanced 1||£1,949|
|Liv Avail Advanced Pro||£3,999|
|Liv Avail SL 2 Disc||£999|
|Liv Avail SL 1 Disc||£1,199|
For more info go to www.giant-bicycles.com
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.