The charge of new gravel and adventure bikes has mostly been led by small brands, but the big guns have their sights set on this increasingly competitive category, and this week Giant Bicycles revealed it is developing a carbon fibre gravel bike.
Via a news post on its website, Giant shared a photo of a prototype gravel bike that was ridden by team rider Carl Decker in the 100-mile Lost and Found Gravel Grinder event in northern California last weekend. The twice winner of this event finished third aboard his new bike.
“This was my first race on this new purpose-built gravel bike, and it was a more than willing partner,” said Decker. “My body was cramping more than I’ve ever experienced and in ways I’d never thought possible, but my back and hands were in better shape than I expected after this brutal day of racing. I’m sure that’s due in large part to the smooth ride quality of the new bike.”
There are no details on the new bike. Bike brands are usually quite coy about new products, not shy about getting them underneath sponsored athletes for pre-launch testing, but they don’t usually share them in this way.
From the photo, we can tell it’s obviously a carbon fibre frame and fork, with a design that doesn’t look all that dissimilar to the Defy - a bike that must be due an update soon? There’s the similar top tube/seat tube junction, dropped seatstays and internal cable routing.
The new bike has a lower driveside chainstay, not quite as radically dropped as the Open Up or Trek Checkpoint though, to increase tyre and chainset clearance.
The pictured bike has Shimano drivetrain with what appears to be an Ultegra CX double chainset - another brand like Trek that has stuck with the front mech and not gone fully down the 1x path.
It's 6:25 am in NorCal. Practice is over, and the coffee is brewing. In a couple hours I'll race 100 gravelly miles with 999 other hearty cyclists. I've been here. And I've done this before. But today, I'll try it on a bike that's not designed to be ridden for 1 hour at a time. And a bike designed to be ridden rather than carried. Seems like a great idea. Now let's make some oatmeal. #raceday #lostandfoundbikeride #campvibes #gravelcrusher
The frame doesn’t appear to be adorned with all the extra mounts we’ve seen on the recently launched Trek Checkpoint so maybe the focus has been on gravel racing rather than all-round versatility?
The front-end looks high, with a tall head tube, and Decker has gone even further, rotating that handlebars up to put the hoods in an unusual position.
What do you think of it?
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.