A friend came to me few weeks ago and asked me to help him buy a bike. I gladly agreed. After he set the budget at $3,000, we went on a shopping spree. It’s fun spending other people’s money. However, my moral obligation put me in the position that I wanted to make sure he would have the best bike $3,000 could buy. After visiting few local bicycle shops, I found some great “end of the season” deals. My search narrowed down to three – Look 566 with Ultegra, Madone 5.2 and Specialized Roubaix. If you read my previous reviews, I always give lots of attention to the bike’s appearance. The reason behind this is that all the bikes in this price range will give you a very similar performance and the only difference will be your personal fit and the bike’s look. Therefore the best way to choose a bike is “love at first sight”. If you find a bike that looks good to you, take it for a test ride to check if there is any chemistry between the two of you: just like in real life. If there is, bring him home (the bike that is). My friend didn’t like the coloring schemes of either the 2011 Madone or the Roubaix. The bike he really liked was the Look 566 Ultegra. After a short ride he came back smiling and was ready to part with his $3,000. However, the bike was a bit too big for him and he would actually benefit from a smaller size which was not available in the store. Next day we went to another store and, to my complete surprise, I stumbled on an amazingly appealing bike that I didn’t know existed, the Giant Defy Advanced 1. I must admit that Giant had not been on my bike list for a long time, and I’m not sure why. The last time I rode my Giant NRS was 4 years ago and at that time it gave me great memories. The moment my friend saw this bike, he fall in love with its looks but he wasn’t sure how it would perform. So we asked a store manger to set up two bikes for us and we took them for a long test ride.
The moment I sat on the bike it felt great. The Fizik Aliante Saddle is very comfortable, having a $150 saddle as a standard on your bike is a big plus to start with. The overall package is very attractive. You get full Ultegra level components, nice set of DT Swiss wheels, great frame, very good handlebar and even an aero-dynamic seat post. The bike’s geometry is more of an upright frame but, at the same time, it is a performance oriented frame. It actually looks like a close brother of the 2009 Trek Madone with very similar lines. Giant manufactures Trek and other companies’ frames. They have lots of bicycle related knowledge, they know what works and what doesn’t.
I pushed on the pedals and the bike started to roll on a long stretch of flat road. The bike moved effortlessly and gracefully. I know it’s not in these terms you usually describe a bike but it just created that comfort feeling that ‘gracefully’ seems the right word to describe it. The bike’s frame absorbed any road bumps with ease and provided a very plush ride. The bike has won a Bike of the year award three years in row by bicycling magazine and now I know why. You feel that you are riding on perfectly paved road no matter what the real road conditions are. I might be exaggerating a little bit but it was a very smooth ride. The power transfer is very good too, although it doesn’t rip off the tires from the wheels when you give it a good push. Going uphill felt effortless, but don’t get too excited as the bike doesn’t actually do the work for you. Out of the saddle acceleration – very good. No noticeable frame flex. The bike is relatively light (about 17.5lb) and it feels light. You don’t feel like you have to struggle with it. It just flows with you. When going downhill, the bike provided me with great confidence and maneuverability. The brakes worked perfectly. Ultegra components provide shifting with the precision of a Swiss watch. There is really nothing I didn’t like about this bike. My friend ended up buying the bike and, so far, he is ecstatic. The end of the year pricing gave him another boost as he could close the deal for $2,500.
Giant Defy Advanced 1 is a great bike for anyone who is looking for long rides. It’s all about comfort and it does it without losing its racing qualities. It is not a classic race bike, but for anyone who is not into competition, it is a great benefit. If you don’t compete, you don’t need a super rigid, low profile, geometry bike. Giant Defy Advanced 1 is nicely decorated, at least for my taste, it has a great package for the price and it rides exceptionally well. I enjoyed every moment of it – highly recommended.
Note: Before publishing the article I noticed that Giant just published their new 2012 Giant Defy Advanced bikes , In 2012 they call Defy Advanced 2 what was in 2011 Defy Advanced 1. This year the Advanced 1 is more expensive and comes with SRAM Force. Personally I prefer Ultegra. But it is an individual choice. They are both very good.
Even Katie Spotz has one: