Giant is the world's largest bike manufacturer and supports all forms of cycling, Stu Clapp tests the Defy Composite 1 road bike
Giant was established in 1972 and has become the world’s largest bike manufacturer. In 2012, it celebrated its 40th anniversary with total sales of 6.3 million bikes.
A company of Giant’s size must be doing something right. It pioneers great new ideas, and was behind the evolution of the compact frame; the sloping top tube it developed for Spanish team ONCE has been replicated time and time again. But inclusivity is what gives Giant its record-breaking sales; it caters for everyone, with everything, from shopping bikes to Grand Tour thoroughbreds.
The Giant Defy Composite 1 is the entry point to the Defy Composite range. Defy is the prefix for a handful of ranges, which comprise of the Defy, Defy Advanced and the Defy Advanced SL. Each model in the Composite trio is designed to hit the optimum weight and stiffness for a fairly modest budget. For this, Giant used Toray T600 to produce the frame.
The firm uses a ‘modified monocoque construction’ on the Defy Composite 1, which means the front triangle is put together as one continuous structure, keeping weight down while maintaining structural strength. The rear triangle is formed in a secondary process; the chainstays, in partnership with Giant’s PowerCore press-fit bottom bracket, help form a unified chassis. The frame is RideSense-ready, for use with Giant’s wireless ANT+ computer, with the sensor tucked inside the non-drive-side chainstay.
The frame’s seatstays and seat tube extinguish vibrations like a wet tea towel on a chip pan fire — the ride is smooth. The trade-off is that it feels sluggish compared to its rivals. At a touch over 8kg, it’s heavier too, and doesn’t feature internal cable routing, which is missed. The Defy Composite 1 may not be the quickest bike on test, but it is notably stable, thanks to its longer wheelbase. The budget didn’t stretch to Ultegra throughout; Giant has used Shimano BR561 brakes, which aren’t as good as Ultegra, and aren’t as pretty either.
A wider range of Giant’s road bikes can be see on their site, giant-bicycles.com/en-gb
This is the only Defy that doesn’t feature a full groupset or branded wheelset. Instead, Giant uses its own P-Elite wheels shod with Giant-branded P-R3 tyres. The seatpost, bar, stem and saddle are also own-brand. This isn’t detriment to the ride, it’s all quality gear, but that may not appease the bike snobs. And while we’re on the superficial subjects: red bar tape?