You’ve probably read the launch report in CW, Feb 7 on the Giant Propel and Envie bikes. Alongside the launch we were given an exclusive opportunity to test the bike over two days and 130km worth of riding.
Our test bike came from the very first production run of the Propel and was the top-of-the- range SL 0 bike. Constructed on the Advanced SL frameset, it has an integrated seatpost, unlike the second-tier Advanced, which uses an aero post that’s adjustable in a conventional way. The women’s Envie frame is based on the Advanced version.
As the top-of-the-range machine it’s hardly a surprise that Giant’s thrown everything it can at the SL 0. This includes the – yet to go on sale – Shimano 9000 Di2 11-speed electronic groupset. Giant is the biggest customer for Shimano so perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that the red carpet was rolled out.
Elsewhere the Propel has all the bells and whistles too, including the carbon Speedcontrol SLR brakes manufactured by TRP, Contact SLR Aero one piece bar/stem and Giant’s own deep-section P-SLR1 wheels plus a Fizik Arione saddle – a real tour de force.
I was expecting the frame to not only be super-light but also to be aggressively stiff. Given that, it compared favourably to the Scott Foil – a bike we’ve found to be uncomfortable. Thank goodness bar charts don’t tell the whole truth, as the Propel didn’t give me a battering: it’s stiff but within the middle ground that affords a certain level of comfort too, which was great news.
We really rated the TCR as one of the best-accelerating bikes on the market, with geometry that gives quick but reliable handling, so it was music to our ears that Giant had stuck with the same geometry on the Propel. It didn’t quite have the same leap when getting out of the saddle but made up for it by performing better at high speed, particularly in crosswinds, which it cut through in a similar manner to the Cervélo S5 – giving credence to Giant’s wind tunnel tests.
Riding on foreign roads is never the best way to fully assess a new frame, but for a first ride the Propel really hit the sweet spot - stiff, light and undeniably aero, Giant has shot to the top of the aero road bike ranks.