Giant Defy Advanced 2 – 1000 km later

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review (more of an impression) of the Giant Defy Advanced 2 (DA2) having put just a handful of rides on it. Since then, I’ve racked up some miles and wanted to give a longer-term review of Giant’s endurance bike.

When the weather has been nice this spring, I’ve had a hard time deciding whether to hit the road or take the mountain bike out.  I love mountain biking, and also have a new mountain bike, but the Defy is such a joy to ride that there are days that opted to go climb hills just so I could fly down them again.  I’d leave the house, tell my wife I’d be home in a few hours, and give the bike its nose, exploring roads and paths I’d never been up before.

I took the Defy on chip sealed roads, bike paths, fresh pavement, into headwinds, out of tailwinds, and up a ridiculous number of hills.  I’ve done 50+ mile rides, and I’ve commuted to work, all 6 miles of it.  I stand by my original review that said it’s all about control.  At no point do I feel out of control on the Defy.  It handles predictably, it lends confidence when getting up out of the saddle to climb or sprint, and the disc brakes make stopping stress-free.  The carbon frame damps all but the roughest road, and I never got home with a sore butt from harsh miles over poorly-maintained county roads.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (just mostly).  The disc brakes seem to be the cheapest component on the bike, and have already developed a chatter.  The chatter is especially bad in the front brake.  It’s something I’ve experienced in low end mechanical disc brakes before, so it’s not surprising.  I think the bike needs a good set of BB7 Road brakes to elevate the braking experience to the rest of the bike.

I’m also not wild about the wheels.  I understand that for the price point, Giant had to make some compromises on components.  But, they are heavy!  I haven’t geeked out to put them on the scale yet, but I am certain that the rear is heavier than my race MTB wheel.

Of course the racer in me wants to buy new elite wheels, get the BB7 mechanical disc brakes (or even splurge for hydro!!), and go all carbon all the things.  But… then I think about what this bike is designed to do.  It’s designed to be a comfortable bike for long rides over all sorts of roads.  It’s not a race bike.  It’s not a time trial bike.  It’s not even a cyclocross bike.  It’s an endurance bike.

As an endurance bike, I couldn’t ask for anything more.  A 30 mile ride is just a warm up on the Defy.  It is wonderful to ride over any road surface.  It handles predictably.  It is stiff enough that when I get out of the saddle to power over the rise, I can feel the bike leaping forward with each pedal stroke.  In short, it’s the perfect bike for long, meandering spring rides through the hills, summer centuries, fall Gran Fondos, and winter shake-out-the-cobwebs rides.

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