If I had to sum up the Giant Defy Advanced 2 (hereafter referred to as the DA2) in a single word it would be control. Control over my speed. Control over my climbs, my descents, and my turns. Control in the dry, in the wet, and in the wind. The DA2 is just like the Matrix: all about control.
This is the first carbon fiber bike I’ve owned, but it’s also the first endurance-focused road bike I’ve owned. I have no idea whether what I feel on the bike is due to the material or the geometry, and I don’t care. All I know is that from the first 15 mile ride home from the shop, this bike has fit me better than any road bike before, responds to my inputs with very predictable outputs, and is an absolute joy to ride.
I can only assume the carbon fiber has something to do with the fact that when I want to lay down the power, I instantly see the response in my speedometer. The bike doesn’t give at all when I crank down, even when I stand up to pedal. It just goes. Likewise, I assume the geometry has something to do with how stable it is and how confident I feel getting out of the saddle to crest the numerous rolling hills around Maple Valley.
It’s obvious that the disc brakes are a huge boon in the Pacific Northwest. They offer the best stopping power of any road bike I’ve ridden. Sure, they aren’t the best disc brakes I’ve used, but they are far better than any rim brake I’ve had, and they are more than up to the challenge of stopping me on the bike in the wet.
Giant wisely chose to put 25mm shoes on this bike. The tires feel great, very predictable around corners and on some of the sketchier, sandy or graveled turns on the back roads ‘round these parts. The downside is that they are “flat resistant” which is just code for heavy as all get out. And I’ve already had a flat, so they aren’t so resistant.
Likewise, the wheels are basic. Sure they have a nice aero profile, but they are super heavy, too. I feel like the rear wheel weighs as much as the rest of the bike. But, for the price point, I can’t complain too much. They will be easy to upgrade down the line.
I originally planned to take the di2 groupset off my cyclocross bike and swap it over to the DA2. The first few rides using the 105 level 2×11 drivetrain abolished that idea. The shifting is incredibly crisp and clean. The rear derailleur seems to find the gear before I even complete the shift. Shimano has obviously learned some efficiency from their electronic grouppo because the front derailleur effortlessly shuttles the chain back and forth.
The DA2 is so much fun to ride that I’ve been choosing it over my mountain bike for the last few weeks. That sounds like heresy to some, I know. But, nothing compares to flying down a twisty road at max speed and carving the corners, knowing my tires will hold and the bike will track true. Or being able to pop up hills without getting into the granny gear. Just thinking about it now, I can’t help but smile and lust for the next sunny day to hit the pavement again.