Strengths: Quiet and fast. Handles great. Relaxed geometry is a plus.
Weaknesses: Wish the drive train was better (9 speed cassette). Shimano Claris still very new. Could use a more comfortable seat.
I just recently got back into road bikes after having to take a few years off due to a relocation and then some medical issues. I was actually on a road bike team, and we all rode Treks. I had a 2006 Trek 1500, and it was a nice ride...
But this is about me finally being able to clip-in again, and my new ride, the 2015 Giant Defy 5. It is equipped with a Shimano Claris setup (50/34 chainring and 11X32 SRAM 8 speed cassette, Claris STI shifters). It is an all-aluminum Aluxx frame. The wheels are the Giant SR-2 and the tires are Giant SR-4s. Basically, it is all bone stock...
The first two times that I rode it was just to feel it out and figure out what adjustments were needed. The cables had stretched out as expected, so the shifts were awful and and the bike occasionally shifted without any input from me. But that and any other complaints I had were addressed at my pro bike fit from my LBS. After that, the bike became amazing! Some may think that the Defy 5 is a little heavy at about 24lbs, but the bike is so well balanced that the weight is really unnoticeable. The bike handles exceptionally well, and is very responsive to pilot inputs. In the flats, this bike is like a stealth fighter...quiet and fast as hell! This is just an awesome machine, and I truly think that it rides better than my aforementioned Trek 1500. And for about $700.00 OTD, (I had my LBS install Shimano SPD-SL clipless pedals prior to taking delivery...) The Giant Defy 5 is an absolute steal!
The only negatives that I have are more about personal preference. I would rather have had a 9-speed cassette or a triple chainring because of all the hills that we have here (there are a lot...), and I do not love the seat, but that is really about it.
I know that there are a lot of reviews on more expensive and fancier bikes, but I am a simple guy that didn't want to go into debt just to ride. The Defy 5, while marketed as an entry-level 'endurance' road bike, is so much more than that. Bottom line? I love this bike!!!
Thanks for reading!
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: July 19, 2015
Strengths: Comfortable, snappy when pushed, aborbs bumps and buzz better than my carbon bike even with aluminum fork and frame. Decent weight. Good geometry a very good compromise of comfort and speed. GREAT handling at high speed, very surprising for a so called endurance bike.
Weaknesses: Own brand wheels and tires, though durable and true, are a bit heavy. Guess that is expected at this price. The no name brakes are decent though I have no experience with Claris brakes to compare it with. The hoods are pretty large compared to 105 and above. Think someone with smaller hand(I have big hands for someone 5'7") might have a bit of hard time getting to the levers from the hoods.
Bought this 2014 model in May 2015 to have a bit more comfy bike for long rides compared to my carbon Scott. Got a decent deal on it for $575. Very impressed out of the box with how responsive the bike is, even with it's relatively heavy weight(almost 24 lb with bottle cages and pedals for a size small). Also tested a 2013 Trek Madone 3.1 which was 19 lb, and the Giant just transferred the power better even with the weight disadvantage. Have got in 1200 miles on it so far and no complaints. Put 28mm tires on the back(it fits!) and stock 25 on front, made an already nice ride even more plush. For faster longer rides I use the stock shimano r500 from my scott with 23mm conti tires on the Giant and it picks a bit of speed. We just averaged 18.2mph on a relatively flat century on this bike without putting myself in the redline. Very impressed.
Bike Setup: Claris drivetrain, FSA crank, no name brakes, Giant wheels and tires.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: August 19, 2014
Strengths: Surprisingly comfortable ride for an all-aluminum bike; durable tires and wheels; better-than-entry-level feel on the road
Weaknesses: A bit heavy, especially when loaded with bottles and saddle bag (about 25 lbs loaded, but totally acceptable for the price); low-gear rear shifting sometimes clunky; occasional chainsuck due to soft chainrings
I used to ride more expensive bikes, but I sold them during a long hiatus from road riding. This was a good thing because I wanted to start over with a simple bike that wouldn't break the bank and allow me to just enjoy the ride. I'm so glad I chose the Defy. Previous to this, I was riding a Giant Escape 3 hybrid. One of the most pleasant surprises is how smooth the Defy rides. Despite the its slimmer 25mm tires in comparison to the Escape's 32mm ones, as well as its aluminum fork, the Defy's ride was more comfy, even over potholes and manhole covers--must be the geometry and better-engineered frame tubes. Also, the wheels are super strong. I'm a big guy at 230 lbs, and my Giant wheels have been spinning true since day one. And on the subject of things that spin, I've only had one flat tire so far, but it was from a giant nail in the road. Otherwise, these stock Giant tires seem to take gravel and small pieces of glass like champs. My buddy's fancy Nashbar carbon bike came with Hutchison tires that flat out at least once every ride, so kudos to Giant for creating a tire/wheel combo that works! On the negative side, the rear shifting could be smoother. Despite how many adjustments I make, it won't drop from the lowest gear to the 2nd lowest without some chatter from the chain. I chalk it up to the big jump from 32t to 26t, and have learned to live with it. Also, I had some instances of chainsuck when shifting from the big to the small ring. After inspection, I noticed some burs around one of the FSA chainring's teeth. I've since filed down the burs and haven't experienced any more chainsuck. Fingers crossed. Lastly, the stock seat was uncomfortable and the brake calipers are functional but a bit clunky. With the exception of throwing on a new saddle and my clipless pedals (Defy comes with toe clips & straps), I don't see the need to upgrade anything anytime soon.
Bike Setup: All stock, except Serfas Dual Density saddle, 2x bottle cages, and Forte Campus clipless pedals
L. W. (Luke) Lucas
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: October 19, 2013
Strengths: Rides well, actually feels lighter than it is. Price was within my budget, saddle is comfortable although the cover is coming a bit loose. Purchased mine used and just had to have it tuned. I added new Gator Skin tires and I was on my way. Have put 300 miles on it and no problems. Good entry level ride.
Weaknesses: Limited color options. Eight speed cassette.
Basically a good entry level road bike. Great value for the dollar.
Strengths: Picked it up 4 days ago. Instantly noticed how smooth it felt on the road. Vibration free, who needs a carbon fork ?? Finish is superb, good paint job. Smooth shifting Shimano 2300 gears. Comfortable seat, intuitive shift mechanism. Premium wheels and tires.
Weaknesses: Graphics could have been flashier.
Compared against the Trek 1.1 and the Fuji Newest 1.0 in the same price bracket. I preferred the seating position of the GIant compared to the Trek. Compared to the Fuji, it was just plain a better finished machine. I feel that I got the best deal for the money and I'm looking forward to years of using a high-quality machine.