Weaknesses: Only that I need to lose 40 pounds to do this bike justice
I'd been waiting to lose more weight before upgrading from my 2009 Trek 2.3 (Shimano 105), believing that I just couldn't justify riding a CF bike until I was lighter myself. Upon retirement, I finally took the plunge on the blue 2014 XL Defy Advanced 1 that had been sitting in my LBS for the last nine months waiting for me. I still need to lose the weight, but . . . oh my goodness, what an incredible bike!
First, and most importantly, in my dotage I've decided that all other things being equal, SERVICE is the difference in buying anything important and/or expensive. One of the reasons I bought the Giant is because that's what my favorite Richmond, VA bike store -- Pedal Power Bikes -- sells. It's not the biggest LBS in Richmond, but Randy, Sean, Travis, and Latane know me by name and give me the frequent flyer discount. They never try to sell me more than I really need. If I have a problem, I know they're going to resolve it quickly and well.
That being said, after spending a year researching classic/plush/endurance road bikes, it was clear to me that Giants are consistently specced better than similarly priced bikes. I suspect that's because Trek, Scott, and the other bikes actually made by Giant have to pay Giant for the frame, so they cut corners on the components to match Giant's prices. That shows up especially in cranksets, wheels, saddles, and handlebars. The Defy Advanced is 100% Ultegra gruppo, a CF seatpost supporting a Fizik Aliante pro-level saddle. I did move my FSA Wing Pro handlebar upgrade from my Trek to the Defy, but that's the only upgrade I felt I had to make. If you're comparing the Defy Advanced to similarly priced bikes, look carefully at the components. Trust me, a FSA crank does NOT shift as well as an Ultegra. Trek's stock saddles are horrible. Compare apples to apples.
Riding this bike is just astonishing. Once I got the fit dialed in by putting a shorter stem on it, the bike "disappeared beneath me." That's a cliche from bike magazine reviews, but once in a while cliches are true. The day after I bought the bike I rode the same 30 mile loop I rode the day before I bought the bike. I was 1.1 mph faster on the Defy Advanced. Not only did I climb hills faster, I descended hills faster. I can explain the first, but not the second. More importantly, at the end of the ride I wasn't worn out by the road buzz from my old aluminum frame. From my hands to my butt, I felt so much better I couldn't believe it.
The Ultegra group is wonderful. Shifts are crisper and quicker than 105, with shorter lever throws and less effort. The brakes are everything I could ask for and more.
I was amazed at the out-of-the-box comfort of the Fizik Aliante saddle. On the Trek, I went through three saddles before finding one I could live with (Bontrager Affinity RL). I have no need to swap out this saddle, and it gets better with every ride.
I see that Giant is tweaking the frame for 2015, and going all-out on disk brakes. Obviously, they know something about the UCI. My recommendation is that unless you really need disk brakes, and your ego requires the latest-and-greatest of everything, don't hesitate to snatch the current Defy Advanced while you can. As the British would say, this bike is brilliant.
Bike Setup: Full Ultegra gruppo, FSA Wing Pro Compact handlebar, Shimano PD-A520 (SPD) pedals, Continental Gatorskin tires
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: November 29, 2012
Strengths: This bike is very smooth on the road and incredibly comfortable. Very responsive and has fast acceleration. The frame engineering of this bike is quite impressive. Ultegra components.
Weaknesses: None yet.
I am a older rider and wanted a comfortable endurance road bike. Tried two models of the Specialized Roubaix which were quite nice but the 2013 Giant Advanced 1 was smooth and comfortable from the first time I rode it. This bike fits me beautifully and is a great value.
Finding one of these bikes to ride is a problem. I tried multiple Giant dealers who said they would order what ever I wanted but had nothing in stock...until I called Newbery Park Bike Shop in Newbery Park, CA. They had one in their warehouse and built it just so I could test it. They seemed confident that once I rode it I would buy it and I did. I am extremely happy with this bike!
Strengths: Comfortable for long rides, accelerates quickly, precise handling, good climber
Purchased the 2013 model, and can't believe how responsive this bike is. It easily allows me to stay in the saddle for hours longer than before and be able to increase my average speed by 2-3mph as well. The shifting and steering are precise. Very happy with this bike!!
Strengths: Descending, cornering, all around balance
Weaknesses: Not the most responsive climbing bike, but still awesome.
I have a Taiwan version of the Defy Advanced 1. I have the same experience of this bike COASTING faster than other bikes. So many races and challenge rides where I discover the same thing.
This bike is great. Corners and descends amazingly. I have a triple crank and just love the huge range of gears for the tough Taiwan mountains. Did a 400km ride across the Taiwan Central Mountain range, and couldn't have been happier on this bike.
Bike Setup: Triple front crank.
Shimano Ultegra 6700
Michelin Pro 3
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2011
Strengths: Ultrega group is light and efficient. Frame is AMAZING: somehow stiff and efficient AND comfortable and smooth. (How did they do that?!) Wheels are just right - light enough, stiff enough - perfect.
Weaknesses: Well, it did cost 3 grand.
OMG. I'm too old to use that abbreviation, but my Giant Defy Advanced 1 is making me feel like a kid again.
I turned 50 this year, and I thought that my road riding days were really over. I'd been riding a 1996 Bianchi EL/OS with a Campy Chorus group, but lately I'd been experiencing more pain due to the bike beating me up. 10 years ago I was putting thousands of miles on a bike every year, but this had dwindled down to a hundred miles each year. The 2001 Giant Defy Advanced 1 has changed all that. If I had no other responsibilities, I would ride this bike 50 miles every day.