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There are only a hand full of brands around the world who have bicycles across all categories and Giant is one of them. The Defy road bicycle series from Giant is focused on endurance road cycling and these bicycles are built that way. We got the opportunity to test ride a budget road bicycle in this series, the Giant Defy 5 2016 and this is what we thought.
Giant practically invented the compact frame design which is found on the Giant Defy 5 2016, where the top-tube is more acutely sloping than on a frame described as 'sloping'.¾ The Defy 5 2016 uses its proprietary ALUXX aluminium tubes and a hydro forging process to give them a radically larger cross section where the tubes join.¾ This gives a more organic appearance to the finished item. This road bicycle has an aluminium fork that is pretty much standard issue at this price. By providing 3 sizes which are evenly spaced out, Giant has plugged the gaps that were present on its original compact frame range so that all but the tallest of riders are catered for.
The Defy 5's frame is ´nished to Giant's usual high standards and more work has clearly gone into the design of the graphics to make them look less low key than of old. This road bicycle comes in an equal shade of black and white with all gloss. The Giant's new redesigned logo for their road range looks neat and it sure is eye catchy. With 2 bottle cages and quick releases for both the back and front tires, the design was not just aesthetically pleasing but purposeful as well.
Starting with the parts that do showcase value, the Defy 5 offers a full Shimano Claris eight-speed transmission groupset. With this, the 34/50t crank up front offers great shifting performance, while its companion sprockets at the rear are equally trusted. Giant has done well here and equipped a large 11-32t cassette at the back of this bicycle. This creates an incredibly low climbing gear for tackling the hardest of road ascents. The Shimano Claris was surprisingly a component I wasn't quite happy with, more so in contrast to the high quality derailleurs. The shifters were noisy and required a lot of inward push than usual for the gear change to take place, both on the front and rear shifters.
The silver painted Tektro TK-R312 brake callipers did look cheap but had enough clearance for ´tting mudguards. Summit that climb, and you will likely come across the first negative the braking. These basic Tektro calipers will bring you to a stop, but it won't happen as quickly as a more expensive caliper. It's not like you are out of control with these, but swapping in a harder-biting brake pad will certainly add some riding confidence. The brake levers were easy to use with good reaction time.
The stock Giant Connect aluminium handlebar felt comfortable in shoulder length and the bar tape also had good amount of padding and traction to keep the palms sweat free and gripping. There was also a generous number of spacers present in the headset to enable you to alter the handlebar height.
In keeping with the trend for wider tyres on road bicycles, Giant has fittted 26mm (700x25C) S-R2 tires here instead of the usual narrower ones. This allowed me to drop the tyre pressures to 90 from the usual 100psi, resulting in better comfort levels. The stock Giant saddle felt a tad bit longer than it should be for a Medium sized bicycle. Nevertheless the padding and the shape were perfectly designed for optimum comfort.
The Defy 5 is a true all-rounder that would make as great a endurance bicycle as it would a fast and reliable commuter. Although slightly on the heavy side, it lends itself to year round use and has a great value spec. Stable yet fun, well finished and practical, the Giant Defy 5 2016 which is priced at Rs.55,500 offers a comfortable and dependable ride in traffic and over long distances.