PITLOCHRY, Scotland (BRAIN) — Under uncharacteristically clear blue skies, Giant unveiled its all new range of Defy road bikes to editors who attended the 2015 on-road media event set in the Scotland Highlands last week. Liv Cycling, Giant's sister women's brand, also showed its Avail line, completely redesigned for 2015.
For 2015, Giant has revamped its Defy endurance range to include new frame features and disc brakes. The line includes the Defy Advanced SL, which attending male editors put to the test for more than 125 pedally miles over two days.
According to Giant's road category manager, Jon Swanson, the Defy geometry remains unchanged in 2015. “The Defy geometry is solid, but it needed work in other areas, so that's where we focused,” he said. “We changed tube shapes and improved compliance and stiffness.”
The Defy Advanced SL composite frame was designed with an approach Giant is calling Compliance Tuned Technology, meaning tube shapes, junctions and carbon layup technique was engineered to optimize overall compliance.
The new Defy also features Giant's D-fuse integrated seatpost, which was first used last year on the brand's TCX disc cyclocross bike. Swanson said that all along, the D-fuse was designed and engineered with the Defy in mind. Giant claims the D-shaped tube design contributes to a smooth ride quality by absorbing vibration and helps reduce overall weight.
The Defy frame uses thin seatstays with a flattened tube profile, which are designed to produce a precise amount of flex under vertical load, while a lower seattube/seatstay junction further helps improve compliance. The frame features internal cable routing, with all cables entering the frame via one port on the non-drive side—which Swanson said also helps reduce weight. “Every time you put a hole in a carbon frame, you add weight because you have to reinforce the hole,” he said. “So we decided to use just one hole for cables and make it slightly bigger.”
Composite frames in the Defy line feature integrated disc brake tabs, which Swanson said did not add additional weight. “Because we focused on reducing the frame weight in other areas, we actually dropped weight even though we added disc brake tabs,” he said. The Defy line's suggested retail prices range from $600 for the gateway aluminum model up to $10,000 for the Advanced SL 0.
Liv introduced its 2015 Avail line to media at the event in Scotland. With a goal of making cycling more approachable and appealing to women, Giant recently launched its Liv brand, which is designed, engineered and headed up by women. “Most of the composite frames are made by women as well,” said Amanda Schaper, Liv global marketing coordinator. “So Liv is truly made for women, by women.”
Each Liv model is handcrafted by Giant, and a small badge stating that located on the seattube near the bottom bracket is the only reference to the parent company that can be found on the frame.
Schaper said that Liv is 100 percent committed to the female cyclist, as also proven by the expansion of the Liv soft goods line, which has also been redesigned for 2015.
Female editors attending the event rode the Avail Advanced SL 0. The frame weighs in at less than 900 grams, making it the lightest in the 2015 Liv line. Equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace disc brakes, Di2 shifting, Giant's new SLR 0 disc lightweight carbon wheelset, which it also unveiled, this model is the cream of the Avail crop.
Many of the Avail Advanced SL's core features are borrowed from the Defy, including the D-fuse seatpost, integrated disc brakes, internal cable routing through one side of the frame and the same thin and flattened seatstays. But the Avail frame is not just a tweaked version of the Defy.
“Instead of taking the men's frame, shrinking the top tube and making the head tube taller and calling it a women's bike, we used three years' worth of body dimension research, feedback from athletes, our target consumers, and our ambassadors to determine the ideal geometry,” said Abby Santurbane, global category manager for Liv. “We also took into consideration the intended usage of the bike to find the ideal body angle.”
Santurbane also said that positive feedback about past iterations of the Avail model led them to only make small changes in the frame geometry, including lowering the top tube for improved standover height. The geometry is optimized for long rides on varied road conditions, with frame seat angles that help put the rider's center of gravity over the bottom bracket and a head tube angle ranging from 70-72 degrees.
Editors put the bikes through extensive testing during two days of riding through Scotland's verdant valleys on roads of varying surface quality. Riding over rolling hills and mountain passes, there was plenty of opportunity to test the disc-brake stopping power as we dodged sheep and red squirrels, only occasionally forgetting which side of the road to ride on.
The complete 2015 Liv Avail range includes aluminum models with a suggested retail price of $600 up to $8,500 for the Avail Advanced SL. Both the Avail and Defy lines should be available at retail this summer.