Giant Propel Advanced 1 Bike Review

Giant Propel Advanced 1 Bike.

First impression

OK, this bike is not as forgiving as the Tifosi Auriga, yet it is more thrilling to propel along the road. Looks like your decision to buy the Giant will depend on how much you value long-distance comfort against your need for speed.

On the road

The fitment of a 52/36 chainset to the Giant gives it the edge when it comes to developing power and holding on to it. This was especially true in the opening miles of our test route where a few short climbs led to a five-mile stretch of rolling roads and false fiats, and carrying speed was essential to making quick progress.

When it came to longer climbs later on in the day, the fact that the Propel doesn’t offer a gear option smaller than 36-30 doesn’t become an issue. In part, this is down to the fact that we don’t live in The Alps. But it’s also because the Giant weighs 900 g less than the Tifosi Auriga, and because it’s so stiff, it allowed us to stamp up inclines with little effort being lost to frame flex.

It’s a purposeful bike, wherever you’re riding it, and as such, it demands a certain commitment from the rider. If you’re willing and able to bring that to the ride, then the bike will carry you along with little fuss. A quick word about the handlebars while we’re here: Giant’s own-brand handlebars have just enough flex in their drops to keep vibes and numbness at bay in fingers and wrists, yet ample stiffness to allow you to veritably chuck this thing from side to side. Oh, and the bar tape is incredibly grippy and tactile as well.

Handling

In a word: ‘flattering’. The stiffness of this package is readily apparent on any given stretch of road. The Propel replies to your inputs with a direct response that almost telepathically mutters, ‘whatevs’. It takes everything in its stride, and always gives the impression that it has a lot more to offer besides.

Those brakes, meanwhile, supply immediate stopping power that falls somewhere between ‘brick wall’ and ‘clenched fist to the gut’. But it’s the way in which they allow the rider to simply scrub off a little excess speed with a two-fingered brush of the brake lever that marks them out as very decent performers.

We’re big fans of the tubeless rubber tracking the road, too-the Gavia AC 1 tires are certainly grippy, but they also get comfier once you’ve taken them down to just below 100 psi (their minimum inflation is 85, the maximum 125). But while this does offer some respite from the stiffness of the bike in quieter moments, and the handlebars and carbon seatpost play their part in reducing vibrations, the overall sensation you feel after riding this bike is the need to sit down and have a word with yourself.

To pootle along on the Propel would be like driving a finely tuned sportscar everywhere at 30 mph. Happy to take a bike by the scruff of its neck and enjoy a few hours of speed thrills? Then this is the one for you!

Frameset

Giant claims a high stiffness-to-weight ratio from its frameset, with its proprietary Advanced Composite Technology being used throughout. The front frame triangle is molded in one piece-what Giant calls Modified Monocoque Construction. The shape of each tube has been designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (aka spending a lot of time with a laptop in a wind tunnel).

Given Giant’s propensity for a minute rear frame triangle, it’s interesting to note that the seatstays connect with the seat tube much higher up than usual, presumably to benefit from airflow efficiencies, whilst not hindering the immediacy of power transfer.

Given the bike’s 405 mm chainstays on our 970 mm wheelbase bike, there was no hassle getting watts to the rear tire’s contact patch. While all of the bike’s cables are routed internally through the frame, you can’t help but wonder if the looping brake cables feeding the direct-mount calipers aren’t flapping around in the wind a little more than is required. Both of the wheels are attached to the frame by way of standard quick-release skewers.

Groupset

The Propel’s components are largely taken from Shimano’s exceptional 11-speed Ultegra range. The kit is used for the slick shifters/brake levers, the 52/36 ‘mid-compact’ chainset and both the front and rear mechs. The 11-30 cassette -up by two cogs from last year’s 11-28 — is a Shimano105 item.

The brake calipers are Giant’s in-house SpeedControl components – designed for aero efficiency and hidden behind the forks and seatstays to minimize turbulence. After riding so many bikes with hydraulic brake systems recently, riding with a standard Ultegra brake hood felt like returning fondly to an old flame.

Finishing kit

Given Giant’s vast manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, it stands to reason that it’d create its own finishing kit. The compact drop alloy handlebars have a 400mm diameter, while the alloy stem gripping them is 100 mm in length, giving the compact size S-framed model we rode a more hunched position that feels ready to pounce.

Aero-profiled headset spacers sit below the stem, with enough scope to lower the bars by 40 mm. An aero-profile carbon seatpost isolates a lot of vibes from your rump, and like the Tifosi is adjusted via a bolt hidden in the toptube behind the base of the seatpost. Giant’s own Contact Forward saddle offered superb cushioning for our bony behind.

Wheels

Giant’s own tubeless-ready PA-2 rims offer decent response to power input and are light enough not to cause concerns on longer climbs. For 2019, the rubber on these tubeless- ready rims is actually tubeless, with Giant upgrading the tires from their P-SL1s to 25c Gavia AC 1s. The 25mm diameter introduces a wider contact patch, while running them without tinner tubes allows lower pressures (and therefore higher comfort). These tires are designed for all-year use, and their grip was certainly not called into question during our sunny springtime rides.

Specs

Frame: Advanced-Grade Carbon Composite frame and forks

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra

Brakes: Giant SpeedControl

Chainset: Shimano Ultegra, 52/36

Cassette: Shimano 105, 11-30

Bars: Giant Contact, alloy

Stem: Giant Connect, alloy

Saddle: Giant Contact

Seatpost: Giant Vector, carbon, aero profile

Wheels: Giant P-A2

Tires: Giant Gavia AC 1, tubeless, 700×25

Geometry

Size tested: SChainstays (C): 405 mm
Weight: 8.30 kgHead angle (HA): 72.5°
Top tube (TT): 535 mmSeat angle (SA): 73.4°
Seat tube (ST): 500 mmWheelbase (WB): 970 mm
Stacks (S): 529 mmBB drop (BB): 68 mm
Reach (R): 378 mm 

Rating: 8.7/10

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