Giant Defy 5 Review

The Giant Defy 5 is performance road bike that ups the stakes with proprietary technologies and a decent set of components to bring speed and comfort to your ride. We’ll review it alongside comparable models in its line as well as a side-by-side test against similar choices in different brands so that you can see how it stacks up to the competition.

What is the Giant Defy 5 Designed to Do?

Stack (605mm)
Reach (390mm)
Price

The Giant Defy 5 is a definite step-up from an entry-level road bike for use on paved surfaces and light trail riding. You’ll see a lot of tweaks in the geometry of each bike designed to improve comfort while delivering the quality performance a user at this price point is seeking. The manufacturer also packs a lot of features into the Defy 5 that enhance endurance for longer treks.

Many of them lean toward a more upright stance on the bike to prevent back and neck strain. If you’re used to riding a racing bike, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. However, these choices are not known for speed, so you will likely be making it part of the tradeoff for more comfort.

Who is the Giant Defy 5 Good For?

The ideal user for the Giant Defy 5 appreciates the tweaks in design that can add to the comfort and performance of a bike. It is a mid-range bike with a mid-range price point. The differences lie with the components where you’ll start to see upgrades that make a huge impact on the ride. Don’t let the seemingly small differences in figures deceive you.

Minor differences, when taken as a whole, have a great effect on the riding experience. Therefore, it pays to understand how they may affect the fit and comfort. Then, you can home in on the ones that matter the most for you and adjust the components as necessary.

  • Frame
  • Groupset

This bike has an FSA Tempo, 34/50 double crankset and an SRAM PG850 11x32, 8-speed cassette. It uses Tektro R312 brakes and Shimano Claris brake levers and shifters.

The Shimano brand needs no introduction with these entry-level components which provide an 8-speed system with a 2-gear front gear.

Pros

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    It’s a zippy ride despite its relaxed geometry which makes it fun to use.
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    The Defy 5 handles rough road conditions well, allowing you to take the bumps in stride.
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    You’re in for a very comfortable ride with a high upright position, especially at this price point.

Cons

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    The chain and SRAM cassette are a bit louder than we’d like and affect the pleasure of the ride a bit.
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    While the tires are durable, they are somewhat heavy for certain surface conditions.
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    While the components are decent overall for entry-level parts, we’d love to see some better choices for cassette and drivetrain.

Expert Quotes

“It’s important to remember that you don’t have to spend boatloads of money to get something that’s going to be a lot of fun fast and a great road bike.” - Bikes and Life

“It’s a trainer bike and works really well outside.” - Prairie Cyclist's Cyclevlog

How Does Giant Defy 5 Compare to Other Bikes from Giant?

The Giant brand appeals to a wide spectrum of buyers because of its extensive line of bikes in a variety of styles and options. That’s an advantage for you because you can get a good overview of what this manufacturer values in each of its price points. The cost differences lie with the components as we’ll soon show you. Here, we'll compare the Defy 5 to Giant's Defy 2, 3, 2 Disc, Composite, and Advanced SL models.

Head Tube Length


Head tube length = the length of the tube that mounts the front fork steerer. 

The Defy 3, Defy 2 Disc, and the Defy 5 all share the same head tube length at 21cm. That means a higher profile on the bike and more wind resistance, but it will also add to the comfort of the ride. You’ll sacrifice something in the aerodynamics which will slow you down a bit.

Wheelbase


Wheelbase = the length between the front and rear axles of the bike

The wheelbase of all the models is comparable considering its use as a road bike. However, the Defy 3, Defy 2 Disc, Composite 2, and the Defy 5 at 1022mm approach the measurement we’d expect with a cyclocross bike for commuting or an all-around steed.

Effective Top Tube Length


Effective top tube length = the level distance between the head tube and the saddle.

The top tube length is one example of the homogeneity of measurements between the different Giant models. Many such as chainstay length and stack are the same across the board, making it difficult for new buyers to interpret the facts. The top tube length is an example with the similarities apparent with the shorter distance a measure of how upright you’ll be on the bike.

Price

Unlike some manufacturers like Diamondback, you’ll find a lot of variation in price among comparable bikes with the Giant brand. That’s exactly why we included a wide range of models to see how the design and components affect your bottom line and to show the potential that this industry leader has. 

Component Differences

The proof is in the pudding, or the components, as it were. The two higher end bikes, the Defy Composite 2 and the Advanced SL 0 use composite-grade composite materials with an electronic-ready frame. As you may expect, the components in the latter are of performance grade with Shimano Dura-Ace brakes with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifters and derailleurs, compared to the entry-level Shimano Claris of the Defy 5.

How Does Giant Defy 5 Compare to Similar Bikes on the Market?

Giant comes to the table with the experience of dealing with a wide spectrum of performance levels. But they’re not the only game in town. There are other manufacturers and models with similar specs and options that have their own take on how a bike of this class should perform. Here, we'll compare the Defy 5 to the Cannondale Optimo, Diamondback Haanjo Tero, Trek Domane AL 2, Diamondback Airen 1, and the Specialized Allez.

Effective Top Tube Length


Effective top tube length = the level distance between the head tube and the saddle.

The top tube length between our choices is similar except for the Allex at 552mm. That makes sense given its sporty look with the emphasis on performance. The Giant Defy 5 comes in at 575mm and leads the pack with an even greater premium on aerodynamics with a more stretched out position compared to the others we compared.

Head Tube Length


Head tube length = the length of the tube mounting the front fork steerer. 

The head tube length gives you an indication of how upright you’ll sit in the saddle. The higher  the number, the taller you’re sitting. The Diamondback Airen 1 stands out with the longest length among the comparable brands. However, the Giant Defy 5 takes it even one step further at 21 cm with a tradeoff of aerodynamics for an even more comfortable position.

Wheelbase


Wheelbase = the length between the front and rear axles of the bike.

Most of the bikes we considered have a conservative wheelbase indicative of a road bike. The shorter length translates into a livelier and more active ride which is a plus in a ride that might be considered boring at a longer distance. The Diamondback Haanjo Tero stands out from the bunch with a wheelbase approaching that of a touring bike for longer jaunts or touring with more stability and comfort.

Stack/Reach


The stack and reach are often considered together. The longer stack of the Airen 1 means a more aerodynamic ride that promises more stability that is balanced with its better slow speed maneuverability. The shorter reach of the Optimo means more comfort and stability as well with the Defy coming in with a balance between stability and performance at 605mm/390mm.

Component Differences

Both the Diamondback Haanjo Tero and Airen 1 have disc brakes, albeit, different brands, which is a major upgrade that provides better braking power in wet conditions. The Optimo, Domane AL 2, and Allez all have a carbon fork which reduces the overall weight of the bikes and adds strength versus the aluminum alloy of the Defy 5.

The groupset of the Defy 5 includes the entry-level Shimano Claris components as does the Haanjo Tero, Domane AL 2, and Allez. The Airen 1, on the other hand, steps up its game with Shimano 105, whereas the Optimo opts for the Shimano Sora set. If versatility is high on your list, these two models have an edge with 11-speed and 9-speed systems, respectively versus the 8-speed version for the others.

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