The Giant Manufacturing Company in Taiwan has not, as one might suspect, always produced Giant brand bikes, but it has always manufactured bicycles. King Liu founded his company in 1972 as a frame manufacturing subcontractor for a variety of bicycle brands. It wasn’t until 1981 that the cycling brand Giant, as we know it today, came to exist. It was only then that Giant began engineering, manufacturing, and selling its own models, while still manufacturing frames for other brands.
Below, check out quick info on five of our favorite Giant bikes, then scroll deeper for more in-depth reviews of these bikes and other great options, as well as more background on the brand.
Since then, Giant has popularized at least two significant technological advances that have become the industry standard. First, in 1987, with the high-volume production of its CADEX carbon-framed bike, Giant was the first big bicycle company to mass-produce a carbon road bike. And in 1997, Giant debuted a road bike with “compact geometry.” The bike’s sloping top tube and smaller rear triangle are now used across the industry. Giant’s technology wins are worth noting, but they aren’t the only thing that separate it from other brands, Giant’s Global Marketing and Communications Manager, Doug Barnett, said.
“What makes Giant different from our competitors is that from ideation, to raw material, to finished bicycle, Giant controls the entire process in-house,” Barnett said. “While many competitors either outsource their manufacturing or source raw materials before manufacturing, Giant owns the entire process from the creation of the actual raw build material, whether that be metal alloy or carbon composite material.”
In 2008 Giant formed Liv, a cycling brand dedicated on women riders and making bikes that are created with the female body in mind. Liv bikes, both mountain and road, are consistent winners of Bicycling’s Editors’ Choice awards.
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Why It May Be Harder to Find a Bike Right Now
Ever since terms like “shelter in place,” “stay at home,” and “social distancing” took root in our daily lexicon, we’ve had to find alternative forms of entertainment that don’t involve large crowds, indoor activities, or risky situations (such as travel). More people have caught on to the idea that outdoor escapes like hiking, running, and bike riding are safe, sanity-saving ways to get out and do something—away from others. This has led to a surge in bike sales and, thus, a depletion of stock. That’s a good thing, because it means more people have discovered bikes. But it’s also frustrating if your goal today is to place an online order for a shiny new bike only to find out that you may have to wait weeks or even months to get it. If you see something on this list that catches your eye, and you hit the out-of-stock roadblock, patience (waiting until inventory is fulfilled again), perseverance (it may be available somewhere else online or even somewhere locally), or just being proactive (pre-order is available for many out-of-stock models) might be the way to go. We’ll keep our eye on inventory and update links as often as we can.
Whether you’re a road racer, mountain bike lover, or Sunday spinner, Giant makes bike for you. Here are our 14 favorites from the brand.
―BEST ROAD BIKE―
TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc
At first glance, the 2021 Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc might not appear much different than its predecessor. But a closer look reveals that this ninth-generation TCR has been completely redesigned to be both lighter, stiffer, and more aerodynamic. This new version is one of the best all-around bikes currently available. It’s insanely light (our Large test bike was 14.5 pounds) and has a beautiful balance of stiffness for superb pedaling efficiency with just the right amount of lateral flexion for hard cornering. SRAM’s wireless RED eTap groupset aids a clean look, although the cockpit isn’t as aero or fully integrated as other similar bikes. The Cadex carbon rims are tubeless ready, and laced with carbon spokes, and the SRAM RED crank is fitted with a Quarq powermeter.
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―BEST VALUE ROAD BIKE―
TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc
Stiffness. Comfort. Speed. There’s a lot to love about the TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc, one of the more affordable models in Giant’s TCR range. The bike’s Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and wide-range 11-30 cassette give you all the gears you need to take on any terrain, even after a hard day. Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes offer great modulation and reliable stopping performance every time. Plus, this bike comes stock with Giant’s tubeless wheel system.
―BEST ELECTRIC ROAD BIKE―
Road–E + 1 Pro
Although e-bikes in America have grown in popularity, it’s still rather rare to see someone riding a performance road bike with a pedal-assist motor. Giant is one of the brands trying to change that, and the E+1 Pro is proof, with features that cater to the road rider who wants help riding longer (or faster). This capable road machine has an Aluxx-SL aluminum frame with a geometry much like Giant’s Contend endurance model, a Giant SyncDrive Pro motor, a rechargeable Giant EnergyPak lithium-ion battery, and a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. Giant offers this bike in four sizes: S, M, L, XL.
―BEST VALUE ENDURANCE ROAD BIKE―
Defy Advanced 3
The carbon-fiber Defy Advanced 3 rides smooth, light, and fast, with a peppy responsiveness that’s ideal for fondos and hard training rides. With a Shimano Tiagra groupset, cable-to-hydraulic disc brakes, and an upright riding position, this bike offers value and performance, which is part of this reason it won a 2018 Editors’ Choice award. Confident handling on descents, tubeless rims and tires, and sweet paint complete this solid, affordable model.
―BEST AERO ROAD BIKE―
Propel Advanced 1 Disc
In its attempt to build the ultimate high-performance (UCI legal) road bike, Giant took just about every top-end feature and popular technology and crammed it into one bike: the Propel Advanced SL 0 Disc. That bike was discontinued for 2021 because the new TCR Advanced SL closed much of the aerodynamic gap. But if you have a soft spot in you heart for unabashedly aero road bikes, the Propel Advanced 1 Disc maintains the same aerodynamics that make it such a fast bike, but it’s hung with Shimano’s second-tier groupset, Ultegra, to bring the price down to a more affordable level relative to Giant’s top flight bikes. This Propel also has a standard (albeit aero) seat post in lieu of the integrated seat mast from the previous edition.
―BEST CHEAP ROAD BIKE―
By combining an aluminum frame and fork with name- and house-brand components, Giant has built a dependable bike suitable for most types of road riding. An 8-speed cassette includes a 34t cog that’s smaller than what you’ll usually find on comparable bikes and is great for new or seasoned riders who like an extra gear when climbing. The 28mm tires help make the bike feel more stable and the ride smooth. Shimano Claris dual-action brake levers double as gear shifters, and the same design can be found on more expensive groupsets. They shift smoothly, and the shape of the hoods provide a comfortable position on the handlebar.
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―BEST GRAVEL BIKE―
Revolt Advanced Pro Force
Of all the fast gravel bikes we’ve tested, this may be the easiest to slide into. There’s the price, to start. Giant delivers a ton of value across the six-bike Revolt line, which starts at $1,000 for a version with an aluminum frame and climbs up to this one, which comes with better parts than almost any bike at this price (hey there, carbon wheels and wireless shifting). The ride is incredibly accessible, too. It’s fast and stable when you sink low into the drops and hammer, yet cooperative when you’re cruising on rail trails and broken-up dirt roads. The Revolt comes with 40mm Maxxis Velocita tires, which are best on hard dirt and packed gravel, and feel better on the road than knobbier options. If you want something bigger, you can squeeze a 700c x 45mm tire in there. In a segmented world of gravel bikes built for niche purposes (long races, short races, touring or singletrack), the Revolt is one of the few that remains open to it all and ready for almost any adventure.
―BEST VALUE CYCLOCROSS BIKE―
TCX Advanced Pro 2
The Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2 uses stability-inducing geometry and vibration-damping technology to make even the roughest courses feel fast. A slightly shorter reach and long chainstays (relative to those of its competitors) help the bike feel planted in sloppy conditions, and Giant’s proprietary D-Fuse seatpost improves ride quality while you’re in the saddle. Shifts from the 11-speed SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain are immediate, and the flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes have 140mm rotors for race-level stopping power. At less than $3,000, the TCX Advanced Pro 2 is a great value for a smooth-handling ’cross bike.
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―BEST TRAIL BIKE―
Trance Advanced Pro 29 1
The 2019 Trance Advance Pro 29 was, simply, one of the best bikes that we tested all year, and the 2021 version keeps the fundamentals that make it such a great ride, but adds some component upgrades by switching from a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain to Shimano XT 12-speed. Its suspension has only 115mm of rear travel, but thanks to a long reach and slack head angle, it can be ridden like it has 160mm—and you still get the snappiness of a cross-country bike. This isn’t groundbreaking in itself—several other brands make burly short-travel 29ers—but Giant did double down on its commitment to making this setup its new normal. The world’s largest bike maker adopted the geometry for its most popular bike and is making it available through its massive dealer network. As our Test Director, Lou Mazzante, wrote in Bicycling’s 2018 Gear of the Year article, “This isn’t a flicker of things to come; it’s a bonfire to convention.”
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―BEST XC BIKE―
Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1
A cross-country race bike made to rocket over singletrack, the Anthem Advanced 29 1 is an XC rider’s dream. With a carbon frame, a 100mm Fox 32 Float SC Performance Elite fork, a Fox Float DPS Performance Elite shock and Maestro suspension with 90mm of rear wheel travel, and carbon XCR 1 29 wheels, this mountain bike is built to power over steep sections of trail, be quickly pedaled away from competitors, and be enjoyed even when time and distance aren’t being measured.
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―BEST CHEAP HARDTAIL―
Talon 29 1
This hardtail is an excellent choice for both the dirt-curious wanting to explore singletrack and riders wanting to try their hand at racing. This newly updated bike has numerous upgrades, including Giant’s own SXC32-2 RL suspension fork (100mm), a 1×10-speed drivetrain, wider and more rugged tires, and updated geometry with a slacker head angle. The new frame is also compatible with internally routed dropper posts. Like the Trek Marlin 7, this bike is equally well suited to entry-level racing as it is to recreational rides. It shares many of the same attributes as the Marlin, but a shorter reach and lower stack make it a good alternative for riders who want a more upright and comfortable riding position. Possibly the Talon’s best feature, and a big perk on a bike at this price, is the tubeless-ready aluminum rims (although you’ll need new tires, sealant, and valves).
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―BEST CHEAP FULL SUSPENSION―
Stance 29 2
We’ve loved the Stance with 27.5-inch wheels, and we’re stoked to see that Giant is now offering the low-cost full-suspension bike with smoother-rolling 29-inch wheels. The updated geometry is optimized for the larger wheels, and the bike retains the Aluxx aluminum frame and FlexPoint rear-suspension system. The end result is a bike with a 120mm shock, a 130mm fork, 1×12 drivetrain, and tubeless-ready 2.35-inch tires that can roll quick and bite hard into the trail. It’s an excellent combination: The bike rides better than you’d expect out of any $1,550 full-suspension bike, let alone those that cost far more. The suspension is good enough to smooth out rocks and bumps, and the whole thing is damn light—30 pounds for a size small.
―BEST VALUE HARDTAIL―
XTC Advanced 29 3
With its composite frame and 29-inch wheels, Giant’s XTC Advanced is ready to rip your local cross-country track or help you win your next weekend ride. For 2021 the Advanced 3 gets Giant’s in-house Crest 34 RRL fork with 100mm of travel to smooth out the bumps. Shimano’s Deore 12-speed drivetrain offers reliable shifting for the 10-51t cassette. The XTC Advanced 2 also gets the 2.25-inch Maxxis Rekon Race EXO tubeless tires, which save weight and allow for trail-gripping low tire pressures.
Escape 1 Disc
The Escape 1 Disc comes ready for adventure on urban streets and cinder rail trails alike. Fenders and racks are no longer standard for 2021, but mounts let you add them if you’d like. The upright riding position helps you keep an eye on traffic or take in the surroundings, and the Escape’s damped ride won’t beat you up on longer adventures. The double-chainring drivetrain offers a wide range of gearing that can handle most situations and terrain. And since inner-city roads are fraught with potholes, glass, and other debris that can wreak havoc on tires, the Escape 1 Disc has puncture-resistant rubber.
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