Giant Defy 2 Review

Updated May 31, 2013
Giant Defy 2
Bottom Line Bottom Line

Considered by many to be the ideal road bike for first-timers, the Defy 2 receives its third consecutive Editors' Choice award from Bicycling Magazine and Triathlon Plus names it 2013's "best long distance bike for triathlon." A top choice when value is a high priority, the bike features Shimano Tiagra components, a composite fork, Tektro brakes and Giant S-R2 rims with P-R4 tires.


Lighter than previous models. This road bike has undergone constant improvements over the years, and its transmission setup has been switched from Shimano Sora to Tiagra. Triathlon Plus editors say the absolute jewel of the Defy 2 package is its frame, noting that it has a longer wheelbase than professional road-race bikes and is a bit taller up front. The tapered steerer -- which forms the top of the fork and rotates inside the larger headtube -- makes for steering that's "immediate and responsive without ever feeling twitchy," users say.

ProsResponsive frame, Comfortable for long rides, Great valueConsWheels are heavy, Weak brake pads reports that the Defy 2's aluminum frame could easily match most low-end carbon frames' performance. Guy Kesteven says comfort doesn't come at the expense of powertrain stiffness or steering accuracy. Although acceleration isn't superfast, it is noticeably good and he likes the feel of the bike overall. It's "more stable and confident over rough surfaces and this combines to help you maintain a good momentum," he adds.

Editors at 220 Triathlon concur; they're particularly impressed by how the carbon-bladed fork absorbs shock, especially when pushing the bike hard through corners. Owners like the Tiagra components, praising the more realistic chainring ratios that are less strenuous on the knees.

While Triathlon Plus editors say riders will want to upgrade some parts immediately, they add that the Defy frame is so competent that it's worth the initial cost, and likewise worthy of upgrades like new cartridge brake pads. Testers say the stock pads aren't strong enough. The bike also suffers from a heavy wheelset and users suggest upgrading the wheels first.


A smooth ride. The Giant Defy 2 receives consistent praise for its overall ride comfort. "Among the most comfortable and composed endurance-minded machines we've ever tested, but it's exciting and handles sharply when you want to get ahead and push it to the limits," says Triathlon Plus. Kesteven calls the Defy 2's comfortable ride impressive for an alloy frame at this price.

It earns a 2012 Editors' Choice award from Bicycling Magazine, where editors say the carbon fork and seatpost and 25 mm tires give the bike "a road-smoothing ride, while still offering enough input to let you know the texture of the pavement below."

While a few testers in years past found the Giant Defy 2's seat uncomfortable, Triathlon Plus editors say the new Fizik Aliante "is quite simply one of the most comfortable saddles ever."

The bike feels "extremely taut and instantly responsive," reports 220 Triathlon, noting that even on long rides in the stretched position, "our back and wrists survived unscathed with no buzz or numbness." The Defy 2 cruises comfortably but has plenty of power when needed, they add.


No sacrifices. Giant is one of the largest and most experienced frame manufacturers in the world, and it shows in the excellent durability and agility of the Defy 2's frame tubes.'s Kesteven says the tapered headtube and fork create a precise and punctual feel to any steering input. The super-thin, leaf spring top tube adds vertical stability without sacrificing any twist resistance. Triathlon Plus editors find that the Defy's front end shakes off any suggestion of unwanted flex yet maintains plenty of vibration-reducing smoothness.

Customer Service

No consumer help line. Instead of a dedicated help line, Giant directs owners to contact a local Giant retailer who will in turn contact the manufacturer. The fork and frame of the Defy 2 come with a lifetime guarantee; components get a 12-month warranty. We found no user reviews that comment on Giant's customer service.

Our Sources


Giant Defy 2 Review, Guy Kesteven, Dec. 24, 2011

In a review originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, Kesteven evaluates the 2012 Defy 2 after an extensive test. His report is detailed and thorough, and he gives the bike 4 out of 5 stars, calling it an "outstandingly smooth yet responsive frameset for the money."

2. Triathlon Plus

Best Long Distance Bikes for Triathlon, Editors of Triathlon Plus, Feb. 11, 2013

Triathlon Plus tests four of the best long-distance bikes for triathlons and gives its Gold Award to the Giant Defy Advanced 2. Editors call the Defy 2's new, advanced chassis "one of the best all-round framesets ever created."

3. Bicycling Magazine

2012 Editors' Choice Entry-Level Road Bikes: Giant Defy 2, Editors of Bicycling Magazine, June 2012

Testers evaluate many of the top road bikes of 2012 and give the Defy 2 the Editors' Choice crown. "The Defy 2 again demonstrated Giant's mastery at manipulating aluminum to give cyclists an impressive ride feel," editors say.

4. 220 Triathlon magazine

Giant Defy 2, Editors of 220 Triathlon, Not dated

In this detailed look at the Giant Defy 2, 220 Triathlon editors break down their review into four sections: the ride, the build, the spec and the verdict. Overall, they give the bike 90 points out of 100; their only complaint concerns the frame geometry.