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2015 Giant Defy and Liv Avail endurance road bikes announced

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The internal routing system can be set up with either electronic or mechanical drivetrains. Giant has bundled up the various ports into as few holes as possible, too

The internal routing system can be set up with either electronic or mechanical drivetrains. Giant has bundled up the various ports into as few holes as possible, too
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Note how the non-driveside seat stay is bowed out to allow tool access to the disc brake caliper. The chain stays don't appear incredibly tall in profile but they're quite wide and very noticeably stout under power. Chainstay length is 420mm

Note how the non-driveside seat stay is bowed out to allow tool access to the disc brake caliper. The chain stays don't appear incredibly tall in profile but they're quite wide and very noticeably stout under power. Chainstay length is 420mm
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Women get their own version of the top-end flagship called the Avail Advanced SL 0, complete with a specific frame shape, carbon lay-up, and componentry but with the same Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group

Women get their own version of the top-end flagship called the Avail Advanced SL 0, complete with a specific frame shape, carbon lay-up, and componentry but with the same Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Liv will offer not one, but two versions of the top-end Avail Advanced SL chassis. This second-tier Avail Advanced SL 1 substitutes the flagship model's Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group with Ultegra Di2 and also uses house-brand P-SL 0 aluminum clincher wheels

Liv will offer not one, but two versions of the top-end Avail Advanced SL chassis. This second-tier Avail Advanced SL 1 substitutes the flagship model's Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group with Ultegra Di2 and also uses house-brand P-SL 0 aluminum clincher wheels
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The seat cluster of the Liv Avail Advanced SL gets very different shaping from the Giant Defy Advanced SL but the front end uses the same OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in tapered steerer

The seat cluster of the Liv Avail Advanced SL gets very different shaping from the Giant Defy Advanced SL but the front end uses the same OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in tapered steerer
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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While Giant's previous bikes were branded as "Liv/Giant" previously, they're now flying under just the "Liv" moniker to further establish the range as being solely built with women in mind

While Giant's previous bikes were branded as "Liv/Giant" previously, they're now flying under just the "Liv" moniker to further establish the range as being solely built with women in mind
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Tire clearance on both the Giant Defy Advanced SL and Liv Avail Advanced SL framesets is 28mm - but there looks to be room for 30mm ones

Tire clearance on both the Giant Defy Advanced SL and Liv Avail Advanced SL framesets is 28mm - but there looks to be room for 30mm ones
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Most of the Giant Defy and Liv Avail models will come with house-brand wheels featuring 30mm-deep rims and relatively generous 17mm internal widths to better support higher-volume rubber

Most of the Giant Defy and Liv Avail models will come with house-brand wheels featuring 30mm-deep rims and relatively generous 17mm internal widths to better support higher-volume rubber
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The second-tier Giant Defy Advanced SL 1 features the same frame as the flagship but with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, Shimano's new mechanical/hydraulic RS685 levers, and Giant's own carbon clinchers

The second-tier Giant Defy Advanced SL 1 features the same frame as the flagship but with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, Shimano's new mechanical/hydraulic RS685 levers, and Giant's own carbon clinchers
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The stock Zipp 202 Disc carbon clincher wheels on the flagship Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 are wrapped with Giant's own 25mm-wide P-SLR1 rubber

The stock Zipp 202 Disc carbon clincher wheels on the flagship Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 are wrapped with Giant's own 25mm-wide P-SLR1 rubber
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The drivetrain on the flagship Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 model includes a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 electronic transmission paired with hydraulic Shimano R785 Dual Control levers. The wide-range gearing includes 50/34-tooth chainrings and a broad 11-28T cassette

The drivetrain on the flagship Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 model includes a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 electronic transmission paired with hydraulic Shimano R785 Dual Control levers. The wide-range gearing includes 50/34-tooth chainrings and a broad 11-28T cassette
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The new Giant Defy Advanced SL offers race bike performance but with a smoother ride, hydraulic disc brakes, and (officially) clearance for 28mm wide tires. As shown here, this top-end Defy Advanced SL 0 model (size small) weighs just 7.75kg (17.09lb) complete with pedals and a bottle cage

The new Giant Defy Advanced SL offers race bike performance but with a smoother ride, hydraulic disc brakes, and (officially) clearance for 28mm wide tires. As shown here, this top-end Defy Advanced SL 0 model (size small) weighs just 7.75kg (17.09lb) complete with pedals and a bottle cage
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Giant claims that the new Defy Advanced SL is built on a lighter-weight chassis (frame, fork, headset, seatpost/ISP, and associated hardware) than the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc, Trek Domane Disc 6.9, and Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc. In addition, Giant claims its new bike is stiffer than all of those competitors while also delivering a measurably smoother ride than all but the Cannondale

Giant claims that the new Defy Advanced SL is built on a lighter-weight chassis (frame, fork, headset, seatpost/ISP, and associated hardware) than the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc, Trek Domane Disc 6.9, and Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc. In addition, Giant claims its new bike is stiffer than all of those competitors while also delivering a measurably smoother ride than all but the Cannondale
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Much of Giant's ride quality claims can be sourced to the so-called 'D-Fuse' seatmast and seat tube shape, which features a flattened back side that is said to flex more than a round or oval profile

Much of Giant's ride quality claims can be sourced to the so-called 'D-Fuse' seatmast and seat tube shape, which features a flattened back side that is said to flex more than a round or oval profile
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The offset seat cluster also supposedly allows for even more seat tube flex under load while the more horizontally oriented seat stays are claimed to behave more like leaf springs

The offset seat cluster also supposedly allows for even more seat tube flex under load while the more horizontally oriented seat stays are claimed to behave more like leaf springs
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The 86.5mm-wide press-fit 'PowerCore' bottom bracket shell anchors a similar wide down tube and seat tube, plus a massive box section for the asymmetrical chainstays

The 86.5mm-wide press-fit 'PowerCore' bottom bracket shell anchors a similar wide down tube and seat tube, plus a massive box section for the asymmetrical chainstays
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Up front is Giant's OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in tapered steerer tube. The front disc brake hose is routed up the back of the fork blade

Up front is Giant's OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in tapered steerer tube. The front disc brake hose is routed up the back of the fork blade
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The rear brake caliper on the new Giant Defy Advanced SL mounts to the chain stay, allowing the seat stays to be very slim

The rear brake caliper on the new Giant Defy Advanced SL mounts to the chain stay, allowing the seat stays to be very slim
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The top-end Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 comes with the company's own massive molded carbon fiber stem and carbon fiber drop bar with flattened tops

The top-end Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 comes with the company's own massive molded carbon fiber stem and carbon fiber drop bar with flattened tops
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Another benefit of the D-Fuse seatmast shape over the old aero-profile one is that the seatmast head is now lighter, too

Another benefit of the D-Fuse seatmast shape over the old aero-profile one is that the seatmast head is now lighter, too
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Carbon frames have pockets in the chain stay for Giant's Ride Sense wireless speed and cadence sensor

Carbon frames have pockets in the chain stay for Giant's Ride Sense wireless speed and cadence sensor
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Liv Avail Advanced Pro uses a slightly heavier carbon fiber blend than the Advanced SL frame along with a telescoping D-shaped seatpost

The Liv Avail Advanced Pro uses a slightly heavier carbon fiber blend than the Advanced SL frame along with a telescoping D-shaped seatpost
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Even in aluminum, Giant says the new Defy frame design's lowered seat stays yield a smoother-riding rear end as compared to a conventional layout

Even in aluminum, Giant says the new Defy frame design's lowered seat stays yield a smoother-riding rear end as compared to a conventional layout
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The D-Fuse seatpost shape may very well improve ride comfort but it does mean that you're likely stuck with Giant seatposts for the life of the bike

The D-Fuse seatpost shape may very well improve ride comfort but it does mean that you're likely stuck with Giant seatposts for the life of the bike
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Aluminum frames use extra-wide PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shells, which allow for very widely spaced chain stays and bigger main frame tubes than would be possible with a threaded setup

Aluminum frames use extra-wide PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shells, which allow for very widely spaced chain stays and bigger main frame tubes than would be possible with a threaded setup
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Giant Defy 4 Compact is the second least expensive model in the range

The Giant Defy 4 Compact is the second least expensive model in the range
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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While all of the carbon fiber Giant Defy and Liv Avail bikes come with disc brakes only, the aluminum models will come exclusively with rim brakes

While all of the carbon fiber Giant Defy and Liv Avail bikes come with disc brakes only, the aluminum models will come exclusively with rim brakes
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Liv Avail 1 is the top-end aluminum women-specific endurance road bike from Giant for 2015

The Liv Avail 1 is the top-end aluminum women-specific endurance road bike from Giant for 2015
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Lower-end Liv Avail models come with top-mounted brake levers for extra control

Lower-end Liv Avail models come with top-mounted brake levers for extra control
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Although they're crafted in aluminum instead of carbon fiber, standard Giant Defy and Liv Avail frames utilize quite a bit of complex shaping

Although they're crafted in aluminum instead of carbon fiber, standard Giant Defy and Liv Avail frames utilize quite a bit of complex shaping
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Aluminum frames come with external cable routing

Aluminum frames come with external cable routing
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The top-end aluminum Giant Defy model is the Defy 1 Compact, which uses many of the same design philosophies as the carbon models such as the D-shaped seatpost and seat tube, offset seat cluster, and slim seat stays

The top-end aluminum Giant Defy model is the Defy 1 Compact, which uses many of the same design philosophies as the carbon models such as the D-shaped seatpost and seat tube, offset seat cluster, and slim seat stays
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Carbon frames with telescoping posts use an internal binder

Carbon frames with telescoping posts use an internal binder
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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All of the new Giant Defy and Liv Avail bikes will come with 25mm-wide tires

All of the new Giant Defy and Liv Avail bikes will come with 25mm-wide tires
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The women-specific Liv Avail bikes bear no Giant logos at all aside from a single small one on the down tube

The women-specific Liv Avail bikes bear no Giant logos at all aside from a single small one on the down tube
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The new Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 frame uses a slightly heavier carbon blend than the top-end SL frame, plus a telescoping D-shaped seatpost. The Shimano Ultegra mechanical group is paired with Shimano's new RS685 mechanical/hydraulic Dual Control levers

The new Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 frame uses a slightly heavier carbon blend than the top-end SL frame, plus a telescoping D-shaped seatpost. The Shimano Ultegra mechanical group is paired with Shimano's new RS685 mechanical/hydraulic Dual Control levers
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Giant Defy Advanced Advanced 1 Compact comes with an aluminum steerer, Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, Giant P-R2 disc wheels, and TRP Spyre cable-actuated disc brakes

The Giant Defy Advanced Advanced 1 Compact comes with an aluminum steerer, Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, Giant P-R2 disc wheels, and TRP Spyre cable-actuated disc brakes
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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While top-end carbon frames feature hollow carbon dropouts as well, lesser ones are built with aluminum ones

While top-end carbon frames feature hollow carbon dropouts as well, lesser ones are built with aluminum ones
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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Models equipped with mechanical disc brakes upsize to 160mm-diameter rotors to make up for the decrease in power as compared to full-hydraulic setups

Models equipped with mechanical disc brakes upsize to 160mm-diameter rotors to make up for the decrease in power as compared to full-hydraulic setups
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Liv Avail Advanced 1 features a carbon frame built up with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, TRP Spyre cable actuated disc brakes, and Giant P-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

The Liv Avail Advanced 1 features a carbon frame built up with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical group, TRP Spyre cable actuated disc brakes, and Giant P-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)
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The Liv Avail 2 uses mostly Shimano Tiagra componentry along with Giant house-brand aluminum wheels to help keep the price down

The Liv Avail 2 uses mostly Shimano Tiagra componentry along with Giant house-brand aluminum wheels to help keep the price down
(Image credit: James Huang/Future Publishing)

Giant – and its recently pseudo-independent women-specific brand, Liv – have completely overhauled their Defy and Avail collection of endurance road bikes for 2015. According to Giant, they're lighter, smoother, more efficient, and with the addition of disc brakes nearly across the line, more consistently controllable in all conditions. The previous version won the coveted Cycling Plus Bike of the Year award in 2013, and this new one seems like an easy candidate for another shot at the title.

Meet the all-new Giant Defy Advanced SL 0

High performance, low stress

The new Defy Advanced SL and Avail Advanced SL flagships blur the lines even further between what many riders might expect from a 'race bike' and a so-called 'endurance bike'. The more sharply engineering-centric frame shapes are still less than 900g – a number many dedicated competition frames struggle to hit – and yet Giant also claims that they're more comfortable than their previous versions.

Key ride-oriented features include seat tubes, and top tubes that are supposedly more apt to flex over bumps than rounder sections; similarly D-shaped seatmasts and seatposts with slim diameters and lots of extension; lowered seat stays that are said to act more like leaf springs than conventional rear-end layouts; and slender fork blades that balance out the ride from front to back.

D-shaped tubing supposedly adds flex over the bumps

Even so, several design concepts borrowed from the more racing-oriented TCR range place an emphasis on tuned stiffness that reportedly encroaches that bike's rigidity territory. The OverDrive 2 extra-oversized 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in steerers are bolstered by extremely wide MegaDrive down tubes, which are then connected to PowerCore bottom bracket shells that measure a healthy 86.5mm across. That extra width also lends additional room for the adjoining asymmetrical chain stays to spread apart in order to keep the rear end from wagging under power.

Giant backs this all up with bold in-house testing claims. As compared to the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc, Trek Domane Disc, and Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Disc, Giant claims the Defy Advanced SL is the lightest chassis by about 230-310g (including the frame, fork, headset, seatpost/seatmast, seatmast head, seatpost collar, derailleur hangers, headset expander plug, and all cable routing hardware). Torsional stiffness and pedaling stiffness values are also supposedly best in class (by as much as 40 percent in some situations) while overall front and rear 'compliance' is topped only by the Cannondale, all without any "marketing gimmicks" such as elastomeric dampers or integrated pivots.

Trademark features such as the extra-wide 'PowerCore' bottom bracket design carry over

Of course, not all of those specs apply across the rather wide Defy and Avail ranges. Second-tier 'Advanced' frames get slightly heavier carbon fiber blends, telescoping carbon 'D-Fuse' seatposts, and OverDrive 2 forks with aluminum rather than carbon fiber steerer tubes. Base-level Defy and Avail models, meanwhile, will get aluminum frames and aluminum/carbon forks with downsized 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered steerer sizes.

Giant goes all-in on disc brakes

While all of the Defy and Avail models are brand new, geometry is wholly carried over – a good thing since they were already highly refined with stable manners and modestly raised front end that's just 15mm taller on average. Giant has taken the bold step, however, of exclusively using disc brakes nearly across the board for more consistently predictable all-weather stopping performance.

All of the new carbon Giant Defy and Liv Avail models will come with disc brakes only

All carbon models will be disc-equipped for 2015; aluminum bikes will all be rim brake-only. Impressively, Giant looks to have done this without adding any weight – and in fact, says certain complete bikes even end up about 50g lighter than their comparable rim brake-equipped versions. We measured a top-end Defy Advanced SL 0 model at just 7.3kg (16.1lb)

"Our goal was to have a net zero increase," said road product manager Jon Swanson.

Officially, eliminating the rim brake calipers also yields easy clearance for tires up to 28mm-wide – although we think many 30mm ones will fit, too.

Tire clearance is outstanding on all disc-equipped models

Giant has not paired those disc brakes with thru-axles, though – a move that we definitely question.

According to Swanson, this was done so as to provide disc-equipped Defy and Avail owners with more wheel choices. Swanson also isn't satisfied with current thru-axle standards as they pertain to road bikes, saying they're overbuilt for the application and insufficiently elegant for the genre.

We're still a bit disappointed in that move, however, and can't help but wonder if this means a new road-specific thru-axle system with more behind-the-scenes industry support is pending.

Either way, things look to be heading in a very good direction here and are looking forward to spending more time aboard the new models. So far, we've developed a solid taste over two solid days on some rather rough roads in northern Scotland. Look for a First Ride Review shortly.

Women get the similarly ambitious Liv Avail Advanced SL 0

Key specs and retail prices for the complete US-spec Giant Defy and Liv Avail ranges are as follows (UK and AUS models and prices are TBD):

· Defy Advanced SL 0 (US$10,300): Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain; Shimano R785 hydraulic Dual Control levers and brakes; Zipp 202 Disc carbon clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced SL 1 (US$4,950): Shimano Ultegra drivetrain; Shimano RS685 mechanical Dual Control levers and R685 hydraulic disc brakes; Giant P-SLR0 Disc carbon clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced Pro 0 (US$4,900): Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain; Shimano R785 hydraulic Dual Control levers and brakes; Giant P-SL0 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced Pro 1 (US$3,500): Shimano Ultegra drivetrain; Shimano RS685 mechanical Dual Control levers and R685 hydraulic disc brakes; Giant P-SL0 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced 1 (US$2,600): Shimano Ultegra group; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant P-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced 2 (US$2,075): Shimano 105/RS500 drivetrain and levers; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant P-R3 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy Advanced 3 (US$1,750): Shimano Tiagra group; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant S-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy 1 (US$1,375): Shimano 105 group; FSA Gossamer Pro cranks; Tektro TK-R540 rim brakes; Giant P-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy 2 (US$1,075): Shimano Tiagra group; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy 3 (US$950): Shimano Sora group; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R4 aluminum clincher wheels

· Defy 5 (US$620): Shimano Claris group; FSA Tempo cranks; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail Advanced SL 0 (US$8,750): Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 drivetrain; Shimano R785 hydraulic Dual Control levers and brakes; Giant P-SLR 0 Disc wheels

· Avail Advanced SL 1 (US$5,150): Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain; Shimano R785 hydraulic Dual Control levers and brakes; Giant P-SL0 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail Advanced Pro (US$3,500): Shimano Ultegra drivetrain; Shimano RS685 mechanical Dual Control levers and R685 hydraulic disc brakes; Giant P-SL0 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail Advanced 1 (US$2,600): Shimano Ultegra group; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant P-R3 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail Advanced 2 (US$1,925): Shimano 105/RS500 drivetrain and levers; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant P-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail Advanced 3 (US$1,750): Shimano Tiagra group; TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes; Giant S-R2 Disc aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail 1 (US$1,375): Shimano 105 group; FSA Gossamer Pro cranks; Tektro TK-R540 rim brakes; Giant P-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail 2 (US$1,075): Shimano Tiagra group; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail 3 (US$950): Shimano Sora group; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R2 aluminum clincher wheels

· Avail 5 (US$620): Shimano Claris group; FSA Tempo cranks; Tektro TK-R312 rim brakes; Giant S-R2 aluminum clincher wheels