Review: Giant Propel Advanced 1 Disc 2021

LlargoBikeBlog

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The Giant Propel is a classic aero bike, with a serious reputation built on countless innovations and an eye for detail since its introduction in 2013.

The disc version was released in 2018 as a replica of Michael Matthews’ bike from the Sunweb team, with which he won the Tour de France green jersey that same year. For this 2021, the bicycle receives simple updates, which continue to keep it on the crest of the wave. You can also see a preview of the 2022 model.

In this article we will take a tour of this fantastic machine, of which I am a proud owner.

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Giant Propel 2021 range

To establish contact, we review the different categories of models in the Propel range and its prices (2020 November):

  • Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc
    • Model 0 – € 10,499
    • Model 1 – € 6,999
  • Giant Propel Advanced PRO Disc
    • Model 0 – € 5,499
  • Giant Propel Advanced Disc
    • Model 1 – € 3,599
    • Model 2 – € 2,499

In my case, I bought the Advanced Disc 1, which is in my humble opinion, the aero bike with the best quality/price ratio on the market.

Details Matter

When you want to buy a bike, you spend hours and hours looking at models on the different manufacturers’ websites. At first, you filter by price, to get a series of candidates that fit your budget. Then you start to see equipment. Most of them look similar to you, but when you look closely, you start to find details that convince you or make you dismiss the product. In the case of the Giant Propel, you quickly realize that you get more for less.

The Propel Advanced frame is Advanced T-700 grade carbon. Its forms were developed at the Aero Concept Engineering (ACE) center in Magny-Cours, France. The tubes adopt a truncated ellipse shape, which works best against the wind in several directions, not just the front. This form of construction called AeroSystem spreads through all components: seatpost, handlebar, fork, stem. Giant claims that this frame is 15 watts faster than the previous model.

The bike comes with a complete Shimano Ultegra R8000 11s groupset, 52/36 chainrings and 11-30 cassette. There are good details that indicate that they do not skimp on components, such as the KMC K11-EL series chain, the lighter and nickel-plated version.

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The integration of components is very careful. Starting with the command post area, we see that there is no visible cable, only 2 small segments appear at the junction of the handlebar with the stem:

Detalle de la potencia en la Giant Propel Advanced 1. Stem detail

The quick release wing bolt is removed, leaving the bike with perfectly integrated and aerodynamic thru-axles. I have seen much higher priced aero bikes with the quick releases on them ¡!

Detalle del eje pasasante delantero. Fron axle detail. Giant Propel Advacend 1 Disc 2021

The height adjustment of the seatpost is also hidden in the frame itself, under a rubber cover:

Detalle del sillín y la tija. Seat post and saddle detail. Giant Propel Advanced 1 Disc 2021

The Approach saddle includes a clip for the fantastic Giant Uniclip system that allows to integrate lot of accessories, like this tail ligh:

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The Contact SL Aero handlebar, in addition to being aerodynamic and incredibly comfortable for the hands, has an aerodynamic mount for a Garmin cycle computer, a Gopro or compatible Giant lights:

Soporte para Garmin, luces Giant o Gopro en la Giant Propel Advanced 2021

Shimano Ultegra calipers perfectly integrated into the fork with Shimano Ultegra 160 and 140 mm discs with ICE Technology. A fantastic modulation and without problems with rain or long mountain descends. No more fear in these situations:

Shimano Ultegra Discs Giant Propel Advacend 1 2021

The stem has a set of rubber sections that cover all the interior cables and that allow us to adjust the height of it, although to do so you will have to go inevitably through your local workshop, since all the interior cables must be shortened, including the brake hoses:

Potencia Stem Giant Propel Advanced 1 Disc 2021

The rims are a Giant SLR 2 Disc carbon tubeless hookless system with profiles of 42 mm at the front and 65 mm at the rear. The inner width is 19.4 mm and 22.4 mm respectively. The Hookless rim design eliminates the hooked profile that traditional rims have to grip the tire. This allows for a larger internal width compared to Hooked types, allowing a smaller section tire to have the same volume as a larger section tire. The result is lower weight as well as better tire performance, thanks to a more rounded ball:

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The tires are the Giant Gavia AC 1, 25 mm, tubeless and with latex fluid included. According to Giant they have an All-Condition band, with integrated wear indicators. Its specific design for Hookless rims creates a high volume tire and great lightness. It also features DEFLECT 2 technology, a lightweight nylon protection belt to prevent punctures:

Giant Gavia RC 1. Giant SLR 2 carbon. Propel Advanced 1 2021

With all this series of details, I think Giant’s care to offer a spectacularly finished bicycle with a super contained price is very evident.

On the flat

The first feeling you get when you ride the Giant Propel is stiffness, it has the characteristic feeeling of a carbon bike designed for racing. If you get up and take a few strokes, the bike responds with an exemplary start, you notice how all the force goes directly to the rear wheel, without appreciable twisting (minimal on the handlebar) and without notable power losses.

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On flat terrain it reaches cruising speed in an astonishing way, with an aero (stretched) but comfortable posture, largely thanks to the saddle, an improvement over previous models, and to the wide surface of the handlebar, which allows you to rest your hands when going relaxed. The generously profiled wheels greatly help you maintain speed with the only «but» of windy days and bumpy or rough asphalt. In the first case, it may seem that the bike is going to suffer from the rear profile of 65, but really the one that gives you scares is the front, because you load less weight on this axle. Anyway, the wind has to be very strong to have problems. In the second, if the road has a bad surface, you will notice its imperfections clearly, especially with the standard tires, which do not help anything to filter.

Going up

Climbing up I do not find big problems except its weight, 8.5 kg, contained for a bicycle of this characteristics but which weighs more than a pure climber. Also the standard tires, which sin of being heavy and with bad rolling, which added to the great profile of the rear wheel creates inertia and it is difficult to move the bike if the slope is high. The handlebar in this area is once again a winning element, with such a wide surface to rest your hands, climbing is very pleasant.

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Going down

The descents with the Propel are a pleasure. The discs stop where you want, the stiffness and aerodynamics of the tire/frame pair make it a drawbar, cutting through the wind and descending like a missile. Its geometry is very noble and allows you an absolutely perfect control, it simply goes where you want:

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Tip

If the asphalt is very curly, do not use the typical 7 bar pressure on the wheels, it will feel like it will bounce. This bike uses tubeless and hooklees technology on rims and tires, which allows to use lower pressures with better performance, in fact Giant recommends for my weight a pressure of 5.7 bar in the front wheel and 5.4 in the rear (it has greater internal width). With these values, potholes are better absorbed and allow you to drive more efficiently and safely with greater comfort and control. We attach the table of recommended pressures from the manufacturer

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Sizing and Geometry

My size is M-L with a top tube of 57 cm, ideal for cyclists from 177 to 187 cm, although I am very comfortable at 190 cm, I have always preferred compact frames.

Good for Giant by offering crank lengths commensurate with bike size. In this case they are 172.5 mm. I have adapted very well to them due to my cadence, which is usually high.

The length of the stem is 110mm, maybe in my case I would leave it at 100 or 90, but this is something very personal.

Handlebar width 42. My old bike was 44 and I honestly don’t notice the difference.

Conclusions

There are people who are afraid of aero bikes. I suppose that in previous years the difference between a pure climber and an aerodynamic bike was more pronounced. Today, I think things are getting very close. The weight is 1 kg higher than the TCR model of the same price range, on the contrary you win the aerodynamics of its tubes and an indisputable flat roll. If where you live you do not have high mountain passes, I would say that it is the perfect bike for everyone.

See you on the road!

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