For the record, I don’t like aero bikes. They are mostly heavier than same brands climbing bike, doesn’t ride as good and don’t hate me but, doesn’t look as good. So now, you might think that my review will be biased and in the end I will recommend you to buy the TCR instead, but here is a plot twist, I purchased the bike after testing it… So what about the bike was so good that made an aero-bike-hater to buy one, let’s see that.
When Giant Propel first introduced in 2013, it was the fastest aero bike on the market. Years passed but Giant didn’t change their claims. Recent, more integrated frames might be faster, but Giant Propel still is one of the lightest aero frames on the market. So for starters, bike was as light as an all-rounder. With my heavy aluminium clinchers and tires, bike weights around 7250 grams, including bottle cages, pedals and Wahoo mount. So it is really easy to go under UCI limit with a lighter stem and proper tubulars.
Many brands tweak their aero bikes geometry so bike will be a bit more stable during the sprints and fast, windy descents. Also aerodynamic head tube and fork is not so rigid so bike can’t follow the path you ask from her. Okay, I am not a great descender maybe but a lousy bike demoralise even me. But I guess, thanks to oversized steerer tube, called Overdrive2, bike is really good on the corners. Geometry-wise, it is a bit on the nervous side and that how I like my bike is.
Comfort is also really important for my daily bike. I don’t always ride on the glass-smooth tarmac and sometimes my lousily planned route takes me short gravel climbs and terrible village roads. Because of the limited tyre size options, I know Giant Propel will never be as comfortable as an Orbea Orca for example, but it is still great for an aero bike. Bike gives good amount of feedback from road, to help you feel the tires and traction but just enough. On pothole-infested roads, road bumps are absorbed quite well and gives me a nice, fast ride.
Unfortunately my mini wind tunnel in my garage is broken so I am not able to compare how fast the bike goes, but by feel, it is really, really fast. More importantly, I am not feeling crosswinds and sudden wind changes (where wind hits you between trees or buildings) like I used to on other climbing bikes. Also on fast descent, bike is cruising silently, which is an indication of aerodynamic efficiency.
Plus, there is integration. I don’t like the cable routing much but it is not harder to change cables than any other internally cabled bikes. Brakes are powerful enough and modulation is quite good. Because Giant didn’t hide the rear brake behind the bottom-bracket, it is also serviceable. Seatpost collar can be set to +5 to -25mm setback and there is a hidden speed/cadence sensor in the left chainstay and Giant finishing kit is looking great!
So in the end, Giant Propel Advanced SL is one of the fastest aero frames on the market, but riding her feels like you’re on a really fast all-rounder. That is the reason, now she is my daily bike and I love every kilometre I spent on her.
Written by Gökhan Toros