Test Ride: Giant’s Propel Advanced 2

The ultimate step into a serious carbon roadie for the newly initiated cyclist and veteran alike

Despite all of the technicality of cycling—whether it’s counting the grams of a new pair of pedals or nerding out over the latest carbon crank arms—the simplistic joy of riding a bike as fast as possible remains at the core of the sport. Perhaps no other bike on the market has reminded us of this better than Giant Propel Advanced 2. Designed and built with the same caliber of racing pedigree as Giant’s top models, the Propel Advanced 2 opts for affordability and simplicity where it counts, making this a rare offering in the bike world. (Think of it as a supercar for the everyday person looking for the same amount of thrill that comes with cornering at top speed with pinpoint precision.) Over the course of this summer, we rode the Propel Advanced 2 on as much varied terrain as possible—from the pelotons of Central Park to the winding descents and brutal climbs of the Berkshires.

Once you’re in the saddle on the Propel Advanced 2, there’s no questioning that this bike was built with speed and precision in mind and it’s largely thanks to the frame. The bike boasts the best aerodynamics in its class and, when in the saddle, one has to assume second place is decidedly well behind. Every inch of the frame reveals the attention to detail Giant has paid to aerodynamics from the near seamless fork to headtube transition to the frame cutout where the rear wheel tucks in.

Giant took the aerodynamics of the Propel Advanced 2 a step further with its SpeedControl SL brake system. The calipers of the front brake are neatly tucked in behind the fork while the rear brakes fit snugly in behind the specially designed seat stays. It’s a feature that’s sure to turn a few heads and also gives the bike the appearance of speed. Not only are the brakes designed to be almost out of sight, they’re among the most precise non-disc brakes we’ve put to the road.

Aside from looking fast, the considered frame lines and aerodynamic brakes translate to all-out speed on the road. The Propel Advanced 2 is designed to go as fast as possible on the road with unparalleled control. This isn’t a leisurely cruiser or a bike for the faint of heart. The Propel Advanced 2 is best ridden in a low position due to the race geometry. Ride it with upright posture, and it will appear to be too finicky and touchy to control. Get low however, and the bike will move with you, gracefully arcing through corners and cutting the wind.

Riders new to carbon bikes will find themselves feeling like they could hop into the pelotons of the Tour de France from their first ride. The stiffness of the PowerCore bottom bracket ensures high pedaling efficiency with minimal power loss on each pedal stroke. Meanwhile the advanced-grade composite frame rewards an aggressive, steadfast riding style. Descents are an especially exhilarating experience on the Propel Advanced 2, especially after a few rides. Once a rider has discovered the optimal position on this bike, it instills a confidence that allows even greenhorns to descend like a pro.

If you’re looking to go extremely fast and stay on the road (no gravel grinding with this one), Giant’s 2015 Propel Advanced 2 is an excellent value at $2,300. With a research-backed race design and components that deliver a smooth riding experience, this bike can see intermediate riders progress and satiate a veteran’s appetite for speed.

Images by Hans Aschim