Giant Propel Advanced SL
Giant Propel Advanced SL
Giant wades into the aero frame market with some bold claims for their new frames, the Giant Propel Advanced SL and the women’s specific, Liv/Giant Envie Advanced.
Last year in an article about stiffness figures released by Giant in relation to the top of the range TCR Advanced SL we said, “…its also interesting that Giant have not gone down the route of aero road frames like many rival manufacturers…its all about weight and stiffness with Giant.”
Well it was bound to happen eventually and last week Giant finally released a new aero frame in time for the start of the Santos Tour Down Under, where it was to be used by Blanco team riders. Giant afficianados can relax as its still about weight and stiffness, just with ‘aero’ added in. As with that previous data released to promote the TCR Advanced SL – you can view Giant’s refreshingly brazen marketing approach as we reported last year here – Giant are not backward in coming forward when it comes to claims made for their new aero frames.
Giant have actually produced two new aero frames: the Propel Advanced SL for men and Team Blanco, and the Giant Envie Advanced for women and the Rabobank Liv/Giant team of Marianne Vos. The Envie has the honour of being the first, female specific aero frame. These two frames will sit alongside the company’s TCR range as their top road racing bikes.
Given Giant’s long association with the Rabobank Team and their key role in the new Blanco successor outfit, it seems only right that the frames were developed with plenty of pro rider input, with sprinters Theo Bos and Mark Renshaw being mentioned as integral to the testing of the new Propel frame.
Its refreshing that Giant focus on sprinters as you can see why these fastmen would be really keen on such a frame. Aerodynamics are critical to these guys as unlike most of the sprints us amateurs get involved in, where everyone’s reluctance to lead out equals a sprint that starts from a relatively slow starting speed, the pros full-on lead out trains mean starting their sprints from speeds already close to the maximum, and the winner is the one who can accelerate that extra 2km/h or so above that. Its one of the reasons you often hear of riders who did not consider themselves as sprinters when amateurs being elevated to this position as a pro – its more about acceleration at speed as opposed to ‘kick’ from slow speed.
Women riders needn’t feel neglected as the Envie Advanced was designed with input from none other than World and Olympic Champion, Marianne Vos. You know it should be good.
Giant tell us that the aim in this project was to build a frame that combined the best of the TCR (stiffness and light weight) but with improved aerodynamic qualities. It might lead you to ask, why then continue with the TCR Advanced SL? Well the TCR is still lighter (1300g vs 1675g), and stiffer in both pedalling (76.96N/mm vs 65.04N/mm) and steering (162.44N/mm vs 112.46N/mm), so certainly still has its place for both pro and amateur alike.
Indeed Giant aren’t trying to replace their TCR range topper but are out to take on the aero road bike market and to do so, in typical Giant fashion, they haven’t held back using plenty of statistical ammunition with which to blast the opposition. Just take a look at the graphics below and you’ll see that Giant have not only recorded the results of their new frame, but those of their competitors’ aero models. Whilst not every aero road frame is included in their comparative data (no new aero Trek Madone we tested here for example), its a bold approach that’s hard to argue with and as a consequence they’re obviously very confident about these two new frames.
To make sure they got it right they put the Propel through its paces in the French, Magny-Cours wind tunnel. According to Giant’s data, the Propel advanced SL proved more aerodynamic at every yaw angle and at a speed of 40 km/h over a distance of 40 kilometres was between 12 and 36 seconds faster than the other bikes tested.
These same aerodynamic results were used to develop the Envie’s tube shapes. Giant then simply applied their Liv/Giant 3F (fit, form, function) principles to the overall frame, essentially giving it a shorter top tube and taller head tube combined with a different grade of carbon – Giant’s ‘Advanced Grade Composite’ which is basically T700 carbon fibre – designed for the lighter (than male) female rider.
At 1,675 grams for a size medium frame, uncut fork, uncut integrated seatpost and clamp, brake system and headset plug, the Propel Advanced SL is also lighter than the competition and yet maintains most of the huge steering and pedaling stiffness of the TCR.
To achieve this stiffness the Propel Advanced SL uses the same ‘Advanced SL-Grade Composite technology’ as the TCR Advanced SL which is T800 carbon fibre, whilst as mentioned the Envie uses T700. Both frames also enjoy a lot of the TCR’s frame technologies – the OverDrive 2 beefy-for-an-aero-frame 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ tapered steerer tube (you can imagine this being favoured by the sprinters during development), the integrated seatpost and the asymmetric PowerCore bottom bracket cluster which is basically BB86 (see here for more information on this BB standard).
What you immediately notice on the new frames, aside from the deeper aero tube shapes, are the brakes, which Giant call ‘SpeedControl’, being hidden away behind the front fork and seatstays.
In a prudent move, Giant are initially launching two models in the UK in March that, whilst not the range toppers as used by Bos or by Vos, do represent the best real world choice for amateur riders looking to make the most of aero road bike performance.
The Giant Propel Advanced SL 3 comes with a full Ultegra groupset, Giant aero Contact SLR handlebar and stem, plus other in-house components such as the aero P-SLR1 wheels. It retails for £4499/€5699.
The Liv/Giant Envie Advanced 2 has a Shimano 105 groupset, Giant SL handlebars and P-SL1 wheelset. It retails for £2199/€2799.
Here’s the video showing the development process behind the Propel:
Whilst here is the video showing the development of the Liv/Giant Envie Advanced: