Last overhauled in 2017, the latest iteration of the aero-focused race steed from Giant has been officially revealed. Releasing alongside the Propel is an updated SLR wheelsystem and follows hot on the heels of all-new hoops and an aero tire from sister company CADEX. There's a lot to dig into here, but never fear; we've broken it down for you into ten things to know, so read on for all you need to know about the all-new Giant Propel.
1. A Winning Debut
While officially released in mid-August, the public debut for the Propel took place a month prior, with Team BikeExachange-Jayco piloting the all-new steed to two stage wins and a handful of top-ten finished at the world's biggest annual sporting event, the 2022 Tour de France. With the team using the all-new platform for everything from fast and flat sprint stages to grueling hilly stages with punchy climbs, it's clear that the modern aero race bike is no longer a one-trick pony.
2. A Re-Engineered Frame
It wouldn't be a flagship road bike release without the "lighter, stiffer, more aero" superlatives strewn throughout the launch material, and with the Propel, this is certainly no different. Much of the claimed benefits to these key areas are thanks to the re-engineered frame. Sporting a much more svelte aesthetic than its predecessor, the latest iteration of the propel features an all-new seat tube, chainstays, and integrated seatpost. Slimmer diameter frame tubing has also been used throughout. The result is a thoroughly modern race bike that's lighter in weight, more efficient, and has improved road handling compared to the outgoing model.
In raw numbers, Giant says the new Propel improves aerodynamic drag by 6.21 watts over the old model, equating to a 27-second saving over 40km at 40kph.
3. Efficient Stiffness
The 2023 Propel is said to benefit from some significant gains in stiffness. Combined with the lighter weight (more on that below), Giant says this translate to a noticeably more efficient ride in the real world. Just how stiff? Testing figures released by Giant claim a 7.5% boost in pedaling stiffness and an overall increase of 9.2% for the frameset, including the frame and fork. Most of the claimed stiffness gains come from a revised headtube, downtube, and bottom bracket area, all of which feature increased lateral (side-to-side) stiffness and torsional rigidity.
While reducing torsional and lateral movement is key to efficiency, the compliance or vertical stiffness of the new platform hasn't been overlooked either. Primarily responsible for the ride quality, the rear of the Propel is said to have been optimized for a smooth ride akin to a capable all-rounder. This is achieved by increasing compliance by a whopping 85% over its predecessor, the best of both worlds.
4. Weight Savings
With a svelte new shape and premium carbon fiber lay-up, Giant says the new Propel is amongst the lightest aero race bikes available. Most of the savings are found in the frame, which is 137g lighter than the outgoing model. Just about all areas bar the new reinforced expander to suit the new D-shaped steerer have been on a diet, resulting in a whopping 15.5% decrease in overall weight when combining the frame, fork, and cockpit vs. the 2018 Propel.
Giant says that these weight savings combined with the stiffness noted above contribute to the 26.4% increase in stiffness to weight ratio vs. the outgoing model. What this stiffness-to-weight ratio translates to in the real world is a bike that is quick to react when putting the power down and throwing the bike into corners.
5. Updated Integration
Integration on road bikes certainly isn't a new concept; rather, we're seeing more efficient and rider-first engineered solutions to cable management, maintenance, adjustability, and tire clearance. This is undoubtedly the case with the Propel, with no compromises made to these other aspects of performance in favor of aerodynamics and efficiency.
On the cable front, the new steed features internal cable routing through a redesigned cockpit, underneath a new channeled stem, and into the frame in front of the D-shaped steerer. The result is a noticeably cleaner aesthetic and easier cockpit adjustability. New aero-optimized bottle cages also feature which fit with the updated frame tube shapes. Moving to tire clearance and with the updated fork and frame, Giant claims the Propel will comfortably swallow rubber up to 30mm wide.
6. Redesigned Cockpit
The cockpit of the Propel has also been overhauled, with the Contact SLR Aero handlebar seeing a substantial update which is said to make component swapping easier while offering a more precise fit. As discussed above, the cable management system dubbed OverDrive Aero hides the brake hoses from the wind, while the handlebar features a flattened top for aero efficiency. The drops have also been tweaked, now offering a deeper depth for improved hand comfort and control while sprinting, cornering, and descending. With the redesign, impressive weight savings have also been found, with Giant claiming a 22% weight saving over its predecessor.
Giant will offer the Contact Aero bar and stem in SL (aluminum) and SLR (carbon) trim. The Contact Aero bars will be offered in 40,42, and 44mm bar widths, while stem lengths range from 80mm to 140mm.
7. CADEX Wheels get the Ultra treatment
Announced just 48 hours before the Propel was a new addition to the CADEX wheel line-up in the form of the CADEX Ultra 50. Designed to be a versatile do-it-all wheelset, like the Propel, the hoops were first spied under Team BikeExchange-Jayco riders at this year's Tour de France.
The new 50mm deep hoops weigh in at 1349g and sit alongside the 36, 42, and 65mm offerings, albeit with an updated rim design that now features 22.4mm internal and 30mm external rim widths. Like the rest of the CADEX range, the Ultra 50 feature a hookless inner rim design. Alongside the new rim, dimensions are all-new carbon spokes that feature a wider blade profile that CADEX says increases aerodynamic efficiency and stiffness, which are laced to all-new hybrid ceramic bearing laden hubs. The wider internal and external rim widths are optimized for use with tires ranging from 25-32mm wide and, with a price tag of AU$4,600 for a set, are squarely aimed at the upper end of the wheel market.
8. Aero Optimized Tires
Accompanying the CADEX Ultra is the new CADEX Aero tubeless tire, which is claimed to offer aerodynamic advantages and competitively low rolling resistance figures. The tire profile is tall and oval in nature, which is achieved thanks to thinner sidewalls and a thicker midsection. This taller profile is also said to make for a more seamless rim-to-tire profile, while on the rolling resistance front, the Aero is said to be 15% more efficient than the Race while also offering improved grip in both wet and dry conditions. At the time of publishing, the CADEX Aero is only offered in 25 and 28mm widths and carries a price tag of AU$137.95.
9. SLR Wheel Upgrades
Is the top end of town a little too rich for your blood? Giant has also trickled down the basic rim shapes of the CADEX Ultra to its all-new SLR 1 50 WheelSystem. The SLR 1 50 features the same 22.4mm internal and 30mm external as its flagship sibling; however, they feature SAPIM spokes laced to in-house low-friction hubs. Weighing in at 1518g, the wheelset looks to be a compelling upgrade for those in the market for a mid-range versatile carbon wheelset. Standalone pricing and availability are to be announced.
10. Pricing and Availability
The all-new Giant Propel will hit local shores in both Advanced SL and Advanced Pro levels, with a standalone frameset to be offered at the start of 2023. Complete bikes are set to hit showroom floors towards the end of the year. Specifications of the Propel range are as follows:
- Giant Propel Advanced SL 0
Advanced SL frame and fork with integrated seatpost, Contact SLR Aero handlebar and stem, Shimano R9270 Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with FC-9200p power meter, Giant Fleet SLR saddle, CADEX Ultra 50 wheelset, CADEX Aero 25mm tires set-up tubeless.
- Giant Propel Advanced PRO 0 AXS
Advanced frame, Advanced-SL fork, Giant Vector seatpost, Contact SLR Aero handlebar, Contact Aero SL stem, SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset with Giant PowerHalo power meter, Giant Fleet SL saddle, Giant SLR 1 50 wheelset, CADEX Race 25mm tires set-up tubeless.
- Giant Propel Advanced PRO 0 Di2
Advanced frame, Advanced-SL fork, Giant Vector seatpost, Contact SLR Aero handlebar, Contact Aero SL stem, Shimano R8170 Ultegra Di2 groupset, Giant Fleet SL saddle, Giant SLR 1 50 wheelset, CADEX Race 25mm tires set-up tubeless.
RRP's are indicative and subject to change
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