The first 2023 Giant Propel Aero road bikes will arrive in the UK this month, so let’s take a look at the new design, which is said to be lighter and stiffer than before (of course!) as well as being aerodynamically more efficient.
Giant introduces the updated Propel in three tiers, with the Propel Advanced SL being the top one. According to Giant, their frameset is 225.5g lighter and 9.2% stiffer than before. Giant also boasts that the 2023 model improves drag by 6.21 watts at 40 km/h (25 mph) and that the stiffness-to-weight ratio has improved by 26.4%. Those are some big claims.
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The frame features truncated elliptical airfoil shapes in key areas, including the down tube, seat tube and seatstays.
“The front sections, where aerodynamics are most important, have sculpted lines and this truncated ellipse shape to minimize drag,” says Giant. “We even designed two different bottle cages (one for the down tube, one for the seat tube) to minimize drag for each of these specific tubes.”
Giant’s claim that the new Propel Advanced SL is 6.21 watts more efficient at 40 km/h (25 mph) than the previous version relates to the bike as a whole – with its new proprietary Contact SLR Aero bar and stem , Cadex 50 wheels and Cadex Aero tires .
According to Giant, their engineers changed the shapes and diameters in sections of the head tube, down tube and bottom bracket area, and also changed the layup of the Advanced SL Composite material to achieve greater stiffness.
This increases the pedaling stiffness at the bottom bracket (7.5%) and also the overall frame stiffness (9.9%), i.e. the torsional flexibility of the frame and fork under load. Factoring in a significant weight reduction, this results in a 26.4% stiffness-to-weight increase.
On the other hand, the seat tube, chain stays and integrated seat post have been redesigned to provide a smoother ride. They look a lot slimmer than the previous generation Propel Advanced SL. In fact, without the name on the top tube, it would be difficult to associate the new Propel with its predecessors. Giant says the thinner spine not only improves compliance but also saves weight.
There’s now room for tires up to 30mm too, and wider tires can make a big difference in ride quality.
Giant has redesigned the cockpit of the Propel Advanced SL and introduced a new two-piece Contact SLR Aero bar and stem setup. The idea is to make it easier for you to swap out components and customize your fit.
Brake hoses and all cables are routed inside the bar before re-emerging in the middle. They then go into a channel at the bottom of the stem – so they’re not visible – and from there into the frame. Headset spacers are two-piece interlocking so they can be added or removed without the need for rewiring.
The new Giant Propel Advanced SL frameset (size medium, including hardware) has a reported weight of 1,429.5g, while the new Contact SLR Aero cockpit is said to weigh 360g.
The finish pictured here is called Carbon Smoke. It’s a clear coat that only contains a small amount of paint to keep the weight down. All colors are applied as decals.
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We haven’t ridden the Giant Propel Advanced SL, but we got our hands on it at launch and it weighed 6.96kg (ML size, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build) on our scale.
The Giant Propel Advanced Pro is made of Advanced Composite rather than the Advanced SL grade used on the Propel Advanced SL and uses a removable seatpost rather than an integrated seatpost.
The frame of the Giant Propel Advanced is the same as the Propel Advanced Pro, but the fork comes with an aluminum steerer tube and is not full carbon.
Some people have speculated that by making their aero road bike much lighter than before, Giant intends to take the “one bike to rule them all” path with its high-end racing models, as Specialized has done with its Tarmac SL 7 has done.
> Read our review of the Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc
However, Giant says that’s not the case, pointing out that the TCR is still significantly lighter with a frameset weight of 1,265g (painted frame, painted uncut fork, integrated seatpost, seatclamp, derailleur and derailleur hanger). You can also run tires up to 32mm from most brands on the TCRs for disc brakes, while the Propels have a maximum width of 30mm.
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