Giant: Big Value! But under-appreciated

I’m writing now about bikes you should’ve bought but didn’t (or might still buy but probably won’t). For your tri bike you bought a Felt or a Cervelo, a Trek or a Quintana Roo, a Specialized or a BMC, and those were all fine choices! But you didn’t even look at a Trinity Advanced Pro, did you? I thought not! The Giant Advanced Pro is second on my list of under-appreciated tri bikes.

Giant and Shimano were the Asian powerhouses hurling cycling into the 21st Century. In 1985 it produced a carbon fiber bicycle called the Cadex, which sold for about $500, causing I and many others to say, “How can they do that?” Even so, the carbon fiber Specialized Allez sold for an extra $100 and that’s what most folks bought because we just couldn’t warm to the Giant brand. And that has always been Giant’s problem. Not its bikes! Its brand.

Giant has a brand problem but only in certain countries. Giant kills it in Australia and in the UK and in my opinion the reason Giant does well in Australia is because that country’s cyclists are value-driven while U.S. cyclists are much more brand-driven than they realize. The good news for the value-driven is that Giant’s Trinity Advanced Pro 0, 1 and 2 return exceptional value. The bad news is that this value isn’t recognized in the U.S. market. Of the 43 people out of the 2,111 who chose this bike on our flash poll asking which bike are you, "most likely to buy next based on what you know today,” I suspect most of these votes come from our reasonably robust Aussie/UK reader bases.

In this poll Giant’s tri bike stands in a dead heat with Cannondale which, as far as I know, doesn’t even make a tri bike in 2017 (thus far into the year). About 6 times more people intend to buy a Canyon than this Giant (and Canyon isn’t even yet for sale in the U.S.) and Canyon’s tri bike bears a lot in common visually, and in features, in hydration motif, and in value with the Giant. What is wrong with the Trinity Advanced Pro?

I mean, look at this bike! It sells as shown above for $3,100! (Last year $3,400.) This price is very close to entry level in the U.S. (and before I get a ration of lip from Slowtwitchers who take umbrage to my labeling this “entry level” the market decides what is entry level, and Cervelo’s P2 at $2,800 is entry level; otherwise last year's Cannondale’s Slice 105 would have eclipsed the P2 and it certainly did not).

The Giant Trinity Advanced Pro is provably aero, it’s geometrically sound, it’s got a terrific integrated front hydration system, it’s reasonably adjustable, it’s a true superbike at $3,100, finding the bike is not a huge problem, and it’s got a pad x/y sizer (just above, it’s part of the geometry chart) to help you find the exact match to your position.

The derailleurs, cassette and crankset are Ultegra (which you don’t find on most tri bikes below $3,500). Giant makes its own integrated brakes, which might seem funky and untrustworthy, but Giant’s had a lot of practice at this, most notably with its “aero race” Propel road bike. That said, this bike's integrated brakes can be a pain to keep adjusted, and to readjust when a new wheel needs to be installed. Nobody who spends time with this bike’s brakes participates on the tri bike disc brake bashing threads on our reader forum.

The only serious knock on this bike, which is now almost 2 years since its release, is the integrated Bento-hydration system. Simply put, it fell off (when the bike was initially released). But this integrated system was redesigned, and replaced on the originally-sold bikes and the new system, according to every user opinion I’ve read, works great (If you go to our reader forum click the blue navbar entitled “Hot Forum Topics” you’ll see a list of “owner” discussions relating to this bike and you can read every single thing about this bike).

The above bike is the Trinity Advanced Pro 1. For $4,950 you get the bike but spec'd with Ultegra Di2. I can’t imagine another bike with all these features at that price. There is one model yet higher, the Advanced Pro 0, with Di2 Dura Ace.

The only other real knock on this bike is a fairly narrow fit profile. According to Giant’s own sizer (above) there is only 30mm of pedestal range (height adjustability) per size, and no overlap between sizes. This bike assumes you ride a fairly orthodox pro-ish position.

Were I a Giant retailer iin the U.S. I would frankly be scratching my head and wondering what needs to happen before customers ask for this bike. But Giant retailers in the U.S. aren’t doing this because most Giant dealers aren’t tri dealers, which speaks to a hidden distribution problem appreciated by the Ancient Mariner: Dealers, dealers everywhere, but… not a tri dealer among them worth a tinker’s damn (except the very few – few enough that I can probably name them all). But couldn’t the same thing be said of Trek’s dealer network? And Specialized’s? Yes. So…?

Giant doesn’t have a Carl Matson. Carl is Trek’s engineer, guiding people on reader forums like the one on Slowtwitch on how to size oneself, buy, and troubleshoot a Speed Concept. This speaks to another issue Giant has, at least in the U.S., which is what I perceive as a lack of engagement with the buying audience.

Giant also has no Chris Yu or Mark Cote (Specialized), Brad Devaney (Quintana Roo), Anton Petrov or Jeff Soucek (Felt), Dave Koesel (3T), Jimmy Searr (Ventum) Dan Kennison (PremierBike) and so on. Who are all these people? Engineers, product managers or owners who engage directly with the buying audience in online communities. Giant has the engineering power of these brands. Just, it is quite insular. It doesn’t talk to its audience.

This opacity does not help burnish the brand. This is in my opinion Giant’s brand problem in the U.S. It has no outreach or connection to its consumers that I can see, and it either doesn’t know or acknowledge this, or doesn’t value this.

Its also thin on marketing support. Yes, its timed race bikes are very successfully ridden by Tom Dumoulin and the Sunweb team (formerly Giant-Alpecin), so it’s not that the bike is without pro support, but its worldwide stable of triathlete appears to consist of Tim Van Berkel. (Really? One only?)

Mind, this company does not lack the ability to enLIVen a brand. When I talk to Giant dealers the success with the LIV women’s brand shows what Giant is capable of. LIV Cycling, in the shops where it is sold, is just terrific. LIV does engage in consumer outreach. Its product managers do talk to its dealer base. LIV may well be the most important women’s bike around. If not it’s certainly neck and neck with Specialized and only because of the Ruby’s Future Shock suspension fork.

Ask yourself what you value in a tri bike. Scott (Plasma Premium), Canyon (Speedmax CF) and Giant’s Trinity Advanced Pro inhabit the same genus as far as the feature set. If you’re thinking of one of these models you ought to also investigate the others.