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Last month, Giant USA quietly announced its new Composite Confidence program, which adds two years of damage replacement or repair coverage to an existing limited lifetime frame warranty.
The battle for the hearts and minds – and wallets – of the buying public is hard fought. Brands have a few weapons in their arsenal when they enter the fray: they can seek to differentiate themselves on quality, or on price, or on marketing. But bikes from the major players are, with few exceptions, pretty good. So how do you make a bike stand out?
Maybe, like Giant, you make a play for consumer confidence.
Whilst similar enticements are increasingly offered with carbon wheel purchases – from brands including Bontrager, Reynolds, and Easton – Giant is the first major manufacturer to extend this to frames.
The program – which applies to any 2019 or newer Giant or Liv branded products – stipulates that “if any composite frame or component is structurally damaged while you’re riding in the first two years after you bought it” Giant will “repair it or replace it free of charge.”
There are no exclusions for racing incidents; if the item was damaged in “riding conditions,” it’s covered. That means crit crashes are in, although Giant makes a point of highlighting that “driving into your garage with your bike on top of your car” is on you.
Although it’s early days for Giant’s program, it’s interesting to consider what the implications of the move are on a broader industry level. For risk-averse consumers, Giant now looks to have a considerable edge in the market. Rival brands including Trek, Specialized, Canyon and Focus each have programs offering reduced-cost replacements in the event of damage, but don’t stretch to free-of-charge replacement.
We reached out to some brands to clarify their offering, but the only firm figure we could ascertain was Focus’ 50% replacement offering (within the first year, dropping each year thereafter). Otherwise, you’re left with a more ambiguous “reduced cost” or “significant discount” in the event of mishap, or have to contact your local distributor’s customer service and hope for the best. (Consensus seems to be that a typical replacement offer is around a 20% discount on the cost of a replacement frame, which is both fine and fairly underwhelming).
For global consumers, there’s one big stipulation to Giant’s eye-catching new scheme: the Composite Confidence program only applies to products purchased at a US Giant dealer. A representative from Giant Australia confirmed that the program did not apply in its territory, and at the time of publication had not responded to a follow-up question asking whether there were any future plans to introduce it.
Both Giant Australia and Giant USA are direct subsidiaries of the Taiwanese company, so it would make a certain amount of sense for it to apply across the board, but for now it remains unclear whether the US launch of the Composite Confidence program will remain restricted to certain territories.
The company has shown a willingness to trial new offerings in single markets – such as their Project One-like custom paint scheme, currently offered only in Taiwan – so perhaps this is a soft launch, allowing Giant to test the waters before a broader roll-out. Or perhaps it’s simply that Giant needed another string in its bow to compete against its rivals in the USA.
However, in light of the growing prominence of crash-replacement policies for carbon wheels, and given the company’s heft in the industry, it may not be long until other brands see the necessity to introduce something similar.