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by Dave Rome
July 11, 2019
Photography by Giant Bicycles
While top-tier bikes are becoming more expensive, the opposite end of the spectrum offers surprisingly good bikes for not a lot of money. Case in point, the overhauled 2020 Giant Contend SL Disc and all-new Giant Contend AR ranges which have prices starting at just US$1,000 / AU$1,399. Here’s a quick look at what’s new.
As an endurance-style do-it-all road bike with room for up to 38c tyres, the all-new Contend AR is Giant’s take on an entry-level all-road bike. Compared to the more road-focussed Contend SL Disc (see below), the AR offers road-like geometry tailored to handle larger rubber, and is equipped with 32c tyres as stock.
There is just a single level of frame available, made with Giant’s base-level ALUXX 6061 aluminium, which offers single-butted and mechanically formed tubes. Despite the basic metal, all models feature 12mm thru-axles front and rear, flat mount brakes, a tapered head tube, an integrated seatpost binder and internal cable routing.
In addition to the wide tyres, the Contend AR uses Giant’s intentionally flexy D-Fuse seatpost design for some added comfort. It’s the same seatpost design that’s used successfully on Giant’s Defy Advanced endurance road bike or the Revolt gravel bike.
There are three models available for the United States and Australia, each featuring disc brakes and a full-composite carbon fork. All models are equipped with a compact crank and 11-34T cassette.
The Contend AR 1 (US$1,550 / AU$2,299) headlines the range with its Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake groupset, along with Giant tubeless wheels and tyres.
At US$1,300 / AU$1,799, the Contend AR 2 moves to a 10-speed Tiagra groupset and Giant’s semi-hydraulic disc brakes (converting a mechanical brake lever to a hydraulic brake caliper). It too features tubeless wheels and tyres as stock.
The base-level Contend AR 3 (US$1,000 / AU$1,399) moves to mechanical disc brakes, standard tubed tyres and a nine-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain.
Compared to the Contend SL Disc, the Contend AR offers greater bottom bracket drop (for the increased tyre height), more fork offset, extended chainstays and a resulting longer wheelbase.
Backing up what James Huang recently wrote covering the more affordable side of the sport, we’ll soon get our hands on the Contend AR 2 for review – a bike that appears to be equally good as a wet-weather commuter or as a starter road bike.
The road-focussed Contend SL Disc receives a wholly new frameset for 2020, notably adding front and rear thru-axles and flat mount brake mounts (compared to its predecessor). Tyre clearance has been increased from 28c to 32c, while the use of Giant’s comfort-focused D-shaped seatpost continues.
The Contend SL Disc frame uses Giant’s ALUXX SL blend of mostly 6011 alloy, with double-butted tubes, fluid- and press-formed shapes and smoothed welds (in places). Compared to the previous version, the tube profiles appear to be slimmer and smoother.
The Contend SL Disc will not be available in the United States, while Giant Australia will offer two Contend SL Disc models, both of which feature hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless 28c tyres, a composite D-Fuse seatpost, and a wide-range compact chainset matched with a 11-34T cassette.
The Contend SL 1 Disc (US$N/A / AU$2,199) features a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset and Giant’s PR-2 Disc wheels, while the cheaper Contend SL 2 Disc (US$N/A / AU$1,799, not pictured) moves to a 10-speed Tiagra groupset, Giant’s semi-hydraulic brake converter and a heavier Giant SR-2 tubeless wheelset.
The geometry of the new Contend SL Disc.
For those in the United States, Giant will offer an updated version of the rim-brake-equipped Contend. This features a lower grade ALUXX frame and cheaper component choices which see prices start from just US$680. The standard Contend will not be available in Australia, and as such, the cheapest Giant road bike in Australia for 2020 is the Contend AR 3 (AU$1,399).
We’re currently waiting for word on what Giant’s female-focused brand, Liv, has on the way for 2020.