What You Need to Know
Weight: 20.5 lb (M)
The Sora components (and the wheels) let you know right away this isn't an expensive bike, but the ride makes you forget that. Sitting in with the lead group on a long, flat stretch, spinning along as easily as those on $10,000 bikes, responding to potholes or gravel with little flicks of the bike to either side, trimming speed to stay on pace, and dropping back to pull two other riders up to the group—what I had underneath me was a capable all-rounder.
When I got out of the saddle on a short, twisting kicker, the bike felt solid and, while not light, not burdensome. It carried its weight (and it is there) with a matter-of-fact demeanor, and it can, on downhills, push past the limits of its pricing. It has to be muscled into the corner, but it will carve aggressive lines—more meat cleaver than scalpel but, again, so what. It does the job. I chased a leading group across a long, rolling, windblown stretch, and it was only then, as I settled into the bike for an extended period of applied power, that it ever left me wanting. It didn’t give back enough compared to what I was putting into it. But how many people, I thought, are going to push a $1,300 bike like this, for this long, and ask it to catch on to a pack of pro-level bikes ridden by such fit people?
Later, I found out the bike is only $950: astounded.
This is a full-buy recommendation—have fun, get fit, go places, change your life, wear out those components, then upgrade in a couple of years. The frame is a beauty and a keeper, and the bike is the start of something beautiful for a great price. It's kind of like a movie lover finding a grand theater showing matinee classics for a quarter of the normal admission: You get the heart of the experience, you just don’t get the glitz.—Bill Strickland
We Had a Moment
During one ride, Lou fell behind the group while on the Giant Defy 3 and didn't catch up for some time. When he finally pulled up, he said simply, “The Defy and I had a moment.” Later, in his notes, I read this: “This bike is special, not just because of its sub-$1,000 price. The most fitting thing I can say is that the Defy encourages you to slow down, to sit up, rise out of the drops, and look around. After I stopped to take a picture, I thought about sprinting to catch back on to the group, to find a wheel. Then I didn’t. It seemed like an affront to this bike.”—Gloria Liu