Giant Propel Advanced SL 0 review – Road Bikes – Bikes

The Giant Propel Advanced SL 0 is the latest flagship aero road bike from the Taiwanese behemoth.

While the previous Propel (which launched in 2018) went all in on aerodynamic efficiency at the expense of some added weight, this latest version is intended to offer the best of both worlds.

With an exceptionally low weight of just 6.91kg, the Propel is competitive on the scales with some of the best climbing bikes, yet appears to sacrifice little in terms of outright speed on the flats.

On top of this, smart refinements such as an increase in tyre clearance, an overhauled cable routing system and a new two-piece aero cockpit, make the new Propel a bike that isn’t overly specialised or difficult to live with.

While at €12,000 / $12,500 / AU$13,999 (UK pricing is yet to be confirmed) the price of this WorldTour spec race bike is predictably lofty, the Propel Advanced SL 0 is a true do-it-all road bike with few compromises.

Giant Propel Advanced SL frameset

Unusually for a self-styled aero road bike, the headline feature on the new Propel frameset is its low weight.

At a claimed 1,429.5g for a size medium frameset, the 2023 Propel is only 163.5g heavier than the latest Giant TCR Advanced SL frameset – an almost imperceptible difference.

It’s clear Giant isn’t lying about this either. Our size ML test bike weighs a feathery 6.91kg, including the new aero bottle cages and an out-front computer mount.

There are relatively few competitors in the aero road bike space that can come close to matching that weight figure (bikes such as the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7, Factor Ostro VAM and Canyon Aeroad CFR spring to mind).

In its top-spec guise, the new Propel is an exceptionally light aero road bike.
Simon von Bromley / Our Media

Of course, the new Propel likely gives up some aerodynamic efficiency compared to heavier, more aggressively aero-optimised bikes such as the Cervélo S5, Cannondale SystemSix,  Orbea Orca Aero or Trek Madone SLR.

But given the balance of comments we receive on the subject, the compromise struck by the Propel is likely closer to what most people want from a high-performance road bike.

Nevertheless, Giant claims the aerodynamic performance of the latest Propel surpasess that of the previous version as a complete bike by 6.21 watts at 40kph, equating to 27 seconds over 40km.

Notably, though, this figure includes the new Contact SLR Aero cockpit, Cadex 50 Ultra Disc wheelsystem and Cadex Aero Tubeless tyres (more on these later).

How much of that 6.21 watts improvement is attributable to the various component parts is unclear, but if you’re buying it as a complete bike, it arguably doesn’t matter.

Despite being significantly lighter than the previous version, the new Propel is nevertheless said to be more aerodynamic as well.
Simon von Bromley / Our Media

My only quibble with the Propel Advanced SL frameset concerns the integrated seatpost.

The flippable head that allows you to switch between -5 and +15mm

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Cannondale Topstone Alloy 2 review – Gravel Bikes – Bikes

While the carbon fibre Topstone is well established in the gravel world, Cannondale’s latest alloy machine, the Topstone Alloy, brings the brand’s gravel bike platform to more affordable price points.

Here, the Topstone 2 is a mid-range offering at £1,800, which sits alongside a budget Microshift 10-speed option at £1,200 and top-tier alloy build at £2,400.

Having been launched earlier this month, the new Topstone Alloy is bang up-to-date, with plenty of mounting points for bags, mudguards and a rack, clearance for 45mm tyres and dropped seatstays.

In this guise, with a 2x drivetrain and 37mm tyres, it’s an excellent choice for riders who want a versatile gravel bike for all kinds of riding, though you’ll want to make better use of the clearance for more technical trails.

Cannondale Topstone Alloy 2 frame details

There’s (officially) clearance for tyres up to 45mm.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Cannondale’s ‘SmartForm C2’ alloy is used for the Topstone frame, with smoothed welds giving an appealing finish.

The seatstays have been dropped since the previous year’s model, giving a more curved shape towards the rear axle, though they still feature full rear rack mounts. There are full mudguard mounts at the rear, too.

In an additional nod to versatility, there’s also internal routing for a dropper post, should you wish to add one later.

Unlike some Topstone bikes of old, the new Topstone Alloy has a traditional wheel dish – matching the new Topstone Carbon – and, continuing the themes of simplicity and compatibility, there’s a threaded BSA bottom bracket. Cannondale says the new bike is also compatible with gravel suspension forks, including its own Lefty Oliver.

Geometry is fairly conservative for a modern gravel bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media

As standard, a rigid, full-carbon fork is used, with bikepacking cage mounts both on the fork blades and, as mentioned, mounts for easy mudguard attachment.

Unlike some of the best gravel bikes, the Topstone Alloy is compatible with a double-chainring setup, using a band-on front derailleur.

In fact, aside from the most affordable model – the Topstone Alloy 4, with its 10-speed Microshift Advent X 1x drivetrain – Cannondale only specs 2x drivetrains across the aluminium range.

For 2022, the frames are available in this ‘Midnight’ colourway – a deep shimmering blue/black – or olive green, both with a matt black fork.

Cannondale Topstone Alloy 2 geometry and sizing

Cannondale employs its OutFront steering approach on the Alloy 2.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Cannondale has applied its ‘OutFront’ steering philosophy, borrowed from the brand’s carbon Topstone gravel bikes. This sees a long fork offset paired with a slightly slacker head angle to keep the steering, Cannondale claims, confident but lively.

All things considered, the Topstone Alloy’s geometry is fairly middle-of-the-road as far as the latest gravel bikes are concerned, matching its ambitions as a safe bet for a variety of riding, whether that be fitting mudguards for winter road riding and commuting, or adding a bit more off-road capability through wider

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