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Giant Contend Review

Last updated: July 9, 2020

The Giant Contend and Contend AR lineups represent an excellent selection of aluminum framed rides for roads and light paths, which focuses on bringing quality performance without a premium price tag.


All of the bikes in the Giant Contend series feature an identical lightweight aluminum frame and geometry. They’re geared towards beginner and novice cyclists who are looking for a quick and reliable ride without investing more than needed.

The Contend AR bikes are focused on versatile all-road performance, making them capable of gravel and standard road bike duties. Both the Contend and AR variants ascend in quality, with the lower number being their strongest pick of the bunch, 1 being better than 2 and so forth.

Here are the main specs of bikes within the Contend range:

GroupsetFrame materialFork materialBrake type
Contend 3Shimano ClarisAluminumAluminumRim
Contend 1Shimano SoraAluminumCarbonRim
Contend AR 3Shimano SoraAluminumCarbonMechanical Disc
Contend AR 2Shimano TiagraAluminumCarbonHydraulic Disc
Contend AR 1Shimano 105AluminumCarbonHydraulic Disc


All of the rides in the Contend and Contend AR family use the same ALUXX-grade aluminum, which is Giant’s fancy way of saying a 6011A aluminum alloy. Regardless, it’s a very strong and lightweight frame which is capable of surviving and dealing with most any abuse should you throw at it.

The geometries between the two are nearly identical, with slight differences in head tube length, wheelbase, standover height, and front wheel trail angle. These differences are quite negligible overall and not a significant reason to choose one model over another.

The biggest difference to notice is the material in the front fork used – which is different between models. The Contend 3 employs an aluminum fork while all the others opt for a carbon composite fork, which is a significant step up in comfort and weight reduction, and certainly worth the cost for the improvement in weight and comfort.

Contend 3ALUXX-Grade AluminumALUXX-Grade Aluminum, OverDrive Steerer
Contend 1ALUXX-Grade AluminumAdvanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer
Contend AR 3ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, discAdvanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, disc
Contend AR 2ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, discAdvanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, disc
Contend AR 1ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, discAdvanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, disc


The entire Giant Contend/AR lineup opts for a full set of Shimano components, with varieties between individual models. It’s a safe pick to go with Shimano parts as servicing and replacement parts are readily available at practically every bike shop.

The priciest of the pack, the Contend AR 1 opts for a complete Shimano 105 drivetrain, which is noticeably better than the rest. Not to mention proper Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes, it definitely carries the best specs of the family.

Contend 3Contend 1Contend AR 3Contend AR 2Contend AR 1
ShiftersShimano ClarisShimano SoraShimano SoraShimano TiagraShimano 105
Front DerailleurShimano ClarisShimano SoraShimano SoraShimano TiagraShimano 105
Rear DerailleurShimano ClarisShimano SoraShimano SoraShimano Tiagra GSShimano 105 GS
CranksetFSA Tempo, 34/50Shimano Sora, 34/50Shimano Sora, 34/50Shimano Tiagra, 34/50Shimano FC-RS510, 34/50
BrakesTektro TK-B177Tektro TK-B177Tektro MD-C550Giant Conduct DiscShimano 105 hydraulic
CassetteCS-HG50-8, 11×34Shimano CS-HG400, 11×34Shimano CS-HG50, 11×34Shimano Tiagra, 11×34Shimano 105, 11×34

The Contend AR 2 goes in between them all and chooses to use Shimano Tiagra components, which is a fine intermediate choice for reliability and performance. It’s by no means a high-end set of parts but it’s certainly good for intermediate off and on-road performance.

Both the Contend 1 and AR 3 use the same Shimano Sora sets which have proven to be a sturdy and reliable kit of components, though not quite as efficient as the parts on the Contend AR1.

For the Contend 3, it sports the entry-level Shimano Claris group set which we find is great for casual to mid-range power applications, however we’d recommend a higher tier of parts if you’re fond of pushing the pedals harder than most.


The major difference between the Contend and the Contend AR series is the width of the wheels used.

The Contend bikes use a set of 28mm folding tires on the same Giant S-R3 wheels, which are perfectly good for on-road riding. They ride fast, are relatively lightweight, and will do everything you need them to.

The AR 3 uses standard tires with tubes, while the AR 2 and 1 go for tubeless tires which reduce weight by a noticeable chunk. If you’re keen on doing high-pace or long distance cycling on road, then we’d highly recommend going for the latter two bikes as they’ll roll quicker and will be lighter.

Contend 3Giant S-R3 wheelsetGiant P-R3 AC, 700×28, folding
Contend 1Giant S-R3 wheelsetGiant P-R3 AC, 700×28, folding
Contend AR 3Giant S-R2 Disc wheelsetGiant S-R3 AC, 700×32
Contend AR 2Giant S-R2 Disc wheelsetGiant Gavia Fondo 2, 700×32, tubeless
Contend AR 1Giant P-R2 Disc wheelsetGiant Gavia Fondo 2, 700X32 tubeless

The Contend AR bikes instead use 32mm wide tires which are much more capable and comfortable when off-road on gravel and dirt paths.

For purely on-road use, you’d be well served by the standard Contend bike with its quicker and skinnier tires, however the Contend AR pulls ahead significantly as soon as you pull off onto a dusty trail or some gravel.


The Contend AR bikes are certainly much more comfortable off road and provide better traction.

Beyond that, the differences are difficult to perceive as they all feature very similar geometry, materials, and pedals.

They all have the same seat and seating position, so each of these bikes will feel nearly identical if you were to get on one.

Contend 3Giant Contact (forward)Giant ConnectPedal with toe clips/straps
Contend 1Giant Contact (forward)Giant ConnectPedal with toe clips/straps
Contend AR 3Giant Contact (forward)Giant ConnectPedal with toe clips/straps
Contend AR 2Giant Contact (forward)Giant ConnectPedal with toe clips/straps
Contend AR 1Giant Contact (forward)Giant D-Fuse SLPedal with toe clips/straps

One slight difference to take note of is in the handlebars, of which they all use the same Giant Connect handlebars, aside from the AR 1 which is the outlier by using the Giant D-Fuse SL handlebars.

The differences are minute however, as there’s a slight reduction in weight and overall geometry. We don’t think the difference in handlebars is a significant selling point for the AR 1 over the other bikes in the family.