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:
|Groupset||Frame material||Fork material||Brake type|
|Contend 3||Shimano Claris||Aluminum||Aluminum||Rim|
|Contend 1||Shimano Sora||Aluminum||Carbon||Rim|
|Contend AR 3||Shimano Sora||Aluminum||Carbon||Mechanical Disc|
|Contend AR 2||Shimano Tiagra||Aluminum||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc|
|Contend AR 1||Shimano 105||Aluminum||Carbon||Hydraulic 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 3||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, OverDrive Steerer|
|Contend 1||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum||Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer|
|Contend AR 3||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, disc||Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, disc|
|Contend AR 2||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, disc||Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, disc|
|Contend AR 1||ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, disc||Advanced-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 3||Contend 1||Contend AR 3||Contend AR 2||Contend AR 1|
|Shifters||Shimano Claris||Shimano Sora||Shimano Sora||Shimano Tiagra||Shimano 105|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano Claris||Shimano Sora||Shimano Sora||Shimano Tiagra||Shimano 105|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Claris||Shimano Sora||Shimano Sora||Shimano Tiagra GS||Shimano 105 GS|
|Crankset||FSA Tempo, 34/50||Shimano Sora, 34/50||Shimano Sora, 34/50||Shimano Tiagra, 34/50||Shimano FC-RS510, 34/50|
|Brakes||Tektro TK-B177||Tektro TK-B177||Tektro MD-C550||Giant Conduct Disc||Shimano 105 hydraulic|
|Cassette||CS-HG50-8, 11×34||Shimano CS-HG400, 11×34||Shimano CS-HG50, 11×34||Shimano Tiagra, 11×34||Shimano 105, 11×34|
|Chain||KMC Z72||KMC X9||KMC X9||KMC X10-1||KMC X11EL-1|
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 3||Giant S-R3 wheelset||Giant P-R3 AC, 700×28, folding|
|Contend 1||Giant S-R3 wheelset||Giant P-R3 AC, 700×28, folding|
|Contend AR 3||Giant S-R2 Disc wheelset||Giant S-R3 AC, 700×32|
|Contend AR 2||Giant S-R2 Disc wheelset||Giant Gavia Fondo 2, 700×32, tubeless|
|Contend AR 1||Giant P-R2 Disc wheelset||Giant 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 3||Giant Contact (forward)||Giant Connect||Pedal with toe clips/straps|
|Contend 1||Giant Contact (forward)||Giant Connect||Pedal with toe clips/straps|
|Contend AR 3||Giant Contact (forward)||Giant Connect||Pedal with toe clips/straps|
|Contend AR 2||Giant Contact (forward)||Giant Connect||Pedal with toe clips/straps|
|Contend AR 1||Giant Contact (forward)||Giant D-Fuse SL||Pedal 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.