We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More...

Giant Contend 3

Jeff Balton

Contend 3

The all-new Contend 3 2020 by Giant is sure to fulfill all of your cycling needs and expectations. Designed primarily for riders with an edge for versatility, the Contend 3 is precisely engineered to create a better ride quality for the end-user. This process is done so with Giant’s balanced road geometry – designed to ensure complete power transfer and comfort throughout.

The Contend 3 molds to even the toughest and most technical circuits, keeping the rider comfortable and the bike responsive. Also, the Contend 3 comes equipped with Giant’s new innovative D-Fuse seat post, which allows for even more sustained comfort through rough terrain. This allows for absorption by absorbing road shock down to a minimum, all while maximizing power output. The technology keeps you as the rider in charge of every chance of getting ahead of the competition.

In addition, the Contend 3 comes with their flagship WheelSystem, which grants a complimentary 32c clearance for wider and more robust tubeless tires. Wider tires provide for an even smoother and lower rolling resistance ride. Also, it delivers more protection against punctures, leaving you to worry about the road ahead and not the road beneath you.

Combining that with the Contend 3 OverDrive system, which features a larger steerer tube and larger bearings. This system enhances ride rigidity and handling characteristics, providing more stability in poor weather conditions.

In this review, we will dive into the intricate workings of the Contend 3 itself and dissect components within their range of performance and durability. We will also discuss the advantages and possible disadvantages that the Contend 3 comes.

KEY SPECIFICATIONS AND COMPONENTS

  • Frame: ALUXX-Grade Aluminum
  • Fork: ALUXX-Grade Aluminum, OverDrive steerer
  • Handlebar: Giant Connect
  • Stem: Giant Sport
  • Seat post: Giant D-Fuse, alloy
  • Groupset: Shimano Claris w/ FSA Tempo 34/50 Compact Crankset

WHEELS

  • Rims: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Hubs: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Spokes: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Tires: Giant P-R3 AC, 700×28, folding

Technology & Materials

Made from 6061 alloy, the Giant’s Contend 3 ALUXX Aluminum Technology ensures for a lightweight construction and versatile characteristics. Engineered for quality, the frameset features better flexibility and adaptations than that of carbon or titanium. Aluminum is both strong and lightweight by nature. The Giant S-R3 wheelset is also aluminum, which complements the overall presentation and performance of this bike – keeping weight at a minimum, all while increasing ride quality and comfort.

Speaking of weight, the Giant’s D-Fuse seat post is composite, reducing unnecessary additional weight where it is least needed. The seat post is known to take far fewer stresses than the bottom bracket area, and even the handlebar cabin sometimes. When you are riding, most power is generated through your lower body, resulting in weight applied mostly on the crankset.

This idea is critical to note because the saddle is designed more for a rider to balance on. Integrating a carbon seat post on an aluminum bike adds to the ride quality from the aluminum body and stresses of the terrain. Carbon is known to flex greater than that of aluminum; therefore, smaller composite components only create a more well-rounded and comfortable riding experience.

Specifications

Moving along to the groupset, the Contend 3 features full Shimano Claris componentry. Shimano Claris is a good starting point for anyone who wants to experience quality within their shifting and pedal strokes. Although it sits just shy of the Shimano 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace line, the Claris is sure to please with its durability and surprisingly robust construction. It is the perfect starting point for your new Contend 3 adventure. Rest assured, though, that groupsets and componentry are all interchangeable.

What is paramount when purchasing a bicycle is having the right frame that suits your riding needs.

Speaking of interchangeable parts, the compact crankset comes with a cartridge bearing, which makes for easy cleaning and changing of the bearing when the time comes. Although tools may be expensive given that bicycle tools are specialized, taking the bike to your local bike shop will have the job done within an hour and only cost you roughly $20.00.

The Contend 3 also comes with a compact crankset and gives you a perfect balance between acceleration and speed. From tackling double-digit grades, to flattening out afterward on a straightaway, you are sure to adapt your wattage accordingly to cater to both challenges.

Ride Quality

The Contend 3 is the best in its class for reliability and compliments the Contend 2020 line. Given the tire clearance with this model, Contend 3 can works for cyclecross and gravel riding. There are no limitations for what this bike is capable of, how you choose to utilize this bike is truly up to you.

Not many bikes today offer you this form of flexibility, for most of them, are tailored for a specific riding style. At the price point, you are getting the best of all worlds, knowing that at any time, you can adjust and set your bike up accordingly. This serves as an advantage because not all riders have the luxury of owning more than one bike. With the Contend 3, you can accommodate all four seasons and enjoy cycling year-round.

As mentioned before, the bike initially comes with size 700x28c tires, allowing for you to decide where the most apt placement with tires and your expectation lies. Equipped with the Giant P-R3 AC, 700X28 folding tires, you are given the freedom to venture off far away from home, knowing that your tires are sure not to disappoint. Tubeless application is also a significant advantage for the wheels that are offered on this bicycle. As discussed, tubeless tires provide better puncture protection and lower rolling resistance.

This is because the sealant within the tires not only seals most punctures as they arise, but it also reduces friction from traditional tires that have tubes within them. Furthermore, Larger, wider tires provide an even less rolling resistance. This fact derives from tires requiring less pressure to keep form, thus demanding less energy to implement during the molding process of the road.

Wheelset

Complementing the tires, we have the Giant in-house hubs and spokes, tailored explicitly to the Giant S-R2 wheelset. Sure, you are always welcome to upgrade your wheelset and hub specifications, but nothing is purer than what the bicycle and its wheelset are originally equipped with, for it is factory fitted primarily for that given bicycle and its abilities.

A good recommendation is to utilize Giant’s full package before venturing off into aftermarket territory. The Giant hubs meet rim limitations, so they provide a perfect balance between durability and sustainability over the life of the frame. Unlike carbon fiber, aluminum fatigues over time.

In contrast, aluminum doesn’t fail in nature as carbon does. Having aluminum wheels gives you that extra cushion room if you were to be in a crash or hit a massive obstacle in the road. Moreover, typical upgrades for wheels usually graduate to carbon – the downside to this is that comfort degrades, for carbon wheels are a lot more rigid.

 

OTHER CONTEND MODELS AND KEY DIFFERENCES

Giant Contend 3 Models

Contend 1: Basic commentary at the most affordable price. Shimano Sora drivetrain and Giant’s P-R3 AC tires

Contend AR 1: Shimano 105 drivetrain. Gran Fondo tire

 

Contend AR 2: Shimano Tiagra groupset. Combines compatibility with comfort and performance

Contend AR 3: Sora componentry along with the disc brake system. A right balance if you are seeking a mixture of the Contend 2020 advantages

 

FINAL TAKEAWAYS AND THOUGHTS

suggestedWe want the best value that money can buy. The Contend 3 combines quality and economy all in one. At $680, the technology and engineering that you are getting separate you from that of the competitor brands. Giant takes pride in its product and continuously introduces new technology in its line of bikes.

From the extra-wide tire clearance to the D-Fuse seat post integrated within the bike, what you’re ultimately paying for is a company whose product continually tailors to the needs of the customer.

Reward yourself with the technology that is proven and tested to perform in the harshest of elements. The new Giant Contend 3 is a must to enjoy for a cyclist at any fitness level. It complements the beginner rider with its comfort and reliability, all while challenging the advanced rider with its geometry and durable construction.

The new Giant Contend 3 2020 is designed with the consumer in mind, keeping componentry at a budget and the ride quality superb.

This Article Has 38 Comments

Name *

Email *

Website


  • Kyle says:

    Hi Jeff. Thank you for all the information. I am a little concerned though in component replacement, especially the fork. When the time comes, will I find it hard to find replacement for it because of the overdrive technology? Can i use a carbon fork from other brand or am I gonna be stuck with giant forks?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Kyle,
      I haven’t tried that personally so for now I would recommend you seek advice from your LBS. This has something to do with compatibility. I do know that a carbon form will have a dramatic difference in terms of weight and handling. But do ask good advice first.

  • Greg K says:

    Hey Jeff,

    A little late to the article here, but I was curious what your thoughts are towards the Contend 3 as a commuter bike? It has rack mounts on the back, right? Do you know if it can easily accept front and rear fenders as well?

    Thanks!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi greg,

      It is an all-rounder road bike. The relaxed geometry makes it great for commuting. So, to answer your question, it is a perfect bike for commuting.

  • Mark C says:

    hi jeff, ive been using my contend 3 for 3 months now, im wondering what upgrade should i put on my bike..
    should i go for groupset or wheelset. is it worthit to go 105 or get a lighter wheelset? sorry for my english

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Mark,
      3 months is too soon for a groupset upgrade but to each his own. As long as it makes you happy then so be it 😉 Getting a lighter wheelset can make a huge difference on the ride. Be sure that there is a good reason for that. For example, bigger wheels are good for gnarly trails. Lighter wheels are good for road and occasional off road rides. Do upgrades for practical reasons and not aesthetics alone. Cheers!

  • Bryan L says:

    Hi Jeff, Is this the best value road bike that can fit 32C tires? I’m looking for a city commuter bike to alternate with my Scott Foil, since the city roads here are a bit bumpy and not ideal for an aggressively setup bike. Thanks a lot

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Bryan,
      32C tires are the best compromise between pave and gravel roads. They also absorb bumps so they are ideal for commuting. Please read my post about Best Commuter Bikes Do let me know if you need more information.

  • Ivan says:

    Hi Jeff! Thank you for all of your info. I’m grateful for it while researching on a possible bike purchase.
    I am taking a look at the current 2020 models of the Contend 3 ($680) and Contend 1 ($950). At those price points is the Contend 1 worth the extra $270? Or is the Contend 3 still the better bang for the buck?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Ivan,

      Here are the major differences between the two:
      They are all aluminum frame road bikes with adequate components and rim brakes. The Contend 3 has an aluminum fork while the Contend 1 has a carbon fork. The higher end are lighter, of course. Here is the link to give you an idea if you should stick with Contend 3 or go for Contend 1. If you ask me, as long as I have the budget, I’d always go for the best one 😉

  • Steve says:

    I am debating between Hybrid bike (Trek FX2 ) and Road bike (Contend 3). I will mainly ride on paved roads around the city and my neighborhood is a bit hilly. I thought of getting a road bike just because I never had one, but I want to get a quality bike for the price range ($650 ish). I know road bikes are usually more expensive to get a quality one. I would like to know which one is a better bike and hear your recommendation.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Steve,
      I think they are all great, but if you want to get a bang for your buck, then get the Contend 3. It’s not just about the comfort, but it is also about the design.

  • melavin muthamaki says:

    Hello, thank you for the review. Do you think it’s wiser getting this bike over a 5-year second-hand bike with better components and wear?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Melavin,
      That is. a challenging question. There are cases when a second-hand bike is better than a brand new one due to the frame build, and like you said, better components. Still, this bike is a good brand and based on my review, you get a bang for your buck. I suggest you first need to test the second-hand one. See if the components are too worn out and you are better left with a brand-new bike.

  • John says:

    Where is the AR3 manufactured? Taiwan?

  • Ryan says:

    Jeff:

    Thanks for getting back to me. So the BMC is now gone. The contend 3 is back in stock I think for 650. I currently ride my giant hybrid for between 20 to 25 miles and that bike is about 27lbs. I recently came across a Scott Speedster 20 For $999. In your opinion it worth me spending the extra $350 on the Scott or stick with the Giant

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Ryan,
      If you got the budget for a good bike, I think you better go for it. The Scott Speedster 20 is a much better bike. You can check out online reviews so you can make an informed decision.

  • LD says:

    I purchased this as my first road bike. I’d always had mountain bikes and this is certainly much different and lighter. The ride is smoother. However, I can’t seem to get the gearing right without cross chaining. Seems like, unless the chain is completely straight, it rubs. Am I supposed to stay in same gear? What’s the trick with riding these? And, also, what is the “half shift”?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi LD,
      Having your bike tuned by a bike mechanic is important for a good ride. It looks like something there is not adjusted perfectly. It’s also called ‘half-step.’ It’s when your bike chain is hitting or rubbing the metallic “cage” on the front shifter. To prevent that, avoid using (most right one) gear on the back (right shifter on handlebar) while using smallest (the left one) on the front (left shifter).

  • Jeff

    My local shop has this bike however the guy was steering me into a small frame close out BMC for
    $1200 almost double the size. I currently have a giant hybrid and wanted something lighter for a long ride and didn’t want to break the bank so that’s why I thought the contend 3 was a nice sweet spot

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Ryan, it’s your choice. Giant Contend 3 is a great bike for a beginner. That $1,200 BMC is probably a lot better. If you have the money to spare and you think you’ll benefit from a better bike, go for it. 🙂

  • Brian says:

    I bought this bike yesterday without ever riding a road bike EVER and I’m in my 40’s. There were obviously more experienced riders passing me but I couldn’t stop riding and believe it or not I did 100 miles to Philadelphia because I was so jazzed and needed my picture with the rocky statue. I haven’t worked out since last year and I think this bike just motivated me to get back into barcode fitness

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Congrats on completing your first century, Brian! That’s awesome! 🙂 Be cautious and take it slowly to avoid any injuries, though. 🙂

  • Rafi says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for all your great info!
    I’m looking for an entry level bike (My first road bike!)
    I’m 5’8 (5’7 without shoes), and as per the Giant Website they recommend either a Small or Medium, link below.
    https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/contend-3

    Can you advise what would be more beneficial?

    In the state I live the bike stores are closed do to Covid-19 and I can not do a trial run.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Rafi, I’d recommend choosing the bigger Medium frame. But you can double-check that decision by measuring your inseam length and finding out if it is longer than the average for your height. In that case, Small could work as well to accommodate your shorter torso. But, in any case, I think you won’t go wrong with Medium. Have fun!

  • Gary says:

    Just want to say I love my new Contend 3 bike. Lightweight, well built and fast. Your report on it convinced me to get it. Only thing I wish it had was a kickstand. All my other bikes have them and I am just used to them. Small price to pay for this outstanding bike!

    Thanks!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      I’m happy I could help! Does Contend 3 have a kickstand mount? If yes, you could add one without spending too much money.

  • cole simes says:

    I am really considering buying a contend 3 road bike. this will be the first bike I have bought, is this a good bike to buy as a beginner?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Yes, it’s an excellent first road bike for beginners! It has decent components for the money, yet it’s not too highly spec’d.

  • Gregory D says:

    I got a contend 3 as my first road bike and love it.
    I am going to maybe upgrade groupset to 105 and move tires from 32 to 28.
    other then that the bike is definitely worth the money.
    no other company can compete with the bike for the price 650$.
    got clipless pedals and shoes and spent 800$ total.
    and as jeff said if u go over an hour definitely need shorts which im ordering.

  • Ben says:

    Are the seats comfortable enough for me to ride with shorts and underwear or will I need to wear biking shorts

    • Jeff Balton says:

      It all depends on your subjective feel. In my case, any ride longer than one hour without bibs becomes a pain in the a** (literally), no matter the saddle or the bike. But you might get used to it or have a completely different experience. 🙂

  • Gary says:

    Jeff Thank you so much. I thought I read on a site Contend 3 had tubeless tires. Getting it on March 6th. Can’t wait!

    Thanks again.

  • Gary says:

    Great info on Contend 3. Getting one in March. Are Contend 3 tires tubeless. If so is that better than tires with tubes? And are they hard to maintain?

    Thanks.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      No, Contend 3 does not have tubeless tires. Tubeless tires have many advantages over tubes, the two biggest ones being that they are lighter and offer better puncture protection. They’re not at all hard to maintain, but they come with a higher price point. 🙂