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Giant Contend 3

Jeff Balton

Contend 3

The all-new Contend 3 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.

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

Giant 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.

  • Frame: ALUXX-Grade Aluminum
  • Fork: Alloy, OverDrive steerer
  • Handlebar: Giant Connect
  • Stem: Giant Sport
  • Seat post: Giant D-Fuse, alloy
  • Groupset: Shimano Claris
  • Rims: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Hubs: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Spokes: Giant S-R3 Wheelset
  • Tires: Giant S-R3 AC, 700x25c, folding



Technology & Materials

Made from 6061 alloy, the Giant’s Contend 3 ALUXX Aluminum Technology ensures 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.

Related: Full Overview of Giant Bikes

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.

Overall, the bike has not changed that much over the years. The only noticleable change has been the change of tires. Apart from that, the bike has stayed the same over the years.



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.

Read More: Bike Groupsets

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.

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 line. Given the tire clearance with this model, Contend 3 can work for cyclocross 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 700x25c tires, allowing for you to decide where the most apt placement with tires and your expectation lies.

Read More: Bike Wheel Sizes Explained

Equipped with the Giant S-R3 AC, 700X25 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.



Complementing the tires, we have the Giant in-house hubs and spokes, tailored explicitly to the Giant S-R3 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

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 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 $860, 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 is designed with the consumer in mind. The components are budget-friendly and the ride quality superb.


  • Randy Smith says:

    Hi Jeff, Bought the Contend 3 last year as first road bike and love it. I’m ready to set it up with a used Kinetic trainer. So, quick release axles and Traxles and skewers are the question. Do I now need to replace my Giant quick release axle, permanently, with a Kinetic “Traxles”, or do I switch it out every time I move from road to trainer? And yes, I feel so much like a 58-yr old newb.
    Thank you, Randy

    • Editor says:

      Hi Randy,
      The way I know it, Kinetic is compatible with any bike. According to their product features:

      -Kinetic trainers are compatible with virtually all bikes.

      -Compatible with bikes requiring a rear thru-axle. Uses bike’s stock thru axle. NO Traxle necessary.

      Do let me know about your experience. Cheers!

  • 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?


    • 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:


    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.

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