I have a Giant Escape 3 hybrid from 2013. I am curious if I were to buy a Giant Escape 3 2021 model, would it be equivalent to a 2013 Giant Escape 1 or even better? How much do bikes improve over the years? Giant tiering for hybrid bikes is Escape 1 > Escape 2 > Escape 3.

  • 3
    It depends on how much the CEO wants to siphon off. Oct 8, 2021 at 21:51
  • There's a strong argument saying the newer one is acutally worse -- though there's a disc brake option now!
    – Noise
    Oct 8, 2021 at 22:34
  • There are two questions here. 1. Is the 2013 Giant Escape better, worse or the same as a 2021 Giant Escape? 2. How much do bikes improve over the years? Michael has answered question 1 very well below. The answer to question 2 is - it depends. If improvement is measured by the quality of the parts (as opposed to performance, utility, to name two) - there are many variable economic factors that come into play to determine what parts will end up on a bicycle at a given price point. When part prices go up newer bikes tend to get cheaper parts to hold it at a price point.
    – David D
    Oct 9, 2021 at 14:34
  • Replacing a 2013 bike by its 2021 equivalent wouldn't make sense for me, especially for entry level bikes. If your frame is in a good state, for the price of the 2021, you can upgrade the transmission, the wheels (to mid-range, like Deore or maybe GRX400/APEX with appropriate shifters) and small fixtures. Like this you would probably have something better than the 2013 Escape 1, and better on some aspects than a 2021 Escape 1. You wouldn't have disk brakes (if you live in dry area, v-brakes are fine) and internal cable routing (which is often done wrong on entry level bikes).
    – Renaud
    Oct 10, 2021 at 7:37

5 Answers 5


I don’t think there is much room for improvement in entry level bikes. Their main priority is to be as cheap as possible. Adding features would increase price. They have been pretty much perfected on a cost vs. features/weight basis. It’s generally a cheap aluminium frame, 7 or 8 speed shifting (doesn’t require tight tolerances to work reliable-ish) and rim brakes.

Mid-level and obviously high-end bikes have seen a lot more new features and improvements. Most new features will be expensive for the manufacturer (because they require Research&Development, new manufacturing lines etc.). However, because they are new and unique they can be sold at a high price. As a feature becomes more commonplace and easier to mass-produce it trickles down to mid-level where it’s sold at more moderate prices.

That’s how things like carbon frames, 11 speed shifting, hydraulic disc brakes, electronic shifting (to some extent), internal cable routing, press fit bottom brackets, integrated headset bearings etc. have trickled down from high-end to mid-level.

To bring innovation and change to entry level bikes it would have to be cheaper to manufacture than existing bikes and their components.

The Escape 3 2013 is actually comparable to the current Escape 3 2021 or even better. The Escape 1 2013 is still better than both.

For both model years of the Escape 3 the components are on the very low end, but the 2013 version had 3x8 shifting with Shimano Altus components while the 2021 has 3x7 with Shimano Tourney. The current version has slightly wider tyres (38mm vs 32mm) if that’s important to you.

The Escape 1 2013 had 3x9 Shimano Alivio shifting and a carbon fork.

Unfortunately Giant feels too insecure to state the weight of their bikes, so we don’t know which direction weight took.

Escape 3 2021 specs:

Escape 3 2021

Escape 3 2013 specs:

Escape 3 2013

Escape 1 2013 specs:

Escape 1 2013

  • 5
    Good job hunting those old specs down.
    – Adam Rice
    Oct 9, 2021 at 10:20

There is trickle-down in bike technology, so in some cases, a top-tier bike from about 10 years ago might be considered roughly on par with a 3rd-tier bike today (this is all subjective and in many cases the bikes might not be comparable).

In this particular example, it seems all the Giant Escape bikes are at the cheaper end of the spectrum. It takes a lot longer for innovations to trickle down, and it's a lot harder to entice the buyers in this segment with the new and shiny, so the companies don't have the incentive to churn their specifications the way they do at the top of the range. It looks like these models have changed very little since 2013.


The Giant Escape 3 bike indicated in the question is a unisex hybrid bike. In the 2021 spec, it has a triple chainring, a 7-speed cassette, V brakes, and a Tourney drivetrain. The frame is aluminum, with a hi-tensile steel fork.

I am not familiar with the evolution of Shimano’s Tourney group set, or groups at that price point. However, a brief inspection of the 2013 Giant Escape on Bicycle Blue Book appears to show the same general specifications, with a slightly better 3x8 speed drivetrain. The frame construction even appears to be similar (hydroformed aluminum tubes). I would guess that in this space, if you are not talking about comparing bikes that have gained hydraulic disc brakes to rim brakes, current day bikes may be quite comparable to bikes from 10 years ago.

If you are comparing bikes with vastly different braking systems, this may be another story. My qualitative judgment, and keeping mind I don’t own bikes at this price point, is that rim vs non-hydraulic disc is comparable, and I would actually favor rim brakes. Rim brakes are less complex. Lower end mechanical disc brakes don’t always have great braking power, and you really do need better cable housing to maximize their potential. Discs do stop better in the wet than rim brakes, but many people don’t ride in the wet. Maintenance requirements are probably less on rim brakes. Comparing hydraulic disc to rim is potentially different. Hydraulic discs are more complex and pricier. However, it is possible that they need less maintenance over time versus rim brakes - you may need to bleed the system less often than you would need to replace cables, and if you don’t need a bleed, the hydraulic lines may not wear out the same way that cables do. That said, any maintenance you do need on a hydraulic disc brake will be more complex than a rim brake.

For performance mountain biking, the frame geometries and suspension designs have evolved very considerably in the last 10 years, so those types of bikes would obsolete a lot faster. Additionally, the drivetrains have evolved considerably as well, going from 2x drivetrains to 1x.

In performance road biking, if we are focusing on the highest level bikes, a lot of the evolution has been in aerodynamics. The groups have also evolved, basically going from rim brakes to hydraulic disc brakes. Qualitatively, I would judge the difference between road bikes from 2000 and 2010 to be a lot smaller than 2010 vs 2020. In some ways, the road bike space has seen less drastic changes than MTBs, at least if we exclude the top end performance road bikes. There has, however, been a substantial change in design paradigms for drop bar bikes in general. Endurance road bikes, I.e. more leisure-oriented road bikes that are not narrowly aimed at going very fast on smooth roads, have become a thing. They were not quite a thing 10 years ago. Also, the gearing has changed a lot, with road bikes getting much lower gears that are more suited for everyday riders.

Basically, the question is difficult to answer. Many categories of bicycles and components may not have evolved substantially over the last 10 years. My understanding is that for performance MTBs, the improvements are really substantial. For performance road bikes, the gain is less obvious if you are not going really fast.

  • Oh yes, MTBs evolve ridiculously fast. A bike from 2001 vs 2011 vs 2021 are no comparison for geometry, features, components, etc.
    – MaplePanda
    Oct 9, 2021 at 22:35

Juhist gets a lot right but not everything:

  • Index shifting has... been available for 30+ years.
  • Tubeless tires... have been available for decades. Some professionals prefer them.
  • Although weight reduction... Yes, and recreationalists need not spend $1000s on these bikes.
  • Wheels used to have 36 spokes... and still do but there is a lot more available options to meet many more purposes and preferences.
  • Since disc brakes were introduced... they continue to get better and the kinks resolved. They have yet to reach maturity.
  • Toe clips and straps are no longer used... Yeah, been that way for 30+ years.
  • Hi, welcome to bicycles! Please don't post responses to other answers as an answer; if you're posting an answer it should be complete and stand on its own. You might want to read How to Answer and take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Oct 12, 2021 at 4:12
  • Welcome to the site - this question is not a good example of how things should work around here, so question was closed. Other Q&A might be a better example, and you can browse the tour to see how it should work. Do have a go at answering other questions posted on the main page.
    – Criggie
    Oct 12, 2021 at 4:52

My opinion is that the improvement in bike technology has mostly stopped decades ago, and in many matters the technology continues not to improve but to worsen.

Some recent changes:

  • Index shifting has become available. This is a genuine user friendliness improvement.
  • Trigger shifters like Rapidfire and STI have become available. On the mountain bike side, the Rapidfire shifters can be bought separate from brake levers and they are quite cheap too. Unfortunately, on the road bike side, the STI shifters are integrated to the brake lever and are very expensive. This has displaced all other types of shifting, so if you for example want to buy a Shimano compatible hydraulic road disc brake lever, you can't buy such a lever without STI shifting.
  • Number of gears has increased. However, this not only increases costs but also makes the chain thinner. Engineers have had a very hard job to find improved materials and better manufacturing techniques to make the chains and sprockets last long enough. The end result is that the chains and sprockets are about as durable as they used to be, but if engineers would have used the better materials and techniques with old-style sprockets and chains, the longevity of the components would have skyrocketed.
  • Disc brakes have become available. For someone who rides in the rain, they offer genuine reliability in wet weather. However, the rest, those who don't ride in the rain have to suffer from ridiculously low pad life nowadays, along with far more expensive pads than with rim brakes.
  • Cables are often routed under the bar tape for drop bar bikes. However, in some situations this means you can't change the inner wire without undoing the bar tape. For example, I have BL-R400 levers for which changing the inner wire requires undoing the bar tape.
  • Brake cable anchors have a notch to help keep the cable in if the user doesn't tighten it enough. While it makes the brakes more reliable for careless mechanics, it also damages the cable once tightened so reusing a brake inner cable may not be advisable anymore
  • Chainrings and sprockets have shifting aids (Hyperglide). However, this makes them unidirectional and positional so you can no longer turn the sprockets around to get double wear life, and if you rotate the chainring to spread out its wear the shifting aids no longer do their job. Unfortunately, recently Shimano has introduced non-even chainring bolt patterns, making the rotation of chainrings impossible. The improvement of manufacturing techniques and materials has made it possible to make the sprockets durable enough, but applying the same techniques and materials to old-style sprockets would have made them last practically forever.
  • Tubeless tires have become available. They require messy sealant, are tricky to set up (in fact so tricky bike manufacturers won't bother and sell practically all bikes with inner tubes, requiring the buyer of the bike to set up the tubeless system) and the tires require so tight fit that if you decide not to use tubeless but put an inner tube in on a tubeless ready rim, after an hour of fighting with mounting the tire, you have hurt your fingers, damaged the inner tube by puncturing it and you still won't have the tire on the rim.
  • Aluminum as a material: it's good for many parts, for example aluminum rims have superior braking in the wet when compared to steel rims and it's easier to make aluminum double wall rims, but aluminum has become the material of choice for frames where it decreases the fatigue life over a steel frame and makes welding repair impossible without heat treat (that would require you to remove all parts and strip the paint). Also many handlebars are today aluminum, and are arguably fatally dangerous due to their short fatigue life.
  • In an effort to decrease weight more over what aluminum can offer, some bike parts use carbon fiber nowadays. While it solves aluminum's fatigue problem, it has its own problem. For example if you crash on a bike with carbon fiber structural parts, you never know if the carbon fiber has damaged invisibly. Thus, many riders who have crashed with carbon fiber parts continue riding, and then suddenly a carbon fiber part fails fatally, hurting the rider, when "just riding along".
  • Although weight reduction has always been a priority for bicycles, today it has been applied to very ridiculous levels. You can't expect such lightweight bikes to last long.
  • Threaded headsets and quill stems have been replaced by threadless headsets and ahead stems. The headset is superior because it's so simple and easy to adjust. The stem is superior because it allows removing the stem from the handlebar without untaping the bars (the old-style quill stems had only one bolt, the new-style ahead stems have four bolts). Unfortunately, for aluminum handlebars having a "gap" on the top of the handlebar results in pretty nasty stress distribution that can reduce the fatigue life of the handlebar.
  • Gapless stem: some stems have nowadays reduced the gap of 4-bolt ahead stems over the top of the handlebar. You should choose such a stem if it's available because it increases the fatigue life of the handlebar at a very vulnerable point.
  • Double wall rims have become common. They are vastly superior to old single wall rims.
  • Bottom bracket technology has moved from square taper to Hollowtech II. The new style bottom bracket have room for a hollow large-diameter lightweight axle that is very durable and durable large diameter bearings. Unfortunately, in some frames the alignment of the bottom bracket shell is questionable so bearing lifetime can be reduced due to bad bottom bracket alignment.
  • Wheels used to have always 36 spokes. Today, you'll see wheels with as ridiculous spoke count as 20 (or even less!). Such wheels can't carry any useful road and repairability is questionable. If one spoke fails, the wheel generally becomes instantly unrideable.
  • Hubs have become available in the straightpull configuration, having spokes with a straight head as opposed to bent head. This is arguably a bad choice, because a straightpull hub dictates the rim size you can use with the wheel and it also dictates the spoke pattern you can use. Nowadays with straightpull hubs we have to choose the hub based on the rim diameter and spoke pattern. Many choices are unavailable.
  • Cantilever straddle cable has been replaced with link wire. This is a safety feature: if the main cable breaks and the link wire falls on a knobby tire, it won't lock the brake and send the rider over the bars.
  • Chains are today of bushingless design. The old-style bushing-type chains could last tens of thousands of kilometers if taken care of well. Also the old-style chains retain their lubrication long. The new-style bushingless chains require relubricating every 1000 km even in dry conditions and won't last many thousands of kilometers.
  • Chains have today "punched" pins. This is made to make the chain last under misuse such as shifting under load. However, the mushroom head "punched" pins can't be used to re-join a chain once disconnected, but rather you must use a new reinforced connecting pin. Some manufacturers have introduced "quick links" that can't be disconnected without pliers once the chain becomes dirty. Because they are so difficult to disconnect, they should be called "slow links" instead.
  • Since disc brakes were introduced, it was found the front quick release skewer was insufficient for holding the front wheel in on the fork. Braking causes forces that attempt to remove the front wheel from the fork. While the quick release skewer prevents this immediately, gradually after many brakings, the skewer becomes loose and no longer can hold the wheel in. This has been solved by using thru axles instead of quick release skewers.
  • Toe clips and straps are no longer used. Instead, clipless pedals are available. This is a very useful upgrade.
  • Cantilever brakes have mostly been replaced by V brakes. They are easier to set up and their mechanical advantage doesn't change as the pad wears. However, they require different style "long pull" levers that pull about twice the amount of cable that old-style levers pull.

Do I see a major drive to improve technology? No I don't. I see one step forward, one step back, one step forward, one step back, and so on...

About the only thing that is certain is that standards are removed from use for no good reason at all. If you buy a bike today and want to repair it 30 years from now, many parts can't be found anymore.

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