I'm looking for a road/commuter bike my local shop has the Giant Contende 3 2021 for basically 10% or $100 off so $949 to $859. Is there basically no difference between 2021 and 2022 or 2023 in terms of performance or material or is there a noticeable improvement going from 2021 to 2022/2023?

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    "good" should be an evaluation of what meets your needs. Which bike meets your needs best? If the 2021 model meets your needs better than the 2022 model then 2021 is better than 2022. Based on how well a bike meets your needs you can assess value - what are you willing to pay. If 2022 meets your needs better but only by a little bit then 2021 might be a better value.
    – David D
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 17:11
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    This question title isn't going to age well. For a general purpose question suitable for a repository/knowledgebase such as SE, the question would work better either as "How do 2021 model bikes compare to 2022?" or "By what criteria can/should I compare the previous year's model bikes to the current year's?" where current = whatever the current year happens to be when the question is read.
    – shoover
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 20:43
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    This is a general comment, not tied to this bicycle model specifically: Generationally, weight differences are minuscule, especially in lower-end bicycles. Even going up the stack in the same model year, you might see a reduction of 1 kg for a bike with twice the price, which is IMO pretty insignificant if you yourself weigh 70 kg. A bicycle's speed is largely determined by how hard you push, not by how new it is. I for one would have to pay a pretty penny to get a better bike than my 2006 CF frame.
    – jayded-bee
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 8:50
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    For a road/commuter bike, IMO there's rarely a good reason to pay extra to buy the latest model unless you have cash to burn. And if you do have cash to burn, perhaps buy last year's model and give the extra cash to a charity. Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 11:15
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    define "good" in the context of a commuter bike, please?
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 21:47

4 Answers 4


I'm going to answer much more generally than Michael. Basically, you want to be aware of step changes, or significant changes. If the group was updated, it's a moderately big deal - not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of. Changes to the frames and other components are likely to be pretty small.

On the performance end of the spectrum, a model year update may give you a new frame design (e.g. different tubing, different shapes, different carbon layup, which is both equivalent to and more complex than changing the tubing in metal frames), or a different groupset, or both. Here, it can pay to be more aware of changes.

For high end frames, on road bikes, the differences are likely to be real but very small to small in magnitude (for most users). You may want to take note if a frame has gone from non-integrated cockpit to integrated (i.e. hoses hidden, often routed under or through the handlebars and through the head tube or, worse, the headset). Integrated is a lot harder to service, and can make changing your stem height or length a lot more labor intensive. Note that I referred to drop bar bikes. Updates to suspension designs on MTBs may be a lot more meaningful. I am unable to assess things in this case.

On the Claris, Sora, and Tiagra (8, 9, and 10 speeds at the time of writing) end of the groupset spectrum, updates aren't as frequent. You might want to take note if Claris had been upgraded to 9 speed. However, an update to the groupset would be fairly significant, because going from 9 to 10 speeds gives you fewer gaps in the gearing or a wider range. I would expect updates to the frames at the lower end to also be less frequent, and when they occur, they might not be large changes.

It's possible that a model might change from rim to disc brakes. I don't think this is worth worrying over for an entry level bike. If a bike goes from cable to hydraulic disc brakes, I would view that as a clear positive, since cable disc brakes have a few disadvantages and can be hard to set up well on lower cost bikes.

On lower-end bikes, the rest of the spec changes are probably going to be meaningless. There's only so much money to play with at this end of the market. You'd probably be looking at minor changes to the finishing kit (e.g. saddle, stem, seatpost, handlebars), or maybe the wheelset. In the latter case, it would probably be from one generic aluminum wheelset to another one.

We haven't discussed the impact of inflation on prices. At the time of writing, the world is experiencing a burst of inflation due to the leftover impacts of the COVID pandemic on the supply chain, plus the impact of the invasion of Ukraine. Consumers at the lower end may be more sensitive to price. Manufacturers might use cheaper items where they can to meet their price points as best as they can.

At the upper end, it looks like everyone is just raising prices. This is frustrating to me, but a rant about it is beyond the scope of the question.

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    External to internal cabling in the frame is another similar step-change; the later model might be a little more aero, but much harder to maintain at home
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:07
  • @ChrisH This is potentially a good point. I think most mid end or higher drop bar bikes have internal cables by now (not necessarily integrated cockpit). Unfortunately, there may be a trend towards hiding the cables more generally, which is a detriment to mid and lower end bikes.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:29
  • Another problem with internal routing on entry-level bikes: noise. No to much is done to ensure that the cables is not banging against the frame. The worst being the rear brake hose with hydraulic brakes (not so common on entry-level road bikes, but quite well on flat-bar bikes), that doesn't have tension and can be a nice source of rattling.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:34
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    I agree with this answer, but it occurs to me that on a Claris-grade bike, the newer bike might have slightly worse specs (cheaper tires and finishing kit, that sort of thing) in order to meet a certain price point. Especially considering recent price increases.
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 15:44
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    You are going into a lot of specifics, and the ones I feel fit to judge are all correct. But regarding the gist of the question, I think it's fair to say: In all likelihood, none of the possible changes would make the new bike much better. Both the old and the new model are $1000 class bikes. The old one comes with a slight discount, that's it. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 22:04

The 2021 and 2022 versions seem to be pretty much identical. Same frame geometry, same Shimano Claris groupset, same components. When you open photos of both and switch between them quickly the only difference you can see – apart from the color – is due to slightly different camera angle and light.


Real specifications update far less often than paint jobs, so in the general case there is probably no real difference. But you need to check the components, and compare year to year.

Usually the result is that last year's model is as good as this year's, better if you prefer the colour. I prefer to get my bikes this way if buying new.

Occasionally you can get a model that's due for a mechanical refresh. Even this isn't the end of the world unless you're worried about being trendy. That's how I ended up with a 2017 paint job on about a 2013 mechanical spec on my hardtail. But I like it anyway. This is probably something to be more careful of at the lower end. Brands are less keen on their prestige models looking dated, so they'll be reluctant to use dated components and you won't get as far behind as I did.

  • That's how I ended up with a 2017 paint job on about a 2013 mechanical spec on my hardtail I got a similar experience with my bike too, but on components level. The fork was a 2016 spec on a 2020 bike, but I only realized it after having ordered spare wipers and sleeves (the stanchions went from 28mm to 30mm for this fork model).
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:03
  • @Renaud yours was a particularly tricky case (and one I should look out for if I do that much work on my forks). In my case it was rather obvious (3x9 gearing being the biggest factor)
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:05
  • The hardest part is to get the parts, servicing an entry level fork is straightforward, and I was surprised with the difference it made (but most of the difference came from applying a good fork grease).
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:12
  • @Renaud I ought to service my forks. Even if they didn't already, they probably need it after Monday's ride, with muddy water almost up to the toptube.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:52
  • The changes year-to-year might be small, but they add up. A mid-range road bike from today has features and technology no amount of money could buy 25 years ago (e.g. 11 speed (electronic) shifting, internal cables, hydraulic disc brakes, carbon monocoque frame, tubeless tyres …).
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 16:18

Another potential gotcha is the availability of accessories, especially for bikes with unusual frames. For example, some bike manufacturers produce mud-guards or bike racks which fit in nicely with their frames and are easier to install than generic variants; changes to the frame can require changes to those accessories, and there’s no guarantee that the accessories which fit an older model of the frame will be available.

So if this is something you might care about, it can be worth checking whether any frame changes between the 2021 model and the current model affect any accessories you might want. If they do, check whether the 2021 accessories are still available, and consider buying them sooner rather than later...

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