1000 mile review.
In 1997 Giant introduced the world to the compact geometry road bike. It was so radical that the bike was banned by the governing body of professional cycling initially. Today almost every bike manufacturer has a compact frame on the market. The all new 2016 Giant TCR line has gone back to redefining what a compact road bike should be. The TCR family starts with the more affordable TCR Advanced 3 ($1,600 USD) equipped with new Shimano Tiagra 10 speed components and ranges to the TCR Advanced SL ($9,000 USD) with Shimano Dura Ace Di2. The bike we have been spending time on is the Advanced Pro 0 ($5,500 USD) equipped with the Dura Ace mechanical groupset.
The first thing that stands out about this bike is the look. Stealth black with black labels and carbon rims the bike looks fast standing still. Compared to the previous iteration of the TCR the frame appears super model thin. The head tube has slimmed down, yet is stiffer when paired with the also slimmed down and yet stiffer fork. The bottom bracket area is still massive with Giant’s powercore design, which translates to immediate response when you put the hammer down. Giant replaced the previous Vector seat post with the new Variant Composite post which has a very clean merger into the seat tube, looking almost exactly like the SLR frame with the integrated post without the hassle of cutting to size.
Behind the seat there is what Giant refers to as the hollow-yolk design, instead of more popular bridged seat stay configuration. It is reminiscent of a mono-stay design but does not add any harshness to the ride quality. The internal cable routing is clean, using fewer holes in the frame than previously which means less reinforcement of the holes so less weight.
As the largest manufacturer in the world of bicycles, Giant has taken the next step in competing with high end wheel manufacturers such as Zipp, Reynolds and Enve. The 30 mm deep carbon wheels are created with Giant’s own Dynamic Balanced Lacing system which provides what they claim to be a “significantly higher transmission stiffness” than traditionally laced rims. At 23 mm the tubeless ready rims can fit a wide variety of tires. These top end SLR Carbon Climbing wheels have a Star Ratched driver. They accelerate extremely well and they feel like they are itching to go as the road turns up. Stopping power has been impressive in the wet and on significantly long descents. If there is any drawback to these rims, it is that they are very stiff so while that means fantastic handling, on harsher roads it means a few more bumps translate up to the rider.
One other new addition from Giant is the new Contact SL saddle. Created with Particle Flow Technology to prevent the breakdown of the gel support the Contact SL is comfortable from the first ride on. While this saddle comes in 3 body positions options the TCR comes with the more aggressive forward saddle.
A medium sized bike out of the box weighs in at an impressive 14.2 lbs. Our test bike complete with pedals in size small was still under 15 lbs but once on the road, there is never any fear that this bike won’t stand up to anything the rider can throw at it.
There is no mistaking this for an endurance bike, the aggressive stance and the quick acceleration let’s you know that the bike is ready to fly. Stand up, stomp on the pedals and make sure to hang on. The TCR jumps forward and when the road turns up the bike feels as if there were no Alp to tall to conquer. Comfort is never an issue with this frame. It deflects the worst vibrations without giving up the stiffness that makes it a bike ready to race.
There is not much to say about the Shimano Dura Ace group set. As expected the shifting was smooth as could be and dead on every time. In fact, the 9000 mechanical group is so smooth, it almost rivals the Ultegra Di2 groupset we have previously ridden and reviewed.
Traditionally Giant is a bike people don’t swoon over but they will take a second look when they quickly fall behind on climbs and sprints. What will really make them feel sick is when they find out the price for this beauty. If anyone is looking for a bike that performs as well, equipped the same, they will most likely be looking at thousands more from any other brand. Add together the retail cost of the wheels, and a Dura Ace group set and you will be about where this bike falls, so essentially, you get the frame for free. How can you beat that?
You can find the full company specs at http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/tcr.advanced.pro.0/22170/83944/