Giant TCX 0 £1649

Out and out race ride

BikeRadar score 4/5

Giant supply bikes to the Dutch Rabobank cyclo-cross team, and the TCX 0 is definitely aimed more at the competitive rider than the cyclist looking for a winter bike or all-round machine.

It won’t match a full-on road bike for all-out speed, and its gearing will limit it to some extent, but it’s very tough and will take a lot of punishment. Even if you’re not racing ’cross, if you’re regularly riding singletrack and roughstuff, and you don’t want to go down the mountain bike road, a bike like this still makes sense.

Ride & handling: Lightning-quick reflexes make it superb off-road. On road it’s aggressive and stiff

The TCX 0 is a great looking, high performance ’cross bike. The combination of light frame, shortish stem and race-ready Mavic Aksium wheels make the bike great for aggressive riding over just about any surface and the Michelin Cross Mud tyres, which have a pattern inherited from Michelin’s highly rated Comp S Light tyres, live up to their name and their off-road reputation.

The Giant’s stiff frame and oversize seatpost mean that in the saddle you’re able to feel every bump, sometimes a bit more than you might like. You also get a lot of squeal from the front brakes in the wet, which on occasions was ear-splitting, accompanied by some judder through the fork.

This is hardly unheard of on cyclo-cross bikes, and it proves once again just how important it is to set up your brakes perfectly, to avoid scaring the wildlife when slamming on the brakes or giving pedestrians coronaries when you reach the bottom of a steep hill.

Frame: Light and sporty, but lack of mudguard and rack eyes marks this out as a racer’s bike

The Giant’s serious cyclo-cross intentions are evident in the flattened top tube, which allows for easy shouldering of the bike. The quality of the welds impressed us.

Its racing intent does mean it’s not going to be as versatile as some, lacking mudguard and rack eyes, but if that’s not a concern it could still double up as a high-end winter trainer.

Equipment: Shimano’s snazzy Ultegra 6700, Mavic Aksium wheels and some other decent kit

At this price you’d expect to find some high quality kit adorning the frame, and you won’t be disappointed. Shimano’s highly rated 6700 groupset delivers super-smooth shifts, which is what you need if you’re moving rapidly over ever-changing surfaces. The Giant comes with an extra set of inline, 'cross-style brake levers which are excellent when you’re riding on the tops.

The local tracks were lined with inches-deep muddy puddles, but the Michelin tyres kept their grip regardless. What’s more surprising is that they coped with road surfaces pretty much just as well. Rolling resistance is good and there were no problems with grip even in what were seriously wet conditions.

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