Giant TCR Advanced 3 £1950

Rapid roller

BikeRadar score 4/5

In terms of ride quality, you won’t find many bikes as good as Giant’s TCR Advanced. It's fantastically accurate, with a greedy enthusiasm for speed and climbs. If you've got £2,000 in your pocket and want an all-out racy road bike, it's hard to beat.

Ride & handling: Fast handling ride that begs you to put the power down

Some bikes are genuine watershed rides that mark a real shift in capability and character from just good to absolutely great, and the TCR Advanced is undoubtedly one of those bikes. As soon as you grab the scrawny necked Shimano brake hoods, you’re immediately aware of the accuracy and precision of the front end.

As foot loads against shoulder with the first pedal stroke, the massive stiffness of the down tube and the solid stance of the bottom bracket are equally clear.  As well as the taut muscularity the light, tight wheels and low weight mean the Advanced picks up velocity and vertical gain with insatiable enthusiasm.

Every upslope, every corner exit, every village sign, it’s ready and waiting, begging you to press the pedals and put everyone else into the hurt locker and throw away the key. As a true race bike, the handling is wired for instant reactions too, ducking and weaving down tight twisty “unsuitable for large vehicles” back roads like a Star Wars Speeder Bike.

The occasionally light front end takes some getting used to if you’re a nervous rider, but if you push your weight forward and attack the descents, then the laser accuracy of the front end means cornering lines are pinpoint precise and locked in place as soon as you drop your shoulder into them. The quick reactions mean you can reflex correct for any unseen potholes or sudden tyre slip though.

The flex-free baseline of the frame gives it serious high-speed stability. Add controlled consistent braking through the Shimano 105 callipers and it’ll drop most bikes as easily on descents as it will on climbs. It’s the surprisingly smooth rider treatment of the TCR that lifts it from being just another “might as well be alloy” super-rigid powerhouse racer though.

You’ll still know about any big holes or rough patches on the roads, but it screens out road buzz and downsizes any direct hits better than its price-comparable race peers. In fact, it blends a smooth gliding top note with direct power delivery and precision handling in a way only a few truly outstanding bikes do.

Chassis: Carbon frame combines stunning speed with sublime smoothness

It’s obvious from the bulbous tapered OverDrive head tube and massive squared off down tube that the TCR is a totally different beast from Giant’s Trinity aero machine. What you lose in drag though it makes up for with a cutting-edge carbon fibre composite layup that drops weight right down near the magic kilo mark.

The monster down tube and bottom bracket shell carries top-quality Shimano Dura-Ace press fit bearings while alloy dropouts provide rigid stay tips. The combination of oversized lower half with tapered top tube and skinny stays looks extremely businesslike too.

The bright white and blue paintjob is also picked up with blue anodised front mech mount, headset top cap and bottle cage bosses for a really high-quality look. The Advanced 3 still gets the same heavy alloy steerer fork as cheaper Giant bikes though, with the much lighter, full-carbon fork only appearing on the £2,700 Advanced 2.

Equipment: Quality wheels, saddle, brakes and chainset – but we'd prefer a lighter fork

We tested the £1,650 TCR Advanced 4 at the start of the summer and while the base gearset – Shimano 105 – is the same, the Advanced 3 is rolling on some notable upgrades if you look closely. For a start, you get a 105 (rather than R550) chainset running top-quality Dura-Ace press-fit bearings and sharp stopping cartridge pad 105 rather than Tektro brakes.

The polished and matt alloy Mavic Aksium Race wheels with 20 bladed spokes front and rear look great. Together with the Michelin Lithion 2 tyres they’re also 280g lighter than the wheels on the Advanced 4. 

The custom colour Fizik Arione saddle is a first-class seating upgrade too, although we’d still rather have the better fork than all the small hop-ups here. The Giant Connect SL cockpit is also really well shaped and stiff enough for aggressive riding. There’s nothing stopping you adding a clip-on tri bar and getting your aero tuck on either.

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