A terrific high-speed cruiser, the Giant TCR C3 is a no-risks choice that's excellent value for money as your first 'serious' race or sportive bike.
Giant's TCR C3 combines a light and shock-absorbing frame with Shimano's tried-and-trusted 105 components in a package that handles confidently. It might be a little too safe for some, but it's a solid choice if you are just getting into road bikes at this level.
Ride: stable but lacking aggression
The Giant TCR C3 is the choice for the pacy sportive rider, and the rather good looking and quality T700 carbon frame is the reason to spend £1450 on it. The slender tube lines smooth out road buzz but the bike doesn’t flex. It winds up to sprints with no discernible loss of power and the standard 39/52T chainset makes high speed cruising easy.
Once at top speed the C3 feels as though it wants to stay there. Very pleasing and controlled, the only thing interrupting the ride on our test bike was a squeaking fizik Pave saddle.
Moving around and giving the bike a bit of body language makes the neutral front stance and firm fork line up nicely into corners, and although it lacks a bit of aggression, the unwavering line is reassuring. It appears to float over uneven roads, and we found ourselves powering through obstacles rather than swerving around them.
The lack of sting in the C3’s tail really pays off on long rides, providing plenty of comfort, and we didn’t feel as battered as we did on competitor bikes.
The only criticism we can level against the TCR C3 is that, for some, it’s just a bit too safe. Like nice girls only falling for bad boys, some of us couldn’t find true love in the C3; there just wasn’t enough of a dangerous side. To many riders, though, this will be the C3’s greatest strength.
Frame: subtle and safe
Giant doesn’t wish to exclude any potential riders with this bike. It plays safe by targeting a broad church with an inclusive ride and sound specification. The TCR C3 is really a tweaked down, more forgiving version of Giant’s all-out Advanced road race range. Not as in-your-face as the competition from Specialized, the subtle frame lines and geometry of the Giant are a safe bet.
Equipment: race oriented but strong
At this price the Giant TCR C3 slugs it out with the Specialized Tarmac Comp and it really is a battle of the heavyweights: they’re very evenly matched. At £1450 the TCR C3 is cheaper, but you have to look hard to find the £50 difference. A standard Shimano 105 group throughout and a garnishing of in-house branded components are all standard on bikes at this price.
The only thing the C3 lacks is an all-carbon fork; an alloy steerer tops the T700 carbon fork instead of a carbon tube. It’s not a major issue and there’s only about a 100g weight penalty – the lengthy fork on the Specialized is heavier.
The C3 comes with fast gearing: a standard 39/52T 105 chainset and an 11-25T cassette. The TCR C bikes are squarely aimed at racers and the gear ratios are plenty fast enough. It’s good to see Giant being brave enough to go down this route rather than compromise race performance by fitting a compact chainset and large cassette. If you haven’t the legs to turn the gears then the sportive-friendly SCR range is what you should look at instead.
Winding the bike up to speed it lacks a bit of zest but that’s down to Giant’s slightly dead feeling 555 wheels rather than the gearing. The wheels aren't overweight but you do notice the lack of finesse when it comes to high-powered sprints. For everyday riding though, the 555s are good cruisers and that bit of extra weight adds strength.
Summary: not the liveliest but no nasty surprises
The Giant TCR C3 is the consummate high-speed cruiser. The quality frame and ride makes it a reassuring investment. Experienced riders might want a bit more liveliness but the lack of surprises is the bike's strength when it comes to tempting beginners and those after more comfort.
It's a safe bet that won't disappoint.
Although it may not be our overall race packaged favourite in this genre, the frame really shines through and is a real winner. We'd happily upgrade around it and the compact geometry is open to both race and sportive set-ups.