Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 review£6,299.00

Does the lightest TCR ever blow us away?

BikeRadar score5/5

The polite reaction to the TCR’s mandatory heft test is ‘wow’, as in the 6.14kg mass of my ML size must have professional team mechanics worrying how to bring it up to the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum weight limit.

There’s no crazy component spec, Giant’s lightest ever road frame with its Variant integrated seatpost is a good start. The OverDrive 2 oversized carbon steerer and stem, plus carbon bar and carbon-railed saddle continue the theme.

Own-brand carbon tubeless wheels and tyres are a seamless addition, and then there’s SRAM’s Red eTap wireless groupset.

The TCR seems to have been around forever, but has kept evolving without losing its soul. A super-light bike doesn’t always guarantee a good ride, as some feel skittish, but years of carbon expertise mean that’s not the case here.

The TCR seems to have been around forever, but has kept evolving without losing its soul
The TCR seems to have been around forever, but has kept evolving without losing its soul

Not only is the frameset light, but the tubeless wheelset and tyres are impressively feathery too, just 2,210g complete. Subtracting the weight of two 300g tyres leaves 1,610g, and that’s before allowing for the cassette, tubeless sealant, valves and skewers. Acceleration is as easy as it is blistering, and no ride has ever been blighted by a surfeit of wheel performance.

SRAM’s Red eTap not only frees the bike from half its cables, but with just one shift paddle on each side, it’ll work however ham-fisted or heavily gloved you are

The rims are 30mm deep and 23mm wide externally, reducing the 25mm tyres to 24mm in width. They feel supple with a dual rubber compound and seem to roll as fast as anything out there. I have little doubt that being tubeless improves ride quality, grip and rotational weight, and sealant adds reliability.

With astounding terrain-covering ability, short rises and drags virtually cease to exist as the TCR refuses to recognise elevation changes. It’s a bike that quicksteps up climbs, and any time you want to change pace, it’s begging to be unleashed.

Even pointing the TCR at the most uneven, rutted stretches of tarmac has little effect on ride quality. Vibration and big bump absorption is impressive. Integrated seatposts have historically increased rigidity to the detriment of comfort, but this one is so slim, with much unsupported length, that there’s flex aplenty.

Line changes and flicks around obstacles are virtually telepathic
Line changes and flicks around obstacles are virtually telepathic

Necessary line changes and flicks around obstacles are virtually telepathic, needing little more than a weight shift. Descending is confident, the positive front end feel, ideal position and effective braking combining to keep things calm and composed.

The drivetrain soon becomes second nature too. SRAM’s Red eTap not only frees the bike from half its cables, but with just one shift paddle on each side, it’ll work however ham-fisted or heavily gloved you are.

The 52/36 and 11-28 combination is perfect for covering ground quickly. Even if you think you’ll need lower gearing, the TCR’s seemingly inbuilt speed multiplies your efforts and saves energy — I extended my test rides simply because I felt my intended routes weren’t enough.

Giant says this frameset has the highest stiffness to weight ratio of any road bike on the market, and it’s hard to argue. Whether digging deep on a climb or sprinting for a village sign, I didn’t once feel the bike was lacking in performance, but did wish I could unlock more of the TCR’s potential.

This TCR’s thrill comes from the ride, which maintains its position as a high-performance, great-value benchmark.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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