Giant have impressed us this year, with bikes including their Defy Advanced 2, which won the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year award. So our ears pricked up when a new model, the TCR SL 2, popped into the BikeRadar office.
The 2013 TCR bikes represent a step forward for Giant’s aluminium road bike range, proving that you don’t have to look towards carbon if you want a performance bike.
The £1,249 (US$1,550) SL 2 is built with a 105 groupset, and an Ultegra-equipped version, the SL 1, comes in at £1,799 (US$2300). The biggest news is the frame, which is constructed from ALUXX SL Ultralight-Edition aluminium, which weighs 1,050g – amazing for a bike of this price.
Giant have pushed their tube manipulation skills to the max with the frame, with virtually every section having something interesting going on. The head tube, for example, uses Giant’s OverDrive tapered system, with 1 1/8in top and 1 1/2in lower bearings in a rather neat-looking package. It's connected to the equally impressive top tube, which is tapered out to the same diameter as the head tube and slims down towards the seat tube.
The OverDrive head tube should keep things stiff up front
The seat tube itself is manipulated in numerous ways. Giant are clearly taking aerodynamics seriously with this bike, with an aero seatpost and seat tube, including a cutaway to give room for the rear wheel as seen on many TT bikes.
Lower down, the seat tube squares off at the BB to give a larger junction, presumably to increase stiffness. The press-fit BB shell should aid this stiffness, helping the frame transmit as much of your power as possible to the rear wheel.
There’s no doubting that the TCR frame is the main story here. However, it’s worth looking at how Giant have achieved such an advanced frame at this price point.
They've equipped it with Shimano 105 STIs and mechs, but have managed to save a bit of cash with an R561 chainset and brake callipers and a 12-28T Tiagra cassette. These are upgradable parts but should perform well anyway.
Giant have also used their own parts for a lot of the finishing kit, all finished to a high quality. The wheels are also an own-brand offering, with sealed bearing hubs, P-R2 rims, and 28 DT Competition spokes on the back and 24 at the front. P-SL1 tyres finish off the package.
Giant have used their own-branded pieces of finishing kit for the stem, bar and seatpost
Obvious comparisons can be drawn with the Scott Speedster, which also comes in a 105/Tiagra option (£999/US$1,369) or an Ultegra one (£1,449/US$1,889).
For more information see www.giant-bicycles.com.