Giant Trinity Advanced SL2 - First ride review£5,000.00

Drag-defying aero ride

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Giant’s Trinity Advanced SL is one of the new generation of ultra aero bikes that have been locked in battle against both drag and restrictive road-race regulations for more than a year now.

You’d think for £5,000 you’d be getting a properly bejewelled bike, so the fact the TASL 2 comes equipped like most £2,000 bikes shows just how much research and development cost the frame represents.

If you’re an experienced rider after the maximum possible straightline speed then it’s potentially worth it, but the braking and slow-speed handling definitely let it down in practical terms.

Ride & handling: Phenomenal power return for the experienced rider but not for the faint-hearted

While slow-speed manoeuvring is awkward, thanks to limited steering lock and a very wide turning circle, the Giant is phenomenally stiff between pedals and road. Press down, and the rigid base bars and rear end lever you forward with an undiluted surge that builds in crescendo as you click up through the gears and drop into the super-low tuck.

The extreme “head down, arse up”  position and cutting-edge aerodynamics means it carves through the air with minimal noise apart from the buzz of your helmet straps. While it feels weird looking down and seeing the stem turning right underneath you rather than slightly ahead, the high-speed handling is good too. There’s very precise placement and decent stability, even as wind strength rises from the side.

Where this thoroughbred gets terrifying though is when you try to slow down. The tortuous, frame-fouling cable routing combines with extremely short levers to give a horribly spongy feel and frighteningly feeble braking power. Hopefully this is something that Giant can improve, but our demo bike definitely left us feeling alarmed.

Frame: Wind-tunnel-bred beast with a super-stiff rear end

To get round UCI road time trial rules, the deep section under the direct-fit bars isn’t just a fairing – it’s actually the bottom half of the stem. Honest. The stem top plate then forms a totally flush surface with the tapering top tube. The sidepull brake is also tucked behind the fork legs for minimum drag, with cables transferred from inside the stem to inside the down tube, with short sections of Nokon-articulated cable segments.

The down tube is a dead straight blade leading down to the press-fit bottom bracket in the supersized Powercore BB area. Backwards-facing dropouts maximise security at the expense of the speed at which you can change a wheel, but lack of adjusters means the wheel position and frame clearance are fixed.

The rear brake also gets tucked out of the wind under the massive chainstays, while the aero seat tube curves up and back round the wheel, before heading up vertically. There’s even a rubber gaiter over the seatclamp area to smooth airflow and the seatclamp is adjustable for fore and aft offset too.

While the base bar position is fixed, the arm rests are adjustable for height via different riser inserts. Frame sizes are limited to small, medium and large options though, which means some riders will have a fudged fit rather than a finely tuned one.

Giant trinity advanced sl2: giant trinity advanced sl2
Giant trinity advanced sl2: giant trinity advanced sl2

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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