If you’ve been studying bike test form recently, then you’d be daft to bet against Giant when it comes to ride quality at any price. The TCR Advanced is a proper thoroughbred that will delight both experienced race jockeys and those just moving from a canter to a fast gallop.
Ride & handling: Super light, powerful and ultra precise
If you’re looking for the superlative aspects of the Giant’s ride, it’s probably the precision and conﬁdence of the TCR’s handling that’s the most dramatic part of its persona.
Our test routes include some deliberately treacherous, tightening-radius switchback sections, with braking bump and scabby shell grit-infested run-ins that have only got worse with the UK’s recent foul weather.
It’s a properly frightening section on most aero bikes, and deﬁnitely a case of discretion over valour when it comes to how hard we brake and how little we lean on most road bikes at any price.
By the time we’d got to that point in the loop on the Advanced though, we had total trust in its absolute authority and resolutely surefooted approach to corners. That meant we nailed all apexes with plenty of grip and punched out past the parapets of the humpback bridge at the bottom faster than we’ve ever done. We loved the conﬁdence this bike gives to its riders.
The overdrive 2 fork and front end give the tcr advanced excellent, confidence-inspiring handling: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
The OverDrive 2 fork and front end inspire confidence on the road
Punching – a totally accurate description of how the TCR applies whatever torque you’re packing – puts it straight onto the road and leaves others standing. The whole package hurls you up the road and you feel every inch of power transfer from your shoulders through the brake hoods, the massive down tube, big chainstays, sharp shifting and tight wheelset.
There’s a bit of lag caused by the wheel weight, but in terms of focused drive and precise feedback for feathering traction when on rough roads, it was an exhilarating ride.
It’s equally solid in its power response when you’re seated or spinning tempo, backing you up 100 percent whenever you decide to cause trouble on a club run or go hunting for a new PB on a climb.
The real clincher in terms of overall victory here, though, is how well the TCR treats you on longer rides. It’s not a soft-focus-smoocher for sure, but the taut frame is thin-walled enough to shove the sharpest edges off road repairs or rain damage, letting you skim over the worst of it without any loss of composure or interruption of cadence.
The handling is stable enough for hour after hour of relaxed cruising or for skinning up with aero bars and deep wheels to really push its speed potential to the max.
Frame & equipment: Future-proof frameset with decent kit
Giant are one of the most experienced carbon manufacturers in the bike world, and the only company to create their own carbon weaves in-house, so when they attach the Advanced name to a bike they’re not joking.
For a start you get a carbon layup, rich in top-quality, high tensile T700 ﬁbres. Giant also use a massive oversized OverDrive 1.5-1.25in tapered head tube, a huge down tube and a wide and deep Powercore alloy-sleeved press-ﬁt bottom bracket.
Deep tapered chainstays end in stiffer dropouts on the 2012 model, while semi-aero seatstays blend into the aero ﬁn of the wheelhugger seat tube.
A deep twin-bolt seatpost clamp makes sure there’s no saddle slippage, while internal cable routing keeps things neat and slippery in terms of airﬂow too. The result is a light frame and fork, and a bike that’s ready for all the next mod cons.
In other words, there’s an integrated ANT+ Ridesense wireless computer sensor already installed on the inside of the offside chainstay, and the Advanced is fully Shimano Di2 electric gear compatible.
The advanced blend fibre is actually custom woven in-house by giant using high modulus toray t700 fibres: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
The Advanced blend fibre is custom woven in-house by Giant
Five sizes of the dramatically sloped frame that started the whole compact geometry genre mean most riders will be able to get a decent ﬁt. Giant have taken a nice simple approach to equipping the TCR by bolting on an almost complete Shimano Ultegra stop-and-go suite.
Tellingly, Giant ﬁt a premium quality Dura-Ace press-ﬁt bottom bracket for practical reasons rather than cosmetic upgrading. Outside of Shimano the only other non-Giant componentry is the Fizik Arione saddle, another test team favourite.
Shimano’s Contact cockpit is well shaped and stiff enough to make the most of the handling precision and horsepower transfer in the frame. While they’re not particularly light, the Giant wheels use a broader-than-average 21in rim to give a really smooth rolling feel with the matching tyres.
Speciﬁc soft front, harder rear dual compound rubber also lets you properly let rip when the road gets twisty.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.