Compared with the jackhammer-stiff disc forks you find on some cyclocross bikes, the sublimely smooth OverDrive 2 of the Giant TCX Advanced 1 – better damped than some suspension units we’ve ridden – is quite remarkable.
It’s aided and abetted by exclusive 35mm Schwalbe Super Swan tubeless-ready tyres, super-thin seatstays and a unique D-Fuse SL Composite seatpost, carrying the floaty feel of the front end through to the rear. Even riding it on cobbled courses, our palms and kidneys were fine.
What’s more incredible, though, is that this smooth comfort and chewing-gum-in-hair traction is combined with laser-accurate feedback. The fork has the extra-oversized Giant OverDrive 2 steerer at the top, and takes a mountain bike style bolt-through axle which helps deal with the increased disc brake forces at the hub as well as adding stiffness.
Massive chainstays and down-tube mean no dilution of drive or feel from the rear end either, and when you factor in the 1,050g frame and 380g fork – weights that a lot of road bikes would be proud of – the TCX potentially sprints and climbs well enough to blow up your ego like an airbag. You will need to ditch the 550g tyres for something lighter to release its full race potential though.
The issues that delayed the launch of SRAM’s disc brakes have been sorted, and their subtle control and all-weather power make cantilever brakes seem obsolete, right from the first twisty off-camber grass descent.
The oversized-axle Rotor cranks not only look good, their stiffness combined with clear shifting from the SRAM Force gears makes it great under power and the ratios are fine on and off-road.
While the TCX’s 135mm rear spacing and 15mm front axle won’t take conventional cyclocross wheels, it will take 29er mountain bike wheels, of which there is a better selection, including the sub-1,500g Easton EC90 carbon set we’ve used for racing on. Giant’s alloy wheels are good, though, and it’s more than happy to hang with the training pack wearing 28mm slick tyres.
As well as pressing the reset button on some of our ’cross bike expectations, the TCX is also one of the most beautiful bikes we’ve seen in years, with the internal wedge seatpost clamp completing its ultra-clean Ford Gulf Racing livery.