Possibly the most refined bike model in cycling shows no signs of slowing down yet. Giant’s TCR has a pedigree greater than some bike companies, and has been the mainstay of the Taiwanese giants for more than two decades.
- The Giant TCR Advanced 2 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The carbon-fibre TCRs come in three levels, each denoting lighter, stiffer material, and this Advanced 2 is the second cheapest of the entry-level range.
To look at it, it could easily be mistaken for one of its far more exotically built models, as the frames share the same profile, but even on closer inspection, it’s hardly slumming it in the spec stakes.
Not so fast, you might say. Oh, but it is. Even at this reasonably basic spec, the TCR seems to have lost none of its go, and from the first metres, feels keen to scamper up the road.
The angular head tube area, boxy down tube, broad bottom-bracket shell, asymmetric chainstays and dropped seatstays combine to give superb drive and excellent control. There’s a definite and immediate effect on momentum from each standing pedal stroke, the TCR hauling its way uphill in a series of mini surges.
On the flat, you’re rapidly up to speed, and can immediately feel how lively the bike is. There’s real seat-of-the-pants control, the surprisingly good saddle needing just a weight shift to avoid obstructions, or assist cornering.
The own-brand Connect bar and Contact stem are nicely ergonomic, and along with the OverDrive oversized steerer, have a very solid feel when climbing or sprinting.
The TCR’s slim, stiletto-like fork has an ideal blend of stiffness for accurate handling and impressive compliance, working with the similarly slim Variant aero seatpost, frame and tyres to give the sort of bump-smoothing ride some endurance bikes would be proud of.
Giant has taken the step of making their bikes tubeless, and actually supplying them with valves and sealant installed. Using its own brand Gavia 1 25mm tyres and PR-2 aluminium wheelset, you’re saved the time and occasional expense of converting a tubeless-ready combination, as with some brands.
Without a standard set of clinchers with inner tubes to compare against, I can’t say how much the tubeless setup alters the ride, but I'm in no doubt it’s smoother and even more supple because of it.
Tubeless tyres have lower rolling resistance than clinchers, and however much they add to the TCR’s performance, it’s welcome. Their improved feel and ability to better conform to road imperfections increases cornering speeds, and there’s usually a small weight saving in the most important area, aiding acceleration.
The wheels willingly spin up to speed and gamely hang onto it through incessantly rolling roads. While I wouldn’t class them as race wheels, they're quite racy, with sufficient performance to please most riders. The only fault I found with the PR-2s was a ticking noise from the front rim joint when braking, but it’s quite mild.
As ever, Shimano’s 105 is crisp shifting, good-looking and tough, and the compact chainset fitted here doesn’t mean less speed, just more accessible gears from the 11-28 cassette.
The TCR Advanced 2 is a thoroughly satisfying and incredibly comfortable bike to ride at a steady speed, but put the hammer down, and it really comes alive, with seemingly never-ending ability.