- Highs: Fast handling, aggressive and fluid speedster
- Lows: The long, low position won’t suit everyone
- Buy if: You want a race bike that feels fast and fluid at an attractive price for the package
The TCR must be one of the longest running models in modern road bike history. The original TCR dates back to 1998, while Giant's first compact, sloping top tube designs hark all the way back to 1995 with the first TCR race team Once in 1997.
In the 19+ years of development since, the TCR has gone from aluminium to carbon, and to ultralight, integrated seatpost models, and now it is debuting that most forward looking of features — disc brakes.
Giant uses the pretty much industry standard 12mm thru-axle front and rear, with flat-mounts for the disc calipers keeping the bold new (at least in this fluro finish) TCR looking slick and still as compact as ever.The Advanced 1 at £1,899 / $2,375 / AU$2,999 is on paper a great value machine, running Ultegra gearing in a 50/34, 11-28 combo combined with BR-RS505 brakes. This set up on its own is what we are seeing on bikes closer to the £2.5k mark. The frame itself is shared across the Advanced line, so it’s the same frame as seen on the £3.5k+ Pro model, the only change being a switch to an aluminium steerer fork compared to the Pro’s all carbon unit.
The Giant TCR is a great value race bike
Giant’s Advanced frame tech means that each frame is built comprising a front triangle that’s assembled and moulded as one continuous piece, then a secondary process is used to join this to the rear end. Giant claims that this method allows it to reduce a layer externally to lower weight, while having no effect on overall strength or ride quality.
The TCR feels every inch the race bred machine it is. The ride is undeniably firm, yet this never translates into any of the wearing buzz or vibrations reaching you, which you can find on bikes of this type. Running on the middling width, basic PR-2 wheels and Giant's own front and rear specific 25c tyres you do get a bit of road feedback, but the overall ride quality is good.
The handling is sharp and nimble, and the front end with its oversized Overdrive design is unmoving, even under hard cornering. I did however get the sense of a little bit of twist between the front and rear end under hard sprints and fast descents, it doesn’t come at the detriment to the ride though, you just get a sense of the bike dipping a little mid-corner when you're giving it a big lean.
The TCR rewards hard efforts uphill and wills you to ride out of the saddle
The bike rewards you with a nicely responsive ride and left me wanting to get on a more expensive model with a lighter set of hoops than the middleweights fitted here.
I can’t really criticize the wheels that much as they’re nicely put together, stiff and smooth and at this price point there a very fine set, but I’d just like to unleash the TCR’s potential with an upgrade in the not too distant future.
Giant, like its biggest rivals Trek and Specialized, has invested a lot over recent years into its own component lines and here the Connect stem and Contact bar are both great quality pieces. The seat post is carbon (and a dedicated design for the TCR) and is topped with the swoopy Forward saddle, which proved itself a very nice place to be.
Overall, the TCR Advanced 1 Disc, along with the new Cannondale Super Six Evo Disc and Merida’s Scultura Disc, shows where racing disc bikes are going. The TCR is a fine machine at a price that undercuts its competition by £500 and certainly isn’t that much less of a bike. The ride is firm, fast and fluid, and if racy bikes are your thing then the value packed Advanced 1 is well worth some serious consideration.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.