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New Giant TCR Advanced SL unveiled

Steve Westlake
30 Jun 2015

No surprises here - the new TCR is lighter, stiffer and more comfortable.

Giant has just whipped the covers off its 2016 updates for the TCR Advanced SL – its top-of-the-range GC contender – which now boasts a class-leading stiffness-to-weight ratio for those riders who want to climb and sprint like the pros. To achieve this, the entire TCR frame has been carefully pared down and weight has been trimmed by 12% (181g) for the frameset. Carbon lay-ups have been honed, edges have been smoothed and tubes have been strategically reduced in profile to give a frame weight of 856g.

That’s light, but not the lightest, and Giant is keen to stress that achieving the absolute minimum weight was not the goal for the TCR, despite being developed and campaigned by the Team Giant-Alpecin WorldTour squad.

Giant TCR Advanced SL cornering

‘Anyone can build a light bike. Anyone can build a stiff bike, but it takes special expertise to combine them to give maximum stiffness-to-weight ratio,’ says Erik Klemm, Giant’s global on-road lead designer at the bike’s unveiling in Mallorca. ‘Some of the bikes we’ve tested in comparison to the TCR are lighter, but they’re not half as stiff because of it. In the end, it was our superior engineering and manufacturing capabilities that allowed us to achieve the best stiffness-to-weight ratio.’

With that goal in mind, there are parts of the new TCR (specifically the large box-section down tube and ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket) that have retained their beefy character in the name of pedalling stiffness.

Combined with the compact geometry that Giant pioneered back in 1997 (which was initially banned by the UCI) and a new lighter (by 30g) composite fork, handling proved to be direct and agile on our two-day test ride in the Mallorca mountains. This positivity of steering and braking has been aided by the repositioning of the lower head tube bearing to be more in line with the head tube’s junction with the down tube, which Giant says provides a more direct transmission of forces and between the two.

Giant TCR Advanced SL climbing

The Advanced SL retains the integrated seatpost seen on the previous model, but with a revised profile featuring a more rounded trailing edge, which allows it to be fabricated with less material, while at the same time improving compliance and rider comfort a little. With all that focus on stiffness, it wasn’t the plushest of rides over the minimal rough terrain that we encountered, but a day in the saddle resulted in no comfort complaints.

One area where Giant hasn’t gone to town on the TCR is aerodynamics. Their Propel model has that base amply covered, and the world’s largest bike manufacturer hasn’t pursued aero gains with the TCR. But DIY mechanics will be pleased to note that the cable routing on the TCR has been redesigned for easier installation.  

The TCR Advanced SL is hewn from Giant’s top-of-the-range composite of Toray T800 carbon fibre blended with Giant’s own resin (as opposed to using pre-preg as many other manufacturers do). Also in the new TCR range are the TCR Advanced Pro, which features the same integrated seatpost as the Advanced SL, and the TCR Advanced, which comes with a standard seatpost. Both of these are built with Toray T700 carbon fibre.

Giant WheelSystems

Giant TCR WheelSystem hub

To complement the new TCR, Giant has also launched its new WheelSystems range – another important ingredient in its stiffness-to-weight recipe. There are six wheel variations available, three with 30mm rim depth (SLR 0, SLR 1, SL 1) and three 50mm aero offerings (SLR 0 Aero, SLR 1 Aero, SL 1 Aero). All feature what Giant is calling Dynamic Balanced Lacing, where opposing spokes are given different tensions while static, which then even out to give even tension when a pedalling load is applied, improving the wheel’s transmission stiffness and efficiency, according to Giant. There is also a 2mm increase in the drive side bracing angle of the spokes (meaning the spokes are further from vertical when the wheel is viewed from the front), which Giant says gives more lateral stiffness to the wheel, improving control when cornering and descending. The SLR 0 and SLR 1 are composite wheels, and the SL 1 is alloy.

Giant Saddles

Giant Contact saddles

Also unveiled in Mallorca was a new range of saddles from Giant (the Contact SLR and Contact SL) which use ‘Particle Flow Technology’ to reduce pressure points and increase comfort. The idea is that rather than simply compressing like foam, the cushioning in the saddles will reposition itself (‘flow’) according to the specific contours and forces applied by your derriere. In addition, Giant retailers will be offering a fitting system that uses a special saddle on a static bike to measure where your weight is carried, precious knowledge which can then be used to choose the right shape saddle to suit your flexibility and riding style. 

Contact: Giant Bicycles

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