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Giant TCR Advanced 3 review

Giant TCR Advanced 3 review
8 Aug 2016
Verdict:

The Giant TCR Advanced 3 has a stiff and lively ride but the stretched position won't be for everyone.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,099
For 
Power transfer is excellent
Against 
Poor braking, annoying cable rattle

The Giant TCR has been around in various guises since 2003. It’s a model range than runs from the base model TCR Advanced 3 we’re reviewing here, up to the top, which is used by the professionals of the Giant-Alpecin team. Giant pretty much pioneered the modern compact geometry that most ride bikes use today, so it’s exciting to see how far it’s advanced since their breakthrough in the mid-1990s.

Frame

Giant TCR Advanced 3 frame

Internally routed cables give the bike a neat and tidy look but the front gear cable rattled annoyingly in the frame.

The TCR Advanced frame is meant to be a good all-rounder although it leans towards the stiffer end of the scale. The finish is nice, inside and out, no doubt due the fact that all TCRs are handmade. The frame is oversized at the bottom bracket, and the headtube, for increased stiffness. Giant describes the geometry as ‘race-proven’, although you could describe it as ‘really-long’.

The ‘medium’ model on test is said to be a 50 but the top tube is 55.5cm long, which is what you’d normally call ‘large’. It’s worth paying close attention here, as even the smallest model has a 53.5cm top tube so it might not suit everyone. The headtube is tall at 15cm and the bottom bracket is quite low, with a 74mm drop that should give it a stable feel. Angles are normal, both coming in at 73° but the shortish (410mm) chainstays contribute to a 980mm wheelbase, so it should be lively to corner with. 

Components

Giant TCR Advanced 3 tiagra

The TCR Advanced 3 comes with a full 10-speed Tiagra groupset but we're not huge fans. The Tiagra groupset is a little older than the Sora 9-speed and 105 11-speed and it’s starting to show. The STI units are an odd, bulbous shape and they don’t fit particularly well in the hand. The pivot point on the brakes is also low down which makes pulling hard on the brake levers difficult unless you’re in the drops. This is annoying, particularly because you constantly have to pull hard on them, because the brakes themselves aren’t very good.

The standard brake blocks are stiff, presumably to make them longer lasting, so the first time the brakes are applied, you’ll be shocked by their lack of bite or power. The front derailleur is a bit better than Sora but not by a huge amount, and the shifting in general is a league behind the current 105. The remainder of the finishing kit is all Giant’s own brand but it’s decent quality; the bars in particular are a really comfortable shape. The saddle almost cut the tester in half but saddles are a personal choice.

Wheels

The wheels and tyres on the TCR are all Giant’s own brand again but that shouldn’t put you off. The wheels are a bit heavy, like most at this price point, but sturdy enough. The first few feet elicited a tinkling of spokes as everything settled in, and they did have a little wobble by the end, but nothing to be concerned by. They’re fitted with a 12-30 Shimano Tiagra cassette so you’re covered for just about anything. The Giant tyres that were fitted weren’t very impressive. They lacked grip and feel and generally weren’t very pleasant. We’d rather see 25mm models fitted to increase comfort and we don’t really see why they weren’t as the frame has plenty of clearance.

The ride

Giant TCR Advanced 3 seatpost

The aero seatpost (above) is a nice touch on a bike at this price; oversized bottom brackets and down tubes for increased stiffness are a more common sight.

Two things will strike you when riding, and the first is the length. The top tube was really long and a stretch to the hoods. The second was an infuriating rattle that can be attributed to the internally routed front-derailleur cable. Once these were accepted, it was quite an enjoyable ride, and the frame was stiff enough and still comfortable, despite the skinny tyres. The relatively short chainstays, and short wheelbase in general, make the bike lively and interesting and the standard 73° angles keep the whole thing in check. The oversized frame and bottom bracket area transferred the power well without feeling like riding an ironing board.

As soon as the speed raised, the bike felt enormous and it’s a long reach to the drops, which was particularly annoying because putting hands in the drops becomes essential due to the brakes. It’s like being plonked on the bike rather than feel a part of it and braking has to be done a distance before the corners to get speed down safely. It was a shame because the braking saps confidence and marrs what was otherwise a good ride.

Frame - The length of the top tube feels out of proportion - 6/10

Components - Good apart from the odd-shaped Tiagra brake levers - 6/10

Wheels - Decent own-brand wheels, not so great tyres - 6/10

The ride - Lively enough but you don't feel at one with the bike - 7/10

Overall - 6/10

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 555mm 555mm
Seat Tube (ST) 500mm 500mm
Down Tube (DT) 620mm
Fork Length (FL) 375mm
Head Tube (HT) 150mm 150mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.0 73.0
Seat Angle (SA) 73.0 73.0
Wheelbase (WB) 985mm 980mm
BB drop (BB) 74mm

Spec

Giant TCR Advanced 3
Frame Advanced-Grade composite frame & fork, Hybrid OverDrive steerer
Groupset Shimano Tiagra, 10-speed
Brakes Shimano Tiagra
Chainset Shimano Tiagra, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Tiagra, 12-30
Bars Giant Contact
Stem Giant Contact
Seatpost Giant Vector Composite
Wheels Giant Track Sport Road hubs, Giant S-R2 rims
Tyres Giant P-SL1, 23c
Saddle Giant Performance Road
Contact www.giant-bicycles.com

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