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Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc review

1 Apr 2020
Verdict:

A performance bike built for all conditions and offers great value for money

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£4,599
For 
Light • Fast • Integrated power meter • Good value for money • Tubeless setup
Against 
None

The Giant TCR has always been a bike to blaze its own trail, whether that be in 2020 or when it first launched 25 years ago. When, in 1995, Taiwanese bike brand Giant brought in radical British engineer Mike Burrows to work on a new bike, he came up with TCR - which stands for ‘Total Compact Road’.

With its sloping top tube and tighter rear triangle, it broke free of the traditional frame geometries of the time, bringing with it a better stiffness-to-weight ratio and more efficient production methods.

A change so radical that the UCI had to allow one of its biggest ever concessions on frame designs in order for Spanish team ONCE to use the bike for the 1998 season.

Placed in a lineup with every other race bike, it stuck out like a sore thumb. Fast forward two and a half decades and the TCR still sticks out.

In this modern world of carbon fibre, all-rounder race bikes, the current vogue has been for the seatstays to drop down the seatpost for increased comfort while retaining stiffness, tyre widths to increase and disc brakes to become the norm.

And while Giant has subscribed to two of these latest trends, it continues to stick out from the crowd in terms of frame shape, this time with its persistence in remaining loyal to the ‘Total Compact Road’ sloped top tube geometry. In doing so this bike, that’s celebrating 25 years in the game, is still performing at the top of its class.

Comfortable and lightweight

As Giant product manager David Ward points out, ‘if the top tube on the TCR was horizontal, our stays would be effectively dropped’ for better compliance. So while the TCR’s frame geometry does not match up to other all-rounder bikes on the market, it is still benefiting from these developments in rider comfort.

‘Draw an imaginary line from the middle of the headset down to the rear axle, everything below that line is about power transfer and stiffness while everything above is about compliance,’ explains Ward.

‘The top tube is designed for vertical compliance with the seat tube, post and stays all working towards comfort and compliance.’

Giant has attempted to strike a perfect balance between compliance and performance here.

By building compliance into the entire back half of this bike, the rider’s comfort is provided by more than just one design cue, say a flexed seatpost or dropped stays. The smaller triangles and longer seatpost work in tandem to offer compliance and the results are a smooth ride in which I felt completely in control of the bike regardless of road surface, which led to an ability to ride further and harder.

Buy now from Tredz for £4,599

And while a different layup process means the TCR Advanced is slightly heavier and less stiff than the top-end SL frameset (there’s about 35g in it), the TCR Advanced’s compact frame of smaller triangles and less material has ensured this is a supremely stiff racing frameset that still only weighs 7.7kg (without pedals), which is pretty light for an Ultegra-specced model, too.

I’ve even managed to notch some PBs on a couple of local climbs, despite it being winter, and I’m convinced it is due to the frame’s ability to remain efficient with your watts when emptying the tank, while containing that sway all lightweight bikes have when pushing out of the saddle.

Speed

I was also incredibly impressed by the speed of the TCR Advanced Pro, especially considering the current frameset has done little in the way of aerodynamic optimisation.

There are slight aero cues, such as the Variant seatpost, but the main advantages come through Giant’s own SLR-1 carbon wheels.

In 2019, Giant decided to jump from 30mm wheels to 42mm wheels on its TCR Pro Advanced models and I could certainly see this paying off as the bike held its speed with ease. And weighing 1,500 grams for the set, there’s not too much contribution to the bike’s overall weight, either.

Giant has been also active in moving towards tubeless wheel systems. All Giant bikes above £2,000 - this one included - come out of the box setup tubeless. While not all riders have yet been converted, I am and I was personally grateful to be able to run lower pressures on the specced 25mm Cadex race tyres without the risk of pinch punctures straight from the off.

It even gave me the confidence to take this TCR on a few local gravel routes. Now the TCR is not the first bike that springs to mind when you think of shredding off-road, but the combination of the bike’s supreme comfort and the use of tubeless tyres meant that strangely it worked.

Price and spec

On the face of it, £4,599 does seem like a substantial outlay. You could fit a two-bed flat with LVT flooring for that kind of money (I know because I just did). But like the decision to upgrade to that permeable vinyl flooring, spending just over four grand on this Giant TCR Pro Advanced 1 is quite a sound investment. That’s because of the spec you get for your money.

The bike is fitted with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, Giant’s own tubeless SLR-1 carbon wheels and Giant’s own dual-sided Power Pro crankset power meter.

Buy now from Tredz for £4,599

Line that up against your equivalent-specced Cannondale SuperSix Evo with an integrated power meter and one-piece cockpit and the Giant saves you around £2,000. The Giant is also around £550 cheaper than the power meter-less Specialized Tarmac Disc Expert.

And while you can get the Trek Emonda SL 7 disc at £4,200 and the Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc Ultegra at £3,749, neither comes equipped with a power meter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve ridden all of the above bikes in some form and all lead the way in all-rounder race bikes, but it just feels that the Giant TCR Pro Advanced 1offers the best value for money at this price range.

In the same range, Giant offers the TCR Advanced Pro Disc in a similar spec albeit with 12-speed Sram Force AXS for £5,299.

Geometry

   Claimed   Measured. 
Top Tube (TT) 570mm 570mm
Seat Tube (ST) 500mm 500mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 611mm
Fork Rake (FL) 45mm 45mm
Head Tube (HT) 168mm 168mm
Head Angle (HA)   73 degrees 73 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73 degrees 73 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 997mm 997mm
BB drop (BB) 65mm 65mm

Spec

Giant TCR Advanced 1 Disc  
Frame Advanced-Grade Composite frame and forks
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra, 52/36
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-30
Bars Giant Contact SL
Stem Giant Connect SL
Seatpost Giant Variant, carbon
Saddle Giant Contact SL
Wheels Giant SLR-1, CadexRace tubeless 25mm tyres
Weight 7.7kg (size M/L)
Contact giant-bicycles.com

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