Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Giant TCX Advanced SX review

20 Dec 2017
Verdict:

A solid carbon-framed off-road performer but if you want speed we'd suggest a change of wheels

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,999

Giant says the SX was ‘born from the fast and furious world of competitive cyclocross and recalibrated for longer rides’.

In practice, this means there’s no concession to luggage mounting or mudguards on the TXC Advanced SX. Its lineage is clear as a race bike first and foremost. 

Frameset

The Giant’s ‘advanced grade composite’ carbon claims to deliver outstanding stiffness and compliance, also benefitting from Giant’s ‘modified monocoque construction’.

This eliminates the outer woven composite sheer in order to reduce weight without unduly affecting the ride quality, strength or stiffness.

The rear frame triangle is larger than many of Giant’s road frames, as a concession to comfort and less focus on all-out power transfer.

However, the trademark whopping expanse of composite material at the bottom bracket area, plus deep box-section chainstays ensure little pedal effort goes to waste.

With the exception of the front brake cable, which is routed along the fork leg, cable routing is internal.

Thru-axles secure the wheels in the frame, with the intention being that flex is eliminated, and therefore handling made more responsive.

Mounted where you’d normally find the front mech is a chain guide, which is extra assurance that the single chainring won’t drop the chain and force you to jump off and put it right before chasing onto the back of the race.

Groupset

To get a carbon-frame cross bike for less than £2,000, something has to give. Where Giant have chosen to cut costs with this build is in the groupset.

Sram’s Apex components are at the entry level of the American brand’s kit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do the job admirably.

Apex shifters/brake levers sit at the cockpit (with just the one shifter, on the right, to operate the rear mech), while the 40-tooth chainring is a cost-effective Sram S350 item (the S350 is also available in 38, 42 and 44-tooth versions).

The rear mech is also from the Apex family, and it operates a Sram PG1130 11-42 MTB cassette.

Finishing kit

Giant owns production facilities in the Far East, so it will come as no surprise to learn that its own kit is used across the build.

Alloy 400mm handlebars with distinctly flared drops offer excellent control and comfort, while the stout 90mm alloy stem holds them close to the steerer, offering quicker steering than the 71.1° head angle would have you believe.

A perfectly comfortable Giant Contact seat is fitted atop a D-Fuse carbon seatpost that’s adjusted by way of a toptube-integrated hex bolt, which is hidden away by a rubberised cap at the base of the seatpost.

Wheels

Like many of the Giant’s road bikes, the SX rolls on P-X2 aluminium clinchers with sealed hub bearings – they’re durable and stiff enough to promote decent acceleration.

But if you’re serious about racing, you’d probably swap them out pretty swiftly, as they’re weighty old hoops.

They do, however, accommodate a set of Maxxis Rambler tyres, in 40c diameter. Inflated to around 55psi (75 is their max limit), they’ll allow you to float over most terrain, especially if you get yourself involved in longer rides on gravel and bridleways.

First impression

We’ll make no bones about it, this bike is just stunning to look at – the only problem is that you will struggle to keep it gleaming as much as when the lurid fluoro CX racer is first unboxed.

Yes, its colour will clash with every piece of kit you own, but we simply don’t care; it’s a beauty!

On/off the road

Given that the TXC Advanced SX is carbon-framed you might reasonably expect it to lighter than similar non-carbon rivals, and you’d be correct.

However, the fact that it’s by a matter of grams rather than kilograms is in no small part due to the weight of the Giant’s wheelset.

Given the choice between a slightly heavier alloy frame and a little less rotational mass, we’d go for the latter every time.

While we’re at it, we might well consider alloy to be the ideal frame material for a first 'cross racer, simply because it’s likely to be better able to withstand the odd scrape and crash.

Another downside of going with carbon is the cost – as it's clearly the more expensive frame material that's to blame for the slightly lower component spec mentioned earlier. In other words, it's clear to see that your money is going into the frame.

Getting back to the wheels, the Giant TXC Advanced SX is by no means sluggish but when push comes to shove, the wheels held it back when it comes to surmounting the uphill sections of our test route.

At least the smallest gear of 40x42 is so easy to spin that you’re unlikely to need to dismount the SX in order to get up them.

We did run out of gears on a longer, slightly downhill stretch, though, and in general found downshifting to be less than silky in that the lever takes a good push to engage a lower gear.

But where the Giant really excels is in its ability to crush downhills and cover distance in peerless comfort – which perhaps does mark it out as more of a machine for the long-haul than an hour-long, elbow-to-elbow off-road race.

Running its huge 40c tyres at 55psi gives a good compromise between grip and comfort, and on occasion makes it feel like you’re riding something closer to a 27.5 mountain bike than a road bike adapted for fields.

Handling

Those Maxxis Rambler tyres are designed for ‘gravel’ rides. Their wide contact patch helps you find grip on loose surfaces, and they shrug off most terrain.

However, for racing, we’d opt for Maxxis’s more versatile Raze, as the side knobs are more widely spaced to help the tyres shed mud more readily.

The BB drop is 60mm, which ensures you’ll be able to jump or ride over most obstacles the trails put it in your way.

The bike’s compact front frame triangle does make it feel more secure on your shoulder if you do need to jump off, though.

One point we need to make here, regardless of the way in which this bike delivers cornering confidence and ability, is that its 40c tyres are actually 7mm wider than the UCI cyclocross tyre diameter limit.

It’s unlikely a local 'cross league will enforce that rule (it’s used for UCI events and high-level racing), but it does tell you all you need to know about what kind of riding this bike is really destined for – and indeed excels at.

You’ll get narrower tyres onto the P-X2 rims, and we’d recommend you do so for racing, but if you also have a taste for day-long off-road adventures, you’ll not go far wrong with the Giant.

Ratings

Frame: Makes good use of Giant's know-how with carbon. 9/10
Components: Lower spec than rivals in its price bracket but still well up to the job. 7/10 
Wheels: Not quite race-ready, perhaps, but dependable. 6/10 
The Ride: Equally capable in races or all-day offroad adventures. 8/10

Verdict

Well suited to off-road adventures but its heavy wheels robs the TCX Advanced SX of more of its performance pedigree than we light like

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 530mm 528mm
Seat Tube (ST) 500mm 500mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 620mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 400mm
Head Tube (HT) 130mm 130mm
Head Angle (HA) 71 71.1
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.5
Wheelbase (WB) 1014mm 1010mm
BB drop (BB) 60mm 60mm

Spec

Giant TXC Advanced SX
Frame Advanced grade composite frame and fork
Groupset Sram Apex
Brakes Sram hydraulic discs
Chainset Sram S350, 40t
Cassette Sram PG1130, 11-42
Bars Giant Connect XR Ergo-Control, alloy
Stem Giant Connect, alloy
Seatpost Giant D-Fuse, alloy
Wheels Giant P-X2, Maxxis Rambler 700 x 40 tyres
Saddle Giant Connect
Weight 9.26kg (size S)
Contact giant-bicycles.com