November 17, 2015 – When Giant first released the TCR in the 1990s its goal was to make the ultimate all-around race bike. The radical design turned heads, won races in the pro peloton, and promptly got banned by the UCI for its compact geometry. Giant’s goal for the TCR today is the same (minus the ban of course): create the ultimate all-around race bike. Perhaps most surprising is how tame the new TCR looks compared to the aero-road bikes and wild tube-shaping of today.

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ONCE's Joseba Beloki on a 2001 Giant at the Tour.
ONCE’s Joseba Beloki on a Giant TCR at the 2001 Tour. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

The largest frame manufacturer in the world had no interest in designing the lightest bike in the world. Giant will gladly bow down to the Trek Emonda; even SCOTT and Cannondale have lighter offerings. Instead, Giant first focused on stiffness—efficiently turning effort into forward motion—but at a light weight. The TCR Advanced Pro 0 uses Giant’s mid-level carbon and still manages to shave grams from its predecessor: 14.2 pounds out of the box in a size medium. Of course, while the carbon is mid-grade, the build is top-notch to reach that weight.

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At first look, a few of these changes stand out. The head tube is slimmed down, dropping grams, yet surprisingly still increasing the front-end stiffness when paired with its new slimmed-down fork design. The top tube is noticeably skinnier, especially near the seat tube. Large-quad riders with a knee-in pedal stroke rejoice: no more brushing your thighs against the top tube. This of course wasn’t the reason for the new shape, but it’s a nice little benefit. Behind the seat tube you will notice another change. Instead of the traditional A-frame seat-cluster design you will see what Giant refers to as the hollow-yoke design, which to our eye looks like an old-fashioned mono-stay. This increases stiffness as well as lowers weight, yet in some other platforms has created a harsh ride.

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There are a handful of tweaks that don’t stand out as much but are still important in the pursuit of a stiff, light bike. The internal cable routing has been refined, more cables share larger ports instead of each cable having its own port. The fewer holes you poke in carbon equals less material you have to use to reinforce said hole, which equals a lighter frame. This is nothing new; today’s integration-happy-frame design sees this practice a lot, but it’s nice to see it being taken advantage of. The Mega Drive down tube and bottom bracket have made previous iterations wildly responsive, so it comes as no surprise that the new TCR hasn’t gone through any massive changes there.

Giant isn’t satisfied with just being a frame builder, it’s also looking to compete head on with the likes of ZIPP and Bontrager. Its new wheel systems are designed and manufactured in-house. The TCR Advanced Pro 0 comes stock with its top offering: Giant SLR 0 full-carbon clinchers, with a 30mm-deep rim, 23mm wide. The wheel set comes in at an impressive 1,335 grams. However, in one area it was clear Giant is a bit new to high-end carbon clincher design – braking. While not bad, the SLR 0 certainly lack the modulation and stopping power of ENVE, Easton or Zipp carbon clinchers. 

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The TCR Advanced Pro 0 cockpit is Giant’s own aluminum Contact SL stem and handlebar, one less thing to worry about when you hit the pavement in turn four. A Giant Contact SL saddle sits on the Giant Variant Composite seat post, a change from the previous Vector seat post, which was in the running for stiffest in the world. About the only thing on the bike that doesn’t bear the Giant name is the drivetrain. The TCR Advanced Pro 0 comes with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 group set, minus the KMC chain. Maybe the most impressive thing about this bike, and a benefit of doing almost everything in-house, is the price point: $5,500. If you are looking for a bike from a major manufacturer weighing just 14 pounds, with full Dura-Ace and a top-notch carbon wheel set for less money than this, you may be searching for a very long time. We also prefer it to the more expensive TCR Advanced SL with its integrated seat mast.

The Ride
Clip in and you can immediately tell the TCR Advanced Pro 0 is going to be a good time. Just circling the parking lot waiting for the group, the feeling at the pedals had us itching to accelerate. At the base of every hill it’s a pleasure to get out of the saddle and stomp on the pedals. The bike carries speed from roller to roller in an encouraging way. Normally, when we see someone fly up the road, we put our heads down and slowly ramp up the speed to reel them in. On the TCR we wanted to jam on the pedals and match every acceleration, jump at every attack. When the pavement got rough we were fully ready for the teeth-chattering ride we remember so well from earlier TCRs. Instead, we came away scratching our head wondering if Giant’s endurance bike is going to sell well when its race bike is this smooth.

The Rider
The TCR is for the rider who likes punchy accelerations, from animating a race with relentless attacks to whipping around a wheel to close a gap. Even if your game is sitting in and waiting to unleash your sprint on the unsuspecting field, the responsiveness of the TCR will not disappoint and at 14.2 pounds its climbing chops are beyond reproach. The new TCR Advanced Pro 0 is all of this, with a level of comfort never before present in the line. While a Giant may lack the ability to turn heads when you roll up to the club ride, it will certainly turn heads when the ride gets spirited snd you turn the screws, and for thousands less than other Dura-Ace bikes spec’d with carbon clinchers.

Bottom Line
Price: $5,500/ Frame set: $2050
Weight: 14.2 lbs w/o pedals or cages (size Medium)
Specifications: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000, Giant SLR 0 DBL WheelSystem with Giant P-SLR tires, Giant Contact SL bar and stem, and saddle with Giant Variant carbon post.
More: giant-bicycles.com

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