By Mike Hawkins
Did you know that Giant bikes is the world?s biggest bike manufacturer? Or that the UK is one of the biggest markets for the brand? Such is the nature of the company that it doesn?t like to shout about it successes, and for that you have to admire it.
Giant also doesn?t like to shout about the fact that it makes bikes for many of the bike industry?s other major players, or that it is at the leading edge of carbon composite manufacture. As such, it certainly won?t surprise you that it has several new bikes for next season. For 2007 we?ll see three new road bikes included in the line-up, although one of these is a new version of one of last season?s. But more of that later.
The biggest news at Giant has to be the fact that the race bike that carried the T-Mobile team through such a turbulent season will be sold to the public. TCR Advanced was designed to address every drop of feedback from the team and it?s impossible to get away from the manufacturer?s disappointment at the way the season panned out.
Nevertheless, with the changes made to the squad, Giant has renewed contracts and its faith in the team. The 2007 TCR Advanced, to the unfamiliar, will look much like the ?06 TCR Advanced, but plenty of changes have been made, making it an evolution of last year?s model ? in effect, a pumped-up version. Compared side by side, it looks much beefier for the forthcoming race season.
At the heart of the frame, the carbon matrix has been altered. T800 was used last season and will continue to be used for much of the frame, but a few high-stress areas have been upgraded with T1000 carbon. Added to the carbon and of equal importance is the resin, which is used for holding the carbon sheets together. A first for Giant, it contains nano-particles, which in effect means carbon has been ground up and added to the resin, much like a hi-tech aggregate. This allows the frame to be baked at a higher temperature, making it stronger.
ONS (Off-set Neutral Surface) is a complex principle that is put to good use at the front end of the Giant TCR. Both top and down tubes are broadly triangular in cross-section (albeit with rounded corners), with the widest parts at the top of the top tube and the bottom of the down tube. These areas are the stiffest points in the tube and carry much of the
compression or extension loading for the tubes.
By moving these widest points further apart, the head tube is better triangulated and therefore stiffer. Combined with the new META composite fork, the front end has less flex in line with the frame.
These changes make the frame 20 per cent lighter and 20 per cent stiffer than the same frame made from T700 carbon.
Talking of the T700, the TCR Composite has been updated too. Based on last season?s TCR Advanced, its only downgrade is to the carbon-fibre. For the first time Giant has applied ONS to the standard TCR, whereas previously the tubes were round. As a complete frame, the ?07 model is said to be 10 per cent lighter and five per cent stiffer. A great deal of effort has gone into redesigning the head tube as well ? it no longer has an aluminium sleeve, and instead it only contains aluminium cups for the headset to sit within.
With Giant celebrating 10 years since it first introduced compact frame designs to the market, it has significantly increased the frame spec on the TCR Composite, with the aim of making it a very competitive machine for ?07.
Some points are relevant to all TCRs; they now all have standard length chainstays (405mm), along with a dimple on the seat tube which allows a triple chainset to be fitted, and actuate properly.
Further down Giant?s range of bikes comes the TCR Alliance, which features a design concept of marrying carbon and aluminium that we?ve seen before from other manufacturers ? notably Specialized and LeMond. But Giant has brought new
technology to the table to ensure a smooth design.
From previous experience the combination of aluminium and carbon in a frame, in this manner, makes for a good ride. For those who?ve not experienced it before, the concept is that the head and down tubes, as well as the bottom bracket and chainstays, are constructed from aluminium, and a carbon-fibre top tube and seatstays are joined to it.
In Giant?s case it has run the carbon down inside the alloy seat tube. This is the first time we?ve seen this done. Giant has been able to offer the TCR Alliance models significantly cheaper than the previous concepts we?ve seen. The Zero will cost £1,250 and the Alliance 1 will be £1,050.
What?s the point of this design? In theory the use of carbon-fibre will reduce weight by five per cent and will also increase shock absorption. Both are worthwhile improvements, especially at this price range. Fingers crossed, we?ll have a full test for you soon.
For more details on Giant?s 2007 range, click on www.giant-bicycles.com.
Contact Giant UK 0115 9775900
For more new products, check out Cycling Weekly's 'New for 2007' special, on sale from Thursday December 7.
Wiebes takes a dominant win for DSM at the Ronde van Drenthe
DSM place four women in a final break of seven to guide the Dutch sprinter to her 13th race win of the season
By Owen Rogers •
'There’s nothing wrong with a bit of help': E-biking up the Great Orme on a father-son Tour of Britain
A product review of the Kinesis LYFE e-bike? A British cycling odyssey? Or perhaps just a complete and utter boondoggle?
By Jonny Long •