Giant has spent over two decades evolving and fine-tuning the TCR with great results. The TCR Advanced 2 is as good as it gets with its full Shimano 105 groupset at the £1.5K price point.
Stiff, compact frame
Good value with full Shimano 105
By Simon Smythe
The Giant TCR is a modern classic and is arguably one of the best bikes of its generation. For this year we have stuck with its value offering the Advanced 2, which has all the best bits of the higher-end models, with a slightly lower spec that still offers performance. Although, the TCR comes in over 30 different variants so you are very likely to find one that suits you. A worthy bike for Editor’s Choice.
Giant’s TCR brought mountain bike-style sloping geometry to a very conservative road scene in the mid-1990s that didn’t like it one bit. Fast forward 25 years and every modern road bike has been influenced by Mike Burrows’s design – but the TCR is still more radically sloping than most and is still instantly recognisable, even though it has gone through many iterations.
The flagship TCR Advanced SL is used by the CCC WorldTour team and costs £7,499 for the top Dura-Ace Di2 build. Then come the TCR Advanced Pro models while the most affordable TCR Advanced range of three, in which this 105-equipped Advanced 2 is in the middle, has the same geometry but is made from a lower grade, more affordable carbon and lacks the integrated seatmast of the SL – arguably a plus as you don’t have to saw it to length. All are available in disc or rim format and there are almost 30 separate TCR builds and framesets to choose from in total.
Although the Giant TCR Advanced 2’s silhouette is similar to that of the original 1990s bike, the modern carbon version has a beefed-up rectangular down tube running between the tapered head tube with its oversized bearings and the PowerCore 86mm BB shell, while the seatstays are very slender for rear-end comfort.
There’s full internal cable routing and the seatpost clamp is hidden under a rubber cover. The TCR is not an aero bike – Giant has the Propel in its armoury for that – but in addition to these watt-saving features it also has a bladed seatpost.
A full Shimano 105 groupset is excellent at this price point and the Giant own-brand wheels, set up tubeless, didn't stop the TCR Advanced 2 at 7.8kg from coming in as the lightest bike in our £1.5K grouptest in the June 13 issue – a test it also won overall.
Although it's a race bike, the Giant TCR Advanced 2 comes with shorter stems for the consumer – our size M/L came with a 100mm stem – so the position is not as aggressive as you might expect. Additionally, the frame’s angles are not ridiculous – 73° ‘parallel’.
However, if I had my time with it again I would have gone for the size M with its lower stack height and shorter reach and fitted a longer stem. I couldn't quite get low enough to at the front to achieve my bike-fitted position on the M/L. If you're in between sizes, as i was, and you have to choose, it works better to size down rather than up in order to really make the most of this compact, stiff frame.
At first the neutral geometry fools you into thinking that the Giant TCR Advanced 2 is going to be unremarkable, but that’s all blown away once you start pushing it. The frame, with its small triangles and very stiff down tube, is incredibly efficient for climbing or accelerating. As well as the stiffness, the low weight adds to the responsive feel.
Cornering and descending can’t be faulted – the OverDrive steerer system makes the front end rock solid at speed.
The long seatpost is the final piece in the stiffness/compliance jigsaw. It’s fair to say the TCR is built more for speed than for comfort but even though the seatpost is bladed rather than round it is likely to supply more comfort than an integrated seatmast.
The TCR template is such a winner that it’s not surprising Giant has applied it for so many years, and long may it continue to – this bike is a bona fide modern classic.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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