Ask any cyclist what the ideal number of bikes to own is, and you will likely hear many telling you that it's N+1 (always one more than you already have). It's hard to argue with that, especially with the booming popularity of cyclocross, gravel and adventure bikes, all ready to fill that imaginary gap in your arsenal. But what happens when you spontaneously move abroad, leaving your best ride stashed away at home in an attic or garage? You buy another one, of course.
The bike in question is a Giant TCR Alliance Zero, 2008 model. I bought the bike new and reserved it for good weather, cleaning and carefully maintaining it
after each ride. Then life got in the way of cycling. For the final two years of university I lived in the city. Dangerous roads and long hours in the library spelled doom for
my favourite hobby. I took up tennis and weightlifting. I didn't miss cycling too much.
After graduation I moved to Germany, with cycling still in the back of my mind. Finally earning a wage meant I could afford a full carbon TCR, which was the best bike I had ever ridden. And it was easier than trying to send your pride and joy in the mail, right?
A week back home visiting the family gave me time to catch up with old friends, and the TCR A0. After owning a 2015 TCR, I was expecting the TCR A0 to be slow and ugly. How wrong I was.
Some manufacturers' paint jobs look old an dated within a couple of seasons. The TCR A0 is an exception to that. The glossy orange, brushed aluminium and naked carbon look aggressive and elegant at
the same time; almost timeless. The geometry is classic Giant, although the sloping top tube isn't to everyone's liking. The seatstays, chunky and ready for immense wattage, give the impression that this is
a real race bike.
On the road, it's as sharp and lively as quality bikes of today. Seven years is a long time in the bike industry. Manufacturers boast about stiffness, compliance and computer modelling. The TCR A0, for its five years in a garage holds its own in terms of acceleration, climbing and steering. Front end stiffness is perhaps more evident in modern bikes
Without getting the strain guages out, the differences will mostly be perceived and/or aesthetic. In 2008 aero bikes were basically time-trial specific, whereas most modern race bikes boast aerodynamic properties. With the TCR A0 the only hint of aerodynamics is the bladed spokes of the Mavic Aksiums, which also don't look particularly dated, save for the stickers. SRAM Rival has certainly moved on to become lighter, smoother and with an extra gear. Also absent is internal cable routing, which I prefer. Internal cable routing makes washing the bike easier, but little else.
It would be logical to sell it. The bike doesn't fill any gaps in my 'garage', as it were. I don't need it, but I like it. It's still light, it still rides well, so why not keep it?
While the industry has clearly made advantages in frame, groupset and wheel technology, the differences aren't as much as one would expect. This bike is still a joy to ride, and I reckon the differences are mostly psychological and aesthetic. Clearly your best bike is the one that makes you want to get out and ride it, and after eight years, the Giant TCR A0 certainly does that.