The Giant TCR first appeared in the pro peloton in 1997, represented by the ONCE team. Since then, it has continued to evolve, never losing its racing pedigree.
The 2015 Giant TCR Advanced 2 model is no exception. In comparison with its Defy (endurance) counterpart, the TCR has a longer reach, shorter head tube, steeper seat and head angles, making the geometry racier
. On the TCR it is much easier to dial in a more aerodynamic position, whereas the Defy is more upright, suited more to endurance rides. But that doesn't mean the TCR is uncomfortable. In fact, quite the opposite. The first thing we noticed
was how little road buzz is transfered to the rider. Small bumps are absorbed well by the frame, and short sections of cobbles don't leave you feeling beaten up.
A lot of road vibration is absorbed by Giant's own branded saddle, which we found too soft over longer rides, and also by proprietary 'Contact' bars and stem, which pleasantly surprised us. After long rides of three hours or more, we had no aches in our arms or upper body. These parts are often quickly swapped out by enthusiasts, but we decided to stick with them. There's no reason to change parts which work well.
The drivetrain is mostly Shimano 105, 5800. Which is the first 105 groupset to run 11 speed. The shifters have slimmed down since 5700, but are still comfortable, and easy to operate. Shifting is crisp and effortless, even under load. The 105 cassette, coupled with a 50/34 tooth crankset provides plenty of range for climbing or cruising with a tailwind. The crankset in this case is not actually 105, but rather RS500, which is roughly equivalent to 105, but without hollow cranks. The weight is reasonable, and there's little noticable flex. We'll upgrade it when it wears out. Also good to see is the 105 front mech, which some manufacturers often swap with a lower groupset's counterpart.
Giant has also cut corners with braking. The calipers are non-groupset specific (Shimano R561), which we compared side-by-side with Shimano 105 5700 calipers, and found no noticable difference, other than the stamp on the back. They have no trouble slowing the bike down, and certainly don't look cheap on the bike.
At this price point, most manufacturers tend to save costs on the wheelset. Giant, however, have designed the P-R2 wheelset in conjuction with DT Swiss, who provided input on the hubs, which connect to the rims with Sapim Race spokes. Unfortunately, this is where things start to unravel. Our rear, non-drive-side spokes worked loose over time, and pulled the wheel out of true. Although these are consumable parts, we would expect more than a couple of months' use out of them, before sending them to the shop. A search on internet forums suggests that this is not an isolated case. The tyres, however, are rather decent. They provide plenty of confidence in corners and under braking, and are not overly detrimental to comfort, which many 23mm tyres can often be.
Overall, this is an extremely fun, yet comfortable race machine. It's a bike that demands to be ridden hard and with panache. We often find ourselves feeling slow, although cruising at 30kph. There is more potential in the bike, than in our rider! The 2016 model has recently been released, meaning this year's model can be had for bargain prices, which in our opinion would be difficult for potential buyers to ignore.