So my local bike
pusher shop owner, Duncan at Wallington Cycles, has been giving me test rides on the latest Giant Bikes. Last one was the Propel, and before that the Defy Advanced Pro. He is a very bad man.
Today, I finally got a ride on the latest TCR Advanced Pro 1. Not a bad looking machine and it goes pretty damn well too. Just a shame it wasn’t the middle of summer.
The TCR runs full Ultegra, 52-36 semi-compact chainset with 11-28 cassette. Full carbon wheels are Giant’s own SLR. The carbon bars are also Giant’s own Contact SL. With all that carbon, this is a stiff and light bike. The frame is made from T-700 carbon, woven on Giant’s own looms, as I think most people know.
It comes with, as do all of the performance bikes at Giant, a RideSense speed and cadence sensor, which I couldn’t get working on this. I think the little plastic cover is still on the battery and with time getting on I couldn’t be asked to take the wheel off and take the sensor out – plus, it’s not my bike. Onwards..
The route for today
Headed out for a regular loop around Surrey Hills, on a sunny but chilly Saturday, which takes in Oxshott, Cobham and then goes up through Green Dene, down to Shere. Then riding round to the southern side of Leith Hill from Abinger Hammer. Down from Leith to Westcott, Dorking, up Box Hill and back to Sutton via Walton-on-the-Hill.
Somehow, I managed to get my saddle height in one go. Immediately you can tell how tight and stiff this bike is. But going over the first couple of miles of cracked and decaying roads in Sutton, it oddly doesn’t feel jarring, even with 23mm tyres. Fair enough, I ride a 3 year old Defy Advanced so it’s not going to be the same and as it is winter, I’m now on the Defy 1 which must be 5 years old.
The saddle is not bad. It has a centre relief channel, which I’m never sure if they work or not. I don’t think it is flat as my Fizik Antares but it’s not too curved. I didn’t get any numbness. As saddles tend to be very personal I always think manufacturers put on anything as they assume it will be changed, especially at this level. But it makes a decent effort and it’s certainly not crap. By the way, no carbon rails.. all metal of some sort.
Giant SLR-1 WheelSystem
The Giant SLR-1 wheels certainly look good – no big bright stickers here – stealth only. They weigh 1425g and provided good braking in the wet conditions. They’ll set you back around £899 if you buy these retail. Obviously no comparison to wheels I run at home, also Giant but in aluminum, these are stiffer than an Atlantic breeze and quick to get going.
I’ve had Giant tyres on my other bikes and they always worked great. However, I was slightly surprised that I didn’t get any punctures on these (23mm) today as I rode down streams and through small lakes, strewn with debris off the hills. Not to mention the many potholes to dodge. When I got back to the bike shop a guy came in with two shredded tubes after a ride round a similar area. These PSL-1 tyres do have puncture protection but they don’t look like they have anything. Just goes to show that much of what you see on tyres is there to set your mind at rest, not for function.
Not being in the age category where one would consider preparing for the Tour de France, I did have suspicion that this would be an uncomfortable bike. After nearly three hours of riding in a head wind that seemed to follow me at every turn and feet that turned to ice, I didn’t feel any worse or better than normal. Perhaps the saddle was starting to ache a bit, but that is pretty much it.
Recently been thinking about a new chain-set for my Defy and wondering if an 11-speed, semi-compact set-up like this would work for me. I have to say that after today, it probably would. Winter for me is a 9-speed, but I only run 13-25. Summer is 10 speed, 12-25. Too old to go to 11.
This is a wonderful bike. Looks nice, feels smooth and handles well. On the few corners at I took at speed today, it’s like riding a train. I know it’s new and by comparison to my own bikes, it is going to feel way better. That’s why Duncan keeps offering me these test rides. However, it does show how bikes are continually evolving and improving.
This sells at £2,599, which is no small price. However, you are getting a top-notch, race proven frame, carbon wheels and full Ultegra for that. I have to say I really liked it. I wonder how I would feel after a month of riding it, whether neck or back issues would flare up in my creaking bones – the TCR is a bit more aggressive than the Defy I have. Maybe this might only come out for special occasions but I’d be hard pushed to leave it at home to be honest – it just looks so nice and rides wonderfully.
Do excuse the bottle cages that don’t match. One was on it already and I needed two.
Giant’s carbon Contact SL handlebars. Giant are always up front about using their own finishing kit, that can’t be said for all brands.
Thanks for reading.