Karl Roche

family, cycling and communications



Bike Test: Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 (2016) review

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.

First impressions

Somehow, I managed to get my saddle height in one go. Immediately you can tell how tight and stiff this bike it. 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 at least by now.


The saddle is not bad. It has a centre relief channel which I’m never sure work or not. I don’t think it is flat as my 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, these are stiffer than an Atlantic breeze and even though not mega light, they are 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 small lakes, strewn with debris off the hills. Not to mention the regular potholes to dodge. When I got back to the bike shop a guy came in with two shredded tubes. 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 chainset 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.



Overall it is a wonderful bike. Looks nice, feels smooth and handles well. On the few corners at speed I took today it is 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 these test rides.


This sells at £2,599 which is not 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. But then 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.

Do excuse the bottle cages. One was on it already and I needed two.


Giant’s carbon Contact SL handlebars


Thanks for reading.


Another cycling flashmob – Chris Hoy

Becoming a bit of theme in London these days. Read the full story on Cycling Weekly.

Join the next Stop Killing Cyclist die-in, Nov 27 #NoMoreCoffins

The third annual die-in and vigil for people killed while riding bikes in London will be held later this month outside the TfL HQ on Blackfriars Road.
Continue reading “Join the next Stop Killing Cyclist die-in, Nov 27 #NoMoreCoffins”

Test ride: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2

I’m certainly a fan of the Giant Defy – I have a couple. So when my local bike shop, Wallington Cycles, said they had one of the new Defy Advanced Pro’s for testing I had to have a go. Continue reading “Test ride: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2”

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Cycling Debate: Just more talking and hand waving?

Yesterday was Cycling Debate. Three political parties had a chance to say how much they would do for our towns and cities, to help more people cycle.

Continue reading “Cycling Debate: Just more talking and hand waving?”

YouTube editor, you’re twisting my melons man

Yesterday was a lovely day in Surrey. Took a ride down to Box Hill to do hill repeats and of course strapped on the video camera. Continue reading “YouTube editor, you’re twisting my melons man”

More Shimano Sports Camera cycling footage

Been out with the Shimano Sports Camera again over the weekend and took a few videos. Kind of getting used to the camera now and it is very easy to use. I do love the small size and the way that it “hides” on the bike. Continue reading “More Shimano Sports Camera cycling footage”

“Serious talks on London’s segregated cycle lanes”

Listening is the first of many steps, but the protests by Stop Killing Cyclists are working.

TfL spokesperson confirmed that TfL are in direct talks with Stop Killing Cyclists (SKC). If you don’t know, SKC is a grassroots, non-funded group of cyclists keen to see change, who put their point across with direct action across London, highlighting the lack of funding and inaction from government at all levels.

More on this on the Stop Killing Cyclists Facebook community.

(Image from the South London Press.)

South London Press

Can we have safer roads for people?

Cyclists are organising a die-in at TfL HQ later this month in protest over a month of tragedies. 

It must be hard for you to have missed that in the last two weeks, 6 cyclists have been killed in London. Even friends and family that don’t often talk about cycling as much as I do have been talking about it. Even they have said  that HGV’s seem to be a problem.

All this came after Boris opened a short stretch of segregated cycle lane in Stratford. After the first death the day before, in quick succession we saw innocent people being crushed under the wheels of lorries and buses across the capital.

London Cycling Campaign held a vigil after one of the deaths at Bow.

Apparently the Mayor of London thinks that headphones are more of a problem and has recently said he would support a ban on cycling with headphones but not one which would remove HGV’s from central London during rush hour. Now, I think riding with headphones is stupid too but they haven’t been the cause of the deaths and many reported (and unreported) injuries each day. It’s deflected the attention from the real issue and blaming the victim at the same time. Olympic champion, Chris Boardman, has called for Boris to stand by verbal commitments he gave Chris earlier in the year.

It’s not just central London though. Croydon is much further south and experienced it’s own tragedy when a cyclist was killed by a bus.

Many people are now calling into question  what credibility Boris has left.

Considering so little of what was promised has actually come to fruition in London, a grassroots organisation has sprung up on Facebook to bring together cyclists from across London for a peaceful protest outside the TfL HQ in south London. Full details here. Their page says:

“After 15 deaths and innumerable injuries on London’s roads over the last year, (6 deaths just in the space of two weeks this month), London’s cyclists have had enough.”

If you would like to join the protest or just like to find out more visit the Facebook page.

Join the #TfLDieIn on 29th November at TfL HQ

Get lost in the lanes – if spring ever shows up

Jack Thurston of The Bike Show has put together a new bike touring book, “Lost Lanes.” It’s published on April 15th and covers 36 rides around Southern England which is currently experiencing the coldest March I have ever seen.

What is really interesting about this book, apart from the writing and photos, is that it comes with access to GPX downloads for your bike sat nav or smartphone app to help you find your way around the routes. Considering how many sportives can’t even put together a decent map this is a great enhancement and combination of traditional and new media.

Lost Lanes by Jack Thurston
Lost Lanes by Jack Thurston

Check out a 64 page preview of the book on issuu.

I’m wondering if there will be any other integration with social media, so those that go on the rides can share their experiences. This would be a great opportunity to build a living document of the routes that capture stories and tips which will vary depending on how long they have been riding and at which time of the year they went. May also be a chance for people to get together and ride the routes together.

Follow Jack on Twitter.

How Brussels started to see past the car

I’ve not seen a better portrayal of how the car has come to dominate the way we live and tie us to a failing way of transport that costs millions.

I’ve always associated Belgium with bikes, so I was surprised to watch this film that blew that out of the water.

‘Brussels Express’ is a film about bicycle messengers in Europe’s most congested European city. Before you rush off, muttering something about bicycle messengers, blah, blah, I was almost the same.

It’s a very well made film and I love the characters. Karl-Heinz, the bike messenger, talks about the time he started his business 10 years ago and how the city has changed. He is pretty incredulous at how people just sit in their cars and accept it as if it is normal.

Other interesting insights comes from the mayor of Stockholm. His visits to Brussels just leave him gobsmacked at how impossible it is to move around the city. It’s not just rush hour, it’s grid locked at every hour. He then talks about the way Stockholm transformed by introducing congestion charging* even when around 60% of people were against it. Then when they saw the benefits, that was reversed.
Anyway, a lovely video, well worth the 20 mins.


*IBM helped implement the congestion charging system into Stockholm – this was a bizarre coincidence (read more)

Cycling podcasts

I clean my bike every week. It’s not the most expensive, lightest or fastest bike in the world but it’s mine and I like to take care of it. But cleaning can get a bit dull at times, especially in the winter and autumn when the weather isn’t so great outside. Continue reading “Cycling podcasts”

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