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.


Bike test: Giant Propel, Advanced Pro 2, 2015

Duncan at Wallington Cycles tweeted me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would I like a test ride on a Propel, as he had one coming in for a few days. Well, it would be rude not to.

Continue reading “Bike test: Giant Propel, Advanced Pro 2, 2015”

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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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Giant Bikes: The truth about bike frame testing?

If you have ever been to a Giant Bikes website you will know that they never say how heavy their bikes are. Instead you get a paragraph explaining why they don’t publish the data – it’s essentially to do with making fair comparisons, benchmarks.

Today though Giant sent out a mailer, “Want to know the truth about road bike frame testing? Our secret is revealed.” It included a link to the test data and a video. This just seems so unusual for Giant.

The reason Giant give for producing this marketing package is because competitors leave out Giant bikes when comparing their bikes. Interestingly Giant don’t top all three of the tests, Cannondale Super SIX tops the bottom bracket stiffness category but 3 out of the top 5 are Giant.

Aero bikes don’t fair well in any of the tests filling most of the bottom spots. As a newish category that’s probably not too surprising.

The selection of bikes though is small, there are Specilized (2), Trek (2), Canyon (1), Look (2), Scott (1), Cannondale (2), Felt (1), and Cervelo (3). Notably many are north American companies and are probably the brands that Giant compete with most. If you want an elegant Italian brand then you are possibly not going to be looking at any of these bikes listed.

On the face of it this looks like a well executed campaign but a little unusual coming from Giant. Interesting to note that the video above is not listed on Youtube, you can only find it through the email or via their site.

As for legal issues, Giant are big but not so big to publish data that would be misleading, I would have thought, especially when they use their own benchmark for torsional stiffness, replace a steel bar with the manufacturers supplied fork, which I think makes real world sense.

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