Review: Giant TCR Advanced 1 Disc KOM

Designed with Giant’s race-winning compact road geometry, the 2020 TCR ‘Advanced 1 Disc KOM’ is an efficient all-weather, all-conditions race machine.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin

Perched inside the performance race category, this model TCR features Shimano Ultegra Discs, an Ultegra compact crankset and Giant’s Advanced-Grade carbon chassis. Barring the alloy steerer tube, it has exactly the same chassis as the higher-spec Pro model and exactly the same geometry as the top-of-the-line Pro SL model. A bike which, piloted by Greg Van Avermaet, ended the 2019 season at the top of the UCI Pro Rankings in the One Day Race category. The TCR is a race-winning platform, moreover, on the roads around the Cape, it just feels right.

onkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
Nothing weird or funky here, this bike just feels right.


GEOMETRY

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin

The downward-sloping top tube with tighter front and rear triangles – ie: COMPACT FRAME – was first introduced to the world of high-performance road bikes in the mid-1990s by Giant. The intention of the compact design is to offer weight savings, improved stiffness and offer a better fit for all body types and sizes. The numbers:

SMMDM/L LXL
SEAT TUBE LENGTH445470500525550
SEAT TUBE ANGLE73.5°73°73°73°72°
TOP TUBE535550570580605
HEAD TUBE LENGTH133148168188203
HEAD TUBE ANGLE72.5°73°73°73°73°
RAKE4545454545
TRAIL6057575757
WHEELBASE97097699710071021
CHAIN STAY405405405405405
BB DROP6868656565
STACK529545562581595
REACH378383398402412
STANDOVER742765787805823
BAR WIDTH400420420440440
STEM LENGTH90100110110120
CRANK LENGTH170172.5172.5175175
WHEEL SIZE700c700c700c700c700c


THE BIKE

The front triangle of the TCR is assembled and molded as one continuous piece in a proprietary manufacturing process. This JOINT-FREE MONOCOQUE construction process means less material is used and that translates into a lighter bike. The area around the bottom-bracket has been upsized to improve efficiency under power. The entire frame is beautifully designed, dominated with clean lines and a high-quality finish. It is a work of art.

FRAMEMetallic Blue, Advanced-Grade Composite, disc
FORKAdvanced-Grade Composite, disc
STEMGiant Contact 100mm
BARSGiant Contact 420mm
FRONT BRAKEShimano Ultegra hydraulic, 160mm rotor
REAR BRAKEShimano Ultegra hydraulic, 140mm rotor
BRAKE LEVERSShimano Ultegra hydraulic
FRONT MECHShimano Ultegra
REAR MECHShimano Ultegra
SHIFTERSShimano Ultegra
SPEED2 x 11
RIMSGiant PR-2 Disc wheelset
FRONT HUBGiant PR-2 Disc wheelset, 12mm thru-axle
REAR HUBGiant PR-2 Disc wheelset, 12mm thru-axle
SPOKESGiant PR-2 Disc wheelset
FRONT TYREGiant Gavia Course AC 1, tubeless, 700×25, folding
REAR TYREGiant Gavia Course AC 1, tubeless, 700×25, folding
SEAT POSTGiant Variant, composite
SADDLEGiant Contact, Forward
CRANKSETShimano Ultegra, 34/50t, 172.5mm
BBShimano, press-fit
CHAINSETKMC X11EL-1
CASSETTEShimano 105, 11-34t
WEIGHT8.12kg (Actual, With sealant, No pedals, No cages)
PRICER43 290

The TCR features an oversized top tube and large rectangular downtube known as MEGADRIVE. The idea here is to boost the stiffness (lateral and torsional) creating a more efficient and sharper handling bike. You also get Giant’s OVERDRIVE system on the steerer, which basically widens the steerer and headset bearings to 1 1/4inch lower and 1 1/8inch upper.

The proprietary aero-shaped seatpost has a simple adjustment process, with a wide range and low weight. The long seatpost exposure, typical of compact frames, notches up the compliance and comfort score. The TCR runs on a tubeless system for less rolling resistance, a smoother ride and fewer flats.

As opposed to buying it in, Giant actually makes its own high-performance grade carbon which is one of the factors contributing to the TCR’s high scoring stiffness-to-weight ratio. The brand also manufactures its own components and equipment – ranging from helmets and shoes to wheels and tyres. The traditional bar/stem combination offers a wide range of adjustability which compliments the long and racey geometry of the frame.

There is a bigger rotor on the front – 160mm – for improved power and modulation, especially on long mountain descents where the brakes might be dragged for long periods. The bike has 12mm thru-axles (front and rear) for improved stiffness and handling. The compact Shimano Ultegra crankset (50/34t) and broad cassette (11/34t) will keep the cadence high on long rides and long climbs.



THE RIDE

From the very first minute of the first ride, the racing pedigree of the TCR radiated through.

I like the fact that the bike arrives from your dealer complete with sealant and the tubeless system is sorted for you. The traditional bar and stem combo facilitate an easy cockpit setup, and the Variant Seatpost is a user-friendly one to adjust. The disc brakes required no bedding in whatsoever.

onkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
Cruising across the flatlands the TCR damps a fair portion of the usual road buzz created by uneven surfaces.

The road’s around the lower Cape Peninsula have a fair share of nasty edges and uneven surfaces lurking in the shadows. They also have a decent amount of climbing, technical descents, tight turns and varying weather conditions. All in, its ideal terrain to get a good feel for a bike. As was the case with the TCR I owned about 15 years back, this bike has been an absolute blast to ride. The chassis is super stiff and the ride feel is planted in turns, agile in the bunches and frisky on the climbs.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The TCR is frisky on the climbs.

In terms of compliance and comfort, Giant has done their homework. Despite the tight triangles inside the compact frame I never experienced an increase in the usual discomfort levels on long rides through rough roads. If anything, it felt smoother than most race bikes I have ridden lately. As a race bike, it certainly ranks very high on comfort.

The 30mm deep PR2 wheelset holds pace well, is relatively unaffected by wind and I found it to be robust enough to hop on and off the odd pavement when circumstances demand alternate lines. It must be said it is s a base level wheelset that does mute some of the snap out of the bike’s acceleration. Overall, the weight is seriously impressive for a disc bike at this price point and it’s dexterity makes it a blast to ride.

As for the Gavia AC1 tyres, I used around 90psi front and 100psi rear and found them to be pretty bombproof. There were zero punctures and very minimal signs of wear in the 1 000km of testing. The dual control Shimano Ultegra levers are slim and comfortable to use. It’s a short-stroke, light action and smooth shifting process. As for disc brakes on road bikes, I guess you either love them or hate them and I sit firmly inside the love category. The Shimano Ultegra discs have a combination of instant power and modulation. The ride quality they bring to a bike is tangible, as is the improvements in safety. As a package, the price, the ride, the spec – Giant has got it right.



FINAL THOUGHTS

There is some seriously impressive race-proven technology here which makes the TCR Advanced 1 Disc KOM a versatile race machine that climbs, sprints and stomps with agility. At R43 290 it is not going to punch too large a hole in your wallet but will punch you up the leaderboard.

onkershoek, Stellenbosch - 4 December - Giant TCR review for Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin

| IMAGES: Gary Perkin | MORE: Giant |


4 Comments

  1. Okay Peter, thanks for the wheelie ..
    Lekker looking frame though :O

  2. I am Disappointed in the Wheelset….there is play between coast and engaging pedaling when coasting downhill or just coasting on flats. I call this very sloppy . Is this due to the fact it may be worn or just not very responsive in the rear hub for these stock rims? Can I upgrade the Hub to something with no play and quick grab response from coast to pedal or will I need to upgrade the whole wheelset? I am not wanting High dollar carbon options but just something to clean up the sloppy response? any recommendations would be appreciated?

    • Hi Duane, – quicker engagement is crucial for something like street criterium racing where you need instant drive coming out of the turns. 99% of bikes around this mid price point will have marginally slower engagement. If it is bothering you i would suggest popping into your bike store – speak to them about a wheel upgrade.

  3. I put a set of Fulcrum 5 wheels on my TCR Advanced pro 1 disc as training wheels. These are great wheels for the price. I purchased another set for my daughters LIV as I was so impressed


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