I'm returning our Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc test bike today... and I'm sad to hand it back after 8 weeks of good times!
I always feel at home on a TCR, I've had a few over the years, and while they have changed over time they all retain the same base feel. I have to admit that this one has impressed me. In fact, I'll come straight out and say it, if you've got $5k to spend on a bike this bike is a serious contender... and even if you've got quite a bit more than $5k to spend this should be in the mix.
Before you all start shouting and carrying on, this is not a paid review. Just like all our other reviews on La Veloicita it's free of bias and is not paid for... Also up front, a massive thank you to the guys at Essendon Cyclery for loaning us this bike.
So, to the Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc... I'm actually shocked by how well I got on with this bike. It has been with me since just before Christmas, I've taken it to the TDU, away to the Grampians in Western Victoria, to Bright to take on the Audax Alpine Classic and ridden my local lumpy loop and Beach Road. It has taken on perfect bitumen, right through to rough gravel and I even snuck a bit of single track work in. I've loved every minute of it.
TCRs just have that, well TCR feel. Stiff, fast, race inspired... We tested the TCR Advanced Pro 1 last year and found a lot to like about that bike, but obviously, the addition of disc brakes to this bad boy make it a bit of a different beast.
I'll get the negatives out of the way first, there are a couple, but none were deal breakers for me. The tyres on this bike are rubbish, if you buy it don't even bother trying them just get the shop to swap them out for something that actually grips the road... many people do this anyway.
It's a little bit heavy compared to its crit eating non-disc brake brother, with my size large coming in at just under 8.5kg with Dura Ace pedals and lovely plastic cages. If you are a hard core racer (UCI rules aside) you'll probably be happier with the non disc version as those extra grams do make a difference to the feel of this bike. It's just not quite as lively as its non disc cousin... But for the vast majority of riding the disc brakes win out every single time.
The seat post clamp is painfully difficult to deal with when you need to remove it for travel. In this carbon fibre world, I found myself terrified that I was going to snap the frame while trying to get the seat post out... but I got there in the end.
Well that's all the bad... now onto the good. And there's a lot.
If you're one of those people that wants your bike have the look, the TCR Advanced Pro Disc definitely has some X factor about it. In the 8 weeks I've been riding it around I have had multiple comments from other riders at lights and at coffee shops about how good it looks. So looks good, tick.
This bike is planted. At high speed the TCR just gives so much confidence, rolling around Bright I clocked up a pile of PBs on some serious downhills without even trying, in fact I did not even feel like I was risking it on the way down. Just stable, non jittery enjoyment.
The brakes. I have to admit it I'm still living with one foot in the rim brake and one in disc brake land. But this bike has just about turned me into a disc convert. On fast and technical descents this thing shines. My weekend in Bright with the TCR Advanced Pro Disc left me with multiple PR's coming down hills... and I was not even trying.
It's the ability to run super deep into corners and reach for the brakes without a hint of panic and scrub off a ridiculous amount of speed in a controlled manner and turn in, hit the lines, and go again. Next corner it's exactly the same. It's confidence inspiring and safe. You know what you get every time you reach for the brakes.
While this stopping power is largely down to the brakes, they are nothing if paired with a banana of a bike frame. Luckily the TCR has got great integrity and stiffness and handles the stopping and turning without fuss.
I did not subscribe to Giant's first few attempts at building wheels. You could not have paid me to use them... but now things are different. The Giant SLR 1 Disc Composite Wheel System is a great offering. Great balance of weight, aero and nice build quality... plus they are tubeless compatible. Very good. They are also unflappable in cross winds, after a few recent nasty experiences with cross winds on less friendly wheel sets, feeling confident that the wheels were not going to throw me off the bike is a light breeze came my way was pleasant.
Shimano's Ultegra Di2 was unflappable. I could stop there but I better say a bit more. This group set has to be the best mix of value, weight and performance on the market full stop. Riding bikes back to back with various group sets gives us a great appreciation of where each sits, and I have no doubt that going to Dura Ace will give you better performance, quieter running and a 'lighter' experience... but it will also lighten your bank account to.
Ratios are an interesting one - 11-28 and 36-52 seem to be the standard now, and with the volume of bikes that Giant pump out I understand why they stick with this middle of the road set up.
Giant's own, it's an improvement on the days of their bikes being spec'd with Fizik's Arione. Of course saddle choice is personal, but as tested my narrow backside got on pretty well with the stock saddle.
RRP is $5,299 Australian. Search around and you'll pick one up well under $5k.
Would I buy this bike. Yes, definitely. It's as good as some bikes that cost thousands more. If you've got the flexibility to get on with a TCR (if you haven't we rate the equivantley spec'd Defy). Yes, it's a Giant, and some people seem to have an issue with buying Giants as there are so many out there... but there's a reason for that.
Overall, goes fast, stops well, looks good, is very nicely equiped, is a little bit heavy and gives you change from $5k.