While the top of the marquee at Giant’s recent media launch in Mallorca, Spain, belonged to the 2016 TCR road bike line-up, the world’s biggest bike maker is also pushing deeper into the wheel and saddle realm.
Giant rolled out a new wheel-and-tire system that’s billed as having superior stiffness-to-weight ratio. The new line includes six wheelsets, three 30mm deep all-arounders, and three 55mm aero offerings. All are clincher-only and tubeless compatible (not ready), which means they require rim tape. Rim widths are 23mm outer and 17mm inner.
Within each rim depth are a high-end carbon SLR 0 model ($2300), a mid-tier carbon SLR 1 ($1300), and an alloy SL 1 model ($500/$800). Claimed weights for the 30mm hoops are 1335g, 1425g, and 1585g respectively. The deeper dish wheels run 1535g, 1700g, and 1860g. Tires are 23mm Giant P-SLR 1.
The 30mm SLR 0 and SLR 1 wheels are spec’d on the new high-end and mid-tier TCRs, and can also be bought aftermarket, though a Giant staffer told us they don’t expect many people who don’t ride a Giant bike to have much interest in the new hoops. Apparently they don’t believe in what Specialized is trying to do with Roval, Trek with Bontrager, Scott with Syncros, and so on. For our money, a good wheel is a good wheel. But you definitely don’t often see cross-population between bike brands and competitor house brand wheels. Like shoes not matching the belt, I guess.
The new Giant wheels’ most notable technology is what it’s billing as Dynamic Balanced Lacing, which is claimed to maximize wheel stiffness and durability by increasing spoke tension when the wheels are actually in motion. This is done by securing the pushing spokes lower on the hub flange than the pulling spokes, which places more leverage on the pulling spokes and less on the pushing spokes when the wheel is in a static state. When a rider applies pedaling force, spoke tension balances out, resulting in a stiffer and more durable wheel.
Giant also increased the bracing angle on the drive side of the rear wheel by 2mm, which it says increases lateral stiffness and improves tracking, especially when cornering or descending.
As for braking performance, Giant says the new wheels have a Tg rating of 245-degress Celsius, which far exceeds the industry standard of 160. This is meant to combat the effects of heat under heavy braking, which in extreme cases can lead to wheel failure. Giant claimed that in a series of braking tests, both in the wet and dry, the new wheels outperformed similar offerings from Reynolds, Bontrager and Zipp.
We logged two solid rides on the new hoops and were decidedly impressed with their stiffness. Even with calipers drawn in tight and some overzealous reefing on the bars brake rub was non-existent. Braking was predictable and shrill free, though we only ride in the dry. However, we must take issue with spoke nipples being hidden, which wont be well received by anyone who has to work on these wheels. Giant says because of the increased durability from the unique lacing technology, the wheels are much less likely to come out of true. We’ve put a request in for a test set and will do our best to test that premise.
Finally, if you’re looking for a “budget” priced set of carbon wheels, it’d be worth giving the new SLR 1’s a look. At $1300, they are $1000 less than the top-end SLR 0, but only weigh 90 grams more. You also give up the DT Swiss star-ratchet driver body or lightweight DT Aerolite/DT Aerocomp spokes in favor of Sapim Race stainless steel spokes and a standard Giant pawl driver system.