First Look: 2021 Giant TCR Road Bike

New production capabilities make latest TCR the fastest yet

Pro Review
The new TCR Advanced SL Disc has been updated in numerous ways. Photo by Cameron Baird

The new TCR Advanced SL Disc has been updated in numerous ways. Photo by Cameron Baird

Sadly, it may be a while before its new bike can be truly put to the test by the world’s best riders, but despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the complete halt to the professional cycling season, Giant today launched the latest version of its highly-regarded TCR road bike.

Giant TCR Highlights

  • Offered in Advanced SL, Advanced Pro, and Advanced frame levels
  • Available in disc and rim brake versions
  • Claimed 140g weight savings over previous TCR frameset
  • Increased clearance for 32mm-wide tires
  • Updated wheel and saddle offerings
  • Price range: $1,900-$11,000
  • Available May 5, 2020.

Fast, Focused, Efficient

New airfoil sections using strategically placed truncated ellipse tubing around the headtube, downtube and seattube make the new TCR significantly more aerodynamic than the previous generation. Photo by Cameron Baird

New airfoil sections using strategically placed truncated ellipse tubing around the headtube, downtube and seattube make the new TCR significantly more aerodynamic than the previous generation. Photo by Cameron Baird

Though bearing only a slight resemblance to the original TCR that debuted in 1998, the model year 2021 (and ninth generation) Giant TCR aims to build on a rich road racing legacy that’s seen copious Tour de France podium time over its more than two-decade existence. Whenever racing does resume, look for this new bike underneath riders from the WorldTour’s CCC Team. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about this all-around race-ready machine — and what the behemoth bike maker is calling a new brand direction.

SLR cockpit: The 2021 TCR Advanced SL Disc series features the new aero-engineered Giant Contact SLR composite handlebar and stem to make it faster against the wind. Photo by Cameron Baird

SLR cockpit: The 2021 TCR Advanced SL Disc series features the new aero-engineered Giant Contact SLR composite handlebar and stem to make it faster against the wind. Photo by Cameron Baird

“This new TCR perfectly represents our new brand purpose to helping riders unleash their full potential,” said Giant Global Marketing Director An Le. “It’s the culmination of major advancements in our production capabilities, made possible through investments in new manufacturing technologies. It’s also the result of a collaborative effort among our engineers, product designers, pro racers and leading aerodynamic experts.”

Giant says it focused on three key performance factors when designing the revamped TCR, which comes in six frame sizes (XS-XL): class-leading efficiency, advanced aerodynamics, and total control. Those are buzzwords to be sure, but if you believe even some of the data presented by Giant at launch, this is certainly a compelling new road racing weapon.

In the efficiency department, Giant says the new frame’s high stiffness-to-weight ratio is top of the marquee. To achieve the desired numbers, the brand claims it’s building up the frame using 500 precisely laser cut composite pieces that are smaller and more accurate than what they’ve done in the past.

The TCR Advanced SL Disc 0 model features a new finishing technology called ThinLine, which uses a minimum quantity of paint to save up to 50 grams. Photo by Cameron Baird

The TCR Advanced SL Disc 0 model features a new finishing technology called ThinLine, which uses a minimum quantity of paint to save up to 50 grams. Photo by Cameron Baird

Giant, which is one of the few bike makers that actually manufacture their own bikes, also claims they’ve refined their robotic layup assembly, which has resulted in tighter tolerances. And as you can see in the two slides below, it all adds up to a weight savings of 140 grams compared to the outgoing TCR frame, and a decent edge over two of the three bikes Giant used for comparison purposes: Specialized S-Work Tarmac Disc, Trek Emonda SLR Disc, and Cervelo R5 Disc.

Giant’s also quick to point out that this weight savings was not done at the cost of pedaling stiffness, and claims the bike has a lively ride quality that delivers explosive acceleration and improved climbing efficiency. You can see a Giant-provided comparative chart on stiffness to weight below.

The 2021 Giant TCR is also claimed to perform solidly in the aerodynamic department, producing the most quantifiable gains compared to the previous generation TCR. Giant says that every tube shape was analyzed, engineered and tested to create an overall structure with significantly lower drag at a wider range of yaw angles. Much of this is attributable to the use of truncated ellipse-shaped tubing in places such as the headtube, downtube, fork and seat tube, which as you’ve likely already noticed from looking at the images here, features an integrated seatmast.

Aero development and testing were conducted at the GST wind tunnel in Germany with a proprietary dynamic mannequin to best replicate real-world racing conditions by factoring in the drag of a rider and bike together. With the mannequin, spinning wheels and bikes holding two bottles and cages each, the TCR Advanced SL produced the least amount of drag on average (with yaw angles ranging from -15 to +15 degrees), beating the aforementioned trio of bikes — the Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc, Trek Emonda SLR Disc, and Cervelo R5 Disc. Tests also showed the new TCR to be more aerodynamic than the previous generation, saving 34 seconds over 40km at 200 watts.

The control aspect of the equation includes updated disc-brake integration and use of new composite Giant WheelSystems that offer greater stability in crosswinds. The new TCR also features a composite fork that’s claimed to boast greater torsional stiffness and steering precision, as well as added frame/fork clearance that allows for higher volume tires of up to 32mm in the disc-brake version of the bike. Yes, they also still make a rim brake option for those still holding out on the superior stopping technology.

Besides the new frame, the 2021 TCR range also features new component technologies including Giant SLR WheelSystems. Both the SLR 1 and SLR 2 WheelSystems feature hookless 42mm deep carbon rims that are wider (19.4mm inner width compared to 17mm on the previous version) and optimized for high-volume tires. The wheels also feature Dynamic Balanced Lacing (DBL) and low-friction hubs for better efficiency and reduced rolling resistance. The top-tier TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc model, which RoadBikeReview is testing now, comes with CADEX 42mm Disc Tubeless WheelSystem. (CADEX is Giant’s high-end in-house component brand.)

All of the new TCR models feature new Giant saddles including the Fleet SLR (pictured), Fleet SL or Approach. Photo by Cameron Baird

All of the new TCR models feature new Giant saddles including the Fleet SLR (pictured), Fleet SL or Approach. Photo by Cameron Baird

The 2021 TCR range also features new Giant saddles including the Fleet and Approach. Both the Fleet SLR and Fleet SL have a wide shape with a short nose and ergonomic cutout for enhanced comfort and support, plus a side curve that provides added freedom of motion.

Giant TCR Pricing, Builds, and Availablity 

The 2021 TCR range includes three levels of frame choices: Advanced SL, Advanced Pro, and Advanced. Each is available in either disc brake or rim brake options, making it six series in all. The 2021 TCR will be available starting May 5, 2020.

2021 Giant TCR First Impressions

The new TCR range comes in six different series at a variety of price levels. Photo by Cameron Baird

The new TCR range comes in six different series at a variety of price levels. Photo by Cameron Baird

Due to significant coronavirus-driven life changes for your author—including having two small children at home full-time—testing on the new TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc has yet to commence. But RoadBikeReview did get the bike unboxed, cut the seatmast, and got it built up.

The 2021 TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc features a CADEX 42 Disc Tubeless WheelSystem and SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless electronic drivetrain.

The 2021 TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc features a CADEX 42 Disc Tubeless WheelSystem and SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless electronic drivetrain.

After snipping 8cm off the seatmast to reach my desired 82cm saddle height, the XL sized test bike weighed an impressive 14.9 pounds sans pedals. This weight was with the stock 25mm tubeless tires and no sealant. Figure when we swap on our preferred 28mm tires and pour in some sealant that weight will bump past 15-pounds, still an impressive weight given the frame size.

Spec on this halo-build is also impressive, featuring a full SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless electronic drivetrain, Quarq DZero integrated power meter, and the aforementioned 42mm CADEX carbon wheels. Bottom line it’s a beautiful looking bike with an expected eye-watering price tag of $11,000. Stay tuned to RoadBikeReview for a full review.

 

 

 

 

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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Comments:

  • billy says:

    I currently ride a 2015 TCR advanced pro 1(white frame),this bike handles high speed descends like it is on rails.my question is it worth it to trade in for the 2021 tcr advanced 2 disc..I am just for the fun of it type rider, headwinds & hill climbs..my tcr has been well maintained & is still sweet….performance of the bike is the real value..

    • Jonathan Black says:

      I guarantee that there will be no difference that improves your enjoyment or performance. I saw a study that compared the performance improvement of professional runners and cyclists over the decades. It was assumed that both runners and cyclists have equally benefited from progressively better training and diet. If cyclists equipment had improved dramatically over the years, we could reasonably expect professional cyclists to have improved more than runners because they are more equipment dependant than runners. But it is the other way around. Runners performance has improved more than cyclists. A reasonable assumption therefore is that todays equipment provides no real world advantage over the equipment used in the 90s. If you want to go faster, don’t bother wasting money on a newer model. Do some stretching to get lower, wear a tight jersey and lose weight.

  • Jeremy Wright says:

    Ain’t that the truth Jonathan but my inner gadget man desperately wants another answer 🙂

  • stephen says:

    Why are the 2021 advanced pro models priced at a level that now puts them out of reach of many riders who purchased them in the past. I include myself in this.

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