Review: Giant TCR Advanced SL Frameset

Road Bike
Geometry

The size Large frame tested has a 58.5cm top tube and a 100.6cm wheelbase with a 31.7 inch standover height, 73-degree seat tube angle and 72.5-degree head tube angle and an 18.5 centimeter head tube. To yield an instrument that transfers maximum watts, the TCR Advanced SL has an oversized head tube junction with Overdrive 2 tapered steerer tube and 86.5-mm bottom bracket shell coupled with a rectangular-section downtube.

The rectangular downtube helps bolster the TCR Advanced SL’s torsional and lateral stiffness.

Compact Road Design

Giant pioneered the sloping top tube design for road bikes that many manufacturers have since adopted. Giant calls this technology Compact Road Design and continues its sloping top tube tradition with the TCR Advanced SL. Per usual for Giant, rather than grading frame sizes by centimeters, the TCR Advanced SL comes in XS, S, M, M/L, L or XL. Proponents of this approach to sizing appreciate that a sloping top tube affords lower standover height relative to a conventional frame thus enabling a frame to fit a broader range of cyclists than a frame with a standard top tube.

Overdrive 2
 
The massive headtube junction coupled with Giant’s Overdrive 2 tapered steerer gives the TCR Advanced SL precision tracking and steering.

Giant also pioneered tapered head tube technology with its original Overdrive steerer tube technology first seen on its Glory mountain bike in 2006. It has since refined this technology for both road and mountain bikes in the form of the Overdrive 2 tapered steerer which features a 1.25-inch to 1.5-inch steerer tube. The TCR Advanced SL has an all-carbon Overdrive 2 tapered steerer and the design yields a super-stiff, no flex front end with precise tracking in corners.

The Ride

The TCR Advanced SL’s 18.5-centimeter head tube makes it easy to achieve an efficient, aero riding position. If you prefer a Euro-style slammed position with lots of saddle to bar drop, you can find it with this frame. But it’s not overly short so if you want a more upright position, a flipped stem and a few spacers will do the trick. I prefer about an inch-and-a-half of saddle-to-bar drop and had no problem finding my sweet spot.

From the first pedal stroke, the TCR Advanced SL feels like a very fast chassis that seamlessly translates every watt you put into the pedals into forward motion. It screams through sprints to city limits signs, finish lines and prime callouts.

The OverDrive 2 steerer helps the TCR Advanced SL track through turns with what feels like zero deflection and no matter how hard you tug on the bars, you don’t feel any torsional, vertical or lateral flex through the front end.

The rear end feels equally stiff laterally and torsionally, which yields a very balanced ride feel front-to-rear. The TCR Advanced SL is stiff, but only stiff in the right places. This balance helps the TCR Advanced SL track extremely well through turns. While it tracks smooth and stable at 50 mph downhill, it has geometry that allows it to respond quickly to rider input and feels comfortable zooming through arcing sweepers and high-speed turns you’ll encounter in crits.

You’ll never mistake its ride for that of a comfort or endurance bike, but it has plenty of vertical compliance to eat road buzz and enough vibration damping to keep you feeling fresh when the odometer flips past 100. Full days in the saddle on the TCR Advanced SL won’t leave you feeling like you just went five rounds in an MMA title fight.

On high speed descents, the TCR Advanced SL feels smooth and stable even when you’re hitting 50. But when it comes time to arc through a switchback or rip a u-turn in a crit, all you have to do is look in the direction you want to go and lean. It responds quickly to rider input.

An aggressive, light, stiff but comfortable chassis, the TCR Advanced SL will be a great choice for anyone who races or likes to ride fast.

Specifications
  • Price: $2,800
  • Claimed Weight (for Medium Frame/Fork/Seatpost):
  • Frame 920 grams
  • Fork 332 grams
  • Seatpost 250 grams

For more information visit www.giant-bicycles.com.

About the author: Andrew Vontz

Andrew Vontz is a writer, trainer, cycling coach and adventurer based in San Francisco. He writes about people, places and things at the limits of human experience. His work has appeared in Rolling StonePlayboyOutsideBicyclingMen’s Health, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the UFC magazine and many other publications. Find him @vontz on twitter and instagram. Find more of his stories at www.andrewvontz.com.


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  • Lee Cheung says:

    And if I can get hold of the green and black frameset in the uk ill buy one!!! Any suggestions where from?

  • old5ten says:

    it’s interesting to note that the giant test results don’t compare apples to apples (i.e they use larger sizes for some of their competitors).

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