The GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc is the top model from the uncompromisingly race-focussed lineup of one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. Does the TCR join the ranks of the quickest bikes that have the mettle to win the biggest races?
“Ride Unleashed” is the slogan under which GIANT have reinvented themselves, releasing a model to match in the form of the 2021 TCR Advanced. This bike is designed to help you unleash your potential and help you ride at your best. Thanks to new technologies and manufacturing methods, the 2021 version of the TCR is claimed to be GIANT’s fastest yet, purpose built to help both pros and normal riders break new records.
GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc 2021 in detail
The TCR is now in its ninth generation and the newest version is claimed to put its predecessors in the shade and be ready to break new records. This model has been on the road for more than 23 years in various incarnations – so how can it be improved further? GIANT’s engineers have gone back to basics and analysed every last detail and feature of the TCR. That’s resulted in a frameset that is more than 10% lighter without sacrificing any stiffness. The frame is constructed from up to 150 pieces of pre-preg, the layup of which can be seen through the clear coat finish. The TCR certainly looks the part!
The integrated seatpost, dubbed ISP, is reserved for the GIANT TCR Advanced SL. It forms a seamless part of the frame and as well as contributing to the sensationally low 6.68 kg weight, also allows the compliance of the bike to be carefully tuned. This construction allows the stiffness and flexibility of the seatpost to be designed within clear parameters, rather than having to accept varying levels of stiffness with different insertion depths of a conventional seatpost. The bike comes with two seatpost toppers with different lengths and offsets, allowing you to tune your riding position.
The TCR has also seen significant improvements in terms of aerodynamics. The truncated aerofoil profile of the tubeset, the new Contact SLR bars and the integrated disc brake mounts make the bike that bit more slippery. In direct comparison to its predecessor, GIANT claim that the new TCR 2021 is 34 seconds faster over a distance of 40 km when riding at 200 W. That’s a significant improvement and underlines the fact that aerodynamic features are finding a place on all new bikes.
The TCR keeps the compact road geometry with its downward sloping top tube that has been typical of the model. The frameset also stays true to tradition, eschewing the dropped seat stays that have become so popular. The traditional diamond frame isn’t dead yet! The cockpit and cable routing are tidily managed, though on this build that is helped by the wireless SRAM RED eTap AXS groupset. Unlike many other manufacturers, there are no cable ports for gearing on the TCR Advanced SL frameset, resulting in a very clean look. The GPS mount integrated in the stem makes a seperate mount superfluous and has inserts for Wahoo, Garmin and GIANT devices.
The new aerodynamic features are visually well integrated into the frame. The flat, truncated side of the head tube runs seamlessly into the flattened down tube, where a bidon is nestled, hidden from the wind. The top tube doesn’t just slope, it also gets much slimmer as it approaches the seat tube. At the junction, it has a circumference of only 9 cm! For reference: a sample banana from the editorial team measures around 13 cm.
GIANT TCR components and geometry
The new TCR is available as three different frames: the bells and whistles Advanced SL, the Advanced Pro and the basic Advanced. All the models are available with both disc and rims brakes and expected prices range from € 1,799 to € 10,199. You can choose your dream TCR from seven options. For lovers of traditional shifting and braking systems, the Advanced SL is also offered with rims brakes and a mechanical groupset, which is by no means a given in 2021 anymore.
The top of the range, matte raw carbon GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc we tested costs € 10,199 (expected). Our size L, fitted with CADEX Road Race 700 x 25C tires weighs 6.68 kg. Like all TCR bikes, the tires come setup tubeless as standard, saving you some effort. We think that’s fantastic. The Quarq DZero power meter, which is integrated into the SRAM RED eTap AXS cranks is handy and makes a lot of sense for a road bike of this calibre. Another nice feature is the wireless sensor for speed and cadence integrated in the chainstay, which is compatible with either ANT+ or Bluetooth compatible devices.
The 48/35 t chainrings and 10–28 t cassette suit the TCR well and offer enough range for both steep climbs and powering on the flats. The SRAM RED eTap AXS groupset (click for review) shifts crisply but is a little louder than we’re used to. The frame seems to act as a sound box, amplifying noise. The combination of 160/140 mm rotors front and rear works well and not having to use an adapter saves a little extra weight. The CADEX carbon wheels fit visually, with the matte black rims matching the frame perfectly. Even the spokes are made from carbon, but you’ll still be able to use the external nipples to true the wheel if necessary. Great! The components fitted to this bike are thoughtfully specced and perfect for what it’s made for. If you’re ready to ride a thoroughbred racer, you just have to bring your pedals, bottle cage and GPS to the party – then you’ll be ready to take your place on the start line with a bike that won’t hold you back from winning races.
Groupset SRAM RED eTap AXS, 2×12, 48–35 t
Cassette SRAM RED 10–28 t
Brakes SRAM RED eTap AXS 160/140 mm
Wheelset CADEX 42 mm Disc WheelSystem
Tires CADEX Road Race, 700 x 25C
Seatpost integrated, 15 mm offset
Bars GIANT Contact SLR, 440 mm
Stem GIANT Contact SLR, 110 mm
Weight 6.68 kg in size L
Price € 10,199 (expected)
|Seat tube||680 mm||710 mm||740 mm||770 mm||800 mm||830 mm|
|Top tube||520 mm||535 mm||550 mm||565 mm||580 mm||600 mm|
|Head tube||120 mm||130 mm||145 mm||165 mm||185 mm||200 mm|
|Chainstays||405 mm||405 mm||405 mm||405 mm||405 mm||405 mm|
|BB Drop||72.0 mm||69.5 mm||69.5 mm||67.0 mm||67.0 mm||67.0 mm|
|Wheelbase||976 mm||977 mm||980 mm||991 mm||1,006 mm||1,020 mm|
|Reach||376 mm||383 mm||388 mm||393 mm||402 mm||412 mm|
|Stack||517 mm||528 mm||545 mm||562 mm||581 mm||596 mm|
The GIANT TCR is available in six sizes making it suited for riders from 1.65 m to 1.99 m according to the manufacturer. The maximum rider weight is given as 125 kg. One disadvantage of the ISP system is that there is less flexibility to play with the riding position. The two toppers provided with the bike offer a range of adjustment of 50 mm, with the option of 15 or 25 mm offset, but there’s currently no option for zero offset. Despite the 175 mm cranks, we didn’t experience any toe overlap during our testing, but that is of course dependent on the frame size and how your cleats are set up. The position on the bike is aggressive but not overly stretched out. However, it is most definitely a position for racing and not comfortable cruising!
GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc first ride review
Glasses on, clip in and off you go! The TCR accelerates incredibly quickly. The rotating mass is kept low thanks to the lightweight carbon wheels with the tubeless 25C tires and we’ve rarely hit 50 km/h so quickly. The bottom bracket is extremely stiff and power is transmitted directly, putting every watt into propulsion. However, on the flats the TCR demands constant input from you without any breaks. The light weight of the wheels and tires means the bike is missing the mass to maintain momentum. However, the 25C tires roll efficiently and smoothly despite their narrow width.
Tires set up tubeless as standard – we’d love to see that on every bike!
Vibration damping is acceptable on small irregularities in the road. However, as the surface gets worse and impacts get bigger, the TCR becomes less comfortable, transmitting a lot of feedback directly to the rider. As a result, the handling becomes more nervous and your efficiency suffers. The agile front end becomes more difficult to control in side- or headwinds – long flat rides are not this bike’s speciality, even with its improved aerodynamics.
Leave flat terrain behind you and head up your first climb and it quickly becomes clear where the TCR feels at home. Thanks to its low weight, the bike climbs the steepest of slopes very efficiently and proudly demonstrates its climbing prowess. Whether you’re in or out of the saddle, the TCR reliably holds its line and seeks out the next mountain pass to climb.
The GIANT TCR isn’t a bike for climbing wannabes. But if you’re hunting mountain passes and can deliver a lot of power, the TCR is the perfect choice!
After your summit selfie you’d be well advised to drink a quick espresso because you’ll need all your focus for the descent. The TCR wants to carve out every second, demanding to be ridden in the drops. Despite its low weight, the bikes surprised us with its predictable handling. The brakes are easy to modulate and offer security in every situation. On good roads without sidewinds, the steering is incredibly precise and direct. This is where the bike shows its agile character, reacting immediately to every steering input. Now’s the time to attack the other riders who you just reeled in on the climbs. The TCR is a purebred racer and expects to be ridden as such. The only exception is for heavier riders, who may find the cockpit a little too soft for the mass sprint to the finish line. Hill finishes and high watt numbers on the climbs are this bike’s specialty.
GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc summary
The new GIANT TCR is a thoroughbred race bike par excellence and the perfect choice for demanding hill stages or to accompany on your hunt for KOMs. On the flats, other bikes are faster and on relaxed Sunday outings, the TCR is left underwhelmed. However, for fast and active riders, the first class componentry and great design of the bike might just be the edge that was previously missing!
- insanely light weight
- sprightly acceleration
- first class climber
- susceptible to side winds
- limited comfort and handling on the flats
- relatively loud
For more information about the GIANT TCR head to: giant-bicycles.com
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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf