Monday, September 28, 2015

2016 Giant TCR Advanced SL 2

After reading all the positive reviews on the new for 2016 Giant TCR advanced line I decided it was time for a road upgrade. Currently my road machine is a 2010 Giant TCR Advanced SL which I purchased in late 09 and kept it for 6 years because it's such a great bike. The generation of TCRs after mine (2012 through 2015) in my opinion wasn’t enough of an upgrade to warrant a purchase. It certainly had positive tweaks in its design and some newer tech but the improvements weren't dramatic. Giant redesigned the TCR for 2016 and really nailed it. They shaved off 181 grams from the previous generation while maintaining the same stiffness. The frame is more slender and a little more aero but their intent was not to make this an aero bike, the Propel takes care of that, but an all-around balanced race bike. The down tube is still massive for incredible stiffness, the headset bearing is moved up slightly to better align it with the downtube making the front just a tad more stable.

Giant stated anyone can make a light bike or a stiff bike but to produce a light stiff bike is the challenge. Giant states this frame has the best weight to stiffness ratio of any bike they tested against. I went for the SL model because of the ISP or integrated seat post, love it or hate it the amount of engineering that goes into the ISP is much higher than non ISP's. The vertical flex of the ISP is quite amazing and adds lots of ride comfort while I can't detect any lateral flex what so ever. The proper flex is engineered into the carbon construction and not by some gimmick like some other manufactures utilize. For such a stiff bike the ride is quite good, unexpectedly comfortable for a full on race frame.

The saddle is the new Giant SL forward, while I’m sure it's great I just love my Sella SMP Stratos and I really need to stick with what works for me. I don't want to go through the hassle of fooling with saddles again. The bike came with Giant's new carbon wheel system. There are 2 versions that are offered on the Advanced SL line the SLR 0 which is a light 1331 grams and mine which is the SLR 1 which is 1425 grams, still pretty light. Both wheels are 30mm deep and the only difference is the hub and spokes, the actual rim is identical. I'll test them in another blog post as I haven't used them yet, though very anxious to try them. I decided to use a new set of Mavic Cosmic 40's which weight 1545 and switch wheelsets back and forth. Shifting is Ultegra mechanical with 52 x 36 front rings and of course 11 speed with 11 x 28 cassette. I love Shimano's electronic Di2 but I certainly don't have to have it and Shimano's mechanical shifting is phenomenal these days. Shifting is effortless. Enjoy the pics.
Lines of the frame have been smoothed out
compared to the previous generation.
Giant says the frame is 181 grams lighter than the
last generation TCR.

All Advanced SL frames use the T800 carbon
and have the Integrated seat post.

Internal cable route is very neatly done.
Frame is Di2 ready if you want to convert it over.

Bottom bracket is massive and stiff

Ant + ride sense

Finish on the frame is excellent. A flat finish that more or less
changes color in different light.

Like them or not but the ISP provides for an amazing ride.

New Giant SLR 1 carbon wheelset. They weigh in a 1425 grams.
They have some interesting new tech in the construction.
I'll do a ride report in the near future.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2016 Giant TCX SLR Cross bike

This year I've decided to dabble into Cyclocross, nothing overly serious just train and get accustomed to the in's and outs of Cross riding and maybe compete next year. I'm the kind of person that likes to fully understand my equipment and how to use it before moving on to the next level. I just took delivery of a 2016 Giant TCX SLR 2 cross bike from Sean at Brookfield Bicycle in Brookfield Connecticut (Great store, fantastic people). Giant only makes 3 models of cross bikes for the US market, 2 carbon and 1 alloy, interestingly they don't make any entry level cross bikes as all the bikes are equipped pretty well. I'm a big fan of Carbon but this time I decided to go with the Aluminum model to keep the costs reasonable. Giant uses the ALUXX SLR for the frame which is their lightest state of the art alloy, fork is carbon and the steerer is the overdrive tapered headset. The frame also has asymmetrical chainstays to add stiffness. Cables are internally routed which is a great feature on a cross bike. Seatpost is carbon and is referred to as D-Fuse whereas the back is flat so they can build some flex into the seatpost, it's also easy to align your seat strait due to the shape of the post. Nice system.

Shifting is Shimano 105 11 speed, 11 x 28 cassette, Crank is FSA Omega 36/46. The disc brakes are TRP Spyre-C, Mechanical disc not hydraulic. The TRP's are considered one of the best in cable disc brakes as both pads move together to contact the rotor where some other systems one pad moves and actually bends the rotor to make contact with the secondary pad. They do feel quite responsive though not quite as crisp as hydraulics. Tires are Maxxis Mud Wrestler 700x33, a pretty good all-around cross tire. The wheelset is Giant's SX-2 which is on the heavy side and anytime you purchase a cross bike under 3000 dollars you generally get heavier OEM wheels. In all fairness I had a set of Giant SX wheels on a 29er mountain bike and while heavy they really took a beating and held up well. But still the first upgrade will be a tubeless lightweight wheel system. With a lighter wheel upgrade this is a real quality package and should be pretty competitive.

Then, hopefully next week my main course should arrive, 2016 Giant TCR Advanced SL 2 road bike. Full review to follow.

Nice paint layout for 2016

Bar tape is very thick and padded

FSA Omega crank with 36/46 chainrings

D-Fuse seat post. D shaped and flat in the back so flex can be
built in. Nice clamping system also. 

Frame has internal cable routing, neatly done. Makes cleaning mud
on a cross machine easier. 

TRP  Spyre-C cable disc is considered one of the better cable disc
systems on the market

Maxxis Mud Wrestler, good all around tire. Giant puts a marker
on their wheelsets to find the valve hole a little quicker,
nice touch

SX -2 Wheelset is a little heavy but pretty durable, Upgrade
will be a tubless carbon system.