Last month Giant announced that we would see a brand new TCR for 2016, which was promised to be lighter, stiffer and more efficient than the previous model - in fact, Giant claim it is the ‘Total Race Bike’. This launch didn’t really come as a huge surprise considering the Giant-Alpecin team have already been riding the bike for some time. It was the bike that Simon Geschke rode to victory on the mountainous stage 18 of this year’s Tour de France, and whilst many of Geschke's team-mates preferred the Propel, Geschke utilised the lightest ever frameset produced by Giant to full effect - flying up the steep climbs and attacking down the twisting descents.
So, when we got the opportunity to jump on the new TCR yesterday, we were excited to put the notion of it being the “best stiffness-to-weight ration bike in its class” to the test.
Since the TCR was introduced to the market in 1997, when riders on the legendary Spanish pro team rolled up to the start of a race on a compact geometry Giant bike, it has undergone a series of refinement to bring it to where it is today. This year, it was efficiency that was paramount in the mind of the designers and to make sure that they could produce the most efficient bike on the market, Giant went out and bought five of their competitors bikes to test it against. But, before we look at the results of those tests, let’s quickly run through the key highlights of this year’s TCR.
A completely redesigned, smoother TCR Advanced SL frame optimises every tube shape to shave weight, maintain stiffness and improve ride-quality. This year, it showcases a new internal cable routing system with fewer, yet larger ports and a tool-free bottom bracket guide, which minimises frame weight and also makes cables easier to install and replace. It also features a Variant Integrated Seatpost, which will please competitive road racers, as it gives better fore-aft compliance creating an ‘optimal TCR ride feel’.
Giant says, “The new TCR Advanced SL shaves 12% of frameset weight (181 grams) from the previous generation, without sacrificing stiffness. The toptube, seattube, integrated seatpost and seatstays feature minimalistic profiles, while the MegaDrive downtube and PowerCore bottom bracket have been refined to maintain TCR’s renowned pedalling stiffness. The new lightweight headset assembly and ISP seat clamp design save 39 grams.”
This all means that the new TCR Advanced SL frame weighs in at just 856g, which is Giant’s lightest road frameset ever. Combine that with an all-new Advanced SL-Grade composite fork, which shaves 30g of weight and improves the handling of the TCR, means Giant have something really promising in the climbers bike category for 2016.
An all-new Advanced SL-Grade composite fork shaves 30g of weight, yet increases stiffness. A refined, smoother tapered shape of the steerer tube saves weight and better positions the lower headset bearing for optimal transfer of force from the OverDrive 2 head tube to the MegaDrive down tube.
Integral to the stiffness, efficiency and handling of the new TCR SL are Giant’s latest SLR 0 wheels, which feature a new spoke lacing technique called ‘dynamic balanced lacing’, or DBL for short, and weigh in at just 1,330g for the pair. Giant claim that DBL and using 14 spokes on the drive side and 7 on the non-drive side, places more stress on the ‘pulling’ spokes and less on the ‘pushing’ spokes when the wheel is under tension, which makes for a stiffer, more efficient wheel overall.
Giant measured the new TCR against its top competitors, the Specialized Tarmac S-Works, Cervelo R5, Trek Emonda SLR, Canondale SuperSix Evo and the Scott Addict SL in two pedalling stiffness tests and a frameset stiffness test.
To determine the pedalling stiffness of each frame, an industry-standard test was used to measure deflection at the bottom bracket under simulated pedalling forces. The higher pedalling stiffness a frame offers, the more efficiently it transfers pedalling forces into forward motion. The weight of each frameset was then used to determine the stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Frameset Pedalling Stiffness Test
In addition to standalone frameset testing, Giant engineers developed a new test to better understand how the frame and wheelset perform together. Each bike was fitted with the corresponding model year 2015 production-specified wheelset and tested as a complete unit for both lateral and transmission deformation to determine the combined pedalling stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Frameset & Wheelset Pedalling Stiffness Test
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the TCR Advanced SL delivered the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio in both tests with over 10% higher pedalling stiffness than any other model of bike.
The third test which Giant used was the frameset stiffness test, to determine how much the complete frameset flexes torsionally under load. Each frame was locked at the rear dropouts with lateral force applied to the fork. More frame stiffness means better cornering and response-to-rider-input on the road.
Frameset Stiffness Test
Again, the TCR came out on top, as it provided 7% higher frame stiffness than its closest competitor. It’s pretty evident that all the tests were biased towards the TCR’s performance, but nonetheless all three are interesting tests for the geeks amongst us.
Availability and Models
The 2016 Giant TCR Advanced SL will soon be available in store and online in three models:
TCR Advanced SL 0 - Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Giant SLR 0 wheels.
TCR Advanced SL 1 - Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and Giant SLR 0 wheels.
TCR Advanced SL 2 - Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset and Giant SLR 1 wheels.
You’ll also be able to get the TCR Advanced SL as a frameset if you want to piece together your own build.
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