I was more excited to try out the Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 than the flagship model, the TCR Advanced SL 0. Don’t get me wrong. The top model, at roughly $9,000, is a stunning bike. I tested it briefly at Giant’s relaunch of the TCR line in June 2015 in Mallorca, Spain. The second-tier model, the Pro 0, is the latest edition of my bike, 2012’s TCR Advanced 0. I wanted to see how things have changed on such a familiar machine.
The 2016 model is slimmer than the previous generation. Designer Erik Klemm took away material from the front and back of each fork blade, the back of the head tube, the bottom of the top tube, the trailing edge of the seat tube and the bottom of each stay. I’d say the frame looks a little less boxy than before, while staying true to the tCr look. The aero touches from the earlier model, such as the cutout in the seat tube and the Vector seatpost, are gone. Giant appears to be honing the focus of its road bikes. The Propel, launched in early 2013, has taken over wind-cheating duties, so the tCr is for the climber or general classification rider.
When I took the tCr Advanced Pro 0 for its first spin, it did feel noticeably different than my old Advanced 0. The steering on the new model is sharper, a bit more responsive. Yet, it still has that well-behaved feeling that Giant bikes have. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but a quibble I have had with more than one performance bike is with edgy handling. It’s as if some designers feel a bit of edginess means the bike will corner better. The Pro 0 corners exceptionally well, mostly due to frame stiffness. It tracks great through twists and turns.
Another feature that improves the bike’s handling is the Giant’s new Slr 0 wheels. The top-end hoops also debuted with the flagship 2016 Advanced SL 0. The Pro 0 is the only bike out of the tCr top-tier that comes with these wheels. The company refined spoke placement and tension on the Slr 0 set, especially at the drive side of the rear wheel. According to Giant, spokes in a non-radial pattern that all have the same tension when the wheel is at rest are actually imbalanced once the wheel starts spinning. The Slr 0 rear wheel’s spokes have different tensions and are threaded through different locations along the hub. These variations actually lead to a balanced and more efficient wheel when it’s in motion. The stiffness of the wheels also enhances the bike’s ability to track well in the corners.
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The new seatpost on the Advanced SL 0 is the Variant. It takes some of its design cues from the D-Fuse seatpost on the Giant Defy for compliance. Unlike the Advance SL model, the Advanced Pro doesn’t have an integrated seatpost, which makes packing up the bike for travel a little easier. The saddle on the top of that post is the new SL. Under the saddle’s microfibre wrap is what Giant calls its particle flow technology. The company says the particles conform to the body better than regular foam to minimize pressure points. There are three versions of the SL saddle: forward, neutral and upright. The bike comes outfitted with the forward saddle. (The company says 70 per cent of riders have a forward sitting position.) Since I’d been previously fit on Giant saddles, I know I’m better suited to the neutral version. The forward saddle wasn’t a terrible fit for me, but the neutral is better.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ride the Advanced Pro 0 in the same place as I did the Advanced SL. My local hills are nothing like the long climbs of Mallorca. Still, I enjoyed powering up familiar inclines on the Advanced Pro with its excellent balance of high stiffness and low weight. Comparing the 2016 model with my 2012 was striking. The refinements of the latest version have elevated the bike quite a bit. Now just might be the time for me to upgrade.
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 retails for $5,649.