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Review: Giant TCX 0

Giant TCX 0

Components – Shimano Ultegra, FSA

Wheels – DT Swiss R 1800

Sizes – XS, S, M, M-L, L, XL

MSRP – $2,349

Cyclocross is seeing a resurgence these days and Giant Bicycles was smart enough to get on the train. The powerhouse company has massively expanded its cyclocross program for 2011, offering five models starting from $1,659. If you want a bike that falls between off-road and on-road, regardless of what you plan to do with it, Giant feels it’s got a bike for you.

“Our CX lineup addresses those people that use cyclocross bikes to commute – throw fenders on it and less aggressive tires – and we scale the line right up to a high-performance, full carbon composite race bike,” said Giant Canada marketing manager Randy Pye. “It’s strictly demand. The numbers are showing growth in the cyclocross world and the need for these bikes.”

That top-of-the-line option is the bike being ridden by the professionals – the stunning TCX Advanced SL. Based on the ProTour-level TCR Advanced SL road bike, the flagship model in the cyclocross lineup is a full carbon design using Giant’s own T-800 carbon, which it manufacturers from start to finish in house. The frame features an integrated seat post, tapered head tube and massive square-shaped MegaDrive downtube design. Of course, that kind of technology comes with a price, and a complete Advanced SL with a Dura-Ace build and carbon clinchers will cost you $6,899.

For those without the need for that kind of race-worthy cyclocross rig, there are three more TCX models, plus a women’s-specific cyclocross bike known as the TCX W. That model uses a different geometry design from the other bikes, and comes with a women’s-specific handlebar and stem, as well as a full SRAM Rival drivetrain.

“We’re the first major bike manufacturer to offer a women’s-specific model. It’s surprising something hasn’t been done even sooner. We’re enthusiastic this will do well,” said Pye.

For our test, we rode the $2,349 TCX 0, which is the top-of-the-line aluminum cyclocross offering from Giant. It uses an all-new ALUXX SL frame with a tapered head tube, going from 1-1/4th inch at the bottom up to 1-1/8th inch at the top. As much as this makes sense on road bikes, it’s an even better move for cyclocross, where a stiff front end is incredibly important. The frame has an oversized bottom bracket area for added stiffness, as well as both a higher bottom bracket height  than its predecessor, and an improved top-tube shape for shouldering. Mud clearance has also been improved thanks to reshaped seat stays.

The TCX 0 comes equipped with a Shimano Ultegra 10-speed drivetrain with FSA compact cranks. The stem, handlebar and carbon seatpost are all from Giant’s house brand and, for wheels, the company went with DT Swiss R 1800 clinchers with Vittoria Cross XM Pro tires.

While testing the bike over the typically-varied cyclocross terrain, we found the bike to be surprisingly comfortable, but not at the expense of stiffness. Power transfer is excellent, especially coming out of tight corners or after remounting following a barrier. Handling was responsive and braking power from the supplied TRP EuroX cantilevers was better than average. The flat underside design of the top tube made shouldering the bike easy and the supplied Vittoria tires, though not the best cross tires out there, performed well enough.

There’s little to complain about with the TCX 0. It’s a race-ready cyclocross bike that has been well-designed to meet the needs of both new and experienced competitors. We’re not huge fans of the overly-colour matched design (the blue cable housings are a bit much), but that’s a common theme across the whole Giant line. Overall, this is a good option for cyclocross racers or those just getting into the sport. But if the price tag is a bit too high, the lower-end TCX 1 and 2 use the same frame, but with less performance-oriented parts specs.