One of my favourite places for first rides on cyclocross or gravel bikes is just north of our office. It’s a park that hosted the 2010 cyclocross nationals. It’s not just riding in the park on the short, punchy hills and little runs of singletrack that I like, the ride to the park is a fun rip, too. I take crushed-rock paths and some gravelly doubletrack. If the coast is clear, I can get going at a good clip. It’s a microcosm of all the types of riding the Giant TCX Advanced SX can do.
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The bike has serious cyclocross pedigree. The “TCX” in the name signals that the frame and fork come right out of the performance lineup. They’re made of Giant’s Advanced-grade carbon fibre, the company’s second-tier composite. At a price of $2,389, this bike offers phenomenal value. While it has an edgy frame, it’s not meant for your all-out ’cross races. “Any time we use ‘SX’ on one of our bikes, it means we ‘tough guy’ed’ it,” said Sean Kerr, Giant Bicycle Canada product manager. “We’ve only ever used that on mountain bikes – Anthem SX, Reign SX or Trance SX. In those cases, we start with the platform and put a bigger fork on, wider tires and wider bar. This is the first time we’ve SX’ed anything outside of the mountain bikes.”
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Following the SX schema, the TCX Advanced SX has Giant’s Connect XR Ergo-Control bar, which was developed for the more, straight-ahead gravel-grinder Revolt line. The Connect XR Ergo-Control is 440-mm-wide and have an excellent, and comfortable, retro flare on the drops. On long rides, the range of hand positions is great for staying comfortable. The bar is attached to a 90-mm stem, shorter than what the company would spec for a CX racer, to make sure a wider range of riders are comfortable on the machine.
Getting up hills is quite easy on the TCX Advanced SX thanks to its mellow gearing. A single SRAM Apex 40-tooth chainring is at the cranks, while the cassette runs from an 11-tooth small cog to a dessert-plate-size 42-tooth cog. It’s a good range if you are facing a lot of ups and downs. I only found myself under-geared on a long downward false flat. The shifting is handled by a SRAM Apex 1 lever and derailleur.
If you did want to race ’cross on the TCX Advanced SX, and you totally could, you won’t be able to sneak those Maxxis Rambler tires past the commissaires. At 40 mm, they’re 7 mm past the UCI tire-width limit. For the rest of your rides, the Ramblers are great, giving you traction and control on many surfaces. The tire width also adds comfort when the ground gets rough, as does the D-Fuse seatpost with its engineered flex.
The TCX Advanced SX can definitely expand your riding, whether that’s through local parks or down long gravel roads. Instead of focusing just on the road ahead, you’ll start catching trails or rough roads out of the corner of your eyes. Then, you’ll stop, double back and explore a new route.