Our first test bike of February is the Giant TCR Advanced SL 4 – a £3249 race machine, with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset and Giant’s P-SL0 wheels.
Much has been made in recent weeks of the Propel, billed as Giant’s first foray into the aero bike market, but there’s little in the way of conventional tube profiles on the TCR Advanced SL4. Flat and box section is the order of the day, lending a machine with the TCR’s intended use a suitably aggressive appearance.
The, ahem, giant box section down tube measures 55mm in its vertical plane and is 30mm deep. Its profile is mirrored in the top tube, which sheds much of its depth and breadth on its journey from the head tube to an elegant seat cluster, which sits above Giant’s trademark shallow seat stays; still a defiantly modern silhouette, years after the debut of Mike Burrows’ game-changing compact geometry.
A cut-away seat tube brings the rear wheel to within 15mm of the rear tyre, which, combined with relatively short, 405mm chainstays, produces an impressively tight rear triangle that promises rapid acceleration and climbing efficiency.
While the box section profiles that are the TCR Advanced SL 4’s dominant design feature continue to the chainstays, the driveside is visually slimmer and deeper than the non-driveside: what looks like a clever solution to placing bulk in areas likely to suffer the greatest load while overcoming clearance issues. (Before we leave the topic of chainstays, the non-driveside contains Giant’s RideSense ANT+ transmitter).
The full carbon fork unites with an on-trend 1.5 inch lower bearing at the base of a tall-for-the-breed headtube (170mm on our 53.5cm test bike), but one significantly lower than its equivalent on Giant’s market-cornering sportive range, where the headtube on the Defy Advanced SL is a whopping 185mm.
The head and seat tube angles, however, are not a world away from the Defy Advanced SL: in fact, merely reversed (our 53.5cm TCR Advanced SL 4 gets a 73 degree head angle and 72.5 degree seat angle; the opposite of the Defy Advanced SL in the same size). We expect both to be subtle but significant additions to a more aggressive and engaging persona for the TCR.
Among the remaining details of note from the chassis are elegantly moulded ports for internally routed cables (especially neat at the driveside chainstay) and an aero-profiled, composite seat-post, which here takes the place of an integrated unit on the flagship TCR Advanced SL 0, as well as on the SL 1 and SL 2.
We’re pleased to note the full deployment of a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, and the specification as standard of a Fizik Arione saddle.
The wheelset, however, and the tyres come to that, are ones on which we must for now reserve judgement. Both are Giant’s own, and as such, not ones we’ve encountered on other machines. They’re laced radially at the front: so far, so typical. At the rear, however, they follow a less conventional radial lacing on the driveside and two-cross lacing on the non-driveside. We’re looking forward to seeing how these perform.
Our final note on the wheels at this early stage concerns the aggressive styling of the cog-shaped hub flanges and the pleasing use therein of straight-pull spokes, which bode well for the stiffness of the wheel.
The rubber is also Giant’s own: a pair of slick, 23c Giant SLR-1 boots provide the contact patches: distinctly unseasonal, but with the potential to prove soft and grippy, even if, at this early stage, robustness looks beyond them.
We’ll be riding the Giant Advanced TCR SL 4 throughout February. Check back soon for a full review.
Website: Giant Bicycles
UK distributor: Giant Bicycles UK