Bike test - Giant OCR1

Road Cycling UK Road Cycling UK

RC

Giant have such a massive slice of the bicycle market. You’d expect a company of such magnitude to have corporate heads who care little for cycling and just want to make (more) money… Well it’s not all board rooms and bottom lines at Giant. A few years ago I was invited by Giant to ride at the Etape with the top brass from their Dutch HQ. Not only do they make bikes, they are also super-keen cyclists, which is probably why they have sponsored a first division cycling team for many years and employ people who really do care about cycling. They are also really aware of the fact that to compete in the bicycle market you have to use the product yourself and give the consumers what they are after.

Giant seem to have done a lot of listening recently. Their 2005 range is the broadest road bike range from any of the top-name manufacturers. They now have a bike for every road bike riding discipline; cross, track, time trial and road. The OCR’s fill the entry level road category starting at £425.00. This bike, the OCR1, sits just behind the range topping OCR Zero.

Giant introduced their compact frame designs around ten years ago. I have to be honest, I have never been a real fan. The idea was a reasonable one in theory, but the compromises involved when getting the bike to fit have always been a real pain for me. Giant’s original idea was to present three sizes of frame; small, medium and large. Then you could opt for a different length seatpost and an adjustable stem. Well this may have worked on the drawing board but not when you are trying to fit riders to bikes who could be either 4’8″ or 6’6″ tall. They added larger sizes to some of the ranges but it still failed to cover all eventualities.

With the latest OCRs they’ve softened the lines of the frame geometry a little and made them semi-compact design across the board, they certainly look better. Some still only come in three sizes but the mainstay of the ranges are available in four, some in five and so they fit the short/tall extremes far better now. This bike came from De Ver cycles in South London. Everton (the mechanic at De Ver’s) set the bike up for me and swapped a stem over to get the fit better. I opted for the medium size but fitted a 10cm stem as the 12cm one supplied was way too long. This is something well worth considering – although the bikes come in more sizes now you still may have to compromise the standard specification. This time in the workshop also meant the bike worked perfectly from the first pedal stroke.

Out on the road
Old Giant TCRs and OCRs were twitchy and flightly. The lighter they got the more fly-away the handling. This OCR was a much more stable platform so didn’t take so long to get used to. Giant have worked into their AluxX 6061 frame and added flared ends to the tubes and more complicated profiles. It certainly looks more sophisticated and the welding quality is a step on from previous ranges.

Giant have given special attention to the rear seat and chainstays on the OCR. Where previous OCRs had thicker, shorter and straighter seat stays the latest version has gently swaged curved ones to smooth out the road a little. The chainstays allow a little more flex to the back end which is important as the bike cannot rely on a long seatpost to add any ‘give’ to the rear end.

The overall ride is still quite aggressive, just not in a Buckaroo type way, I liked the responsive feel and I was far more confident descending than on previous Giant testers. Cornering and sprinting is predictable too, with the 45mm raked carbon fork (which is soooo much better than the old aluminium one Giants used to suffer with!) soaking up bumps and pot holes with no effort at all. Colour is a love/hate issue – It shows the dirt but is neutral enough for most people.

Wheels
The Campagnolo theme is complete with a set of Ventos. They look good and ride better than similar priced and more expensive ‘in-house’ factory wheels. The Hutchinson Flash tyres are a little more hardwearing than their racing tyres and grip better in the wet – they also have a wider, more cushioned profile and added some comfort to the wheel package. Campagnolo hubs are, even at this end of the market, wonderful. Easy to service and will roll on for ages. During the testing period not a wobble or a lump to report from the Ventos. They look the part too.

Components
Many manufacturers are now recognising the importance of complete equipment groups. The ‘average’ bike consumer is now far more up to speed with componentry and Giant know a full groupset could turn heads in their direction over a competitors bike with a few corners cut. Having said that Giant have cut one small corner with the bottom bracket, although Campagnolo’s Mirage BB is not top drawer, so it’s a minor point.
Campagnolo’s Mirage isn’t the finest piece of engineering to leave Italy but it is reassuringly positive to shift gear sprockets and the braking power is far more reliable than similar priced Shimano units. The gearing was for racing rather than Etapping, so a switch of ratios at the rear wheel would be better for tackling higher hills in the summer.

Contact points
Fizik saddle was a welcome up-spec product on the OCR and the ITM bars and stem are becomming the stock option for 2005 (why, oh why?) I found the ergo bar way to stretched out, the ‘drops’ felt like they were in a different postcode to the ‘tops’. However these parts are a massive leap forward compared to the goose-neck adjustable stem and hole in the middle saddles that Giant used to specify.

Conclusion
Giant have a massive buying power. So you know whatever bike you buy from them will be excellent value. This bike goes a little further too with better handling and more comfort than previous OCRs and it is a valid upgrade for any Giant buyer. It would be just at home on the slopes of the Col du Soulor as it would be on a tight UK crit circuit. I liked it and I know many budget buyers will too, especially seeing as the OCR 3 starts at £425 – Wow. But I am certain that the Shimano Ultegra equipped race-ready version of the OCR at £1100 will be one of the top sellers for ’05. Just see if you can get one (whilst stocks last…).





Good:
A class winning bike and greatly improved geometry



Bad:
Down spec bottom bracket, but that’s about it. Colours aren’t everyone’s cuppa

Performance:

4/5

Value:
5/5

Overall:
4/5

Specification
Frame sizes: S(51cm) M(54cm) L(57cm) XL (60cm) [c/t]
Size tested: M (54 cm top tube)
Frame tubing: AluxX 6061
Fork: Straight bladed Carbon/alloy steerer
Headset: Giant
Crankarms: Campagnolo Mirage triple 170 mm
Chainrings: Campagnolo Mirage triple 53/42/30T
B/B:
Pedals: none supplied
Chain: Campagnolo Mirage
Freewheel: Campagnolo Mirage 12-25
F/D: Campagnolo Mirage triple

R/D: Shimano 105 triple
Shifters: Campagnolo Mirage 9 speed
Handlebar: ITM Ergo 42cm
Stem: ITM forged 12cm
Tape: black cork
Brakes: Campagnolo Mirage
Wheels: Campagnolo Vento front and rear
Tires: Hutchinson Flash 700x23c
Saddle: Fi’zi:k Pave
Seatpost: Giant
Colour: off white ‘camo’ theme

Weight: 20.94lbs/9.5 kgs less pedals
Price: £750.00

X

Also in Event News

Talkin' about a Revolution...

Read More