I first saw Giant bikes in the very early 2000’s when they brought out these light alloy bikes that had a very short wheelbase, tight clearances and aggressive head and seat angles making for a lively bike to ride.

Giant TCR2 – Aluminium Frame- Circa 2001 – Light and tight

In 2003 the ONCE team rode Giants with Campagnolo. This was the time when Beloki almost won a tour against Lance Armstrong. But then that’s another piece of cycling history.

ONCE TCR Giant with Campagnolo and aero seat pillar.

Then things started to change. I think it was around 2003-4 when Giant started to sponsor the German T-Mobile or Team Mobile Team. It was around the time that Jan Ullrich was racing for them along with Cadel Evans. It was at the same time that Cadel didn’t get selected to ride the Tour de France and Jan was having his own problems trying to win a Tour de France under the shadow of Lance’s Tour dominance. Giant bikes were made of carbon and they were painting them pink. The TCR advanced was in its makings and I really feel that this was a defining moment for Giant and the start of some really big leaps in the TCR advanced’s development. Lance Armstrong went on to win a few more tours. Cadel moved to Davitamon-Lotto, started doing well at the tours and went on to become a World Champion in 2009. Jan had a “little time off the bike” then came back to battle it out with Lance and continued to be defeated.

One of the many versions of the T-Mobile TCR Giants

So… the Giant TCR advanced SL bike review…

The Giant TCR advanced SL is the most compliant and stiffest bike I have ridden. Within a matter of minutes on my first ride I knew that I was on something very special. I felt like I was riding a fast and nimble gazelle. Riding the Giant TCR advanced SL feels like every ounce of power that I’m producing goes straight into driving this bike forward. While this is realistically never that case due to a loss of power in any bike, the Giant TCR advanced SL is the by far the most efficient bike that I have ridden.

This is really noticeable when I’m putting in all those little micro busts of speed so critical when needing to hold position in a fast moving bunch riding at race pace. The Giant TCR advanced SL makes it easy and I feel like I’m bunch surfing with so much less effort than other bikes I’ve ridden. Giant seem to have great understanding on how to lay carbon to produce a bike that is not only light but super ridged. This I think has a lot to do with Giant’s relentless drive to produce the best bike.

My Giant TCR advanced SL came with the fabulous Shimano Dura Ace C24 wheels. These are a great all round clincher wheelset that are light, strong and great for hill climbing, criteriums and general road racing. Again, like Giant, Shimano have gone through a big burst of development with their wheelsets over the last few years. This has resulted in them now selling some truly high performance wheelsets at a great price.

The “SL” of Giant’s TCR advanced stands for Super Light. The Giant TCR advanced SL is one of the lighter production bikes available today. How Giant get their TCR advanced SL frame so light and stiff I don’t know but they do.

So what qualities do you look for in a bike? Your want a light bike because light bikes go up hills fast. You want a stiff bike, but not too stiff that you feel every bump in the road that jars yourself to pieces every time you go out for a ride… And you want a bike to goes around corners fast without you wondering where you’re going to end up when you come out of them. I call it cornering predictability. Yep, you want lots of that too. Some bikes you have to fight them all the way. While with others, like my previous bike, you don’t have to think about when you are cornering. You just point it into a corner and it takes you around. I call it riding on rails. The Giant TCR advanced SL is like that too. While it’s nimble and quick (and fast) the Giant TCR advanced SL never gets ahead of you so you always feel like you are in control. Always. Oh, and the magic carpet ride… This breed of bike is a high performance bike. It’s got a magic carpet ride quality all of its own. It’s like a magic carpet ride with a bit of an edge that makes you feel like you are riding a high performance bike. Good for long rides. No problems.

My move over to the Giant TCR advanced SL was not taken lightly. As a diehard Campagnolo user since 1983 (previously I used to race on Dura-Ace) it was a bit daunting to start riding Shimano. The main decision to move to Shimano Dura Ace is that I’m getting tired of spending lots of money having to get customised bikes every time I buy one. This is mainly due to the limited range of off the shelf production bikes available with Campagnolo Record.

Production bikes are good value for money and considerably cheaper than buying a frame and adding a Campagnolo Record groupset to it. Or buying a top end production bike equipped with low end low end Shimano components, striping it down and then rebuilding it with Campagnolo Record then having the drama of getting rid of the Shimano components. I have been living with both of these options for the last few years and growing tired of it. It’s a time consuming and expensive process that is now made even more challenging by Campagnolo decided to go with 11 speed. This means that that much of my legacy Campagnolo 10 speed components and parts are now not reusable on any new bike that I purchase. I want to go to a bike shop, pick a high performance racing bike straight off the rack and purchase it. And my feeling about riding Shimano Dura Ace – it works! It’s easy to use, quick to adapt to and race proven at the highest levels of bike racing. I have no problems with Shimano Dura Ace. And… it’s not going to make any difference to my performance riding with it or with Campagnolo Record. So the move has been more painless that I expected. I’m just really happy with it.

Conclusion – Giant’s Giant TCR advanced SL is great value for money, has a very high build quality and a really good top end performance racing bike.

The new bread – TCR advanced SL used by Team Rabobank – A great package that is race proven at the highest level of cycling