The TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team is Giant's no compromise road race machine and gets its mouthful of a name from being the choice ride for the German pro team. Built with nothing but all-out performance in mind the Advanced Team is light, stiff and fast.
At £4150, it's almost identical to the bike the pros ride but unless you're paid to race do you really need one? Will it make you a faster rider, or simply make you look like an all-the-gear-no-idea poseur?
The fact that the TCR Advanced isn't your average versatile, performance road bike makes it even more appealing. The T-Mobile colours, only minutely adjustable (2cm), one cut, one fit seatmast and compact, stiff frame make it a unique bike. The ride is hard to describe as forgiving - hit a road bump unawares and the shock through the seatmast will try to separate your head from your shoulders. But ride it like you would in a race and it all comes together. Handling, smoothness of power and the unshakable hold on the road all shine through. The only problem is that it wants to be ridden like a race bike all the time. If you haven't got the strength and fitness to feed the frame, it will drop you for dead. If you're up for the challenge then you'll love the TCR Advanced and it will make you a fitter, faster rider in the process.
Giant was the first bike manufacturer to pioneer the compact road frame almost 11 years ago. Back then the small triangles and angles rocked the road world and had die-hard traditionalists turning in their toe-clips. Today the design almost looks the norm as it's been adopted by many a manufacturer. Carbon is almost the perfect material for the compact frame, and the stiff, light and highly mouldable T-800 high modulus, nano-tubed carbon fibre structure of the Team Advanced works especially well in compact form.
The performance and feel of the frame comes from the subtle design and fine detailing of the high grade, high modulus carbon. Look closely and the flared curves at the top-tube, bottom bracket and seatmast show that the bike is built to be stiff.
The one-piece, lugless front triangle is formed around the oversized (but regular width) bottom bracket shell and a standard 1 1/8 inch head-tube. Seatstays and chainstays are also joined not by lugs but wrapped carbon and are contoured to provide a degree of comfort without compromising stiffness and power transfer to the rear wheel.
Replacing a seatpost with an integrated seatmast does increase the initial firmness of the ride, but it does reduce the weight overall. Getting the right fit, though, is a case of measuring ten times before cutting the frame to size so we'd recommend your Giant dealer does the cutting rather than you running the risk of the DIY route! Other advantages of the seatmast is that it eliminates water ingress down the seatpost into the frame, as well as seatpost slippage, and the saddle always remains straight. It's also worth mentioning that there's only £100 difference between the seatmast and seatpost versions, so if you're not bothered about changing the height of your saddle, it's a cost effective way of getting a carbon post.
True to the T-Mobile spec, the Advanced Team comes equipped with a full quiver of Shimano Dura-Ace components. Slick, smooth and fast, Shimano's top gruppo suits the intended purpose of the bike down to the ground. Not a lot else needs to be said about Dura-Ace groupset but we'd like to give a special mention to the powerful brakes. The control and modulation from the big levers married to the powerful callipers is wonderfully reassuring when pushing things to the limit. Although they're not the lightest brakes on the market, Dura-Ace are certainly the best.
This is the only departure from the pros' bikes; they predominantly opt for Lightweights. The pair of Shimano Dura-Ace WH7850SL wheels keeps the price down and although they're heavier than the Lightweights, they are more versatile. They're also tubeless-ready.
Continental Grand Prix 400 tyres are plenty sticky in the dry but can get a bit scary over road lines and manhole covers in the wet. Thankfully the frame lets you know exactly what is going on at all times.
The TCR Advance T-Mobile Team is designed as a performance bike and for that it gets full marks. However, it should also come with a health warning - it makes you ride like you're possessed and demands full bodily effort all of the time. Don't mistake that for an uncomfortable, nervy ride, though - far from it. It's more the fact that the beast just demands to be ridden fast. We were hitting nearly 50mph for the cover shoot and the bike felt totally stable yet alive. It really does make you grin on the inside yet grimace on the outside at the amount of effort you're feeding the bike.
Powerful acceleration is spontaneous. The bike is stiff but that's almost doing it a disservice as it's a lot more subtle than that. The feel and control is just so well sorted at speed. It loves to be cornered hard and we lost our nerve before the bike lost its hold on the road. There's a noticeable increase in firmness from the seatmast but it's not uncomfortable, as long as you're fit enough to cope with it on a long ride.
The all or nothing nature of this bike means it isn't a suitable ride for everyone, and those wanting more versatility and comfort should consider Giant's comfier, seatposted TCR Composite or even look at the SCR range. But if you're serious about your racing, speed and performance you'll love the ride of the TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team.
Replacement value £4150 (£2095 frame only, £1995 non-ISP frame)
Frame and forks
Size tested: Large
Sizes available: S, M, M/L, L
Weight as tested: 7.360kg/16.2lb no pedals
Frame: Full carbon monocoque, forged alloy dropouts, replaceable derailleur hanger
Frame weight: 1335g/2.9lb
Fork: Carbon fork 11/8 steerer, carbon blades/ crown, forged dropouts.
Fork weight: 365g/0.8lb
Seat-tube (c-c): 50.5cm/19.9in
Head-tube angle: 73°
Seat-tube angle: 73°
Fork offset: 4.5cm/1.8in
B/b height: 27.5cm/10.8in
Standover height: 82cm/32.3in
Braze-ons: 2 bottle cages
Rear triangle: Perfect
Chainset: Shimano Dura-Ace forged hollow arms, 175mm, alloy rings 53/39
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura- Ace external type Freewheel: Shimano Dura-Ace 10s, 12-25 Ti cogs with alloy carrier
Chain brand : Shimano Dura-Ace
Derailleurs: Dura-Ace front and rear; (front braze-on) Gear levers: Dura-Ace STI
Front & rear: Dura-Ace prebuilt, forged alloy hubs with sealed cup and cone, ss spokes 16 radial front, 20 radial/2 cross rear, machined aero rims, asymetric pull rear
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 4000, 700x23
Wheel weight: f 1038g, r 1435g
Stem: Deda Newton, 12 cm, 11/8, with 4 bolt 31.7 clamp
Bars: Deda Newton anatomic os, 44cm c-c Saddle: Selle Italia SLR, hollow Ti rails Seatpost: Frame specific machined alloy clamp, approx 2cm adjustment
Brakeset: Shimano Dura-Ace dual pivot Accessories: none