On show: Interbike 2009 Part 4

Giant may insist that its new carbon fiber 'cross frameset prototypes are still works in progress but their highly finished appearance suggests that production models may not be all that far off.

Several key design elements are borrowed from the road-going TCR Advanced SL, including the OverDrive tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/4" front end, the MegaDrive oversized rectangular-section down tube, a press-fit bottom bracket, and the integrated seat mast. However, the 'cross bike's steerer tube and fork crown look to be aluminum instead of carbon fiber and the integrated seat mast is notably more shallow front-to-back for increased rider comfort.

Rear end compliance is clearly a high priority given a few other design features, too, such as the flattened top tube – which also makes for easier shouldering – the only modestly oversized chain stays, and the downwardly offset twin seat stays that Giant says adds to the seatmast flex.

Cable routing is fully internal in order to maintain shifting and braking performance in adverse conditions. The derailleur cables enter right at the head tube and exit down at the bottom bracket through an opening in the down tube – similar to how it's done on the Trinity Advanced SL aero bike – while the rear brake line enters the top tube as usual but is then redirected by an internal guide and exits perfectly centered at the rear of the seat tube.

Based on team rider Adam Craig's prototype, the derailleur ports are sized for Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system, too, and there's also a dedicated battery mount underneath the non-driveside chain stay.

Giant says there are just five prototypes currently in test and weights, stiffnesses and ride qualities differ significantly between them as engineers experiment with lay-up schedules and fiber types. As such, Giant would offer neither target weight or price figures nor a projected release date, though it likely goes without saying that the new bike will be lighter, more responsive and yet more comfortable than the current TCX. As for availability, we'd say that next 'cross season seems like a reasonable guess.

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