£800 'cross machine with the capability to be a good all-rounder

Okay it's not exactly the height of the 'cross season, but at £795 and with good crossover potential, the Giant TCX2 is the kind of bike many people look to as an all-rounder for commuting and leisure duties, as well as the odd race. And it's pretty Cyclescheme-friendly too at well under a grand.

Not that Giant are bigging up its multi-purpose personality too much: to them this is a proper CX bike, albeit one a few rungs down from their top race steeds. "Light enough to hoist and carry, fast enough to put you on the podium, that's TCX", they gush. "With sharp handling, lightweight and easy to shoulder AluxX SL aluminium frame plus a smart mix of dirt worthy components, the all-new TCX is your do it all bike for competition or adventure - better yet, both."

So let's have a look at what you get. First off, a full Aluminium chassis and fork. Giant have as much experience in forming Aluminium as anyone, and although there are a few curves thrown in the overall look of the TCX frame is pretty reserved. Giant's alloy bikes are following the lead of their Carbon ones, with big squared off down tubes and deep chainstays for direct power transfer. Cable routing is all along the top of the top tube for better shouldering ability, and the top tube is flattened and curved underneath as well. There's mudguard eyelets, and rack mounts at the back too if you're going multi-purpose.

The AluXX frame is mated with an alloy fork, that's fairly beefy at the top to cope with braking forces and thins down towards the dropouts. Even with the solid alloy fork it's a long drop from the cable hanger above the headset to the front cantilever brakes, so we'll be interested to see if there's any judder under heavy load.

Giant describe the handling as 'sharp'; we've not put the TCX2 through its paces yet but looking at the geometry the angles suggest it's a touch more relaxed than a full-on race iron. Our large frame has a 72.5° head tube angle which is the steepest in the range; as the frames get smaller it slackens considerably, down to 70.5° for the extra small. First impressions of the handling suggest it's direct without being too twitchy, but we've yet to venture off-road...

The TCX2 uses Shimano's Sora shifters mated with a Tiagra rear mech and an FSA Omega 50/34 chainset running on a MegaExo integrated bottom bracket. That's decent rather exceptional spec for the money; the rest of the build is mostly Giant own-brand components which are generally very dependable. Giant supply the rims too, which are mated to Shimano and Formula hubs at the rear and the front respectively. Kenda's Small Block Eight 35mm tyres are a commonly-specced compromise between good rolling on the blacktop and trail grip.

So is it a 'cross racer or more of an all-rounder like the Specialized Tricross? Well, it's somewhere in between, we reckon. At 10kg (22lb) on the nail for the large bike it's certainly not over-heavy, and the kit is dependable stuff. The heavyish wheels and wide-ratio chainset are the first things you'll be looking to swap out if you're heading down to a muddy field for an hour of pain of a Sunday, but as a platform it looks like the TCX could probably cut it as an entry-level racer as well as an all-rounder. We'll put it through its paces and let you know how we get on.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.