Just in: Giant TCR SL 2

Giant’s most advanced aluminium frame with a Shimano 105 groupset costing £1,249 lands in the roadcc bike shed

by David Arthur   March 5, 2013  

Aluminium is still a top choice of frame material, and to prove it Giant have just released the most advanced aluminium road bicycle they’ve ever developed. The new TCR SL represents the pinnacle of their years working with the material. The result is a stunning 1,050g frame. There are two bikes in the range: this £1,249 Shimano 105-equipped bike and there’s one with Ultegra costing £1,799.

At a shade over 1kg, the new TCR SL is close to a lot of carbon frames in terms of weight, and the latest developments mean the ride is far more sophisticated than in the early days of aluminium when it was roundly considered to be too stiff and harsh to be anything but uncomfortable. Not anymore. The latest aluminium frames offer wonderful rides that in some situations rival carbon. And because aluminium is a lot cheaper to manufacture, you can have a very high quality bike with a far better spec for the money than most carbon alternatives. There's a lot to like.

Aluxx SL Ultralight-Edition is the alloy used for the frame. Most of the tubes have been heavily manipulated, and just about every tube has a rounded off square profile. The top tube is a wide box section at the front and is the same width as the head tube, while it is far more slender and narrow at the seat tube.

The seat tube is a magnificent example of tube manipulation: it starts off box section at the bottom bracket shell, then flows into an aero shaped section via a cutaway around the rear wheel. The down tube is a rounded square shape, and the rear stays are slender.

Aero is a buzzword we’re hearing about a lot more these days, and the TCR SL2 has been given an aero seat tube. It’s Giant's own design, with a two-bolt saddle rail clamp and a twin bolt seat clamp. It’s easy to set up - no trying to get the saddle absolutely straight with lots of squinting eyes - but it does clearly limit the potential for upgrade.

Up front the frame doesn’t use Giant’s latest OverDrive 2 standard, instead it's OverDrive which has a 1 ¼in lower bearing racing and 1 1/8in upper bearing. The fork is made from composite material and has an alloy steerer tube.

On the scales, the bike pictured weighs 8.35kg (18.4lbs). That’s a seriously competitive weight when you take the price tag into consideration. This weight is reached with a mostly Shimano 105 10-speed groupset, with a R565 compact 50/34 chainset paired up to a wide-ranging 12-28 cassette. Giant spec a PressFit bottom bracket.

Giant really go the extra mile when it comes to the finish of their bikes, and this is apparent with the TCR SL2. Their own branded handlebars, stem, seatpost and saddle are all top-notch kit and while it may not carry the kudos of branded parts, it’s all very much fit for purpose.

A couple of years ago Giant launched their own range of wheels and tyres and they feature on this model. The P-R2 wheelset use hubs with sealed bearings and DT Swiss Competition spokes, with 24 in the front wheel and 28 in the rear. They’re shod with P-SL1 23mm front and rear specific tyres.

This is a size medium (there are six sizes available). It has a 57cm effective top tube and 17cm head tube, 99.2cm wheelbase and 40.5cm chainstays. The head angle is 73° and seat angle is 72.5°.

So, what’s the competition for this £1,249 aluminium race bike, then? Immediately leaping to mind is the Canyon Ultimate AL 7.0. It’s the same price but has a heavier frame of 1,220g. It’s similarly specced for the money however. Then there’s the BMC GranFondo GF02 that arrived in the office the other day. It's a similar deal with an alu frame and 105 groupset, but at £1,400 it's a bit dearer. If you want comfort, then how about Trek’s Domane 2.3? It’s £1,200 and has most of a Shimano 105 groupset and packs in their innovative IsoSpeed decoupler at the seat tube junction that offers vibration absorption. 

Another interesting option is Koga’s new A-Limited. It’s their latest aluminium racer and the frame weighs 1,130g. A Shimano 105 build costs £1,571 so it’s a fair bit cheaper, although it’s not available until April.

We reviewed the Cannondale Caad10 Ultegra model and found it to be an excellent bike for the money and the 105 model uses the same frame but costs £1,399. So, again, it’s a bit more money.

www.giant-bicycles.com

7 user comments

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Hmm.

This is rare.

But this Giant doesn't look half bad.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
5th March 2013 - 12:00

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If the Alu Defy is anything to go by I expect great things from this frameset!

posted by ALIHISGREAT [109 posts]
5th March 2013 - 12:40

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My brother has been riding one of these for about a month now. We both own TCR Advanced SL's....he says this is absolutely brilliant! Judging by how he's going, i agree! Nerd

posted by cydonian74 [18 posts]
5th March 2013 - 14:51

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Wow - if that weight is genuine that makes it a real challenger for low / medium end carbon. 2 quibbles though - a)why use an aluminum steerer fork - that's got to add a good 200g compared to a decent full carbon fork and b) that aero seat post is silly and severely limits choice in this area. Geometry is a bit long and stretchy for me. Otherwise, v. nice indeed.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [181 posts]
5th March 2013 - 17:49

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Nice frame weight, wonder if thats the unpainted frame weight. Have roadcc weighed it?

posted by tomascjenkins [32 posts]
5th March 2013 - 21:58

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Looks good?? Well maybe? if it wasn't for the seat/seatpost, forks, wheels and tyres.

Shop around; and you'll get a good quality carbon framed bike with 105, group, and probably a lot better wheelset.

Canyon, Cube, Ridley, and Cannondale, seem like a better option to me.

posted by Mostyn [387 posts]
6th March 2013 - 10:44

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Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm sure someone will), but I had a couple of the original TCR1 framesets, one in 2000 and another in 2002 and I'm sure the latter was advertised as the same weight as this new one, 1050g. If that's the case they haven't really moved on much have they? Though I'm sure this new new one is a damn sight more more comfy.

posted by sneakerfrfeak [66 posts]
6th March 2013 - 17:31

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