The Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc is an excellent performance-focused road bike that offers a balanced feel, precise handling, and the assured confidence of Shimano's mid-level 105 groupset and RS505 hydraulic disc brakes.
The overriding feature – certainly the feature that impresses me most – is just how solid the TCR Advanced 2 Disc feels. When you deliver all the power you can summon through the pedals, the frame just passes it along the line with a nonchalant roll of the eyes and barely a hint of flex. That's most noticeable through the middle of the bike where out-of-the-saddle blasts that on some bikes would send the bottom bracket swinging east and west result in virtually no sideways movement.
Giant attributes this solidity to what it calls its Megadrive rectangular profiled down tube and oversized Powercore bottom bracket/chainstay area that's home to an integrated 86mm wide BB. The driveside chainstay is more substantial than the non-driveside one, the idea being to provide additional stiffness where it is most needed.
Although these frame elements are large they're not massive. The TCR Advanced 2 Disc is no dump truck, no sumo wrestler on wheels, but the frame is simply very well built and refuses to yield under pressure. In that way, it's exactly the same as the rim-braked Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 that I reviewed back at the start of the year.
One difference is that the fork – which is carbon/aluminium rather than full carbon – swivels on smaller headset bearings (1 1/8in at the top and 1 1/4in at the bottom rather than 1 1/4in and 1 1/2in). Do you notice a difference? I guess you might if you rode them back to back but I found the steering precision here to be impressive. You can slam this bike around, leaning it over as far as your bottle will allow, and you'll end up exactly where you want to go without the need for correction. Even when you're ragging it through the bends, you don't feel like you're at the edge of the bike's capabilities.
Shimano's RS505 hydraulic disc brakes, acting on 160mm rotors, add to that feeling of quiet confidence. For dry conditions, my personal opinion is that discs don't offer a massive advantage on a bike like this, but for wet rides I've certainly been glad I had them. Pull the levers and there's none of that momentary anxiety about when they're going to bite, and that means you can leave your braking that little bit later going into a tight bend, for example.
I've been doing some commuting into the office on this bike and those disc brakes are great in traffic too. You know that they're going to perform almost as well in the wet as they do in the dry, and that gives you plenty of reassurance when nipping about on urban roads in rush hour. I'm not an evangelist for discs, but you do get more control when conditions are damp.
Giant is no stranger to disc brakes on road bikes, of course, having given the full disc treatment to the latest Defy endurance bikes when they were launched two years ago, and those models have proven extremely popular. Giant has stuck with 12mm thru-axles front and rear for the TCR Advanced disc bikes to keep everything firm and secure under the forces associated with disc brakes.
Hitting the scales at 8.6kg (19.0lb), the Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc isn't a featherweight compared with rim brake counterparts, but it's a decent weight for a disc brake bike at this price point. It climbs with little fuss, largely thanks to a Shimano 105 compact chainset (with 50-tooth and 34-tooth chainrings) matched up to an 11-28-tooth cassette. Most people will find the 34x28 gear sufficient to get up sharp climbs without too much bother.
As usual with Giant, the top tube slopes markedly over its length. The idea of this Compact Road geometry is that the frame triangles are kept small and stiff, weight is saved, and you get a low standover height. It also means you're likely to have a whole lot of seatpost extending out of the frame. I usually have plenty (thanks to strange proportions) but with this bike I had yards of it (well, 28cm to be precise).
Giant's Variant seatpost, held in place by an internal clamp, is designed to flex to a degree in order to improve the ride quality. Along with Giant's own Contact Forward saddle, it provides a smooth feel, especially for a race bike, and I didn't notice any excess movement when pedalling seated, so I think the designers have got the balance about right here.
Speaking of the geometry, it's exactly the same as that of the rim brake Giant TCR Advanced bikes – all of them, from the £1,049 TCR Advanced 3 right up to the £5,999 TCR Advanced SL 0. We've seen most brands stretching the chainstays out to at least 415mm, following Shimano's recommendation to avoid chainline issues, but Giant has stuck with 405mm chainstays here without any ill effects.
As you'd expect, it's a race orientated setup. We have the M/L sized model here with a 57cm top tube, a 16.8cm head tube and 73-degree head and seat angles. The stack height (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 56.7cm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those points) is 39.8cm.
Hop on board and you immediately know that this is a bike that's intended to be ridden fast. If you want a more relaxed setup you could consider Giant's Defy bikes that I mentioned earlier. The riding position is a bit shorter and they're a little taller at the front end. The TCR Advanced bikes, though, are all about speed, and the geometry reflects that.
The Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc is built up with a Shimano 105 groupset that's reliable and excellent value for money.
Admittedly, in terms of looks, the bulbous-nosed Shimano ST-RS505s are levers that only a mother could love. In fact, even Mrs Shimano would probably admit they ain't pretty. In terms of function, though, they're really good. The hoods provide a comfortable hand hold and you can dial those levers a little closer to the handlebar via hex key adjustment to suit smaller hands if you like.
Giant's PR 2 wheels aren't a particular highlight but they do the job well and the build quality looks good. They're a little heavy but I've been riding this bike for several weeks and I've not needed to adjust anything, which bodes well for durability. I've got on fine with Giant's 25mm P-SL1 tyres too. There's enough space to fit 28s in for a bit more comfort if you like.
Giant is offering several disc-equipped TCR Advanced bikes in 2017. The top of the range option (so far) is the £3,599 TCR Advanced Pro Disc with a frame made using Giant's Advanced Grade composite and equipped with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset.
The £1,899 TCR Advanced 1 Disc and our TCR Advanced 2 Disc also have Advanced Grade frames but Giant uses a fork with carbon legs and an aluminium steerer rather than full carbon. That steerer is slimmer too. It's built to Giant's OverDrive standard (it spins on a 1 1/8in upper bearing and 1 1/4in lower bearing) instead of OverDrive 2 (1 1/4in upper bearing, 1 1/2in lower bearing).
The TCR Advanced 1 Disc has a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Shimano BR-RS505 hydraulic disc brakes while our TCR Advanced 2 Disc has a Shimano 105 groupset and the same brakes. The Giant PR 2 Disc wheels are the same too.
Effectively, with the TCR Advanced 1 Disc you're paying £200 more to make the switch from Shimano 105 chainset and derailleurs to Ultegra. The retail price difference between those components is quite a bit less than that so the TCR Advanced 2 Disc is better value for money.
Giant also has a TCR Advanced SL Disc pencilled on the roster but it's not available yet because supply of the SRAM Red eTap Hydro groupset (with wireless electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes) has been delayed and Giant UK is waiting for the UCI to legalise disc brakes fully.
If you don't want disc brakes there are 11 rim-braked Giant TCR Advanced models in the 2017 range. The rim brake version of the Giant TCR Advanced 2 is £1,349, so you're saving £350 over the disc model we have here.
Overall, the Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc is an exceptionally good bike. It's stiff and responsive, it handles superbly and it's comfortable enough to ride all day. Add in the great value groupset and excellent hydraulic disc brakes and you have a winning proposition.
Exceptional speed-focused road bike that offers efficiency, precise handling and the reliability of Shimano's hydro disc brake
road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc
Size tested: M/L
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame is made from Giant's Advancec Composite Technology.
Giant says: "Giant's High Performance-grade raw carbon fibre is used to produce custom composite material in our own composite factory. Extremely lightweight, stiff and compliant, these handcrafted frames feature the following materials and processes:
Materials: High Performance-grade raw carbon material features an excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Resin: High Performance formula provides excellent void minimization (bubbles) while maintaining outstanding strength. And vibration absorbing particles are added to help disperse road shock.
Modified Monocoque Construction: The front triangle (down tube, head tube, top tube, seat tube) is assembled and moulded as one continuous piece. This front half is then joined to the rear chainstays and seatstays in a secondary process. This process eliminates the outermost woven composite sheet to reduce weight without affecting ride quality, strength or stiffness."
Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite, Electronic Ready
Fork: Advanced-Grade Composite, Hybrid OverDrive Steerer
Handlebar: Giant Contact
Stem: Giant Connect
Seatpost: Giant Variant Composite
Saddle: Giant Contact Forward
Shifters: Shimano ST-RS505
Front derailleur: Shimano 105
Rear derailleur: Shimano 105
Brakes: Shimano BR-RS505 Hydraulic Disc Brakes, 160mm rotors
Brake levers: Shimano ST-RS505
Cassette: Shimano 105 11-28
Chain: KMC X11EL-1
Chainset: Shimano 105 34/50
Bottom bracket: Shimano BB-RS500 press fit
Rims: Giant PR 2 Wheel Set
Hubs: Giant Performance Tracker Road, Sealed Bearing, Front/Rear 12mm Thru-Axle
Spokes: Sapim Race
Tyres: Giant P-SL 1, Front and Rear Specific, 700x25mm Folding
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
It's a performance-orientated road bike.
Giant says: "Built for next-generation road race performance. Superior efficiency meets added control in all conditions.
"Whether you're attacking the field or battling for your own personal record, TCR Advanced Disc is engineered to give you total confidence in all types of conditions. Designed with Compact Road geometry and constructed with Advanced-grade composite, TCR Advanced delivers class-leading efficiency. The Variant seatpost blends efficiency and compliance for a race-tuned ride quality so you can hammer out more miles. With all-new disc brake integration, including 12mm front and rear thru-axles, it's a performance road machine for any weather and all types of conditions"
Frame and fork
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Giant makes its own frames from the carbon-fibre up in its own facilities. The Advanced-Grade Composite frame uses T-700 raw carbon-fibre.
The fork is carbon legged with an aluminium alloy steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's a race geometry that's exactly the same as that of Giant's rim brake TCR Advance bikes.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It's a fairly typical race geometry.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride quality is good. It feels smooth, especially when compared with many other race bikes. The sloping top tube means that lots of seat tube inevitably extends out of the frame, helping to soak up bumps.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It feels very stiff, especially through the centre. This is one of the bike's key characteristics.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It feels very efficient indeed.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? This is a bike that's easy to manoeuvre.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's a responsive bike that's very well balanced. It corners beautifully.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Variant seatpost and Giant Contact Forward saddle both add to the comfort.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? I really enjoyed it, yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, it has to be on your shortlist if you're considering a disc brake road bike at this price.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you totted up the marks above you'd get an average that's closer to 8 than 9, but that would be assuming that all marks are of equal value, and they're not. I think that the exceptionally good frame and fork and the great value groupset and hydraulic disc brakes push this bike up to a 9 for performance. It's also outstanding value.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.