Home
Verdict: 
Exceptional speed-focused road bike that offers efficiency, precise handling and the reliability of Shimano's hydro disc brake
Weight: 
8,600g
Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc
9 10

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.

> Find your nearest dealer here

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - chian stay.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - chian stay.jpg

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - head tube.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - head tube.jpg

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 TCR Advanced 2 Disc - riding 2.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - riding 2.jpg

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - rear disc.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - rear disc.jpg

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - drivetrain.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - drivetrain.jpg

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 TCR Advanced 2 Disc.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc.jpg

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - seat tube junction.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - seat tube junction.jpg

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.

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - riding 3.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - riding 3.jpg

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 TCR Advanced 2 Disc - bars.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - bars.jpg

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 TCR Advanced 2 Disc - rim.jpg

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc - rim.jpg

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.

> Head to head: Shimano 105 vs Shimano Ultegra

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.

Verdict

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

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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?

None.

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.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
10/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
9/10

Your summary

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

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

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.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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.

11 comments

Avatar
Prae1007 [4 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Happy Christmas all

anyone got any idea what bib tights the reviewer is wearing in this article?

 

cheers

Avatar
Twowheelsaregreat [83 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

So what is this composite? T700 carbon fibre plus ?? Fibre glass??

Additionally what is the percentage of carbon fibre to whatever else is being added to make this composite?

I think manufacturers need to be clear about their frame materials when mentioning composites.

Avatar
CharlesMagne [86 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Prae1007 wrote:

Happy Christmas all

anyone got any idea what bib tights the reviewer is wearing in this article?

 

cheers

 

Those would Castelli's Nanoflex Pro bibshorts. They come with my full recommendation. Warm on the thigh and knee with the extra fleece but not too hot, very good reflective and waterproof silver inserts in the inner calf and nice and warm overall. Good for 5-10 degrees range. I'm a large in Castelli legs (medium tops) but wish I'd gone a size up on these for girth and length. 

Better than these though are Bioracer's Spitfire Winter Protect. Speaking as a Castelli whore they beat them hands down. REALLY warm and fully waterproof with a reflective print over the whole calf. Like a breathable wetsuit. Hard to get hold of but well worth it.

 

Loving the new TCR, definitely my next bike (just as soon as my Ti rusts...). Would love it as a frame set to make my ultimate winter commuter.

I'm quite happy for Giant to keep their proprietary materials secret if they keep churning out belters like this.

Avatar
Stratman [91 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Twowheelsaregreat wrote:

So what is this composite? T700 carbon fibre plus ?? Fibre glass??

Additionally what is the percentage of carbon fibre to whatever else is being added to make this composite?

I think manufacturers need to be clear about their frame materials when mentioning composites.

 

I think that 'composite' refers to the fact that it is a carbon fibre reinforced plastic, thereby a composite material , not necessarily to a mix of different fibres.  Having said that, I don't know that it isn't a mix 

Avatar
Twowheelsaregreat [83 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Stratman wrote:
Twowheelsaregreat wrote:

So what is this composite? T700 carbon fibre plus ?? Fibre glass??

Additionally what is the percentage of carbon fibre to whatever else is being added to make this composite?

I think manufacturers need to be clear about their frame materials when mentioning composites.

 

I think that 'composite' refers to the fact that it is a carbon fibre reinforced plastic, thereby a composite material , not necessarily to a mix of different fibres.  Having said that, I don't know that it isn't a mix 

I do: "vibration absorbing particles are added to help disperse road shock".  So we know it definately has Magic Dust™ in it and that could be in addition to fibre glass or maybe even polyester fibre whichever's the cheapest.

Avatar
ianrobo [1212 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I don't care what anyone says, disc brakes are dead ugly and add nothing to a bike's look or feel.

Calipers for me all the way and I suspect they will never fade out.

Avatar
mike the bike [921 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:

I don't care what anyone says, disc brakes are dead ugly and add nothing to a bike's look or feel.

Calipers for me all the way and I suspect they will never fade out.

 

I see what you did there but you're wrong.  Callipers will definitely fade on long descents and occasionally heat the tubes up to exploding point too.

And the one thing discs do bring to a bike is 'feel'.  They may not look pretty or decrease your stopping distance but the improvement in modulation, that's feel by the way, is very significant.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1434 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I'm guessing Ian meant fade away as in die out. That's probably right at the cheapest end of all though even that may end up disc based in 20 years. I suspect, whatever our protestations, discs will take over. 

Avatar
Paul7189 [4 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Surely, just like mountain bikes, the disk brake will become the industry standard and rim brakes will be reseverd for the cheapest bikes. Also disk only rims will last longer, providing more value in the long run. A decent set of wheels is the best upgrade you can make so why not make it better value.

Avatar
birzzles [129 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

My felt z4 disc with mavic ksyrium pro disc wheel set upgrade cost me 1800 new.  It is in every way better than the lemond alpe D'Huez shimano 5600 it replaced.  Hydraulic discs are cleaner and have better modulation than rim brakes.  They are necessary if you cycle hills, not necessary on the flats. Best safety upgrade, and rims stay perfect 

Avatar
gunswick [105 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

It mentions 28's will fit, what about Schwalbe s-one 30's? (I think they are called G-one Speed now).

Any comments on optional mudguards for this? (UK it rains a lot)