First impressions of the TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc

I’m finally able to follow up with a report on my new TCR disc bike. It arrived at the very end of November, but December has been a busy month with the holidays and all, so it has been hard to find the time to switch out the various components to make it fit me. And since I wanted to offset my costs by selling the parts that didn’t match my needs – like the longer-armed crankset and the short cage derailleur – I didn’t want to even take a test ride and put them into the “used” category.

So finally, after an agonizing wait, we managed to install all the replacement items: a full compact with shorter crankarms, a medium-cage derailleur that can handle an 11-32 cassette, a slightly longer stem and narrower bars, and one of my well-used saddles. One hiccup caught us unawares, though: the standard Giant seatpost was actually too long to be lowered enough in the TCR’s extra-small frame for the bike to fit me! Fortunately my husband wasn’t daunted by the prospect of chopping up a brand-new carbon seatpost. Also fortunately, he knew better than to say anything about it to me until it was already done. So after a bit more tinkering the bike was ready to get on the road.

The most striking observation I have is that after ranting in a previous blog entry about how awful the orange (!) paint job is on this “men’s” bike and that no self-respecting female would want to ride it, I have discovered that Giant knows their market! It is amazing how much men love the bike! I still think it’s ugh!, but if you are a male rider who found this post looking at the orange-and-black TCR disc as a potential purchase, I can tell you that your male riding buddies will love it. Guys ooh and aah when I pull it out of the car, and I have watched other male riders stop and pore over every detail of the bike while my group is inside at a cafe.

Enough about the look. How does the TCR disc ride? Great!

It feels really solid and confident cornering – I have found myself grinning from ear to ear as I tear through sharp fast turns. And it feels like it climbs well too, but my winter conditioning is hardly in a place to really test it on an uphill sprint. We’ll see how it performs mid-summer when I’ll actually be able to test the bike and not my fitness. The bike is noticeably heavier than my other bikes, though. The first time I picked it up I could really feel the weight in the back from the rear disc wheel and the Di2 batteries. In fact, the rear wheel all by itself makes me say “ugh” when I lift it. I’m surprised, actually, that it is so noticeable in the hand, especially for a brand-spanking-new road bike in this day and age, but realistically I guess it is only slightly heavier than a non-disc, mechanical-shifting version, and it is worth it for what I need the bike for.

The brake levers aren’t perfect in my hands but they are fine for now. My main complaint is that they seem to have a fair amount of play before they engage, which was noted in the reviews cited in the previous blog post, and which will probably improve with the next generation of Ultegra hydraulic Shimano shifters.

The disc brakes themselves – as advertised – do in fact provide noticeably surer braking and give an added measure of confidence, especially when descending on twisty roads. Also as advertised, after “bedding in” the new discs correctly, they are smooth and quiet in dry conditions, and they shriek unmercifully in the wet.

The CyclingTips TCR disc review opined that the Giant-supplied tubeless tires are stiff and harsh, but I think they feel plush! However, my last decade on the bike has been on aluminum Mavic Ksyriums, which are notoriously stiff, so perhaps the improvement is more about the carbon wheels than the tires. But they’re fine for now.

One mild irritant about the wheels, though, is that I am accustomed to having couple different sets of rim-brake wheels that I can switch out quickly if I want to use a different cassette or have a tire problem that I don’t have time to dive into before an early morning ride. Now I have a disc-only wheelset on a disc-only bike, so my flexibility is limited. This is more of a mental complaint, as I have found myself saying “I’ll just switch out to that wheel with the bigger cassette today…oh wait”, or “I’m going to try those new Giant carbon wheels out on the Fuji and…dammit!” The only “real” issue will be if I damage a wheel or spoke, then I won’t be able to quickly replace it, and then I’ll be cussing for sure.

Overall though, so far I’m thrilled with my new bike!

 

Go to next post: CONQUER THE “LA MARMOTTE” GRAN FONDO, PART 1: REGISTRATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS

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