Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 – Pride and Passion

Giant has unveiled its 10th rendition of the iconic TCR. Cyclist heads to HQ in Taiwan to see it up close at the launch – and, of course, to see how it rides

Words Nick Squillari

I came for a model launch, and what I got was an education. The story of the 10th generation Giant TCR is not complete without context and my thoughts around the accompanying tour of Giant Taiwan Manufacturing (GTM), the Giant factory.

It’s one of nine worldwide, but the only one that produces the TCR Advanced SL. GTM is Giant’s flagship centre of manufacturing, with all its top-level carbon products coming out of it.

This article is a first look at the latest TCR, but also a look at GTM, because one is not complete without the other.

The more things change… you know the rest

You can feel it in the welcome from the chairperson of Giant, Bonnie Tu; in the unveiling by Global Head of Product Andrew Juskaitis; as part of the model breakdown from the engineers; or simply when other senior heads recall with pride when the UCI attempted to ban the TCR for the Total Compact Road (TCR) geometry Mike Burrows designed for the manufacturer.

History tells us that Giant won, and the UCI backed down. This fact was oft cited at the launch.

It’s clear that of its many, many models, the journey of the TCR strikes a chord with those at Giant and makes everyone beam with pride.

When people ask the question, ‘Now they have the Propel, what is the point of the TCR?,’ I would point at the heart of any Giant employee and reply, ‘Because of its place right in there.’

To not have TCR in the range would be denying a part of what has made Giant a giant. If that, then, is ‘why’ the TCR continues to exist, let’s look at ‘how’ it came to pass.

Cycling, a team sport

When speaking of the latest TCR’s development, Giant goes out of its way to note how collaborative the process has been across the various departments within the brand.

I had to wonder if this was, in part, due to the fact there are now rather distinct brands that exist within Giant, arguably more than ever before.

Cadex is a prime example of a brand that is a part of Giant but is most certainly not Giant. What Cadex researches, and assigns resources to, stands alone from Giant much of the time.

Except, not in this case. For this latest reworking of the TCR, Cadex was specifically asked to join the design process along with engineering, manufacturing, supply, and all the other subsidiaries within GTM.

Giant controls the manufacturing of the Advanced SL from the point before the carbon is even a sheet of prepreg.

Spools of Toray carbon fibre arrive at the factory, where Giant then decides precisely how much and what mix of resin is added – before creating its own sheets of prepreg.

For most brands, this is their starting point. Of course, none of this process is of any use unless you know what mix you should formulate.

Luckily, Giant has been working with and exploring the possibilities of carbon fibre since the late 1980s.

If anyone is going to know what is optimal, I’m backing Giant and its team of experts.

It’s from this point of production – and resultant layup – that Giant began its 10th TCR journey.

There are only 270 pieces of carbon fibre in the new Advanced SL, down 10% from the previous model.


This not only helps with the weight reduction (10% frame weight reduction, down to 690g), but also assists in reducing the number of voids during the layup process, which is still done completely by hand with assistance from other new technology in the carbon cutting process.

Cold blade cutting technology makes its debut on the TCR – a step up from laser cutting, which uses heat to cut the carbon and therefore has the capacity to damage the edges of the carbon fibre sheets.

All on a frame with 2% less surface area (which also results in a drop in frame drag). I could go on about this manufacturing process.

The paint. The assembly. It arguably deserves its own article. But let’s talk about the practical build from Giant: what does the new TCR do for a prospective rider? And will it feel much different from the previous iteration?

Giant is not banking on its flagship model, one of the most seminal bikes in the road bike scene – this new rendition offers genuine improvements.

If you’re upgrading, there are real, tangible differences on the previous generation. And we haven’t even gotten to how it rides. But first, the wheels.

Cadex – best brand revival in recent times?

When Giant started exploring carbon fibre in the late 1980s, its first offering was under the branding Cadex.

It expanded, then eventually mothballed; in my time in cycling I’ve only known of Cadex as a retro, heritage subset of Giant.

Until 2019, that is, when Cadex re-entered the market. Not frames – rather, initially, with a wheel. Then expanding into peripheral components and a standalone brand in its own right.

Still under the auspices of Giant, but don’t you dare call them ‘another house brand’. I rode – and reviewed – those initial wheels in 2021.


Cadex has iterated on what was already an impressive set of hoops, with the new Advanced SL 0 featuring the latest Max 40 Cadex wheels.

I cannot overstate how impressive these wheels are. Wrapped with the new Cadex Race GC tyres (a major improvement from early Cadex tyres) these wheels are stiff.

Light. Rapid to spin up and simply would not budge in crosswinds – which Taiwan certainly dished up during my test rides.

You would buy these wheels standalone for whatever current bike you have and be rapt with the performance and feel gains.

To be included as part of the Advanced SL 0 package is exceptional.

But what about the bike?

You may have noticed I’ve taken a bit of time to get to how this latest TCR rides – in part because it’s worth appreciating what has gone into delivering this 10th-generation model, and because of what parts Giant has included on it.

Once again, this company delivers a top-level race bike for substantially less than much of the competition.

As for the ride? Unmistakably TCR. It has been a little over 10 years since I last rode one (it was my 2013 team race bike).

I logged over 1,000 hours that year on a TCR. The ride quality and handling I would know blindfolded.

Jumping back on it was like slipping into a pair of old sneakers. That familiar feeling. I was at home immediately, even with Euro braking.

It didn’t matter. It was home. Through corners and downhill, the handling on this latest TCR felt a little quicker compared to my sixth-gen Giant.

I don’t dive into trail geometry figures until after a thorough ride review. I know the TCR geometry has not changed much in the last decade.

So, if it transpires that trail is the same, the responsiveness of this bike I will solely lay at the feet of the engineers who have made this TCR feel so exceptionally well-balanced – which, given it has Giant’s best stiffness-to-weight of any bike, is no mean feat.

My bike came in at just under 6.8kg with pedals (heavy 105 alloy), head unit and Giant’s two-piece semi-integrated front end (which I love, but a one-piece would drop even more weight).


I’ve ridden light bikes before. They are not as stiff as this. They float uphill, but can get a bit mushy when you really lay down the watts.

The TCR was solid as a rock out of the saddle, uphill or flat, only to track like tracer fire heading back down.

Regulars riding in Asia will know what the gradients can hit. Heading down double digits, you want an assured machine.

This TCR not only handled better than previously, but it also allowed me to brake deeper into corners on account of the disc brakes.

It felt like only yesterday disc road bikes were still struggling to come anywhere near 7kg. You can now grab a machine that is ready to ride at the UCI weight limit (6.8kg).

Of course, this is all from my brief experience riding the TCR in Taiwan. This bike needs an expanded review on home roads.

But I have little doubt the feelings of exhilaration and admiration would only increase with each pedal around known routes. The TCR ain’t dead – on the contrary, it’s getting better with age.

Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Dura-Ace
AU Price $13,799

Cyclist Australia/NZ