Monday, February 9, 2009

My new bike is in!

Got my 2009 Giant TCR Advanced 2 on Sunday... on my birthday it so happened! It was raining though, and I still need to get some pedals for it, so I still haven't ridden it yet. But since it is a really good-looking bike, better-looking than the photos make it seem, I have been enjoying the mere sight of it. :-)

Though I know some people like subtle graphics, I like big ones. And the 2009 is a big jump up in that regard, with large white "Giant" logos and vivid blue stripes and "TCR" emblems really setting it apart. Even the saddle and bar tape are white with blue accents. Way cool! My 2007 Giant TCR C2 has rather dull gray-on-charcoal graphics, while my 2008 TCR C3 had nicer white highlights with small blue accents. But I really like my 2009!

What really is striking about the 2009 is the huge, ginormous even, frame tubes. Though they are so sculpted that calling them "tubes" seems like a misnomer. The head "tube" is simply enormous, bulging out beyond the headset bearing areas, and flows into the top- and down-tubes, lending what must be a huge increase in stiffness around the steering tube and its headset bearings. Can't wait to see how reassuring that feels at 52 MPH down Bonny Doon Road! I bet that they will be expanding on this in the future, and the current 1.25" and 1.1875" headset bearings will soon be considered small.

The down-tube is way bigger than on the 2007/2008 frames, and also has a semi-square cross-section to it. I suspect that squareness allowed the engineers to design in very different vertical and lateral compliance. And the bottom-bracket area is massively filled in, so much so that the fillet into the chain stays (behind the seat tube) almost touches the rear tire. It also has a nice aerodynamic seatpost and seat tube.

All of that should translate into a very stiff sprinting bike, but hopefully without excessive ride harshness; in fact Giant says that both these traits are improved and that seems likely to me.

Looking at my TCR Advanced 2, and comparing the photos with the higher-end TCR Advanced SL models (super light), it seems like Giant positioned my bike to be a real criterium racer's workhorse. Bingo! My frame isn't as light as the SL frames, but it looks stiffer in many areas, and maybe more aerodynamic too (judging from the looks of them). The components also seem better suited to the rugged demands of crit racers... why go too fancy? It would be nice to have an SL for hilly road races, but my budget doesn't allow for two new bikes!

One thing I will probably change is the Fizik saddle, even though the white/blue color is so darn good-looking on this bike. I use Selle San Marco saddles on my bikes, and my body has gotten used to them. Oh, and the standard Mavic Aksium wheels: My 2007 had these wheels too, and they made an annoying whistling noise at speed. Plus, they aren't particularly light, or aerodynamic, so I will be using my more-aero Easton EA50SL wheelset instead. And they are mounted with the Michelin Pro Race 3 tires that flatted in 5 of my races last year... argh!!! Vittorias for me, please.

OK, I haven't even ridden it yet, so I will have to finish this review when I have a few miles on it.

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