A ROAD REVOLUTION
The all-new TCR range is the result of a team effort involving Giant engineers and product developers, leading aerodynamics experts, and some of today’s top professional racers. Ever since it made its debut more than 20 years ago as a controversial race bike with compact geometry and a radical new look compared to all other race bikes of that era, the TCR has continually pushed the limits of performance. It has been a staple in the pro peloton since 1998, earning wins at major races around the world for more than two decades.
To create the fastest TCR ever, our team established a nearly impossible goal: Make it even more efficient. To do that, we focused on three key performance factors: class-leading efficiency, advanced aerodynamics and total control. We analyzed every aspect of the bike, from raw materials to all-new manufacturing processes.
In the end, after several years of research, design and development, the new TCR has proven to be significantly more aerodynamic than the previous generation while retaining its best-in-class stiffness-to-weight ratio. Every tube shape has been modified to reduce drag without adding a single gram or compromising the qualities that have made TCR a leading pro-level race bike for two decades. Read on to learn about all the engineering, aerodynamic development and technical details that make this the fastest TCR ever.
EVOLUTION OF THE TOTAL RACE BIKE
When the first TCR arrived in the pro peloton in 1998 with Team ONCE, it was surrounded by controversy. With its radical Compact Road geometry, it was a clear departure from the standard road bike design that had prevailed for decades. Here’s a look at the evolution of the TCR over the years.
The 3rd generation TCR debuted at the Tour de France with the T-Mobile squad, which went on to win the team classification at the Tour for three straight years (2004-2006).
The 5th generation TCR Advanced SL was introduced to consumers. It featured a number of breakthrough technologies including a PressFit bottom bracket and integrated cable routing. The following year Team Rabobank rider Denis Menchov won the Giro d’Italia on his TCR.
Team Sunweb rider Tom Dumoulin won the Giro d’Italia general classification on the 8th generation TCR; the team also won both the points classification and the mountains classification at the Tour de France.
After a year of development with CCC Team riders, including a WorldTour win by Greg Van Avermaet on his special Olympic champion’s prototype at the 2019 GP Cycliste de Montréal, the 9th generation TCR Advanced SL was unveiled to the public.
DEVELOPING THE TOTAL RACE BIKE
Every bike in the 2021 TCR range was designed and engineered with the following three performance factors in mind.
Adding aerodynamic elements to a bicycle usually means adding more weight. To achieve the goal of maintaining the best-in-class stiffness-to-weight ratio, it was essential to minimise weight wherever possible to make up for the added mass in the areas of the frame that were modified for aerodynamic improvements. This task was achieved in part by using four new state-of-the-art production processes:
CUTTING-EDGE COMPOSITE MATERIAL
All-new Professional Grade raw carbon material is woven in Giant’s own composite factory to produce an even lighter, stiffer frameset than the previous generation. This material also uses Carbon Nanotube Technology resin to improve impact resistance.
Whereas previous generations of TCR frames relied on machine-stamped composite swatches, new laser technology is now used to produce ultra-precise cuts. This translates into smaller, more exacting swatches, which results in lighter overall weight of the finished structure.
ADVANCED ROBOTIC LAYUP ASSEMBLY
Giant Manufacturing invested in a new robotic assembly process for the critically weight conscious areas of the frame and fork. Ultra-precise placement of 150 smaller, individual composite swatches results in lighter overall frame and fork weights.
Our new ThinLine paint process on the TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc uses a minimum quantity of paint to save up to 50 grams compared to a traditional seven-layer paint application. In addition, a proprietary 3M adhesive protector is used to reinforce the integrated seatpost (ISP) when the saddle clamp is installed, saving more weight without sacrificing security.
The final frontier of race bike performance is the quest for improved aerodynamics. While weight and stiffness still play an integral role in overall performance minimizing aerodynamic drag remains the single greatest opportunity for real-world gains. Giant’s engineering team combined Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and wind-tunnel testing to create shapes that function best as a complete system for superior aerodynamic performance. Central to this process is the belief that any product must perform as well on the road as it does in the wind tunnel.
TRUNCATED ELLIPSE TUBING
To engineer the new TCR Advanced SL frameset, we created new airfoil sections using truncated ellipse tubing to consistently produce lower drag coefficients at a wider range of yaw angles compared to traditional “teardrop” tubing. To ensure that the new TCR performs well in real-world conditions, we designed the aerodynamic flow around both the downtube and seattube equipped with standard, 22-ounce water bottles. From there, we refined the entire system including frame, fork, cockpit and WheelSystem at the GST wind tunnel in Immenstaad, Germany.
We learned from developing the Propel Advanced SL aero road bike that clean integration of disc brakes reduces drag compared to traditional caliper brakes. The same applies to the new TCR Advanced SL Disc. The location of traditional calipers (either in front or behind the fork crown/legs) creates “dirty” air. Opening up the fork crown area by placing the disc-brake calipers down at the hub means that the air hitting the caliper has already been disrupted by the leading edge of the tire/wheel. This effect is further enhanced by the TCR’s new symmetric fork that helps smooth out airflow over the caliper. Beyond the frame and fork, we also created a new “aero-influenced” Contact SLR handlebar with modified cable routing to provide a smart balance between aerodynamics, rider ergonomics and user-friendly maintenance.