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The Giant TCX has been the go-to cyclocross bike for many years. Since its introduction to the world in 2003, in the form of an exclusive aluminum frame for professional riders, it has always stood out for three things: lightness, reactivity and efficiency.
For this 2021 season, Giant has completely renewed the model, which since 2015 has remained without significant structural changes. It is curious doing it right now, when the brand finally has an exclusive model for gravel such as the Revolt, because during all these years, it has been the TCX that has had to deal in this segment.
In this article we are going to analyze in depth this new TCX, specifically the Advanced PRO 2 model, with a beautiful Chameleon Nova paint, iridescent, that adopts purple and blue tones depending on the light. But before starting, we first introduce you to the TCX 2021 range for sale.
Giant TCX 2021 range
This is the complete range of TCX 2021 models that are for sale (in Spain) at the date of publishing the article:
- Giant TCX Advanced PRO
- Model 1 – Shimano GRX RX-810 groupset – Weight 7.7 kg/16.9 lbs – € 3,899
- Model 2 – Sram APEX 1 group – Weight 8.5 kg/18.73 lbs – € 2,799
In other markets (USA) you can find the Model 0, with the SRAM Force eTap AXS group for $ 5,200. The weights are verified. The bike you see in the photos weighed exactly 8.5 kg/18.7 lbs in size L.
A new frame for the TCX
Undoubtedly the most important novelty of the new TCX is the renewal after five long years of its carbon frame. A great advance by all the changes it presents:
- Weight reduction of 260 g, remaining at about 850 g in size M.
- New saddle clamp design, offering a lower attachment point for a D-Fuse carbon seatpost that allows for great flex.
- New asymmetric chainstays with clearance for tires up to 45 mm. And surely wider.
- New routing of the shift cables and brake hoses on the inside. We will talk about this in more detail.
Surely it has not escaped you that many of these novelties are aimed at providing greater ride comfort, and this is promoted by Giant, as the «smoothest and fastest TCX to date».
From our point of view, we consider the direction taken by the new TCX to be very positive. The weight savings are always appreciated, but the new tire sizes and the comfort of the seatpost are what really make this bike a true rival to the new gravel discipline. And with advantages over them that we will see later.
Details of the new TCX 2021
In our blog we love to review every detail, and with this bicycle we will not be less.
We started with the design of the new saddle clamp, located in a super low position, at the junction with the seatstays. This makes the «lever arm» of the seatpost much greater, which allows flexing whitin uneven terrain:
The D-Fuse seatpost is an old acquaintance at Giant, introduced in 2014, it was developed to absorb shocks and vibrations and offer a smoother ride. The culprit is its carbon tube in the shape of a «D», with a round front section and a flattened rear. Its success has been such that in fact it is also offered on the entire range of gravel bikes:
We have already commented that the new wheel arches allow mounting tires of up to 45 mm. In our setup we have installed a pair of 40 mm, with a good compromise between asphalt and gravel. If you want more detail about them, we will tell you that they are from the Czech brand Tufo, Swampero and Thundero models. They are working really well for us:
The Apex 1 groupset is the SRAM company proposal for single chainrings on road and gravel. The TCX 2021 incorporates it with an 11-speed cassette of gears 11-36:
It also integrates a chain guide for the 40 tooth plate, for demanding use in cyclocross. We remove it for gravel and road use, we do not see it necessary and we save a few good grams:
The brakes also belong to the SRAM Apex 1 group. Both feature Flat Mount technology on the calipers, simplifying their placement as much as possible and saving a few succulent grams. The diameter of the discs is 160 mm at the front and 140 mm at the rear:
The handlebar is comfortable, with a great tape and good grips from the SRAM Apex group. The cable routing is done on the left side, with dedicated inputs for the hoses and rear derailleur:
The first feeling when riding the Giant TCX 2021 is the softness and cushioning provided by its seatpost. Being used to a model as stiff as the Propel, riding the TCX is like sitting on a sofa. The wide tires, the lower pressures, the seatpost that flexes so well … they are a host of things that provide tangible comfort. Its rolling is practically mountain bike if you run on a good gravel road. When there are hard potholes, the absence of a suspension fork penalizes, but it is not a drama either.
A mixed use between road and track in good condition is where the TCX performs like a fish in water. Its light weight of 8.5 kg/18.73 lbs makes it fly in hills and plains. The bike feels super responsive and climber, but at the same time noble and comfortable. We found the Tufo tyres fantastic. They roll great and going down we have not had any troubles. The pressure we have been using is 3 bar, which gives us a good compromise between absorption on the track and riding on the road.
There is a detail that going down may bother you. The brake levers of the Apex 1 group are peculiar. They have extra long travel until they start braking, which means you have to move the brake lever very close to the handlebar for braking seriously. This is good if you are holding on to the lower part, because with a single finger you grip the lever at the good point to brake hard. The problem comes when you are holding on to the top, if you pull on the braking decisively, the rectangular piece of the right derailleur will touch your fingers and you will not be able to fully lock the rear brake. A detail that has never happened to us with Shimano.
Cables are another point of improvement. We prefer the complete hoses, not with the quick connector provided. It also does not make much sense that the central cover has room for 3 cables (using 1 for the shift cable) and the rear hose uses another entry from the side:
Sizing and Geometry
If you are thinking about the geometry of gravel bikes, I recommend you read our comparison between the TCX and Revolt.
I am going to comment on some personal opinions of the size L which is the one used in this TCX review. Remember that getting the size of a bicycle right almost always requires a bike fitting, since each body is different and you cannot be guided by the measurements offered by manufacturers, who try to approximate most cases, but not all.
The size of the top tube is 57.5 cm/22.6 in. I always like to go around 56-58 cm/22-23 in and then go for fine tuning with stem length and saddle offset. I feel that this bike is shorter than the M-L size of the Propel (57 cm/22.4 in horizontal tube), so you can see that depending on each model, you cannot trust the specifications much. Maybe because the stem on the Propel is 110 mm, and on this one it is 100 mm and I take the saddle a little further forward.
The handlebar in this size is 44 cm, it is 2 more than my preferred size, but for gravel use it is better to have a little more width, making the ride more stable.
In general, I have adapted very well to its geometry, since it is practically a road bike, so it is very comfortable to go up and flat with it.
A light gravel
The discipline of gravel is very open. Depending on whether you come from the road or from the mountain bike, you will like the bike to be more similar to your original bike. The Giant TCX is a great bike for people coming from road bikes. It will adapt to your geometry like a charm, it will go up and roll like a rocket, and going down, you will have to be careful and not go through compromising places, because neither its technique nor its pure gravel geometry will allow it to flourish.
If you are looking for a bike for extreme gravel, this is not your bike. Better to look for something more like a mountain bike or a mountain bike ;-).
But if you are looking for a bike to enjoy good tracks, for a very good price you will have an 8.5 kg/18.73 lbs bike (light years away from other gravel), which goes like a shot and allows you to squeeze as much as you want.
See you on the road (or track)!