Marc Abbott tests out the Giant TCX SLR2 as part of a comparative review of cyclocross bikes
Giant pitches the SLR2 as a cyclocross race bike, which you can also take away for weekend adventures. While it certainly packs all the necessary ingredients to make a great starter’s racer, there’s comfort on hand (or rather, on posterior), too. The Taiwanese brand’s D-Fuse carbon, D-profiled seatpost helps to damp out vibrations, which is especially important when you have something approaching 75psi in the Maxxis Mud Wrestler tyres. The bike also uses Giant’s lightest aluminium frameset technology, for excellent strength-to-weight ratio. TRP’s Spyre mechanical disc brake set-up (as also used on the Raleigh RX Comp we’ve tested here) uses a dual-pad system which is easily adjusted by a barrel adjuster on top of the caliper.
How it rides
The Giant’s all-in weight of 10.10kg makes it instantly agile and easy to pick up speed – that’ll be useful when the flag goes down. It’s asymmetric chainstays and sizeable chunk of neatly welded bottom bracket area also ensure that power is transferred to the rear tyre with minimal losses. Brake modulation is, as expected, head and shoulders above the once common cantilever brakes of old, and the TRP system’s performance fades considerably less when clogged with mud as you’re racing across sodden fields in the dead of winter. It all adds up to a bike that’s easy to gel with and very easy to ride quickly. The Maxxis rubber does spin a little on dustier tracks when you leave the saddle to give it some big licks, but you’ll be lucky to find a cyclocross circuit that isn’t at least slimy, if not all-out claggy once the cross season gets underway. Their side grip is exceptional, aided by more aggressively treaded knobs at the extreme edges of the tyres. This Maxxis rubber is designed for wet, muddy and snowy conditions, so should excel on a dreary December morning. The Giant’s flat toptube, uncluttered by cables (they’re all routed through the downtube) makes it the easiest of the three bikes to “shoulder” in order to carry it through or over unrideable sections of the circuit. The use of Shimano 105 equipment for the entire groupset (with the exception of the chain) is most welcome. The Japanese firm’s mid-level, 11-speed set-up is close to the ideal combination of affordability and performance, with gearshifts slotting home with seamless efficiency. An 11-28 cassette allied to the standard cyclocross arrangement of a 46/36 chainset gives ample gearing for either hammering down smooth fire roads or sitting down and grinding out short, steep lumps and bumps.
Lightweight, easy to ride fast, flattering and comfortable. The TCX is a sound platform for your first cross race.