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Hire Bike: Giant TCR

You get out exactly what you put in. 

Being hire bikes, they weren't the newest versions, we rode the Giant TCR with ultegra. From 2015. The new range starts at £2,299. Available from Giant

The Giant TCR is a light, fully carbon, race bike. Built for speed; it’s twitchy, short and jumps from the gun. So far so, good, probably what we’d expect from a bike such as this. The Giant TCR was the first road bike to use a compact frame – a smaller frame size overall, with more adjustment in the seat post, stem and bars than had traditionally been the case. (see the Magic Spanner’s article on the history of compact frames).


My first reaction to the bike arriving was that the drop from the saddle to the bars was pretty radical for someone used to an ‘endurance’ bike. After only a day or so, the initial concerns I had about this fact were completely unfounded. The TCR shape was comfortable, and was easily able to accommodate all day rides. In fact, the moment I returned home I dropped my stem using the spacers, so it’s as low as it will go, and that’s still nowhere near the TCR’s.

Two of us had come over to Mallorca for some September sunshine. We’d hired a Medium and a Medium/Large. These bikes both came equipped with Shimano Ultegra components, which is usually a selling point, but neither if us felt the gears changed very smoothly nor easily. The gaps between gears seems inconsistent, and clattery, whilst changing on the fly was something we soon learned to avoid. Planning ahead was the name of the game.


The brakes, however, were a completely different story. Scrubbing off 1000m of descent on the way to and from Cap Formentor, dodging buses, coach parties, a million hire cars, motorbikes, scooters, lycra-glad cycling bunnies, bra-wearing German Granny cyclists, and jeeps on the wrong side of the road. The reason I can still write this bike review is because those brakes were quite so good.


If you’re not used to the extremely steep head angle, then it’s worth getting to grips with the steering first. Your feet knock into the front wheel on a regular basis if you change direction without planning. However, with planning, it tracks the corners extremely well and provides confidence with long sweeping curves, and the more common hairpin bends. As long as you set up the approaching corner as you come out of the previous one. In this regard it rewards confident descenders, but punishes novices.

The light weight of the frame was a great help with the climbing – nowhere stays flat in Mallorca for very long. And on the pure climbs the lightness was evident. Over undulating terrain the instant power transfer is amazing, stamping on the peddles is like flicking on a light switch; power becomes immediately visible. It responds to any input, and what you put in, you definitely get out again.

Which brings me neatly on to the issues. This is the time to mention that this direct input cuts both ways. The Giant TCR carries almost zero momentum. As long as you are putting in all of the effort, you will come good. It’s flattering and rewarding. But if you feel like rolling down a hill, and taking some of that rolling speed up the next hill, well, forget about it. That new hill requires pedaling up from the bottom to the top. Given the added ease the TCR brings to climbing, I surprised myself by being so frustrated about this instant dropping of speed. The inability to carry momentum proved to be, for me, a deal breaker; whilst it flatters your effort, it throws any investment you’ve made out of the window. I think this makes the TCR too demanding a love for me. It rewards you when you do all the work, but it’s not interested in doing anything on your behalf.

Credit: Dave Land, 2017

Would we hire them again? This depends on the terrain. If you’re on for the climbs, then the light weight is an obvious benefit, and it is comfortable for long rides. And if you are a decent climber already, then it will definitely flatter your efforts. There’s no doubting that Giant have made a great bike. Heading for some long days in the saddle, with a range of different profiles, clocking up the miles – then I’m not so sure. I’d like something that loves me back, even just a little bit.


The interesting thing about hire bikes is the relative lack of fiddling about you can do. We were able to request the brakes changing from left to right, for a small fee. But beyond that, get the bike set up as best you can, and just go and ride it. We did exactly that on the Giant TCR.

What they say...


Conquer the toughest climbs, descend with confidence. Training or racing, this is pure road performance. 


TCR Composite delivers sharp handling and snappy acceleration with just enough compliance for racing and long training days. The PowerCore bottom bracket area and asymmetrical chainstays produce maximum pedalling efficiency. The OverDrive steerer tube technology, which features a tapered, oversized design, adds front-end stiffness and steering precision.

Bike test facts


  • Bike: Giant TCR

  • Frame:  Carbon

  • Fork: Carbon

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra

  • Weather: Sunny and Hot

  • When: 2017

  • Test terrain: Smooth tarmac, decent hills (but not mountains)

  • Price: £2,299 from Giant

  • Hired from: Bike Experience Mallorca

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