Kit Reviews

Giant TCR Advanced SL 2012

Size Large i.e. 57.5 cm seat tube; 58.5 cm top tube.

Toray T800 carbon. PowerCore Bottom Bracket, Overdrive 2 Headset.

After four years and 14,000 kms of use, this frame and its components have seen plenty of action.

Firstly, the frame reviewed is not ISP (integrated seatpost) like all models since 2012. It has a separate Vector seatpost which is handy in the event you want to lend the bike to a friend.

I built it up with Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed racing groupset (53/39), Giant Connect carbon stem, Giant bars, Fizik Antares saddle and Shimano SPD SL pedals. It has been paired with three different wheelsets.

Since October 2014, I have been running Ultegra 11 speed with a 52/36 chainset.

1) Fast Forward FR6 Carbon/aluminium clinchers with Cyclops Powertap rear hub…..quite weighty but aesthetically pleasing and full of power data. Fantastic wheels for a rolling course which have not needed truing. Schwalbe Ultremo Double Defense tyres

2) Dura- Ace C35 aluminium clinchers. Lighter than the FFs, I have used these mainly for forays into the mountains. Faultless service. Schwalbe Ultremo Double Defense tyres.

These wheels are not 11 speed compatible, and have now been drafted into service on my audax bike and  transported me successfully around PBP 2015.

3) Vision Trimax T30 aluminium clinchers. weight 1570 gms without skewers, for wet weather use. Vredestein Fiammante DuoComp tyres. At approximately £400 these wheels are super value.

Update as at March 2016. Have been running these wheels all winter and LOVE them now running Michelin Lithion 2 Reinforced tyres with no problems and only happy miles.

The TCR has completed a 400 kms audax, some lumpy days in Andalusia, two ascents of Ventoux, other Alpine monsters, the Ardennes, Regents Park, Hertfordshire countryside and more.

You may read elsewhere that it is a harsh ride or too aggressive. Nonsense. It is comfortable enough for anyone who rides quite a bit. Being extremely versatile, you can sprint, climb, race and yet spend all day in the saddle. I achieved my fastest ever speed on a bike at 101 km ph descending off the Galibier, rock solid all the way.

I love it. It’s not quite as quick as the Propel, but is extremely versatile.

but it would be difficult to say adieu…



Michelin Lithion 2 Reinforced 700 x 25 Road Tyres.

Since German tyre manufacturer Schwalbe replaced the excellent lightweight Ultremo Double Defence with the newer but less robust (IMO) Schwalbe One, The Wattmeister has been searching for an inexpensive pair of durable, puncture-resisant tyres to adorn his Giant TCR for extensive winter riding on the grottiest flint strewn roads of North London and Hertfordshire.

Somehow, the Michelin Lithion 2 Reinforced, (not to be confused with the Lithion 2), caught his good eye. Decathlon were selling the 700 x 25 mm version for 11 quid each, and various cycling review sites like BikeRadar and Road CC had heaped generous praise on their ride quality.


Now, after approximately 1200 kms of aforementioned gritty, grotty potholed road surfaces, The Wattmeister can report good things about this tyre.

Firstly, the 700 x 25s give a really nice smooth and comfortable ride.

The tyres are quite unmarked with no punctures as yet.

At around 285 grams in weight, they are not too heavy when considering their resistance to deflations

They are easy to get on and off..

The Wattmeister used them on one occasion just before Christmas in what was effectively a Muswell Hill Peloton veterans’ race at the Olympic Velopark tarmac track.  In very windy and quite damp conditions, there was no hint of slip or slide, and although they may be a tad heavier than the Ultremo DDs, they still spun up quickly enough for TW to finish 3rd in the sprint.

In summary, unbeatable value at £11 each.  Great service too from Decathlon….unfortunately out of stock at the present time.


Giant Propel Advanced SL 1

Size Large i.e. 57.5 cm seat tube; 58.5 cm top tube.

There is plenty of information regarding specification etc. available from a myriad of sources on the net.

Allow me to review the bike from the perspective of a very keen, quite experienced, middle-aged non-racing* male rider.

*As of 1st June 2015 the bike has been used in two closed circuit track races*

Set-up: Great care has to be taken when cutting the integrated seat post. Measure, measure and measure again.

It is light, at about 7.3 kgs with pedals. Some reviews suggest it is an uncomfortable ride. I would disagree with this. If you ride frequently, it is firm and responsive, but not uncomfortable. It picks up very smartly and holds speed very well. The only proof I have is that my times on Strava are quicker than on my TCR ADV SL.

Some of this extra speed may come from the super Zipp 404 wheels. They are a really lightweight wheelset, probably the best wheels I have ever owned.

The aero bars may take a couple of rides to get used if you are coming from a conventional round shaped bar.

The bike comes with Dura Ace 11 speed groupset which has a revised front derailleur mechanism. It was a bit trickier to set up, but works brilliantly, as does the rear shifting, which has also been modified to work with less effort.

One thing I have noticed about this bike is that it descends quicker than anything I have ever ridden, not a hint of frame shimmy.

The Propel is an expensive bike, but it looks magnificent, rides fast and sure and is made by one of the master carbon fibre manufacturers.

Propel FFwd - Copy (2)