The way I was riding my Dahon Vitesse, it slowly became clear that I was outgrowing it as an only bike. Folding bikes are essentially a compromise between the “folding” bit and the “bike” bit, and as the months went by, my riding style demanded more of the latter.
I also started looking at the vagaries of my riding. Most of it was happening on Metro Manila’s streets, very few of which are in good condition, and I wanted a bike I could keep riding at a fast clip, loaded up with my panniers, whatever the weather. That meant disc brakes on an efficient road bike. Back in 2014, a bike that fulfilled my requirements seemed as hard to find as a unicorn.
Cyclocross (or “CX” for short) provided the answer. This discipline sees road bike action in the autumn and winter, racing on taped-off, obstacle-riddled courses on mud, sand and grass. A broad, oversimplified motorsport analogy: if road bikes participate in circuit racing on racetracks and slick, narrow tires, cyclocross bikes get their wide knobby treads down and dirty in rally races.
As a bonus, ‘cross bikes are effectively winter or bad-weather bikes, so with proper maintenance, they can theoretically be ridden all year long. In the off-season they make for good commuter steeds as well, the wider tires making for a slightly more comfortable ride.
So here’s the bike. It’s the bottom-spec model of Giant’s TCX ‘cross bike range, a frame of Aluxx SLR aluminum alloy mated to a composite fork with alloy steerer tube. At the frame’s heart is a BB86 press-fit bottom bracket shell, with a flattened top tube for more comfortable shouldering, stout chainstays and slim seatstays.
Worth noting: the non-drive side chainstay has covered holes for mounting an external Shimano Di2 battery, if electronic shifting is part of your upgrade path.
Crucially, it is a disc-brake-only model. TRP’s Spyre twin-piston mechanical brakes clamp down on 160mm rotors front and back.
The frame and fork also have eyelets close to the dropout areas for mounting fenders and a rear rack. The rear brake caliper is chainstay-mounted, so there’s less interference to mount these items. There are no bridges on the chainstays and seatstays, though, which slightly complicates mounting.
Power transmission is handled by a mix of 10-speed components from Shimano, KMC and FSA. A KMC X10 chain is shoved across a Shimano Tiagra 4600 12-30T cassette and FSA Omega 46/36T cross-specific crank by Shimano 105 5700 front and rear derailleurs, which are hooked up to matching control levers.
Giant gives the TCX a proprietary “D-Fuse” composite seatpost, the D-shaped profile supposedly giving more compliance. Atop it rides an own-brand saddle made by Velo. A Satori 400mm-wide alloy handlebar, with a deep 140mm anatomic bend and wrapped in white bar tape, completes the cockpit.
Finally we have the wheels. Giant goes own-brand here again, reusing the tubeless-ready S-X2 wheelset found on its 29″ cross-country mountain bikes. They are laced with 28 spokes front and rear, and have a 19mm internal rim width. Schwalbe’s bespoke Super Swan 35mm knobby mud tires are then mounted to them. The frame has enough clearance to accommodate even wider rubber.
FRAME AND FORK
- Size S, 50 cm seat tube, 53 cm top tube (52 cm effective)
- Giant Aluxx SLR 6011A aluminum alloy tubing, internal cable routing
- BB86 press-fit bottom bracket shell
- Integrated seatpost clamp plate, included rack adapter block
- Composite fork, aluminum tapered steerer tube 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″
- KMC X10 chain with MissingLink 10R
- FSA Omega crankset, 170mm crank arms (46/36T)
- Shimano Tiagra 4600 cassette (12-30T)
- Shimano 105 ST-5700 control levers (2×10)
- Shimano 105 RD-5701-SS rear derailleur
- Shimano 105 FD-5700-F front derailleur
- Jagwire shift cables
- Giant S-X2 wheelset
- Giant S-X2 rims, 19mm internal width
- Giant Tracker Sport hubs, 6-bolt disc fitment, 100 mm F, 135 mm R
- Quick-release skewers
- Stainless steel spokes x 28 per wheel
- Schwalbe Super Swan mud tires, 700x35C (ISO 35-622)
- TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake calipers
- TRP 160 mm rotors
- TRP semi-metallic brake pads, Shimano B01S shape
- Jagwire brake cables and compressionless housing
- Giant Performance Men’s saddle by Velo
- Giant D-Fuse composite seatpost
- Satori 400 mm drop handlebars, 140 mm drop, anatomic bend
- Giant 90 mm stem