Out of the box: 2014 Giant TCX SLR 2

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.

SPECIFICATIONS

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″

DRIVETRAIN

  • 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

ROLLING STOCK

  • 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)

BRAKES

  • TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake calipers
  • TRP 160 mm rotors
  • TRP semi-metallic brake pads, Shimano B01S shape
  • Jagwire brake cables and compressionless housing

COCKPIT

  • 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
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