Recently my friend decided to upgrade his road bike, as his old one did not really fit him well. He found the aggressive riding posture too low and uncomfortable for him, as the Merida Reacto is an aero race bike.
Since then, 5 years on, the road bike market has changed considerably. The biggest difference would be the change from rim brakes to disc brakes, which improves braking performance greatly. In the year 2021, a disc brake road bike is highly recommended over rim brake bikes, as rim brake road bikes are outdated. If you like rim brake bikes, sure, there are still some available. However, disc brake road bikes just performs better.
The tricky thing is, in the year 2021, new bikes are out of stock nearly everywhere, due to the sudden popularity of cycling. It is nearly impossible to walk into a bike store and have exactly what you want in stock.
We went to check out a few bike shops, to see the available options. First stop was at Hup Leong (Merida and Cannondale), which was where I got my first road bike, the Merida Scultura 5000 some years ago. However when we reached there, the store was practically empty. We could not even place a pre-order if we wanted, as they cannot confirm a delivery date for new bikes.
Next stop is at Treknology (Trek), where we saw the Trek Emonda SL5, with Shimano 105 disc brake groupset. There was stock available, but the price was quite high for 105 spec. Also, it was not lightweight at all, which was what I expected of an Emonda.
At Specialized, the only bikes available were those super high end models, such as the top end S-Works Aethos, which has a completely bonkers price tag of S$22,000.
Finally, we ended up at Tay Junction at Ubi, to look for Giant bikes. To my surprise, the bike shop was quite well stocked! There were actually many bikes available, in all sizes and models. We were told that the new stock just came in last week, which was why there were many bikes.
After much deliberation, he finally decided to get the Giant TCR Advanced Disc 2 with Pro Compact geometry. The shop had the right size for him, while the specifications are pretty good. Most importantly, the price is still reasonable, although there was a price increase of about $300 over the previous years model. Overall I think this is a good balance of performance, price and weight.
I did some additional tune up of the new road bike, as there were some problems with the front shifting that the shop could not fix. It is also a great opportunity for me to check out the bike and share some pictures of it.
Here is the new bike! Giant TCR Advanced Disc 2.
Another view from the non-drive side. Front and rear 12 mm thru axles, of course.
Bike model is TCR, which stands for Total Compact Road.
Stock bike weight is 8.6 kg without pedals, which is OK for this price range. The Emonda SL5 weighs more than this and still costs $1,000 more!
This bike has an awesome paint job! The metallic glitter makes it look really good in the sun.
The glitter reminds me of the Cervelo Aspero which has an awesome paint job as well.
More pictures of the paint job
The carbon fork has a matching paint job as well.
Seat stays are slightly dropped from the top tube, and blends in nicely around the seat tube.
UCI certified frame, in M/L size.
Made in Taiwan by Giant themselves, which makes bikes for many other bike companies as well.
Stock saddle looks good, with a nice cutout and comfortable padding.
Gentle curve on the saddle, and an aero seat post. Not so ideal if you want to change to aftermarket seat posts.
Integrated seat post clamp, hidden by a rubber cover.
Shimano 105 R7000 2x11 speed mechanical drivetrain!
Semi-compact crankset with 52/36T, which I think is too big. A compact 50/34T may be better.
Chain rings are not the hollow type, but are filled with composite material with lots of ribs. An iconic design first used in the 105 5800 crankset.
Crankarm length is 172.5 mm, which is matched to the frame size. I personally use shorter 165 mm crank arms.
Shimano 105 front derailleur, FD-R7000.
This front derailleur uses the toggle link mechanism, which eliminates the long arm front derailleur of the previous 5800 generation. Also, it has a built in cable tension adjuster, which is really useful because there is no need to have an inline cable adjuster on the outer casing.
However, the setup method is quite different, which I am not familiar with. I have only been adjusting Di2 front derailleurs, not this new generation of mechanical front derailleur. Therefore I had to follow the instructions listed in the Dealer's Manual, step by step.
Shimano 105 RD-R7000 rear derailleur. Note the short outer casing length which has been carefully determined for optimum cable routing.
Shimano 105 cassette, CS-R7000 in 11-30T combination.
It does not use a Shimano chain, but uses a KMC X11 EL (extra light). I think this is a higher grade chain than the Shimano 105 HG601 chain, which is surprising.
Standard drop bar with a compact drop shape. Width is 42 cm for M/L frame size.
Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake shifters, ST-R7020. The tall hoods are due to the hydraulic mechanism inside.
Generic stem of 110 mm length, on top of a huge stack of spacers.
Front brake hose runs into the front fork, while the rear brake hose runs into the down tube from the side.
The rear and front shifter cables run into the top of the down tube through these cable ports.
These shifter cables run along the cable guide, located at the bottom of the bottom bracket.
Shimano 105 brake calipers, BR-R7000 Flat Mount. Set at the 160 mm diameter rotor size for the front.
Giant's in-house rotors, with 6 bolt mounting. Looks cheap, to be honest. Let's hope it works well.
Flat mount disc brakes for the rear as well.
Rear rotor is smaller at 140 mm in diameter, and thus an adapter is not needed for the rear brake caliper.
Stock wheels come with aluminium rims, which means they are probably rather heavy, like the stock wheels on my Merida Scultura 5000.
Rim internal width is 22 mm, which is surprisingly wide.
The bike actually comes with a tubeless setup, with sealant inside! It offers a good ride, and can seal up small punctures automatically. I haven't used tubeless on my road tires before.
Smooth tread in the middle for smooth rolling, with a bit of treads at the sides for cornering grip.
Although the tire size is 25C as listed at the side wall, the actual tire width is more than 29 mm, probably due to the wide rim width. This is actually good news, as this is a good balance between speed and comfort.
Still good tire clearance at the front fork even with 29 mm wide tires.
Rear seat stay area has a healthy tire clearance as well.
The tightest tire clearance is almost always at the chain stay area, as shown here.
There is a 5 mm gap to the frame on either side of the tire.
Based on this estimation, we can probably fit a tire width of 32 mm into this frame safely, and still have about 3.5 mm of clearance on either side. For dry gravel rides this is enough, it is more than the tire clearance that I had on my Canyon Endurace. The tricky part is getting the actual tire width of 32 mm, in combination with the 22 mm wide rim. It's pretty much trial and error as to what tire width to buy, as a claimed 32 mm width may not turn out to be 32 mm in actual tire width.
Anyway, here is the introduction to this Giant TCR Advanced Disc 2 road bike. Based on initial feedback from my friend after a few rides, this new bike rides really well, and feels more comfortable as well as faster than the previous road bike.