With extensive input from professional athletes like Adam Craig and Marianne Vos, Giant wiped the slate clean and revamped its entire approach to cyclocross bikes. For 2014, the company revealed a lineup of six models, ranging from the glossy, World Cup-ready TCX Advanced 0 to an entry-level women’s-specific Brava SLR 2.
Killing the cantilever
Between the sub-1,050-gram carbon frame and the lower-end aluminum models, one feature is shared by all: disc-brake specificity. Giant has included no provisions for cantilever brake options. Between the sleek, straight seatstays and the forks’ 15mm thru-axles, disc brakes were at the top of the engineers’ minds.
Having seen how thru-axles dramatically improve mountain bike handling, it’s likely that Craig was a driving force behind the fork design. Few companies have gone this route with 700c fork axles — yet. ’Cross seems like a good place to start, as one rarely changes wheels on the fly. Perhaps it’s not long before we see rear-wheel thru-axles as well.
Other construction details of note include asymmetric chainstays and a proprietary D-shaped D-Fuse seatpost that is claimed to improve compliance, but is likely to bring with it the usual headaches of a non-standard post. Although we’ve always found a 27.2mm round carbon post to be satisfactory, we’ll have to see if the unique shaping makes a difference.
Looking more closely, the new TCX Advanced carbon frameset offers revised geometry that lowers the bottom bracket and lengthens the wheelbase. This may be more of Craig’s mountain bike-bred influence, which hopefully results in more stable, American-style handling, contrasting the tippy feeling one gets with taller bottom brackets favored by European manufacturers and riders.
A full range
Those who aren’t ready to spend $7,150 on the TXC Advanced 0, or race well enough to get one for free, will be happy to know that two modest aluminum-framed models have been released as well. The TCX SLR 1 and 2 will sell for $2,975 and $1,600, both equipped with an updated ALUXX frame claimed to weigh around 1,200 grams. These feature the usual tube butting and shaping required to wring performance out of aluminum and also share the new D-Fuse seatpost and 15mm fork axle found on the Advanced models.
The TCX SLR 1 and 2 come equipped with SRAM Force 22 and Shimano 105 component groups, respectively. All four new models will stop with disc brakes, three of them making use of SRAM’s new hydraulic system.
Ladies like ’cross too
With cyclocross’ explosive growth, it’s time for women’s-specific options. Liv/Giant, the company’s confusingly-named women’s brand, has released the Brava SLR 2, saddled with Shimano 105 drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes, which will retail for $1,600. The new Brava SLR 0 is claimed to be the lightest women’s-specific ’cross bike ever, is equipped with Red 22 hydraulic disc components, and will retail at $4,800.
Both bikes share an aluminum Aluxx frame with women’s-specific geometry. Liv/Giant claims that the world champion Vos inspired the new line, but it’s nearly certain that she rides the higher-end carbon model. For a woman who has difficulty getting a properly fitted bike, the Brava is a nice option. Yet considering the price difference between these and the analogous TCX SLR models, it would be wise to try before you buy.