MALLORCA, Spain (VN) — Giant hasn’t gone and completely redesigned its road line. Model names are the same as before (TCR and Defy for the boys, TCR W and Avail for the ladies). But with subtle changes in materials and design the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer has improved its entire range.
Giant has introduced some new technologies that will be included on most Giant models (some even in the mountain bike line): OverDrive 2, PowerCore and RideSense. Giant also showed off its new internal cable routing and a new seatpost head. Before we get to the bikes, a little bit about Giant’s 2012 innovations:
OverDrive 2 uses a 1.25-1.5 inch tapered steerer. This, of course, means that 1.125” (1 1/8”) stems won’t fit on the new system. Several manufacturers are already on board though: Syntace has long made stems that fit the larger steerer and provide a spacer for 1.125” use. Ritchey and FSA (which we saw branded as PRO on Rabobank team bikes at the Dauphine and Tour of Switzerland) also make stems for the larger steerer tube. And of course, Giant also produces stems for the new standard.
The idea isn’t a new one. But it is the first time a manufacturer of this size has committed so thoroughly to it. Cannondale and others experimented with larger steerers in the past, but advances in carbon have made it a more viable option. Specialized experimented with the size in its mountain bikes a couple years ago, but dropped it. Canyon currently uses it on its Ultimate CF SLX Evo frameset.
One unique aspect of Giant’s OverDrive 2 is that it fits inside the same head tube they’ve made for years. Engineers simply increased the internal diameter of the upper bearing to fit the larger steerer. Owners of older Giants can purchase the new fork, upper headset bearing and a suitable stem and upgrade their bike with OverDrive 2.
PowerCore is actually nothing new. It was introduced in 2009. It uses the Pressfit BB86 standard but for 2012 the bearing cups are now full composite (not aluminum). This produced a 15-gram weight savings over previous models.
RideSense is a chainstay-mounted wireless, integrated sensor that transmits speed and cadence using ANT+ technology. Much like Bontrager’s Duo-Trap, the unit bolts into the non-drive side chainstay. RideSense doesn’t follow the frame’s lines as well as Trek’s, but it does work well.
Both the TCR and Defy lines now have internally-routed cables. Now I’m not usually a fan of internal cables as I see it answering a question no one (or at least very few) is asking. Giant pointed out that it saves a bit of weight, cleans up a frame aerodynamically and keeps the cables out of the elements. Fair enough, but they’re still a pain to maintain and install.
While Giant’s frames come with temporary plastic routing guides to help with the initial install, there isn’t a permanent liner inside frames. Because of this, shops would be wise to keep the temporary lines for future cable changes. Giant reasoned that permanent liners will often allow a cable to rattle inside the frame and Giant may have made a good decision. The cables certainly never rattled on any of the bikes I rode (they also don’t rattle on my personal externally-routed bicycles).
Giant’s new seatpost head is one item that I personally love. Finally a manufacturer has realized that consumers have different saddle setback needs. I personally need a zero-setback seat post on almost every bike I ride. With most other aero or integrated seat post designs, the consumer is stuck with setback.
Giant’s has two versions of the head, one for integrated clamps and a slightly different version for aero seatpost models. Both work well and offer either 25mm or -5mm of setback depending on set up. It’s a genuinely clever solution to a problem I’ve moaned about for years. Chapeau!