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The TCX Advanced Pro 1 ticks all the boxes on my cyclocross grocery list. And it has already found a home under pro riders in the highest echelons of the sport, yet it costs about as much as a mid-level road bike. This seems to be the sweet spot in cyclocross, affording you everything you need to make a real run at the podium while maintaining some semblance of a budget for things like food and shelter. Fortunately, I like the way the TCX rides almost as much as I like dinner and the roof over my head.
That’s because it complements my strengths (short, explosive sprints) and accommodates my weaknesses (just about everything else … har har). The size M/L I tested has somewhat long geometry numbers (1031mm wheelbase, 429mm chain stays, 61mm bottom bracket drop, 569mm stack, and 386mm reach), which contribute to its stability during all-out sprints. Pushing the TCX Advanced Pro 1 up a false-flat on the backside of Valmont Bike Park felt intuitive and stable even while torquing hard and leaning the bike over. The Giant encourages pedal-mashing, and it keeps you on an even keel as you do so.
You’ll be able to get over the front end and explode forward without the rear wheel skipping all over the place. Stability is the name of the game here. It’s not the most nimble for tape-to-tape cornering, but everywhere else the TCX is a rocket. The long wheelbase, trail, and chain stays that contribute to that stable feel also limit the TCX slightly in the tightest turns, though it’s far from being a sluggish steerer. If your bike-handling skills are up to snuff, you won’t notice too much fight here.
Quick line changes on fast descents were a breeze, while serpentine twists through the trees required a bit more input. That may be due to the 61-millimeter bottom bracket drop. For comparison, that’s 8mm higher than the BB on a 56cm Specialized Crux. Cyclocross geometry is all about compromise — though Giant’s geo might not feel snappy, a taller bottom bracket will let you pedal through steep off-camber or deep mud ruts without striking your pedals.
Steering seemed to improve the lower I set up my cockpit. Slamming the stem gets the rider in a low, aggressive position despite a fairly high bottom bracket. I felt like I was “in” the bike rather than “on” it. Since the head tube is fairly short at 160 millimeters, getting that low and long feel is easy. Still, the steering seems better at high speeds than at low speeds.
Fortunately, the Giant’s ultra-responsive feel during hard, quick sprints doesn’t translate into a jarring ride. Part of that can be attributed to my race-day tubulars (I swapped out the Giant CXR 1 wheels for my Zipp 303 Firecrests with Clement PDX tires), though there was still plenty of compliance with the stock wheels. The D-Fuse seatpost seems to makes good on its claims. It flexes slightly along the flat side for a bit of compliance without straying into bouncy territory. Ultimately, the TCX Advanced lies on the more comfortable end of the ‘cross bike spectrum but not to the point of being vague or soft.
Giant also did fine work with the parts spec. The SRAM Force disc brakes feel great and modulate well, though I’m eager to see if SRAM will replace the blocky hoods with something sleeker like the eTap HRD hoods in the near future. DoubleTap has proven itself to be reliable and durable, particularly in CX applications. However, if you prefer the light touch of Shimano’s Di2 systems, Force may not be up your alley. That said, it remains the go-to single-ring groupset for ‘cross.
Take a good look at the TCX Advanced Pro 1 if you want a bike that complements your sprinting abilities. It may not be the best choice if you prefer the tightest-steering bike on the market, but otherwise the TCX feels balanced, stiff, fast, and comfortable. I’ll take that combo for the price.