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Road Gear

Road bike of the year: Giant TCR Advanced SL 0

Impressive specs abound, but this one wins for a simpler reason.

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Every bike, it seems, has got lighter and more versatile in 2020. Early in the year, Giant got the revamp train rolling by making its TCR Advanced SL 0 lighter, more lithe, and frankly, more fun to ride. And notably, the bike does not feature dropped seatstays, bucking the trend du jour of bike design.

That said, the TCR Advanced still features aerodynamic tube shapes, though you wouldn’t know it at first glance. Giant says its design bested the competition during testing (the competition has changed dramatically since the bike’s launch in April). Aero aside, Giant placed its attention on light weight (my test bike weighed 14.46 pounds), increased stiffness, and ultra-responsive handling. Giant says its carbon fiber materials are laser-cut and robot-assembled, which means more weight can be reduced where it’s needed, and the layup can be done more precisely, for a more tailored finished product.

All that talk sure is nice, but the reason Giant gets the road bike of the year award is the ride itself. The handling is the special sauce here. The TCR feels laser-focused in tight corners, and it feels stable and confident in wide, high-speed sweepers. More importantly, the focused handling makes it a blast to ride. The only other bike that came close to unseating the TCR Advanced for road bike of the year is the Specialized S-Works Aethos, which is equally fun to ride. The TCR Advanced beats it narrowly due to its tight handling, as well as the less expensive offerings in the TCR Advanced range — notably, the Advanced SL 2, which is less than half the price at $4,500.