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complete review of the Giant TCR in the latest issue of(22 posts)

complete review of the Giant TCR in the latest issue ofET
Apr 4, 2001 9:41 AM
you know, but I daren't say. (Nigel, you cancelled your subscription too soon. :-) Just kidding. Don't want to start all that again.) Rather thorough review of the TCR and two other compacts, the Cinelli Proxima and the Lee Cougan (anyone ever heard of that? It's an American bike, but made in Italy). Both the TCR and the Cougan got very high marks, the Cinelli a distant third. The article has interesting comments about compacts in general (e.g. their strengths and possible weaknesses, they made up 40% of the 2000 Tour bikes, might make up 80% of all sold in a few years) and the fit of the TCR in particular (the test rider had to change the stock 14 stem to a 9 on the medium because the effective top tube is so long). Detailed stats given. You sure won't see an article like that in Bicycling.

Or maybe you will. As some of you have remarked, its latest issue was somewhat of an improvement. Maybe, just maybe, they read our threads. I personally think they did.
Please do say, I'm dense (nm)Ixnixit
Apr 4, 2001 12:24 PM
I might get thrown off the board, but...ET
Apr 4, 2001 12:26 PM
Cycling Plus
Thanks, I'll still be your friend (nm)Ixnixit
Apr 4, 2001 12:35 PM
40% of Tour bikes? Sounds fishy...TJeanloz
Apr 4, 2001 5:25 PM
I hate it when reputable magazines don't check their facts. Last month it was Cycle Sport claiming a 16lbs Colnago Ovalmaster, and now the unnamed magazine claiming 40% of the bikes in the Tour were sloping top tubed. As far as I can assess, no more than 25% of the Tour teams rode sloping top tube machines; these teams were: ONCE, Mercatone-Uno, Festina, Polti, and maybe Farm Frites (I couldn't find a single photo of a Farm Frites rider.) Marcel Wust had some high profile stage wins on a Specialized sloped model, but there is no way that 40% of the riders rode STT bikes as their primary ride (some may have ridden one up Alpe d'Huez etc.)

Having sold these bikes for about 8 months now, I think I'm ready to declare it a passing fad. In five years, we'll all look back on it and laugh. Rumor has it that Litespeed was going to make the Vortex STT next year, but sales on the Merlin Agilis have been so slow that they may be scrapping the design.
Please explain why you think it will be a passing fad....Adamz
Apr 4, 2001 10:36 PM
Please explain why you think it will be a passing fad....TJeanloz
Apr 5, 2001 7:11 AM
So they've been out for a while; the Giants for 3 or more years, and only one advantage has come out- they're cheaper to build. They aren't, as a class, lighter (ask Doug whether his sloping EV2 or straight C-40 was heavier). They may be stiffer- but stiffness wasn't hard to achieve with aluminum in the first place. Having stared at these bikes and sold several of them, I just don't see their advantage.

It's not like 1 1/8" headsets, as somebody alluded, I will catagorically say that with carbon steerer tubes, 1 1/8" is superior to 1".

People who have been around the industry for a long time (i.e. longer than I have been alive), look at these bikes as a short term trend. And then they point to several other designs like this. My boss has a number of bikes in his collection that were 'state of the art' in their day; all over the past 25 years. They all represented the 'latest' thinking in technology. Some are what we would consider big today, some are small; but they were all meant to fit him perfectly. My point is that there are design trends in the industry, but almost inevitably, we rotate back to the double diamond design. The classic bicycle design, simple as it looks, is very, very refined. Improving on the double diamond design is something not easily achieved.
The DD design is somewhat mandatedDog
Apr 5, 2001 1:27 PM
Re: "My point is that there are design trends in the industry, but almost inevitably, we rotate back to the double diamond design."

Don't forget that the UCI largely legislates the double diamond design. If not for the organization mandating the design for the sake of tradition, the pros might be riding bikes as varied as the Softride, Corima, and Lotus. They were even reluctant to permit the Giant ONCE bikes.

However, your point is well made. The double diamond is well proven, and has (according to people who really know these things) outstanding engineering properties. But, the design is somewhat artificially maintained by the UCI. If the design is inherently better, they why would anyone even want to make/use something else?

You're partly right,TJeanloz
Apr 5, 2001 5:43 PM
I'm sure the UCI has a little bit to do with the double diamond "standard". But the double diamond regulation only came into effect in 1996; prior to that, anything was o.k. But outside of time-trial bikes (where there is a clear aerodynamic advantage to a Lotus type design), nobody really produced different designs. Sure, there's Softride, Zipp, et. al.; but I don't think you could argue that those bikes are all around 'better' than a good double diamond. Sloping top tubes aren't all that great, and I really don't believe they are the future of road bikes.

On the sizing issue; building a bike with a sloping top tube doesn't inherently make it able to "fit" more riders. Mike Burrows just convinced people that 16cm stems were a part of his design. If you were a bike manufacturer, you could give me horizontal top tubed bikes in sizes 49, 53, 57 and 60 and the same allowances that I have with STT bikes (350mm seatposts and 16cm stems), and I could fit people exactly the same as they fit on sloping top tube bikes. There is NOTHING inherent about the sloping top tube design that allows it to fit more people; except that people with really, really big torso to leg ratios can stradle the bikes. Sloping top tube geometry isn't special. It doesn't allow more people to fit on fewer bikes. The fit bit is a Mike Burrows inspired hoax. That being said; I will say that with normal parts (270mm seatposts, 9-13 stems) I think I could fit about 75% of the population with the four sizes I listed above.
compacts and fit/rideET
Apr 6, 2001 5:56 AM
The effects of the UCI ban also are mentioned in the article, and it is given as a reason why Pinarello, Trek and Cannondale haven't yet joined in yet.

Something else has been on my mind, though. Maybe compacts don't fit any wider range of sizes than DDs (except possibly for the fact that standover clearance is not much of an issue), but for some reason, those getting fitted with on 3 sizes fit all and 16 stems aren't complaining. And ONCE, among others, are riding it with success. Is it possible that the importance of all the exact fit stuff on DDS is overblown, or will cracks start showing in compacts?
Exact fit is overblown...TJeanloz
Apr 6, 2001 7:08 AM
I know this is heresy. Forgive me please. First; ONCE are pleased, but their bikes are all custom (they don't just chose S, M, or L).

Road bike fit is not rocket science. This whole 'fit' craze developed (according to my boss- I was still in elementery school) in the late 1980s. To demonstrate his point, he pulled out an old (1970s) catalog from the Denver Spoke, where he learned the craft. They sold high end parts, including Colnago frames. There is no geometry chart listed in the catalog; only sizes, in two INCH increments. (The Spoke converted to inches and rounded to make things easier for their American customers). There were four sizes available. People now complain that they can't always test ride a bike before they buy it; then it was rare to even SEE a bike before you bought it. And yet my boss raced as a Cat 1 on one of these bikes; they sold hundreds of them, there was no problem with sizing. It was a simpler time, and bicycle fitting did not require an MD.
or maybe we've advancedET
Apr 6, 2001 7:17 AM
We have too many choices.

But what I'm asking you in particular is, what if someone's not really that close, as you'd expect to happen with the 3-sizes-fit-all compacts? Yet it seems like most can't tell. At the least, initial impressions seem to imply that it makes up a trivial difference at most in performance compared to an exact-fit setup. And here we are saying one should have a 12 stem for this size bike, a 10 for another.
Farm FritesPsyDoc
Apr 5, 2001 3:24 AM
The photo I have of the team is from their website. If these are the bikes they used in the Tour, then they are not STT.
Farm FritesWayne Scott
Apr 5, 2001 4:59 AM
That's Domo-Farm Frites from this year on Merckx bikes. Last year I'm pretty sure Farm Frites rode Miyata bikes.
Farm FritesMr Tall
Apr 5, 2001 6:50 AM
They did. Actually Koga-Miyata. Even though there are none in the picture some of the Domo riders are on STT bikes.
maybe not???schmoopy
Apr 5, 2001 5:10 AM
It's probably like threadless or 1-1/8... you can resist, but eventually the mgfers win out in shoving this crap down our throats
Mike Burrows vs. TJeanlozET
Apr 5, 2001 5:26 AM
Mike Burrows is, of course, the designer of the TCR. I have seen this figure in previous issues as well. Here is the latest quote from the unnamed magazine (named elsewhere in this thread), April 01 issue, page 69:

"Compacts now account for an ever larger number of bikes in the professional and amateur ranks--Mike Burrows reckoning that around 40% of 2000 Tour bikes already had sloping top tubes. He's also convinced that within a few years around 80% of bikes sold will feature sloping top tubes."

Sure, the last sentence might be wishful thinking on the part of the perhaps self-interested Burrows (and I personally hope he's wrong and they decide that there are deficiencies in these bikes after all and that traditional is the way to go), but one would wonder if he would fudge on his first comment, which is easy to refute if false. Of course, we might have to interpret his words: What is meant by "40% of bikes"? If one uses it for a stage, does it count? Do we weight them by % of time ridden? Regardless, if he's right, in some way it is reckoned" to achieve 40%, a rather impressive figure.

And then there's pg. 74: "TJeanloz is the best LBS chap in the world." Also sounds fishy. :-)
I've been thinking about it...TJeanloz
Apr 5, 2001 7:03 AM
I've been thinking about how you could manipulate the figures to come up with some odd facts. For instance, 50% of the bikes ridden in the TdF were time trial bikes; many TT bikes have sloping top tubes, but I don't think they count. My conclusion is that is was probably possible that 40% of the bicycles within the Tour caravan were STT; partly because the ONCE guys reportedly broke their Giant's every other stage (I'm not trying to be anti-Giant; when anybody makes a bike that light, like JaJa's custom, it will break) and needed many replacements.
but USPS's OCLV would offset that somewhat :-)ET
Apr 5, 2001 12:38 PM
Here are some of the alleged advantages offered by compacts as stated in the article (note also that the article does say that one can make a distinction between a true compact and one with just a slightly sloping top tube):

1. lower weight an dsuperior comfort

2. improved torsional stiffness

3. fewer sizes and hence reduced manufacturing costs with the savings in theory passed on to the consumer (I think I saw that in TJeanloz, Phd thesis, 2001, unpublished :-))

The article goes on to quote Burrows as saying that actually the sloping top tube is nothing new either, it having been tried as far back as the 19th century, and that the horizontal top tube became the standard possibly because it "was an obvious visual pointer around which the 19th century engineer could accurately build a frame!"
KelmeChris Jones
Apr 5, 2001 8:37 PM
stt aluminum looks.
Steel TCR!! When??SimpleGreen
Apr 5, 2001 4:58 PM
So when are we gonna get some steel compacts?
Sure AL compacts are light, but normal diamond shaped AL frames are already light. steel can probably benefit the most from compact designs. Modern steels are already being made into 3.5 pound frames (TIG welded). Imagine a steel compact--it would be stiff, yet probably more compliant than an AL compact. The durability would be better than AL and so would make more sense to most riders for training and all-around use.

I guess we have to wait...

As for compacts being a fad---probably not. It's cheaper to produce 3 or 4 frames. The entry and mid level bikes will probably all be compact frames. THis might be a good trend, especially if one could get a road bike with 105 for say the same price as a Hardtail Mtn bike with LX or XT components--which is about 900-1100 dollars. That would rock!
Hey ET, I'm back!boy nigel
Apr 6, 2001 7:23 AM
I actually DID get that C+, and certainly found the article interesting (though the components on the Brit/Euro versions aren't the ones sold over here as stock). They haven't stopped sending the mag yet, so I "lucked out." Thanks for the mention/concern, though, buddy. :)

I realize that there are gripes about STT bikes. Though I own one and love it to death, I don't see these designs as the be-all-end-all. It sure works for me, though, and my 28-29" inseam. Clearance doesn't always equate with proper fit, but it's nice to know that I can hop off the bike and have "normal" and "prescribed" clearance. Teddy J. has a good point with his 75%-of-the-population fit concept, but unfortunately for me, I fit into that 25%. I'd have to go with 650cc wheels to get proper fit, but the smaller top tubes would crunch me up too much (I'd need a really long stem).

It's great to be back, anyway. I had password problems for some reason; wouldn't let me in without my (forgotten) password, and couldn't get the password from the admins, for some reason. :(