Welcome to the April 8, Mid-Week Report!
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: 2021 GIANT TCR
Giant launched an updated TCR today. Over 20 years ago, the Giant TCR (Total Compact Road) shook up the racing world with its then-revolutionary geometry and construction. The compact geometry was so extreme that it was banned from racing at first but was ultimately deemed legal. Now nearly every bike on the market relies on a compact geometry design, but what hasn’t changed is Giant’s drive to push for a better and more refined race bike.
The 2021 TCR frame is now in its ninth version with this update. Having been an early adopter of disc brakes, Giant has been able to not only adapt them to road bikes but with over six years of road disc experience, they have optimized the platform. Our TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc test bike hit the RBA scale at a stunning 14.54 pounds. Sure ours is their top tier bike at $11,000, but it is stunning considering the 42mm deep tubeless wheels, disc brakes and includes a power meter.
Giant remains the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer, and this has given them the resources to experiment with new processes that streamline the production. The new SL line is comprised of laser cut carbon swatches rather than the machine stamped version of the past. The swatches are also now robotically positioned for the highest level of precision. These two processes alone have resulted in Giant’s ability to minimize frame weight significantly and refining areas for added stiffness.
On top of the new construction and layup is refined tube shaping. Like many other brands, Giant has looked to optimized aerodynamics, but the TCR still remains their all-around race bike. There is a new downtube shape that is wider and is now rounded on the front-facing side. The fork has also been changed slightly, but overall the entire bike has just been tweaked and further perfected.
To slam your stem or not to slam your stem? You roll up to a group ride and the first thing the riders do is look at the spacers on your stem. You’d think they would at least check out what you are wearing, helmet, glasses, gloves, but it doesn’t happen. They want to know if your stem is slammed, and if it isn’t you are going to get dropped early and often. Some say it’s worse than the chainring mark on the back of your calf. That mysteriously happens to me fifty percent of the time. Is it really this simple? If you run any spacers at all on your stem you are a novice? Does a slammed stem offer any benefits, and if it does, is it worth the back pain and chiropractor visits? Or is it just a silly status thing that any rational person can get over with a deep breath and a more harmonious relationship with their inner child?
We got in touch with various industry luminaries to find out from them if this stem height and taller head-tube conundrum was just in my head (something about a bruised ego) or if there really was a scientific, bike fit reason to either slam your stem or not.
Call us hopeless romantics or biased Europhiles, but whatever the reason, for us there remains something special about the cycling wares that enjoy European branding. Without taking anything away from the bikes and parts from more contemporary brands, for me it’s the company history that so many European brands enjoy that I find so fascinating.
You have to admit that any company—no matter what the industry—that is still producing their original product 100 years later is pretty impressive. Selle Italia, Michelin, Columbus, Wilier-Triestina, Peugeot and Brooks qualify with brands like Campagnolo, Mavic, LaPierre and among others, all edging awfully close to the century-old mark.
And, they’ve earned our respect not just because they’re old brands, but that they’ve continued to evolve with modern versions of their core products with all the performance we expect of the most modern bikes and parts.
Even though the constraints of the modern economy have forced much of Europe’s legacy of small-shop craftsmanship away from their borders, in some small way, they still represent a big piece of cycling history that we have no intention of letting go.
DIRTY KANZA RESCHEDULED
– Jim Cummins
MAMMOTH TUFF – SEPTEMBER 19th
There’s more to explore in Mammoth! The first official gravel ride on the mountain is set to take place September 19, 2020. A 45 mile “Tuff” course with 2000 feet of climbing and a 100 “Tuffer” course with 8000 feet of elevation gain are planned but no official course maps have been released. Mammoth Mountain is a favorite locale of ours and over the years we have continued to return to the annual Gran Fondo. With Mammoth Tuff now the following weekend we are planning to extend our stay to get in all of the best riding that Mammoth has to offer.
THE RIFT ICELAND – JULY 25, 2020
The Rift is a gravel race through the dark lava fields in the highlands of Iceland – taking place on the tectonic split between North America and Eurasia. An ever-growing battlefield that grows an inch every year.
The battlefield sculpted by volcanic eruptions is vast, rugged and unpredictable – making the Rift a challenge of endurance, mental fortitude and most likely the bare elements. And in the end – a gravel battle between the continents!
The course starts out of a small town along the southern coast called Hvolsvöllur. This incredible shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area in the west to the magnificent Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in the east. It is lined with countless natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers and volcanos – circumnavigating one of the most active volcanos on the island, Hekla.