Gear of the Year

Road Bikes & Mountain Bikes

May 19, 2005
Outside Magazine

Giant TCR Composite 2 $2,100

You could pay more than twice as much for a bike and not have this much fun. With a one-piece carbon frame, competition-worthy components, and intuitive handling, this Gear of the Year winner is an entry-level racer that moves "entry level" into the same neighborhood as "elite."

1. For all its strengths on the hills, the Giant TCR really sparkles on the flats. Settle into a steady groove and you'll sense that every fiber—in both the hyperefficient carbon frame and your muscles—is working to propel you forward.

2. Descending steep switchbacks or rounding city corners at speed, the TCR dives in and holds its line without any of the nervous twitchiness that can make some race rigs unsettling.

3. Giant has always offered great parts for the money, and the TCR doesn't disappoint. Five years ago, a frame of this quality could have cost close to $5,000. To get it hung top to bottom with Shimano's precision Ultegra drivetrain for just over two grand is unreal.

4. The TCR is available in five sizes, with Giant's compact road geometry allowing for enough seat-and-handlebar-stem combinations to keep pretty much anyone comfortable and properly posi-tioned for the big ride.

5. The compact frame design and one-piece construction keep this 17-pound-seven- ounce rocket light and rigid—no extra tubing or complex joints to add weight or flex. You'll climb faster. Period.

GT i-DXC 1.0 $2,600

GT designed its new i-DXC around the latest version of the company's superefficient i-Drive suspension setup, so it rides as comfortably as a cross-country bike—without sacrificing race-day speed. Whatever your singletrack agenda, this Gear of the Year winner is equally equipped to play in the backcountry or jump into the competitive fray.

1. GT's ingenious i-Drive isolates the drivetrain from the suspension to keep the distance between the cranks and the rear wheel constant. This eliminates the annoying chain "kick" that plagues many suspension setups.

2. The aluminum frame provides a rigid and necessary counterbalance to the cushy suspension. The rear triangle holds up under aggressive turns and hard, side-to-side cranking.

3. Wildly popular Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals top off a great components mix—including a Shimano XT drivetrain that's precise enough for racing yet burly enough to spare you a lot of expensive visits to your mechanic.

4. Four inches of travel adjust on a dime with Fox's 3.5-pound F100R fork. Laterally stiff and sensitive as you want it to be, the front suspension improves handling in all situations.

5. Fox's new Float RP3 rear shock really shines. By flipping a small lever, you can adjust pedaling efficiency as conditions dictate—more for climbs, less for drops—without losing any big-hit reserves.

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