Having picked up a lovely new 2017 TCR Advanced Pro Disc from my favourite bike dealer Giant Brisbane while on holidays, the new bike has fast become my favourite ride. Blessed with an incredible immediacy the TCR frame is truly addictive and a completely different ride to my previous bike the Giant Propel. I am not alone in loving the new bike, see the video below.
But the Propel has a distinct aero advantage to the TCR, especially above 35kph, which I suspect is 90% down to the Giant SLR 0 aero wheels. The TCR Disc comes as standard with Giant SLR Disc 30mm WheelSystem and Gavia SLR tubeless tires, that looked the part, but did not seem to have the inertia I was used to from the Propel’s wheels. There are plenty of articles on the benefits of aero wheels, but nice summary of the differences here.
So, of course, the inevitable search for new wheels took place. The first port of call on the interweb was Farsports, who I have bought several sets of wheels from in the last couple of years for various friends bikes, including our project Orange TCR. In the interests of research I did look at many other companies that supply Carbon Clinchers, but I could not find anything that came close to Farsports wide variety, competitive prices and with a quality I could trust.
The received wisdom these days is that wider rims are better, so I had decided that I wanted 58mm deep by 28mm wide rims. Darren had purchased these for his TCR Advanced Pro 1 last year and really loved the way the wider rims handled sidewinds and how nicely 25mm Continental GP4000s tyres fitted the rims, from an aero point of view.
While I have had great success with Novatec hubs on other Farsports wheels, I decided to treat myself to a set of DT Swiss 240, 12mm Thru axle hubs, as I plan to keep the wheels for a while and these hubs are generally regarded as the gold standard for weight, reliability and quality. Finally I decided I wanted 24 spoke wheels, as I am not too heavy and the wheels will be mostly used on Dubai’s smooth road and tracks.
However, Farsports comprehensive wheel option selections did not have the mix of rim, hub and spoke count that I was looking for, so a quick email to Sandy in sales was dashed off with the desired spec. Within the hour a very reasonable quote arrived in my inbox, even giving me a decent bit of discount for being a previous customer.
After the usual 20 day wait for the wheels to arrive from China, they finally pitched up in Dubai. After unpacking, a quick inspection showed that the order was exactly what I had hoped for, quality of finish, trueness and general appearance were all perfect. Much as I have come to expect from Farsports. The rims measured up as nearly 30mm at their widest and an internal width of 20mm, which is excellent for the new generation of wider tyres. Being disc braked the TCR can pretty well fit any tyre up to 32mm between the stays, as there are no brake calipers to foul.
I was curious to see what the difference in weight would be from the Giant 30mm, carbon climbing wheels and the Farsports 58mm Aero wheels would be, so I decided I would measure the total wheel package, with tyres and tubes, as well as the total difference in bike weight. Firstly I weighed the wheels as they came out of the box, with the front being 720g and the rear 820g, making a total weight of 1540g, which is very decent indeed.
The bike weight with stock wheels, Ultegra pedals, plastic bottle cages, Stages power meter and Garmin holder came out at a very decent 7.97kg
A new set of centerlock 140mm Shimano SM-RT 81 discs were married up to the new wheels, rim tapes, tubes and the obligatory Conti tyres were all fitted in short order.
Fitted with the new wheels and tyres, the bike weighed in at 8.04kg or a whole 70g heavier. I was truly surprised as wheel sets generally become 130g heavier for every cm added to (a wheel pair’s) rim depth, so I was expecting at least a 300g increase in weight.
Interestingly there was a noticeable difference in rear hub performance compared with the Giant rear hub, which for some reason on the TCR Disc are not that “spin-able” and appear to have a little bit more stiction than rear hubs normally have. The new DT Swiss hubs spin up much easier on the work stand and take a lot longer to slow down.
Here is the TCR with the new Farsports 58mm wheels all fitted, ready to go (yes the handlebars need rotated down)
Out on the road, the first ride revealed all the benefits I could have hoped for and more. At speeds around 40kph the wheels seemed to have an inertia of their own, especially in a bunch. Whereas the 30mm stock wheels always seemed to want to slow down, it’s hard to explain and a very subjective thing, but the new wheels are simply faster.
In breezy and gusty conditions, the Farsports wheels seem to be much more stable than the narrower (23mm) Giant Aero SLR 0 aero wheels that I had on the Propel. Again subjective, but I put this down to the wider rim, better aerodynamics and the more modern toroidal shape.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the TCR Disc has lost none of it’s immediacy and agility with the deeper rims, I kind of expected that to happen, but thankfully not. All in all very happy with the new wheels, the problem I have now is a redundant set of Giant climbing wheels. After all what’s the point in changing wheels for the hills to save 70g of weight ?