It’s been a while, but back in the mid to late 1990s, the Giant Bicycle Corporation changed the game for road bike geometry. When Giant introduced Compact Road Design they created a new way to ride and the industry has been playing catchup since.

Not only did Compact Road Design change the way bikes looked by introducing a toptube that slopes from the headtube to the seattube, but more importantly the design created better performing bikes. The smaller front and rear triangles were lighter, stiffer and provided better power transfer as there was less frame material to bend and flex under the stress of hard pedal strokes.

Giant, and its women’s brand Liv, applied the design and technology to its top line of road bicycles and the TCR was born. Short for Total Compact Road, TCR bikes are at the leading edge of performance technology. Whether the design is applied to an aluminum frame or a composite carbon frame, Compact Road Design improves the ride.

Giant TCR

As you’d expect, reducing the size of the triangles on the frame means less material is used to make the frame and, naturally, the frame weighs less. Even if the weight loss is only a few dozen grams for the total bike, that might make the difference between first and second place for sprinters and can drop a few seconds off long, steep climbs where every ounce matters.

Every architect and structural engineer will tell you shorter triangles are stronger. When you’re at your max pushing as hard as you can, each hard pedal stroke results in small bends and flexes in the frame. These bends and flexes rob precious power from being transferred to the drive train. Reducing the amount of flex means an extra watt or two makes its way to forward motion instead of being lost along the way. Stiffer is almost always better when it comes to speed.

While it’s possible to create a stiffer bike with stiffer materials, that often results in a less comfortable ride. The compact design used by Giant and Liv rides smoothly with optimized vertical compliance. With a sloping toptube and lower standover height, Giant and Liv bicycles also create better fitting bikes - after all, not every 5-foot-8 human has the same length of legs or torso.

Giant Biker