Defy to TCR - mistake?

jamesbeaumontjamesbeaumont Posts: 13
edited 26 September in Road general
Hi guys. Looking for your thoughts and words of wisdom here.

For 6 years I have ridden a M/L Defy 2. Recently, I have been really enjoying more time on the bike and thought it was time to get something newer. I am 5' 10" and have always felt a little stretched out on the Defy - my saddle is pretty far forward. I decided to pull the trigger on a 2017 TCR Advanced 1 with a medium frame. I knew the geometry would be more aggressive etc but I am actually finding the TCR considerably more tiring to ride, particularly in my legs. I was doing easy 50-mile rides on the Defy whereas I feel like I am done after 20 on the TCR!

It is perhaps worth noting that I am 84kg and not the most flexible (working on that though!). Has anyone found this before? Is this all psychological? Am I just going harder on the TCR due to its more aggressive setup? I am sure it is a much quicker bike over short distances but can't help thinking I would be faster on my Defy on anything over 20 miles!

Should I persevere or switch to a newer Defy/Roubaix etc?
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  • You've nailed exactly why its more tiring - compared to the luxury of the Defy, the TCR is a pure bred race bike designed to go fast. I experienced the exact same thing - I used to have a Focus Izalco which was a blindingly fast, stiff bike but I would feel absolutely beaten up after a ride. I just built up a TCR Advanced Pro for a friend and the geo is aggressive. Its an amazing bike, but for someone like myself who's not racing, theres just no point in putting my body through that stress.

    I eventually changed to a Trek Domane, the ride is so much smoother that any slight loss in pace from stiffness/geo is made up for in the fact that I can ride hard for 3 hours and my body still feels fresh - in other words, I'm as fast on the Domane as I was on the Izalco, but I just feel a lot better afterwards!
  • bsharp77 wrote:
    You've nailed exactly why its more tiring - compared to the luxury of the Defy, the TCR is a pure bred race bike designed to go fast. I experienced the exact same thing - I used to have a Focus Izalco which was a blindingly fast, stiff bike but I would feel absolutely beaten up after a ride. I just built up a TCR Advanced Pro for a friend and the geo is aggressive. Its an amazing bike, but for someone like myself who's not racing, theres just no point in putting my body through that stress.

    I eventually changed to a Trek Domane, the ride is so much smoother that any slight loss in pace from stiffness/geo is made up for in the fact that I can ride hard for 3 hours and my body still feels fresh - in other words, I'm as fast on the Domane as I was on the Izalco, but I just feel a lot better afterwards!

    Good to hear it's not just me then. Shame as I really like the TCR! Thanks for your input.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,636
    The TCR is routinely ridden on 4-5hr stages in the alps. If it wasn't possible to be comfortable on it, that wouldn't happen. It's perfectly possible to ride a race frame all day, if the bike if correctly set up.
  • Imposter wrote:
    The TCR is routinely ridden on 4-5hr stages in the alps. If it wasn't possible to be comfortable on it, that wouldn't happen. It's perfectly possible to ride a race frame all day, if the bike if correctly set up.

    .....by professional bike riders.
    I'm not disagreeing with you completely imposter, there are a lot of people that do ride the TCR and find it comfortable -I guess it depends on age and fitness/flexibility too to some extent.

    Bike setup is important, granted, but isn't the golden bullet answer - you could have a TCR setup in the exact same way as a Defy/Domane/Synapse - you will still feel less bruised and battered at the end on the latter options and thats just a plain fact - and I know as I've tried nearly every bike I could over the past 6 years.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,636
    Two words - tyre pressure.
  • Another point to the OP - how long have you had the TCR?
    Its a big change from the Defy, so will naturally take your body time to adjust to the new bike - as you say you are probably pushing harder than you did before, so maybe give it a couple of months to see if you adapt. Im not sure of your age/physiology/fitness - all these things make a huge difference as to what your body can absorb from a punishment point of view.

    Sore legs are fine - shows you are working hard, but if you start getting a sore, stiff back or other pains that are out of the ordinary, then it may be time to think about something with a bit more comfort.

    No doubt as Imposter mentioned, tyre pressures will make a big difference too, so do experiment.
    If you can get comfortable on the TCR it will be worth it, it really is a fantastic bike. Not only that, you don't want to have to change again so soon and lose a lot of money.

    If after all that, the TCR is still not working for you, its worth throwing your leg over a Domane to try the ISO Speed system. People always knock it until they try it (and available in a H1 fit if you still want an aggressive front end!).
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,003
    bsharp77 wrote:
    Imposter wrote:
    The TCR is routinely ridden on 4-5hr stages in the alps. If it wasn't possible to be comfortable on it, that wouldn't happen. It's perfectly possible to ride a race frame all day, if the bike if correctly set up.

    .....by professional bike riders.
    I'm not disagreeing with you completely imposter, there are a lot of people that do ride the TCR and find it comfortable -I guess it depends on age and fitness/flexibility too to some extent.

    Age and experience certainly has nothing to do with it. I'm 56 and my fitness is restricted to what I can do without a 3 year old in tow, which is very little. I could do with losing 5kg to be back at my optimum weight, but still ride an aggressive aero position with around 12cm drop from saddle to bar. Fitting is everything and flexibility certainly has an effect.
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  • philthy3 wrote:
    Age and experience certainly has nothing to do with it. I'm 56 and my fitness is restricted to what I can do without a 3 year old in tow, which is very little. I could do with losing 5kg to be back at my optimum weight, but still ride an aggressive aero position with around 12cm drop from saddle to bar. Fitting is everything and flexibility certainly has an effect.

    Except fitting isn't everything philthy. Thats my point.

    I can have a Domane H1 set up to the exact same fit as a TCR - the TCR will still leave me battered, whereas the Domane will not.

    Everyone is different in terms of both geo, flexibility, but also what the body will tolerate in terms of stress from the bike, so its important not to just put down bike fit as the one stop magic fix. It may help the OP (and if it does thats great), but then again it may not.

    At least all main options have been gone through here and discussed, so the OP can go through them and hopefully find the best solution that works for them.
  • Thanks guys.

    For reference, I am 30 years old and definitely above average fitness. Most rides are circa 20mph av. What holds me back is 14 years of weight training. Upper body mass that does nothing to help me on the bike and restricts how low I can get comfortably. Last nights ride gave me a pretty sore and stiff neck from being tucked over on the bars.

    I'll try experiment with the bikes setup and see what that does, particularly the tyre pressure. I could go down the route of a professional bike fitting but I don't see that as money well spent just now given how far from the Defy the TCR currently feels.
  • Update: I have been fiddling with a tapemeasure the TCR over the last hour to get it as close to the setup I had on the Defy. I have reduced tyre pressures, moved the saddle slightly forward, angled the bars up a tad and most significantly, flipped the stem. It may look a bit silly but front end height is now the same as the Defy. I will see if I get used to it and gradually lower the stem through the spacers if I do.
  • It is perhaps worth noting that I am 84kg and not the most flexible (working on that though!).

    That's only 184lb. Even if you're a little shorter, that's not that big.

    Gel grip tape, good gloves, proper fit, and a little work on your flexibility and you should be fine. I bet that thing easily fits a 25mm and maybe a 28mm tire. Put the biggest on there it will take. A cursory internet search says 28mm fits.

    Also, slacker geometry bikes have you more upright. Meaning less using the arms for support. Once you're using your arms to support more in an aggressive setup, some tend to tense up in the shoulders and neck as they grip the bar and hold themselves.
  • Update: I have been fiddling with a tapemeasure the TCR over the last hour to get it as close to the setup I had on the Defy. I have reduced tyre pressures, moved the saddle slightly forward, angled the bars up a tad and most significantly, flipped the stem. It may look a bit silly but front end height is now the same as the Defy. I will see if I get used to it and gradually lower the stem through the spacers if I do.

    Did anyone advice making small incremental changes, 1 at a time?
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  • It is perhaps worth noting that I am 84kg and not the most flexible (working on that though!).

    That's only 184lb. Even if you're a little shorter, that's not that big.

    Gel grip tape, good gloves, proper fit, and a little work on your flexibility and you should be fine. I bet that thing easily fits a 25mm and maybe a 28mm tire. Put the biggest on there it will take. A cursory internet search says 28mm fits.

    Also, slacker geometry bikes have you more upright. Meaning less using the arms for support. Once you're using your arms to support more in an aggressive setup, some tend to tense up in the shoulders and neck as they grip the bar and hold themselves.

    Your advice sounds spot on. I have a 25mm tyre in there just now and will go for a 28. It's definitely the weight on the bars that's knackering me. Shoukders and neck tensing up. Any recommendations for best stretches to get lower?
  • flasherflasher Posts: 1,600
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  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    over 2 inchs dif in head tube length, at 5'10 you are at the upper limit for the M Tcr and the lower limit for the Defy m/l.

    you may have been better off on the M/L Tcr with a shorter stem, or even a M Defy, if the only issue was being stretched out.
    i cant believe your tire psi is going to make such a difference, the new tcr come with 25mm rubber, but an easy adjust lol!
  • Update: I have been fiddling with a tapemeasure the TCR over the last hour to get it as close to the setup I had on the Defy. I have reduced tyre pressures, moved the saddle slightly forward, angled the bars up a tad and most significantly, flipped the stem. It may look a bit silly but front end height is now the same as the Defy. I will see if I get used to it and gradually lower the stem through the spacers if I do.

    Did anyone advice making small incremental changes, 1 at a time?

    I think getting the set up and critical dims close to that of the Defy is a good way forward, if it was pretty far out. The next step should be those small changes.

    PS I wouldn't say it's a mistake by the way. I had a Defy - good bike, but I'd prefer a TCR - nicer geometry - not really a fan of the sloping top tube....
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  • mamba80 wrote:
    over 2 inchs dif in head tube length, at 5'10 you are at the upper limit for the M Tcr and the lower limit for the Defy m/l.

    you may have been better off on the M/L Tcr with a shorter stem, or even a M Defy, if the only issue was being stretched out.
    i cant believe your tire psi is going to make such a difference, the new tcr come with 25mm rubber, but an easy adjust lol!

    According to the Giant website, I absolutely bang on the Medium. The head tube is what is making the difference though. The flipped stem has really helped that. Now, time for some stretching...! :lol:
  • Pics of set up to see if we can spot anything that may help?
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • Pics of set up to see if we can spot anything that may help?

    Sure.

    Before: https://photos.app.goo.gl/MZpZa4RxU4xQZ1gv2

    After: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HCNxrWSkFlWGsutw2

    Thoughts? Are the hoods angled up more likely to give me numb hands?
  • It may be the angle of the photo but your saddle looks like it's tilted quite far forwards which, compounded by the curved saddle shape, would tip you forwards putting more weight than intended on your hands and making riding the bike more wearing. This could make you think you need higher/shorter bars to push back against the forwards lean to hold yourself in place? Just a thought, might be completely wrong! Need to see you on the bike really as your leg, torso and arm length etc could be different to what the saddle height suggests - it's really had to get decent advice this way unfortunately.
  • foggymike wrote:
    It may be the angle of the photo but your saddle looks like it's tilted quite far forwards which, compounded by the curved saddle shape, would tip you forwards putting more weight than intended on your hands and making riding the bike more wearing. This could make you think you need higher/shorter bars to push back against the forwards lean to hold yourself in place? Just a thought, might be completely wrong! Need to see you on the bike really as your leg, torso and arm length etc could be different to what the saddle height suggests - it's really had to get decent advice this way unfortunately.

    I have been thinking this myself. The saddle was definitely angled down, but this was due to too much pressure in my nether regions. I have checked my saddle height and found I can drop it slightly which then allows me to bring the nose of the saddle up a bit more, hence reducing the pressure on the bars as you say.

    All very helpful stuff this and really helping get my bike setup sorted!
  • webboowebboo Posts: 2,069
    That saddle doesn't look right, pointing down?
  • foggymike wrote:
    It may be the angle of the photo but your saddle looks like it's tilted quite far forwards which, compounded by the curved saddle shape, would tip you forwards putting more weight than intended on your hands and making riding the bike more wearing. This could make you think you need higher/shorter bars to push back against the forwards lean to hold yourself in place? Just a thought, might be completely wrong! Need to see you on the bike really as your leg, torso and arm length etc could be different to what the saddle height suggests - it's really had to get decent advice this way unfortunately.

    This is the best I could get... https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ug9NBnFCq9JsaMUy1

    Does that shine any light on the situation?
  • The saddle tilt definitely wouldn't help. I'd set it flat and work the height from there. Any more than a couple of degrees tilt would indicate it's not in the right position to me.

    Counter-intuitive as it may sound, moving the saddle back on the rails will take pressure off the hands/upper body, as it'll move your CG back, too. I'd imagine the weight training has given you sufficient core stability to hold yourself.
  • The saddle tilt definitely wouldn't help. I'd set it flat and work the height from there. Any more than a couple of degrees tilt would indicate it's not in the right position to me.

    Counter-intuitive as it may sound, moving the saddle back on the rails will take pressure off the hands/upper body, as it'll move your CG back, too. I'd imagine the weight training has given you sufficient core stability to hold yourself.


    Sorry, do you mean the saddle position would help? I have adjusted it significantly and when I checked it with a spirit level it is now dead flat. The saddle is lower too and as a result I must admit the whole setup feels far better.
  • James - don't think its been mentioned so far, but sounds like you'd benefit from a proper bike fit (from a reputable fitter). Others can look at the bike and give ideas but without knowing your exact dimensions and flexibility its a bit hit and miss. Given your'e only 30 you've also plenty time to do some stretching which will help immensely!

    I can honestly say a retul bike fit is the best money I've ever spent on cycling (and I've spent a fair bit!)
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  • Q I'd ask is why did you go for a TCR?
    I've had a Defy 0 Alu for 4 years and just got myself an Advanced TCR in the Aug sales. Did it because I wanted to push myself harder and faster on the climbs in particular, but also in general. I figured that's the point of a TCR over a straight up endurance bike like Defy.
    I expected it wd take a bit of time to adapt to the new position - it definitely wants me to go faster, & it definitely asks for a little more flexibility. But actually the adjustment less than I'd expected. On top of club rides and shorter sessions, I've done several 5 hr+ rides and no ill effects. If anything, I find I don't want to get off the bike!
    Still love my Defy, but TCR definitley not a mistake!
  • Pics of set up to see if we can spot anything that may help?

    Sure.

    Before: https://photos.app.goo.gl/MZpZa4RxU4xQZ1gv2

    After: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HCNxrWSkFlWGsutw2

    Thoughts? Are the hoods angled up more likely to give me numb hands?

    Pic 1 looks better in fact but you need to raise the nose of your saddle in both setups. pointy down saddle means you're sliding forward onto the 'bars so any sensation that your too low at the front will merely be accentuated by the saddle being like that.
    It's ultimately your shout but you have to bear in mind that the TCR is essentially a race orientated bike with a lower front end than the Defy so pointy up stems are not really its thing. The higher you try to make it go the more this will have a negative effect on its steering and race bike handling. maybe if comfort is a priority you could get the next size up or think in terms of a different bike altogether.
  • Q I'd ask is why did you go for a TCR?
    I've had a Defy 0 Alu for 4 years and just got myself an Advanced TCR in the Aug sales. Did it because I wanted to push myself harder and faster on the climbs in particular, but also in general. I figured that's the point of a TCR over a straight up endurance bike like Defy.
    I expected it wd take a bit of time to adapt to the new position - it definitely wants me to go faster, & it definitely asks for a little more flexibility. But actually the adjustment less than I'd expected. On top of club rides and shorter sessions, I've done several 5 hr+ rides and no ill effects. If anything, I find I don't want to get off the bike!
    Still love my Defy, but TCR definitley not a mistake!

    I went for the TCR for the same reasons as you - to go harder and faster. I am absolutely fine with it taking a while to get used to the bike, it's just a bigger change in comfort than I was expecting, which in turns discourages me from spending time on it.

    The saddle is now flat so I'll be putting the stem back to the original setup and seeing if the saddle angle was the source of the issues.
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,068
    James the TCR just does not look right with the stem flipped up, leave it in the negative position at the top of the steerer tube as in photo 1 and work on your flexibility, also double check that your saddle is not set too high.
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