Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Metro Detroit
Bikes: Bertoni Corsa Mondiale, Bridgestone T-700, Miyata 700 GT, Trek 600, Trek 560 Professional Series, Chrome Panasonic DX 2000, Peugeot PH12, Peugeot PX10, Schwinn World Voyageur, Schwinn Circuit, and Schwinn Voyageur
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As rightly noted, Giant makes an Advanced (carbon fiber) bike as either a TCR or Defy. The TCR is their performance bike and is primarily suited for serious cycling athletes. The geometry is more aggressive and less comfortable. The Defy is Giant's recreational or endurance bicycle and is well suited for fitness or training riding. I've rode both and both are excellent bikes, but for most people's purposes, the Defy is the better choice. If you are considering the TCR, I would encourage you to look at the Defy.
As far as components, any carbon fiber bike is going to have good components. As a Clyde and bike shop employee, I normally buy the next bike up from the entry one. When you go up in cost, you go down in weight. I would rather lose ten pounds and save myself several hundred dollars than buy a lighter bike. For me, I would buy the Defy Advanced 4 with the Tiagra components. Tiagra is great stuff and unfortunately underrated. Any of them would be good.
Also, have you considered the Giant TCX (cyclocross)? Cyclocross bikes are heavier, but stronger and durable on challenging road conditions. I ride one with my cabon fiber friends with great success. I have the TCX 2 and love it. When I ride one, I feel confident that it is going to hold up.
I hope this helps and good luck in your search.