2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

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Defy The Odds
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:00 am

2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Defy The Odds » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:15 am

When deciding on my next bike, I wasn't sure what I wanted. Whether it was a new road bike, aero, endurance..... but initially it never crossed my mind to look into gravel or cx bikes. My current bike is a 2013 Giant Defy Composite in an XS, set up as aggressive as I can get it (stem slammed, extended by 20mm, seat raised and put forward - all part of a bike fit). I knew I wanted something different though...

After going into one of my LBS, I saw the Toughroad, and something drew me to it instantly. It was light for what it was (a tough road bike, looked bulkier than the weight showed). Took it out for a couple of test rides and instantly had a connection with it. I felt like a kid again, not chasing top speeds but just in it for the fun. And this thing gives you bags of that :D

So after my second test ride I put a deposit down and within 3 days I had the bike.

I gave it a shakedown ride last night in my local around around road, pathway, reserve parkland and gravel. The bike did well on all, and here is my detailed thoughts.

Firstly, I'll start with the build. Its aluminium with carbon forks and seat post. It's Giant's top grade Alu, being the ALUXX SLR. It feels solid although some of the welds are not the prettiest. I can live with that though.

Handlesbars: the bars are drop bars but are much wider than my Defy. I like this though as they are very comfy. They are flared bars so the drops flare out which gives you loads of control on decents and just generally feels more comfortable. Long days in the saddle, your hands will be comfy, that's the bottom line. The shifters felt good and well positioned.

Brakes: This is my first bike with hydraulic disc brakes. I have always been on the fence about disc brakes however I am a complete convert now after riding one. It's not about the outright stopping power but more so the modulation. Braking is smooth, powerful but not abrupt... the way brakes ought to be. I was still bedding mine in but they felt solid, zero complaints here

Ride: Like I said I went over mixed terrain to get a feel for how it would be. The bike flies over grass and gravel. I think the best bit about owning a bike like this is that you dont care where you end up, because you can be confident that this thing will eat up the road ahead no matter the terrain. This is what I wanted. Especially given I live in an area where the roads are not well maintained, debris is quite common in the bike lanes. On particularly bumpy tracks you will definately notice it, but to be fair I think even my carbon defy would have struggled to absorb those. I was pretty happy overall though

Tubeless tyres out of the box: The Toughroad comes tubeless straight out of the box. This is also a first for me and to be honest I'll probably be setting up the Defy tubeless also once the tyres (which I literally just bought) need changing, most likely next season. Tubeless allow you to run low pressures, and coupled with 40mm tyres, 40psi is quite comfortable and fast enough. I think this also plays a big part in absorbing the shock. Also, not having to worry about punctures from pinch flats and small debris is handy. Going over branches and little thorny stuff was a breeze. In fact on a bike like this you end up seeking out these imperfections because,well, you can.

I took it out to Brimbank Park in Melbourne this morning to give it a good crack at climbing and gravel, pathway and everything in between. The bike climbs like a mountain goat thanks to the 42t sprocket on the back. The bailout gear is awesome and got me up an almost 9% climb with ease. The gears were slipping under heavy load so I think it'll need to get re-indexed to fine tune.

I did have a couple of brown pants moments on the gravel especially on the incline as I skipped between the 42t and 36t cog frequently due to gears being out of index, so lost traction a few times. but I think 40mm is a sweet spot. If I was doing single track more often then perhaps 50mm knobbies, but not necessary. The bike can in fact accept 50mm tyres WITH mudguards.

I measured my ride this morning on particular sections i usually scream down with the Defy. Although these are on tarmac, I was curious how the Toughroad compared with the Defy on the road and no surprise, it is slower. Much slower. But in the ToughRoad's defence, I wasn't going full bolt because I was trying to conserve my energy for Brimbank Park because I knew there may be a few climbs awaiting me. Still, this bike was never developed for speed, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't too slow. Arriving at your destination 1 minute later for example is not a big deal if you're having a blast along the way.

If you wanted a do-it-all bike, this could potentially fulfil multiple duties with a second set of wheels. The Giant wheels weigh in around 2.5kg so they are really heavy. You could get a nice set of road wheels for a reasonable price (still aluminium) that would come in around 1.6kg which would make a huge difference on the road and could then mean this bike could be used on road for bunch rides and then weekend gravel duties.

All in all, so far, I am quite happy with the purchase. I feel like a kid again. Not chasing PB's or speed records, but just out there for the genuine fun of it, which is why I got back into cycling to begin with. For a value for money gravel bike, it has to be up there. Yes, there may be better options, but not for this money in my opinion.

If you're in the market for a gravel bike, or you want an adventure/fun/all terrain bike, give this a shot

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NASHIE
Posts: 484
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:16 pm
Location: Perth, WA

Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby NASHIE » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:30 pm

Good write up. Its funny 5-6yrs ago when i heard about gravel bikes i really poo poo them, but that was big mistake :wink:

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