2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

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Defy The Odds
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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
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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:

gassyndrome
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby gassyndrome » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:10 pm

Reviving this thread because it got me inspired to go and buy one of these :D

What a great bike! Definitely a bit slower than a roadie to get up to speed (probably mostly to do with wheels?) but you can't just indiscriminately ride into stormwater culverts or nip down a bit of a singletrack on a roadie either. Bike feels very solid and the finish isnt done justice by Giant's photos.

I had mine set up with a rear rack for commuting which will start tomorrow and I'm loving the simplicity, silence, no fussing about and range of the 1 x drivetrain.

I noticed that you took off the chain guide? I think it probably isn't justified given that my MTB has never dropped the front but I'll leave it on their for a little while yet. I've also already started thinking about an upgraded wheel set.....

Anywho, thanks for the inspiration as this was the only review I could actually find when trying to suss it out!

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Mububban
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Mububban » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:53 am

Defy The Odds wrote: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.


As is so often the case :)

Great to hear you're loving the bike. As you mentioned, grab a lighter set of wheels and you've got a great all-rounder!
When you are driving your car, you are not stuck IN traffic - you ARE the traffic!!!

FenixDragoon
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby FenixDragoon » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:18 pm

I am thinking of buying this bike and I'm pretty sure this review has put the nail into the coffin. Thank you for the insightful review.

eeksll
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby eeksll » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:19 pm

Defy The Odds wrote: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.


does it feel less planted/grippy on the tarmac with those tyres? Would you be happy to "scream" down those section on the tyres you have on the tough road? what tyres are they?

note the thread I started here: viewtopic.php?f=12&p=1439824#p1439824

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Defy The Odds
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Defy The Odds » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:13 pm

Sorry all have been very busy and had little time to sit down and catch up on the forum.

Firstly I am glad that this thread has inspired others to look at gravel bikes and even purchase the ToughRoad.

It is honestly a great bike and I have only take the Defy out once since I bought the ToughRoad. Its just so much fun.

I think the biggest bonus is you can take those roads you always wondered "where does that road go?" And not care where you end up. I headed out the other night and it had rained earlier, ended up taking a muddy path that I never took before and ended up having an awesome twilight adventure.

To answer the question previously, the bike is super planted.

I took it up and down a 7% incline hill near my place for a good run at how it climbs and descends. The wider tyres actually really inspire confidence.

The bottom bracket is lower than a CX bike so the bike feels more solid on the road.

It climbed better than the Defy with the 40 tooth cog making light work of the 7% uphill.

Given how new the bike is, I am really happy I have given some people some insight because for me it was a bit of a leap of faith which I am thoroughly glad that I did.

Here are some images of some of my recent escapades

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The below was after I de-stickered the wheels

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The other Lance
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby The other Lance » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:02 am

Great write up! Sounds like an awesome all rounder that can handle long days on mixed terrain and a bit of bikepacking too. Brimbank Park / Horseshoe Bend is also one of my favourite local gravel destinations, so particularly chuffed you used it as a testing ground! You've inspired me to test ride a Toughroad to replace my old Diverge which I wrecked (along with myself) in a crash earlier this year. Hopefully my LBS is able to get my size (XL) and my concerns about the seatpost being long enough are put to rest.

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DrShifty
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby DrShifty » Thu May 31, 2018 5:12 pm

I bought a Toughroad two years ago in the same manner, I saw it in the bike shop and bought it on the spot. The bike is a lot of fun and has got some charisma about it that makes me feel good when I'm riding it.

Mine has flat bars and I've not seen one with drop bars. Did you change them or is that how they are sold now?

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Orion
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Orion » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:29 am

I'm considering selling both my road bike and MTB and buying a CX or gravel bike as I never really use either bike to their fullest potential. The ToughRoad could be a good option for me. Thanks for your review.
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Orion
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Orion » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:25 am

DrShifty wrote:I bought a Toughroad two years ago in the same manner, I saw it in the bike shop and bought it on the spot. The bike is a lot of fun and has got some charisma about it that makes me feel good when I'm riding it.

Mine has flat bars and I've not seen one with drop bars. Did you change them or is that how they are sold now?

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The GX model has drop bars:
https://www.giant-bicycles.com/au/toughroad-slr-gx-0
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DrShifty
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby DrShifty » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:13 pm

Thanks.
When I bought mine they had two models, the basic 2 and the 1 with the pannier racks. Now they have five models. That must say lots about the popularity of the style of the bike in the last two years.

V-meister
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby V-meister » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:58 pm

Such a popular model for Giant. I too bought a Toughroad SLR2 and it made for an awesome commuter. There's something so fun about these bikes.

I no longer need to commute, so I sold mine just last week, but I'm looking to replace it with something that has drop bars, like the typical adventure/all road bikes becoming so popular these days. The SLR GX 0 was high on my list but they're sold out in my size nationally.

Might need to wait until the the new ones are announced, but I've been looking at some other options too (per my other thread).

Great write up on this bike, thanks for taking the time!

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Defy The Odds
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Defy The Odds » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:57 am

It's been a while since I posted and have seen some of the replies so thought I'd respond.

Firstly, appreciate the feedback. As mentioned earlier, when I was looking for reviews on the Toughroad SLR GX 0 myself, there was hardly anything available online (still isn't) so I took a leap of faith purchasing this bike and wanted others to have a bit of an overview from an owners perspective.

The bike itself is the best fun I've had on two wheels since I started riding a few years back.

Having the ability to stray off bitumen roads is just awesome. Most days I decide to just take a turn down a gravel/rough road and explore, these bikes beg you to do just that. You tend to forget about Strava segments and KOM's and just enjoy yourself, very much back-to-basics riding.

They are a very capable bike and if I had to pick one as a do-it-all bike out of this and my Defy it would be the Toughroad hands down.

I don't commute, but I carry my son in a trailer, do long day rides, group rides and gran fondo type rides and I am much more comfortable on the Toughroad.

I've since slammed the stem and now it feels even better and sharper especially on roads.

For the money I honestly dont think you will find a better value for money bike.

Given it is Winter, the Defy is permanently set up on the indoor trainer and the Toughroad is used outdoors because its much better suited.

I hope whoever purchased this bike with the help of my review enjoys it as much as I do.

Here is an image on one of it's recent adventures, love this bike! :

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Stay safe and enjoy the ride !

Ehsan14
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Ehsan14 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:01 pm

I'm thinking about a commuter. This could be the one. Btw very well written review.

Agent009
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Agent009 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:39 am

Has anyone compared the ToughRoad vs the Roam Disc 0 or Roam Disc 1 ??

Thoughts?

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Defy The Odds
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Defy The Odds » Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:28 am

Agent009 wrote:Has anyone compared the ToughRoad vs the Roam Disc 0 or Roam Disc 1 ??

Thoughts?


I have a 2014 Roam 3.... gave it to my dad to join me on recreational rides.

They are 2 very different bikes...

Roam is heavier (about 7kg heavier), slower, flat bar, suspension fork (alu) vs carbon rigid, 3x vs 1x....

I can tell you as a matter of fact the Toughroad is more comfortable than the Roam (I have the Roam 3 though).

Roam uses ALUXX frame vs the ALUXX -SLR frame on the Toughroad. Together with carbon seatpost and forks makes the Toughroad more complacent on rough surfaces, even with the suspension fork on the Roam.

The Roam is still a good bike. Its durable, goes just about anywhere, can take a beating and would make a good commuter but as an all round bike the Toughroad is probably the cream of Giant's crop.

There is also the price difference but I am of the "do it once, do it right" camp.

Depends what you're after really

Hope this helps

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Defy The Odds
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Re: 2018 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 0 Review

Postby Defy The Odds » Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:30 am

Ehsan14 wrote:I'm thinking about a commuter. This could be the one. Btw very well written review.


Thank you sir !

It would make a fantastic commuter. If I had to commute for work it would top of my list... very versatile

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