Giant steps

It’s not your granddaddy’s touring bike.

Ho ho ho, etc. Sanity Clause* has delivered an early gift — a Giant ToughRoad SLR 1.

Well, it’s more of a loaner than an actual present. But still.

The brain trust at Adventure Cyclist thought we were getting a little fixated on steel drop-bar bikes and thus I’m reviewing this alloy flat-bar bike, which starts our journey together with three strikes against it.

First, it has hydraulic disc brakes. Second, it rolls on tubeless tires. And finally, it has an aluminum frame and composite fork.

OK, so four strikes. When I was loading it into the Furster for the drive home I bashed my noggin on the rear hatch lid, which hadn’t opened all the way (old struts, cold weather). If I hadn’t been wearing a hat I’d probably have been scalped. As it is I look like a Giant PR flack took a swing at me with a pedal wrench.

But what the hell, it’s all baseball, que no? It will be interesting to take all my biases for a ride at once.

* And yeah, yeah, I know, I know: There ain’t no Sanity Clause.

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16 Responses to “Giant steps”

  1. john Says:

    Hmm. My current ride has hydraulic “dick breaks”, as BSNYC calls them, and I love ’em. Perhaps you were indulgiing in what my French-Canadian friends would call “hyron-y”?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Actually, I’m one of the few who consider “dick breaks” to be the answer to a question that we were not asking.

      The majority of the fleet still uses rim brakes — cantilevers, sidepulls, etc. — and they’ve always done pretty much everything I’ve asked. They’re pretty simple to install and maintain, even for ham-handed incompetents such as myself, and are easily field-repairable.

      Hydraulics, electronics and tubeless technology, for me, bring needless complexity to what should be the simple act of cycling.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Dick breaks? That brings images to my brain that are hard to erase. Especially if it has something to do with bringing a bike to a stop.

        But, I love the disc brakes, but only the mechanical ones with easy sleaz pad changes.

  2. Ira Says:

    Tubeless tires on a bicycle. Incredibly difficult to remove, full of snotty liquid when you do get them off, and a total pain in the arse to reinflate unless you install a tube. What’s not to like.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gotta admit, I never saw the advantage. You still have to carry a spare tube along, amirite? And tire irons, a pump, maybe a CO2-cartridge setup for backup, and the Hulk’s big green fingers to get the tire off. Also, a filthy-language thesaurus so you don’t repeat yourself during the repair process, which may take years and cost thousands of lives.

      I’ve never objected to spending a few minutes fixing a puncture on an old-school inner tube, or simply replacing it with a spare. Thing is, even this has become more difficult as rim and tire manufacturers build to tighter and tighter tolerances with an eye toward running tubeless.

      Sure, you can run tubeless at lower pressures, like sewups, but I quit using sewups over the pain-in-the-ass factor a long time ago.

      I think a lot of this stuff is engineers engineering and marketers marketing to no particular purpose.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        The newer puncture protection features on tubed tired have eliminated most flats. That was the only feature that tubeless tires had that interested me.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yeah, most of the tires I run feature some class of double-shielding that works wonders. Living as I do in goathead country I also have no objection to running inner tubes with sealant, though that too can be messy.

        The two spare tubes I routinely carry are standard tubes, no goop. I almost always have a patch kit, too. Belt and suspenders.

  3. JD Dallager Says:

    Full disclosure: I don’t work for Giant (or anyone else for that matter at age 70+10/12), but that ToughRoad SLR 1 looks highly functional and pragmatic to me. Been riding tubeless on my MTB for 4 years now and they provide better traction and “no flats” (knock on wood) since converting to them.

    My bet, PO’G, is that you’ll really enjoy it when used for its intended purpose.

    I may have to find one locally and test drive it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Old Town is a Giant dealer, JD. And if I know John Crandall, he probably has one of these beasties in inventory.

      My one experience with tubeless was early and negative (Mavic CrossMax UST). I don’t recall what caused the deflation, but a buddy and I were bouncing through the rock gardens in the national forest outside Santa Fe when it happened.

      Shit, it took the two of us and the better part of quite some time to get me rolling again. And that was when I was young and strong and still had good use of all 10 digits.

      I still argue that for 90 percent of cyclists tubeless is overkill. It’s only slightly more puncture-protective than double-shielded tires with sealant-filled inner tubes, and a lot more hassle. And I ride so sedately anymore that enhanced traction is rarely a concern.

      • Late addendum: First ride done and dusted (seriously, it’s dusty here; no precip’ in 80 days). No flats. No mineral-oil spills. No calls to 911. That is all.

  4. Dale Says:

    No one mentioned it, maybe Santa needs to bring you new gas struts for the Subie.

  5. mooremediaone Says:

    I’ve had many many miles on both hydraulic disc, mechanical disc and rim brakes.

    I was a convert to disc for a while, but I know now that it was mostly hype. Rim brakes are smooth, easy to maintain, the parts are less expensive and you don’t need special bike tools.

    Currently riding a B’Stone MB4 (1993) for off road fun. No shock. Rim brakes. 7 speed thumb shifters. Loads of fun.

    My SOMA has discs, but next street ride I get is getting rim brakes 🙂

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well chosen, well ridden.

      My Voodoo Wazoo cyclocross bike is currently set up as a single-ring, seven-speed, rim-brake, flat-bar townie, but I’m thinking I might pull off the racks and fenders, restore the knobbies, and make a dirt bike of it again for the New Year.

  6. Herb Clevenger Says:

    What can I say? I bought a Rivendell Appaloosa for the very reason I can fix it easily, replace parts reasonably, and don’t worry about having to source ever-changing tech-no-logical parts. I just wanna ride damnit!

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