2020 Giant ToughRoad

The New 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR Touring Bikes

The 2020 Giant ToughRoad range delivers exceptional value once again! While there haven’t been any huge changes for this year, many of the components have had a refresh, which is beneficial in some cases but limiting in others.

The ToughRoad models are constructed with aluminium to drop over 1kg/2.2lb over similar steel frames. In addition, a carbon fork up front helps to further reduce weight, but more importantly, is able to dampen extra vibrations coming up from the road or trail. All ToughRoad models come with a D-shaped seatpost which flexes vertically for a more comfortable ride, but only one-out-of-four models come with the proper carbon seatpost (as opposed to aluminium) which offers the full 12mm/0.5″ of vertical flex (definitely get one aftermarket).

The Giant ToughRoad bikes are split into two versions:
ToughRoad SLR – the flat bar off-road tourer with a more ‘upright’ fit
ToughRoad SLR GX – the very capable drop bar gravel bike with a more ‘sporty’ fit

If you’re after a more traditional upright ride, the flat bar model offers a tall cockpit that also has a shorter reach to the handlebars from the saddle. The drop bar ToughRoad SLR GX is much more performance-oriented with a comparatively short head tube on each size.

The ToughRoad bikes offer exceptional tyre clearance for a touring/gravel setup. You can actually fit 29 x 2.20″ rubber into both models. You could even fit fenders and 2.00″ tyres (maybe 2.10″) which cannot be done with many other similar touring bikes.

The only component in question on the ToughRoad bikes is the wheelsets. They use 28 spokes and somewhat lightweight rims for heavily-laden tours (36 spokes and beefier rims are found on other similar bikes). If you’re a lightweight rider, or you’re planning on packing light, this won’t be a problem. But if your total body and equipment weight exceeds 100kg/220lb, you may want to think about building a stronger wheelset if you’re going on a multi-month trip.

Let’s take a closer look at the ToughRoad bikes.

2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX Drop Bar

2020 Giant ToughRoad
The 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX1.

2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 1 // US $1270
The most expensive model in the GX range is of exceptional value. This model, only found in some regions, is built around a Shimano Tiagra 20-speed groupset that’s paired with a 48-32t crankset, yielding a 26 gear inch climbing gear. This gear ratio is decent for flatter terrain and unloaded adventures, but you may prefer swapping in some 46-30t chainrings instead for any bikepacking or hilly rides. The bike is otherwise fitted with Giant Conduct hydraulic disc calipers (these work superbly), a Giant SX2 tubeless wheelset and front/rear racks. Expect the GX1 to hit the scales a touch under 12kg (24-26lb) with racks.

2020 Giant ToughRoad
The 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 2.

2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR GX 2 // US $1100
Dropping $170 off the sticker price actually results in quite a large drop in the specification. On the GX2 you get cable disc brakes (instead of hydro), a square taper crankset (instead of external bearing), non-tubeless wheels and a 2×8 speed Shimano Claris gearset. The biggest benefit of this model is that you can fit an older series Acera rear derailleur which will accommodate a 11-40t SunRace cassette. This will give the bike a climbing gear of 22″, which is much better for off-road riding.

The 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR Flat Bar

2020 Giant ToughRoad
The 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR 1.

2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR 1 // £1149 and AU $1799 
The SLR1 is a limited release model, found in a handful of regions around the world. It’s the only model that comes with the carbon D-Fuse flex seatpost. With the exception of the colour, very little has changed on the SLR1 compared to previous years. It’s still running a 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain with a 22 gear inch climbing gear (32t on the front, 42t on the rear) which tends to be a little high for off-road riding with luggage. If you like the idea of lower gears, it’d probably be best to switch the crankset out to a Shimano Deore M6000 with 36-26t chainrings which will slot straight in – this will add around $100 to the price. Elsewhere, the SLR1 is running Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, Giant SX2 tubeless wheels and Giant Sycamore tyres in a 2.00″ width. It comes with front and rear aluminium racks as a bonus!

2020 Giant ToughRoad
The 2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR 2.

2020 Giant ToughRoad SLR 2 // US $1050
The SLR2 has received a much bigger change to its components this year. It switches from a 3×9 to 2×9 Shimano Alivio drivetrain. The result is a climbing gear of 22.5″ (28x36t). While the rear derailleur technically has a maximum cassette size of 36 teeth, I suspect an 11-40t SunRace cassette will also fit which will give a more appropriate 20 gear inches for the mountains. Otherwise, a Shimano Alivio M4050 crankset might be a nice part upgrade. Compared to the SLR1, the SLR2 gets more basic parts including non-tubeless compatible wheels, more simple hydraulic disc brakes and an alloy seatpost – but the price, of course, reflects this.

Want To Compare The Giant ToughRoads With Dozens of Others?

Check out the Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide which compares the steering speed, sizing, gear ratios, maximum tyre widths, chainstay lengths, pricing and weight of 180+ different bikes. It’s updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost! The Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide does the same but with more heavy-duty touring builds (130+ models).

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Helpful Resources

All About Touring Bike Brakes
Frame Materials for Bicycle Touring
How to Select Touring Bike Gearing
Understand Bicycle Frame Geometry
What’s the Difference between Cyclocross and Touring Bikes?

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