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I'm at a bit of a loss trying to decide what sort of a (Giant) bike I should be looking towards.

I used to have a Ribble Sportive 7005 from 2014 to 2017. I am now looking for something that would enable a better posture for a longer (50-150 km) ride on gravel, compact dirt, and tarmac.

Firstly, I'm looking at Giant because it's one of the few reputable companies that offers anything in my area that I'd feel comfortable going with—including one of the only ones that have at least a slightly relevant model for trying out.

I've been looking at the Giant's Revolt series, but the differences between the various options are not very well described by the company:

  • Toughroad SLR GX: "When you’re unsure what lies ahead—smooth roads, gravel or dirt—and you relish the adventure of quiet backroads, this is the bike. With its lightweight aluminum frame, drop handlebars and rugged, high-volume tires, you’re ready for anything."
  • Revolt: "Over half the world’s road are unpaved, offering ample opportunities for adventure on gravel, dirt and scenic byways. This lightweight aluminum all-rounder is the perfect way to explore roads you’ve always thought about but never ridden."
  • Revolt Advanced: "Almost anything goes in gravel racing and riding. It’s a mixed-up challenge of speed, endurance and handling. This high-performance all-rounder does it all. It’s smooth, it’s efficient, and it’s your new best friend for pushing limits on roads, gravel and dirt."
  • Revolt Advanced Pro: "Almost anything goes in gravel racing and riding. It’s a mixed-up challenge of speed, endurance and handling. This high-performance all-rounder does it all. It’s smooth, it’s efficient, and it’s your new best friend for pushing limits on roads, gravel and dirt."

I tried a comparison on the Giant site, but it wasn't particularly helpful except for highlighting that the Toughroad SLR GX should be worse in nearly every category. It helps to know that the technologies marketed below in the Giant comparison table relate to bike construction techniques.

enter image description here

Though the Toughroad SLR GX isn't marketed under the "Gravel" category, the description mentions relatively poor road conditions, and in the shop I went to, it was described as the "lower level Revolt". Some other companies (Kona and Bianchi) don't make such a Gravel/Adventure distinction.

road.cc lists the Revolt 2020 model as one of its "best gravel & adventure bikes" while bicycling.com goes out of its way to make clear that the Revolt Advanced is not a touring bike (which to my ears is synonymous to adventure/gravel). Instead, bicycling.com recommends a non-drop bar Toughroad SLR as a touring bike (and even one of its best)—which makes no sense to me. Meanwhile, Specialized Sequoia Elite which is described in this review as "Gravel" (but coming out worse than Giant's Revolt Advanced) is marketed as a "touring rig" by Specialized so there's some overlap here.


I've now also received the specifications for the Giant 2021 range:

enter image description here


How important are the differences between these Giant's adventure/gravel drop-bar series'? Are any of these more suitable by their configuration for specific usages (e.g., racing, touring, forest-riding, etc)?

Please note that answers which say "Go out and try them all" are extremely unhelpful in today's climate where a) many bike shops have been bought empty (e.g., Pelago everywhere), and b) some shops don't offer options for trying bikes in any case (e.g., Kona in my area). I was able to try a Giant Toughroad SLR GX for about 10 minutes, but that doesn't tell me how it would feel going for the 100th (nor the 20th...) kilometre.

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  • adventure bike is not a touring bike. A quick comparison: Adventure bike is like the Trek 920, Touring bike is like the Trek 520. Infact gravel and adventure bike tends to share the general set-up (packs, no panniers, no mudguards). An adventure bike may be a good touring bike, however it seems to me adventure bikes are designed with a more aggressive position/riding (similar to grvel).
    – EarlGrey
    May 20 '20 at 20:05
  • @EarlGrey: Maybe there's a misunderstanding somewhere. I gained the impression that they are synonymous because of Kona's Sutra which is advertised as "gravel" by the company, but the reviewer I've seen on it (road.cc) went on a three-day ride with it and said it was "perfect" for it.
    – user33335
    Jun 5 '20 at 5:32
  • The division between gravel and adventure and touring can be somehow arbitrary, but the Kona's Sutra is in the section road/gravel only because of the other categories being mtb/ebike. In fact its description on the Kona's site says "What happens when you put a mountain bike, road bike, and touring bike in a blender and hit go? The Sutra. Call it the drop bar bike for mountain bikers, the most capable touring bike". Different categories are roughly helpful in measuring the trade off between "speed on a certain surface" vs "hours on the saddle".
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 5 '20 at 14:08
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I am now looking for something that would enable a better posture for a longer (50-150 km) ride on gravel

All the various component specifications don't address that at all. You need to look at frame geometry.

If by "better posture" you mean "more upright", in general between two very similar bicycle frames the frame with the taller headtube, shorter reach, and more upright seat tube will give a more upright posture. And a longer wheelbase and more trail will give a more stable but less responsive ride that is likely to be less taxing on long rides.

Even then there's likely to be a huge overlap of possible positions that you can achieve on two close-but-not-quite-the-same frames. Saddle positions are usually variable up-and-down by at least 10 to 20 cm and fore-and-aft by 5 to 10 cm. Handlebar positions can usually be varied up-and-down about 10 to 20 cm and fore-and-aft by 5 to 8 cm. That amount of saddle and bar variation is usually enough to change any bike from a "comfortable" touring-style posture to an aggressive racing posture, within some limits. There might not be enough reach or the head tube may be too tall, for example, to get into a full back-flat race posture. Or the reach may be too great to allow for a real upright posture.

Regarding the level of components? IMO anything higher than 105 is overkill and only worth riding if someone else is paying for it.

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  • What's your opinion on how much the gears have an effect in this case? I've liked the option of more gears in the past, but here it seems the mid-range Revolt Advanced 1 ships with a 1x11 gear alignment compared to the R.A.0 and R.A.2 which both use 2x11.
    – user33335
    Jul 23 '20 at 18:59
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I think you are confused about the frame 'technologies' that Giant offers. More boxes checked does not mean a better frame, the choices are mutually exclusive. 'Advanced Composite' means a carbon fiber composite (CFC) frame. 'ALUXX' means an aluminium alloy frame. CFC frames are generally held to be superior to alloy ones.

I'll give you that the 'SL' and SLR postfixes are confusing, intuitively they would appears to indicate a progressively higher grade of either CFC or alloy construction, but the lowest spec bike has the SLR tag.

It's very obvious that the Revolt Advanced is the better bike, and the Toughroad the inferior. Generally the Toughroad series sits below the Revolt in Giant's range, with a bit of overlap.

The 'gravel', and 'adventure' adjectives don't mean much. Asking who are these bikes are for is a kind of meaningless question. What you should do is find stores that have the bikes you are interested in, sit on the bikes and do some test rides. Figure out which gives you the riding position, ride and handling you are looking for, then decide how much money you want to spend and which level in the range you want to get.

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  • Thanks. I guess by the "who are they for?" I meant "what does Giant think who they are for / who does Giant market them to?".
    – user33335
    May 21 '20 at 4:32
  • Also, regrettably, your suggestion of "trying these out" isn't possible in my area. I have had to come to the bike construction theory because the only Giant that is available for testing is the Toughroad though all of the available range can be ordered for sale. However, that's already much better than my local Kona retailer who said that as Kona does specific testing bikes only, I could either try a MTB in their store or nothing when I was talking to them about their Sutra model. Hence, my only "real" options are to see how the other Giant's compare to the Toughroad.
    – user33335
    Jun 5 '20 at 5:36
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A lot of the difference is in the components, and therefore price. Sora/105/Ultegra drivetrains will make a big difference to their costs, as will the brakes (in-house/105/Ultegra), tyres and cranks (the highest spec has carbon cranks).

So much of it is how much you're prepared to pay. The more expensive components will be lighter of course.

Looking at the geometry of a couple of models the Toughroad has a longer wheelbase than the Revolt Advanced. Almost all of this is in the chainstay length, meaning more heel clearance for panniers, important if like me you've got big feet and long cranks (long legs). One of the biggest differences will be the handling though: the Revolt Advanced has more rake and less trail on the forks (the headtube angle is the same for a given size). According to this article that means quicker steering on the Revolt Advanced, or more stable on the Toughroad. This is where test rides will most demonstrate the difference, as the cockpit geometry is within a few mm.

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  • What do you mean by "more rake"? I've opened the link for later reading, but I'm not sure if it's a term I should already know (probably).
    – user33335
    Jul 23 '20 at 8:27
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    @gktscrk rake and trail are features of the fork - note the way fork legs either curve forwards at the bottom (common on steel or carbon) or have the axle mount offset forwards on a plate (many aluminium forks specially older or cheaper ones, also cheap steel and early carbon/aluminium composite). The article I linked discusses them better than I could, with some nice diagrams
    – Chris H
    Jul 23 '20 at 8:34
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    @gktscrk Rake is important because it combines with the angle of the head tube (note how a fork's pivot axis is always tilted backwards some...) to set the amount of trail - the distance between where the fork's pivot axis intersects with the ground and the point where the front wheel touches the ground. If you examine a bike carefully, you'll see that the center point where the front tire touches the ground is behind the fork's pivot axis. A shorter trail distance results in quicker but less stable steering. It's just like the wheels on a shopping cart, only nicer... Jul 23 '20 at 13:14
  • I've been reading that article and trying to understand the concepts better, and while I see the "more rake" equals quicker steering, I don't see the connection with "less rake" and more stable steering (especially if an additional result is that the toe clearance decreases).
    – user33335
    Jul 24 '20 at 5:55
  • Quicker steering is more sensitive to small inputs, from the hands or road imperfections. So the opposite is more stable, but mainly noticeable riding one-handed (things are different riding no hands). Toe clearance is only an issue for tight turns at low speeds, where steering dynamics are a bit different anyway
    – Chris H
    Jul 24 '20 at 8:18

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