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Practical limits between Giant Roam and Talon?

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Practical limits between Giant Roam and Talon?

Old 06-07-19, 11:22 AM
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southwestheat
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Practical limits between Giant Roam and Talon?

Here's the short version:

For someone with 50/50 mixed usage between paved and unpaved, which one is worse: 2019 Roam 2 Disc with its 38mm tires in dirt/gravel/rocks, or 2019 Talon 2/3 on paved surfaces?


Longer version:

I'm in my early 40s, good general shape, and haven't been on a bike since around the age of ~13. But I want to get into riding for exercise and exploration, and for the price range I'm looking for (preferably <$1000), Giant seems to be the best bargain compared to other brands. So my preference is to buy Giant, new (2019).


I anticipate the surfaces I'll be riding on will be half paved, half loose rocks of various sizes on packed dirt. I live in the Phoenix area so water, mud, heavy winds, and tree roots won't be encountered. It's basically warm/hot, dry, and mildly breezy most of the year.


Given the mixed usage, my original thought was a Roam 2 Disc. Everything about this bike looks good to me, except the tire width of 38mm. How would you describe the practical unpaved limits of 38mm tires vs 50+mm, all else being equal? Most of what I see trying to google this are people on "aero" forums talking about 50mm tires being too much to handle in windy conditions (not an issue for me), and being harder to climb compared to narrower tires. (That last one seems like a quandary if you're trying to climb a gravel-y, rocky incline.)


So...what would the bigger compromise be: the Roam 2's narrower tires in dirt/rocks/gravel, or the Talon speed/comfort on pavement?
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Old 06-07-19, 12:28 PM
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EGBigelo
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I got a Trek X-Caliber last year for trail riding. But I also planed to make it my casual bike for around town and riding locally with friends on paved roads. It was ok, but the weight of the bike was noticeable, and the tires too. But, the gearing was not suited for road riding. So I think the Talon would suffer more on the paved roads more than the Roam would on trails.

I now have a Trek DS 2 for that around-town bike, and it works great. But this past weekend I took it on some light trails and had no complaints. I wouldn't take it the places I took my X-Caliber though, but on light mixed surface trails it works great.
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Old 06-07-19, 01:37 PM
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Hi, SWHeat, and welcome.

Given your conditions, I recommend a larger tire. My folks live in SW Utah (St George) and bike in very similar conditions. The larger the tire, the better if you're off the pavement in the desert SW. The Roam actually can handle 2" tires (up to about 52-622 probably), and it handles well with the larger tires (I have a 2018 Roam 2 on which I've had 50-622 tires). But its relatively short-travel fork (63mm) may be a liability where you're biking. It's fine for smoother hardpack and dressed gravel, but it won't be ideal for off road in the desert SW.

I think the $720 Talon 2 would be a great choice for you. And you don't have to keep the knobby tires on it if you find them slow or uncomfortable. Something like a Schwalbe Big Ben might be good (if perhaps too smooth). I think the perfect mix is either a WTB Nano or a Vittoria Mezcal. These are super fast on pavement, and still grippy on hardpack. You'll want to be careful with any tire to not slice a sidewall (you have sharp rocks out there!). You can, of course, get more burly tires than these, which will be more durable, but won't be as fast, or as comfortable.

I think the Talon is probably a great blend between "big off road" and "hybrid". It's nice that XC bikes (like the Talon) are becoming a little shorter in reach -- MTB geometry was pretty weird for a while (with long top tubes, etc) which made them potentially pretty uncomfortable for many people. But these modern XC bikes are pretty good. I have a similar bike to the Talon (a hardtail XC MTB) and I have a Topeak MTX rack on the back and I'll slide in the trunk bag and bike for hours on it. I've been riding that bike as much as my Roam lately. Even with its cheap fork, it still has more travel than the Roam's fork, and feels nicer overall.

Bottom line: with experience with both a Roam and a XC MTB like the Talon, and having spent many hours biking in an environment similar to yours, I'd strongly favor a Talon in your situation.
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Old 06-07-19, 03:04 PM
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Thanks for the replies. So far we've got one vote for Roam, and one for Talon.


The idea of putting wider tires on the Roam is interesting... will 2" tires will fit the stock Roam 2 wheels? Or would I need different wheels to better accommodate the wider tires?


Price-wise, are bikes like cars where haggling is the norm at bike shops? Or should I expect to pay the full list price on Giant's website? I could potentially try to haggle for wider tires on a Roam.


Also been looking at the Toughroad SLR 2, but it's nearly double the price of the Roam 2. But if haggling is a thing in the bike world, then that $1k list price on the SLR 2 could be less out the door...
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Old 06-08-19, 06:29 AM
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hokiefyd
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Bike prices are generally somewhat fixed. Most bike shop margins are relatively low, and most are already offering free maintenance and adjustments with new bike purchases. Much of their profit comes from the sale of parts and accessories, so it's probably unlikely for them to haggle too much with you on the price of a new bike.

Here's a picture of the frame clearance with 52-622 (29x2.1) WTB Nanos on my 2018 Roam. I've also had Schwalbe Hurricanes (50-622, or 29x2) on it, and those fit nice also (2nd picture). Just be aware that tires that are 12mm larger in section width/height will literally raise the bike up by that much, or about half of an inch. If the frame size you prefer is already tight with standover clearance, larger tires will make that even tighter.





I've since downsized the wheels on my Roam to 584mm (also called 27.5, or 650b). I've run as large as 2.2"/54mm tires on those wheels and the frame has plenty of clearance for it. So ultimately, I get a lot of tire without raising the bike up. And, because the overall diameter of a 54-584 is in the same ballpark as a 38-622, the bike rides about the same. It's a little lower to the ground, and standover is improved a little, but not by much. There is a big difference in comfort and traction with the wider tires. A BIG difference.

That's one reason I like the Talon for a new purchase. You can fit some fairly large section 584mm tires on it and not change the geometry or bike setup much. If you went with the Roam, I'd recommend fitting the larger tires and to just be mindful of frame size/standover, because standover height will increase with the larger tires.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:39 AM
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I also returned to riding last year after a long 30 years off a bike. Purchased a brand new 2018 Roam 3 disc. Fantastic bike for the money, very quick and nimble feeling on pavement. Quite happy on rail trails. Alas, it did not handle the rough very well. Might of been tire pressure rather than size, but the stock tires were slippery in the soft stuff and greasy mud.

It was riding on gravel roads at speed, and negotiating mildly rocky trails with roots that the weakness in the bike became apparent. I think the Roam is near excellent for its intended purpose but a mountain bike it is not. I felt I was going to break the bike out in the woods. If I had room for two bikes I most likely would of kept the Roam.

I had gone on a few rides along side my daughter riding a Trek Marlin 7, on the pavement. The Roam would coast while she pedalled.

Funny enough, I bought the Toughroad SLR GX 1, and it is leaps and bounds more comfortable on actual gravel, and seems to ignore modest size rocks and roots out in the woods, while being fast enough on the streets. They listed at around $1900 Cdn, and I purchased mine for $1350.
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Old 06-08-19, 07:37 AM
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I think for your application, The Roam disc 2 would be a good choice. Two things for you to look at. 1) The tire width. I really like the 1.95" tires on my Giant Sedona. They are as smooth and nearly as fast on gravel as pavement and appear to fit on the Roam. 2) Is the gearing. The Roam has a range of 21 - 120 gear inches and the Talon 2 from 17 - 82.

Both go low enough to tackle all but the toughest terrain. The 21 low on the Roam is about as low as practical for the kind of riding I think you will do. Its almost walking speed. I can climb fairly steep hills of gravel, Loose stone and some rocks with that in my lowest gear on my Sedona without getting of the seat.

However, If you put fast tires on the Talon, Your top speed will still be limited by the 82 gear inch tallest gear. I have available 89 gear inches which is good with a strong tailwind, Or descending hills, But I seldom use more then the 78 gear inches of my 2'nd tallest gear.
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