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Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS review

Superbike-inspired Italian endurance bike

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £4,680.00 RRP
Pack shot of the Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS road bike

Our review

Brimming with potential, but its price isn’t as competitive as its ride
Pros: Composed ride; excellent handling; great looks
Cons: Too expensive for the spec; alloy post; middling tyres
Skip to view product specifications

Wilier’s new-for-2022 Garda is intended to be the entry point into the Italian marque’s world of endurance bikes.

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However, not unusually for an Italian bike with endurance aspirations, the Garda’s geometry is at the racier end of the spectrum.

It has eye-catching looks and offers an impressively composed ride despite the racy layout – but, at more than £4,500 for this SRAM Rival eTap AXS spec in the UK, it’s certainly not a cheap option.

Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS frameset

The Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS road bike is equipped with SRAM Rival gears
The skinny chainstays promise comfort through the saddle.
Dave Caudery / Our Media

Unusually, for one of the latest releases, the Garda is available in both road disc brake and rim brake variants, with 32mm of tyre clearance for the former (as tested here) and 28mm for the latter.

As well as room for comfy tyres, some of the Garda’s intended endurance flavour does come through in the frame’s details.

The dropped and flattened seatstays promise compliance, and you won’t find the Garda’s generous clearance on Wilier’s range-topping race bikes.

The Garda’s frame weighs 1,150g and its fork 370g. It is devastatingly good looking, in my opinion, at least.

With a mix of angular edges, plus the muscular head tube and oversized down tube, blending with a slender fork and those super-skinny seatstays, it stands out from the crowd.

How we tested

From super-smooth-riding endurance bikes to lightweight climbing bikes, there’s a huge variety of road bikes out there. But what if you want a bit more of an all-rounder? A road bike that has quick handling, is light enough, has some aero bike-like considerations, can be ridden all day without kicking you into submission and, above all, puts a smile on your face? 

We hear you, so we’ve checked out four serious contenders from a range of brands, both new and old, for around £4,000.

Also on test

Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS geometry

The Garda’s not an endurance bike with a short reach and a tall front end for a leisurely ride. In fact, the 566mm stack and 393mm reach on my size large test bike are both pretty aggressive for a bike in this category.

Add in a steep 73.5-degree seat angle, a racy 72.65-degree head angle and a sub-metre wheelbase and the Garda’s dimensions are very sporty.

Ultimately, that might reduce the Garda’s appeal for riders who want the more upright position of a true endurance bike – but, if the geometry works for you, it results in a rapid ride and excellent handling.

XSSMLXLXXL
Seat angle (degrees)75.274.67473.57372.6
Head angle (degrees)70.571.772.1572.6572.873.1
Chainstay (mm)409409411411414414
Seat tube (mm)440465490520550580
Top tube (mm)5115265415565860
Head tube (mm)112125144161179197
Wheelbase (mm)9819819909961,0091,016
Stack (mm)515531548566584602
Reach (mm)373378383388393398

Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS spec and performance

The Garda’s kit is predominantly well-chosen on this model.

Starting at the front of the bike, the Stemma S stem is a more affordable version of the Stemma SL found on the Filante SLR, Wilier’s lightweight, aero-profiled superbike.

The cables leave the bar and enter a channel on the stem’s underside before flowing seamlessly into the headset and down through the head tube.

It looks very neat, especially as the Garda already uses the cable-free SRAM Rival eTap AXS electronic groupset in this spec.

The 46/33t 12-speed chainset and 10-36t cassette deliver an excellent range, especially when riding in the hills: the 33×36 means you’ve always got a back-up gear when things get really tough.

The third-tier Rival groupset has the same motors and electronics as SRAM’s pricier Force eTap AXS and Red eTap AXS groupsets, and shifts across the cassette are just as fast and accurate. The clutch on the rear derailleur ensures the chain always stays in place, even over rough terrain.

Male cyclist in orange top riding the Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS road bike
I love the way the Garda rides. It covers ground quickly and enables you to get racy, but it doesn’t represent great value for money.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Selle Italia’s compact Boost-Model X saddle is a smart choice. It’s a great shape with a relief channel and compact yet comfortable padding.

The letdown is the basic two-bolt seatpost. Even with plenty of length exposed in my position on the bike, it dulls the ride. Swapping in the sort of carbon post should make a marked difference.

But I do still love the way the Garda rides. It covers ground quickly – something the best endurance bikes still manage – and allows you to get racy, if that matches your aspirations.

Cornering is swift yet stable and it inspires confidence, even on the wet, greasy winter roads experienced during testing. I never felt it shimmy, slip or do anything unexpected.

However, the Vittoria Zaffiro 28c tyres aren’t the most rapid. I’d still expect premium rubber on a bike of this price, though, and these aren’t a patch on Vittoria’s Corsas.

The Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS road bike is equipped with Wilier/Ritchey bar and stem
The wireless Rival eTap AXS groupset keeps things clean.
Dave Caudery / Our Media

The Rival AXS Garda comes in two versions: a standard model with alloy wheels (£4,070) or this bike with the snappily-named NDR38KC carbon wheels, branded with Wilier’s logos but built in partnership with Miche.

These are a claimed 1,665g a pair and have a 38mm-deep rim with a modern, blunt-edged profile good for tubeless tyres.

The 17mm internal width is narrow for a modern carbon wheel, but it shapes 28c tyres well enough.

I’m not sure I’d use the Garda’s full 32mm clearance on these, though, and would expect to see a wider rim on one of Wilier’s latest releases; especially a bike with endurance aspirations.

As ever, Miche’s hubs are very well made, lovely and smooth-spinning.

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Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS bottom line

While the Wilier Garda is a great bike with a super ride for anyone looking for a fast, comfortable machine with clearance for wide road tyres, it struggles against the competition in terms of value.

Also consider

A lot less

  • Wilier Triestina Garda Ultegra
  • £3,350

This will get you the same Garda frameset as the bike I tested, but with Shimano’s mechanical Ultegra groupset and its RS171 alloy wheelset. Even with the upgrade to the carbon NDR 38 wheelset, it still costs £610 less than this test bike.

A little less

  • Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS
  • £4,070

Opt for the Garda with Rival AXS and Wilier RX26 alloy wheels in place of this test bike’s NDR38KC Wilier/Miche carbon wheelset and you’ll pocket a £610 saving over the bike I tested.

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £4680.00
Weight 8.87kg (L)
Brand Wilier

Features

Available sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Headset FSA Custom MR137
Tyres Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 4 Graphene 2.0 28c
Stem Wilier/Ritchey Stemma S
Shifter SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Seatpost Ritchey 2-bolt 27.2mm alloy
Saddle Selle Italia Model X Boost
Rear derailleur SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Handlebar Wilier/Ritchey Barra S
Bottom bracket SRAM DUB Pressfit 86.5
Front derailleur SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Frame Felt UHC Advanced carbon + textreme
Fork Felt UHC Advanced carbon + textreme
Cranks SRAM Rival DUB 46/33
Chain SRAM Rival D1
Cassette SRAM Rival 10-36
Brakes SRAM Rival hydraulic disc
Wheels Wilier/Miche NDR38KC carbon disc