Wilier has a knack for getting the appearance of its bikes just right. The manufacturer may not have the presence of rival Italians Pinarello, Colnago, or Bianchi, but we can’t deny just how good the machines look.
With its black and hi-vis yellow paint scheme, the GTR oozes pure superbike from the first glance and, without looking over its component parts, we’d have guessed the Gran Turisimo would be significantly more expensive than its relatively modest price tag suggests.
The GTR is very much in keeping with what you'd expect of a sportive bike from an Italian brand. Neither Colnago, Pinarello nor Bianchi tend to relax geometry – or compromise anything, for that matter – when designing a bike intended for the endurance rider, and the GTR is no different. In fact its shape is very much classic ProTour, with the wheelbase being just a few mm longer and the head tube barely 10mm taller. The length of top tube and reach are consistent and those frame angles haven’t been relaxed.
On the road that translates to a bike that feels flighty and swift. It carves through corners impressively; it's a bike we could easily have pushed harder on descents and through twists and turns, never reaching its limit before we reached ours.
The ride quality is impressive: it combines a firm efficient feel, which promises rapid acceleration on the flat, with a gliding character across broken and battered tarmac surfaces. On one section of broken unmetalled road, midway through the test loop, the GTR rolls with a smoothness comparable to Specialized’s Roubaix. If we had a Cobbled Classic sportive in mind then the GTR would be a bike we’d like to be astride.
We’ve been critical of Wilier in the past with regards to value for money, but for 2014 the firm has certainly addressed things in that arena. The GTR features a predominantly 105 drivetrain, but uses an FSA-built Wilier crankset using 50/34 rings. FSA also provides the brakes: these super stiff, good-looking units deliver ample power, but compared with Shimano’s 105 they do lack somewhat in terms of feel. As the weather took a turn for the worse midway through our test loop, we occasionally ended up overbraking on descents rather than feeding in the power to control speed.
Thankfully Wilier has also dropped using own brand tyres in favour of decent budget Vittorias; they may not be the lightest around but they’re hardwearing and have ample grip in all but the worst conditions. Wheel-wise, Wilier has gone with Shimano's budget R500s, the choice of many steeds in this price range. As we’ve said before, it’s a tough wheelset that’ll last and last and won’t let you down, but on the ascents we couldn’t help noticing the extra mass. Especially when paired with the budget tyres, the compact crankset's 34 inner ring reduces the ratio to aid climbing, but the race-orientated 11-25 cassette doesn’t quite offer the wide spread that we’d expect for a sportive special.
Overall, like so many bikes in this bracket the GTR doesn’t quite have the spec to match its potential. However, for the first time the price is far more competitive than Wilier has gone before – and it’s such a damn fine looker, and good bike to ride, that we’d be more than happy to have it in our stable.
This model is not available in the US. The nearest equivalent is the GTS, which costs US$2,600.