Wilier seems determined to confuse us with the naming policy of its new bikes. The standard GTR is in fact the former Gran Turismo, while the GTR Team and SL are both new bikes with all-new frames. Clear? Thought so…
The SL is the racier of the two, with the GTR Team we’re testing having more of an endurance bias. It flies the flag for Italy, breaking the usual Shimano hegemony with Campagnolo’s Athena groupset and Zonda wheels.
Different class of comfort
Our experience of previous Wilier endurance bikes is that they didn’t always hit the comfort levels offered by many competitors’ bikes. Yes, the riding position was relaxed a little, but the bikes still tended to adhere to the company’s watchwords of stiff and light. This time, however, Wilier seems to have got it right, with the GTR Team’s c1kg frame offering excellent comfort, especially at the front.
The front end is impressively comfortable
We rode the GTR over some of our regular test routes’ poorest surfaces – which are even worse in winter, of course – and the smoothing nature of the frame and fork was immediately noticeable, smothering bothersome vibrations about as well as anything out there. The rear end quietens road buzz pretty well too, though it couldn’t quite live up to the impressive standard set by the front.
The geometry still isn’t that different from Wilier’s race bikes, just marginally shorter in reach and slightly taller at the front. This is typically Italian, as the country’s designers rarely seem to go for the more relaxed riding positions favoured by many big US brands. But this translates to a thrilling ride and a bike that sprints much better than an endurance machine has any right to.
Eager climber and descender
When climbs nudge their way over 10% the GTR’s low weight also serves it well, and it ascends very positively. Reach a fast, challenging descent and it proves equally willing, the steering requiring only the lightest of touches, inspiring confidence whatever the road conditions could throw at us.
This Wilier is swift, handles nimbly, balancing this with a smooth and comfortable ride
To find anything other than Shimano at this price point is pretty unusual these days, but we think you should discount Campagnolo at your peril. The shifting is positive and snappy and Athena’s ability to shift across three sprockets in a single sweep means you can attack every climb.
The Zonda wheels meanwhile, with their unusual spoke pattern at the rear, look like they’ll be prone to flex. In fact though they proved rock solid even under the hardest cornering and the most energetic sprints.
Unfortunately the Athena brakes don’t quite match the quality of the drivetrain. We appreciate the idea behind Campagnolo’s differential braking – the more important front brake is designed to be more powerful than the rear – but Campag’s front brake doesn’t offer the same power as its rivals from Shimano or SRAM. This meant we ended up grabbing at the brakes to control speed, especially in the wet.
The brakes were one of the Wilier’s few disappointments
Overall, though, the GTR Team hugely impressed us. It’s swift, handles nimbly, and it balances this with a smooth and comfortable ride. Even the slight imbalance between the super-plush front end and the slightly less comfortable rear is forgivable when the bike delivers a ride as exciting as this.