Let's play a game. Here's an Italian bike. Looks pretty nice, right? We're going to review it without talking about passion or flair or soul, and we're not going to mention pedigree or call it thoroughbred. Suffice it to say that it made the final four of our print sibling Cycling Plus's Bike of the Year 2016 shootout of 55 road bikes.
The GTR SL is Wilier's latest comfortable-but-fast, sportive/fondo-esque frameset, the fanciest version of a new design that's also available in two heavier options (the GTR Team and the GTR), as well as a disc model.
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To make matters even more complicated, the GTR SL is available in two different geometries: the Race on test here, and the Endurance which limits you to a single colour choice and gets a few extra mm of stack height, and a few less of reach.
Thoroughly modern frameset
The GTR SL's frame and fork weigh a claimed 990g and 390g respectively for a medium. The frameset carries all the hallmarks of a modern sportive bike (unless you count discs), with tubing that's fat in the right places for stiffness (head tube, down tube, bottom bracket...) and skinny where compliance is the order of the day.
Dropped stays help deliver an impressively compliant ride
The slim seatpost is present and correct, while Wilier has joined the legion of bike makers choosing dropped seatstays for the extra give they allow the rear end. The bike ships with 25mm rubber, but in keeping with the comfort theme, there's room for 28s.
Although there's nothing earth-shattering original about the frame, it's aesthetically very well balanced thanks to clean lines and details like the fork crown that blends into the top of the down tube, neatly concealing the front brake bolt.
Look closely and you'll find a little too much fine print spidering its way over the frame
There are far too many words on the frame labelling the various branded technologies ('Asymmetric Rear Arms', anyone?), but it still looks very sharp as a whole.
Quietly excellent spec
Kit-wise it's entirely unremarkable, in a good way; Shimano Ultegra reports for duty with its usual competence, Mavic does the wheels, and the saddle is a rather nice cut-out version of the Selle San Marco Aspide. We weren't completely convinced by the large-radius drop on the FSA bars, but riders with large hands will doubtless approve.
We've kind of run out of new words with which to praise Ultegra
Being Italian, Wilier says the new bike is stiffer, more comfortable and a little more aero than its predecessor without actually quantifying any of those claims. We don't really care to be honest, because what matters is that the GTR SL is just a lovely thing to ride.
Wilier has helpfully printed the phrase "smooth rear design" on the seatstay, and it isn't wrong. The ride is impressively well damped over choppy surfaces; it hums over cattle grids rather than bucking, giving you that small-bump smoothness that in the real world makes you faster.
The Race geometry strikes a nice balance between a typical endurance position and a head-down competitive one. It's a very happy medium that we think will suit a lot of riders.
The angles add up to a happy medium between a typical endurance position and a head-down competitive one
It's best not to get too hung up on the labels anyway: if you want to race the GTR SL it's stiff and capable enough not to be disappointing, even if it's not Wilier's most aggressive offering. There are more speed-focused bikes out there for sure, but for our money this bike gets the trade-offs between comfort and excitement spot-on.
The GTR SL isn't cutting edge in weight and it doesn't do anything revolutionary in tech terms – it's just a bloody nice bike. You can get a slightly better spec for your money by buying something that isn't Italian, but if you choose the GTR SL, you're very unlikely to regret it.