Wilier’s revamp of its GTR line has impressed us, both in the racing-focused SL variant and the more endurance-flavoured Team version. For 2016 the long-established Trieste-based outfit has added a disc-braked model, which if it delivers the same ride as the rim-braked bikes should be a real contender.
Wilier usually makes good-looking machines and this is no exception, one of our Instagram followers even described it as "sexy". Not sure we’d go that far, but it certainly looks purposeful with its dropped seatstays, kinked top-tube and a seat tube that tapers as it rises. The wheels and Wilier-branded FSA components complement the look well and form an impressive package.
Those DT Swiss wheels are very good for the money and Shimano Ultegra, with flat-mount RS805 brakes, is a consistent, top-quality performer. We’re not quite as enamoured with Wilier’s insistence on annotating every element of the frame: "Easy drive system", "integrated fork", "asymmetric rear arms", "meaningless acronym".
Ignore the extraneous graphics and you get a wonderfully accomplished ride. The geometry is slightly biased towards endurance rather than speed, but not at the expense of some serious handling chops. The front is a few millimetres taller than a race bike and a fraction shorter in reach, which is Wilier’s typically Italian take on a sportive or Gran Fondo machine, and shows that a bike built for big distances doesn’t have to be boring.
This GTR is superb at holding fast lines when descending and will hit the apex every time. The front-end offers impeccable control, with the bolted thru-axle unwavering even on choppy surfaces (a thru-axle screws into holes in the frame and fork rather than slotting into dropouts). And despite the Vittoria tyres being narrow for 25mm rubber, they never stepped out of line even in a biblical rainstorm on a narrow swooping descent.
The rear feels equally controlled, but can’t quite match the front when it comes to comfort, though Selle Italia’s well-padded X1 saddle does a good job.
This bike may have the most modest kit spec, but it’s hard to fault any of Wilier’s component choices. Bar a few grams Shimano’s mechanical Ultegra is pretty much identical to Dura-Ace, with the consistent wet-weather braking that no rim-based system can match — which is the reason so many riders are making the switch to discs. Though there is also the advantage of potentially longer rim life.
The compact 50/34 chainset and 11-28 cassette is pretty much the standard pairing for endurance riding, offering sufficient top and bottom gears for virtually all scenarios, with the reasonable jumps between gears making it easy to find the right cadence. The DT Swiss wheels climb well, even if the GTR Team is carrying a kilo more mass than the more expensive bikes here. The bike’s character is such that this is something that you don’t notice.
Wilier’s GTR Team is a fine bike. Yes, there’s a little disparity between the smoothness of the front and the slightly firmer rear, and Wilier has also opted for a bolted thru-axle. It’s a secure and clean-looking design and one that saves a few grams, but it means you’ll need to carry a tool with you on every ride. We still prefer the convenience of a quick-release.