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GT 2012 road bike line gets lighter alloy and carbon frames, still screaming good value

Not exactly GT's top priority, being gnarly BMXers 'an all, but the 2012 road bikes are purposeful and well-priced.

GT is a brand best known for its BMX and mountain bikes nevertheless there are fast road-going options in its range and there always have been in some form. The latest 2012 offering of GTR Series tarmac machines is small but, like the knobblier-tyred bikes, focuses on bangs for the buck.

While we were in Poole last week at Cycle Sports Group, the owner of Cannondale, we also got to see the GT road models nestling nervously among the more famous BMX and mountain bikes that also come from CSG. We say 'nervously' because GT has always been one of the brasher bike brands with big shiny frames offering miles of suspension travel and humungous shock absorbers. The road bikes in comparison have always seemed somehow quieter which is a shame as they've always stood up well against other 'value' brands, offering a bit of distinctiveness against the competition when a mass of generic £500 - £1,000 road bikes can seem a little dull.

According to GT's Patrick Kaye, "Price/value is our main game for 2012 but we've taken out a hell of a lot of weight; 710 grams from the GTR Series 5." There are also big changes to the carbon road frame and there's a better choice of sizes.

Funnily enough, this coming year 2012 will see the less expensive GT bikes once again without the distinctive 'triple triangle' of previous years. The prototypes we saw did have an extra piece welded in at the joint between the top tube and the seat tube - what can only be called a vestigial gusset - in an attempt to harken the old days of the seat stays crossing the seat tube to join the top tube a little way along in the manner of the GT mountain bikes.

GT 2012 GTR Series 5 £599.99. There's a carbon fork and MicroShift levers.

Unfortunately, unlike the proper and very necessary endo-defying gussets behind GT mountain bike headtubes, the little road affair didn't really serve any useful purpose and, anyway, they never go down particularly well with road bike purists who naturally always argue for clean, efficient and light frame joints. But still, fair play to GT for having a go at a bit of fun but it seems by the time we got to see them pretty much everyone had agreed to abandon the gusset, leaving a new alloy frame that's been hydroformed and generally shaped in the latest style to resemble a carbon frame while also taking out some weight.

According to GT's Patrick Kaye, the frame used on the three less expensive GTR Series bikes, the 5, 4 and 3, has also been tweaked in geometry, lengthening the chainstays and increasing the headtube height a tad to make the bikes more comfortable for the riders they envisage will be buying at these £599.99, £699.99 and £899.99 prices.

For that money you get 8-speed Shimano gears on the GTR Series 5, 9-speed Sora on the 4 and new Tiagra 10-speed on the 3 although both the 2300 and Sora models employ Microshift combined gear and brake levers which Kaye reckons not only give him scope to spend money on other more beneficial parts of the bike - he claims the £599.99 GTR Series 5 will be one of the only road bikes at that price to feature a carbon bladed fork - but they're also lighter and more comfortable than the Shimano versions. certainly found them nice and reliable in last year's Centos 10-speed guise.

GT 2012 GTR Series 3 £899.99 with Shimano's new 10-speed Tiagra gears

The two pricier alloy GTs use a 'more aggressively butted' - lighter - frame with a tapered headtube and BB30 bottom bracket. There's also a full-carbon fork with integral bearings; from 10 yards away, and especially in the groovy matt white finish and neat double-pass welds, you'd be hard pressed to tell that the whole fuselage isn't carbon-fibre. The frame geometry is a little more full-on and unlike the cheaper frame there are no eyes for a rear rack. In other words, the intention for these models is to race but the really important thing is that the price of the Shimano 105-equipped bike called GTR Series 2 is £1,099.00 and the Series 1 with Ultegra is £1,399.99. Very keen considering you get Schwalbe Lugano tyres and entirely non-embarrassing cockpit kit and wheels.

The new GTR Elite bike uses exactly the same fork but with the fuselage in higher-modulus-than-last-year carbon too and weighing in at 975 grams for a medium size. They've lost the seatmast in favour of a rider-and-shipping-friendly standard seatpost but gained BB30 and tapered head tube for a 15% improvement in torsional stiffness, according to our GT man. The vertical compliance has remained unchanged however, reflecting the general realisation that a little comfort can result in a performance advantage. Hooray for that, we say, plus all these bikes now coming in seven sizes from 46 - 63cm.

GT 2012 GTR Elite: high modulus carbon and BB30 makes frame stiffer but under 1,000g



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