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When the email from roadcc HQ landed on the digital doormat informing me that the GT GTR Series 2 would be my new mode of transport for the next month or so, a quick t'internet search revealed one of my worst nightmares. On paper the GTR Series 2's spec list looks like it's been designed by an accountant rather than a bike rider. Never judge a bike by it's spec sheet because if the Series 2 was designed by an accountant it was one who knows an awful lot about what makes a good road bike.
A mish mash of components to make a groupset is the usual sign of a bike put together by someone looking at price alone.
To be fair £1100 is probably one of the toughest price points to deliver a road bike at. You've got frame material choice, for this money you can have carbon, alloy, carbon & alloy, steel. Do you spend money on the frame, the wheels, groupset and finishing kit? Invest too heavily in one direction and sacrifices are going to be made elsewhere.
When I first clapped eyes on the GT I was pleasantly surprised, it's a looker alright. The 6061 double butted alloy tubes have been hydroformed to create a flowing, yet solid looking frameset. The triple triangle of old has disappeared replaced by a welded gusset at the junction between seat and top tube, while not something you normally see on a road frame it doesn't look out of place with the lines flowing nicely into the seatstays. Varying tube profiles enhance the solid look of the frame especially at the front end. The 1 1/8' to 1 1/4' headtube forms a large junction with the top and down tube which then flows down to the BB30 bottom bracket shell. Slotted into that oversize front end is a full carbon tapered fork with alloy dropouts.
All this is sprayed in a matt white paint finish, not something you see very often but works really well with the matching black and red decals. While we're on the subject of looks, GT's own finishing kit keeps the black white and red look going but without being over the top and even the Alex wheels getting in on the act with the red stickers. The internal cable routing is a neat touch and keeps the frame looking clean. The only downside is its designed for the US/Euro market and having the rear brake cable come from the left shifter to the right hand side of the frame looks a bit pants with our UK set up.
Shimano's 105 takes care of the gear change at the business ends - shifters and rear mech. In terms of looks there is little to separate them from Ultegra plus they look good with the carbon levers. The 105 10spd rear mech is the black version which ties in nicely with the frame and FSA's BB30 version of their Gossamer compact crankset. To my eye the brake caliper is where the budgeting comes in to effect, the Promax unbranded dual pivots do cheapen the overall look but do come with Surestop replacement cartridge pads so I was interested to see how they'd perform out on the road.
Speaking of road, time to have a look how the GT performs once you're aboard. Bottom line, it is an absolute joy to ride, a mixture of stiffness and comfort you rarely get from an alloy frame. The ride is what can only be described as familiar from the moment you spin the pedals. Road buzz is soaked up before it reaches your chamois, again not something you'd expect from an overbuilt alloy frame and an alloy 31.6mm seatpost. I haven't mentioned the weight either, I didn't know the weight when I first rode it and I was genuinely surprised to find that it had an all up weight of 8.94Kg (19.7lb), not a bad weight for the money it's just that the bike feels like a much lighter machine.
The first ride I did on the GT was my regular 80 mile test loop, it's a mixture of A roads and lanes with around 1000 metres each of climbing and descending. If a bike has a weakness this route will show it up. Nothing I could do would upset the GT. Descending is great, you can keep pushing and pushing and will run out of road before the GT will twitch. Helped by GT's own shallow drop bar which offers very little flex and results in keeping the front end tracking exactly where you point it. At worst the rear brake will lock the rear wheel if you really have to brake hard but that is it.
Ah those brakes I hear you cry, were they really as bad as you expected? In a word, no, my initial concerns were completely unfounded. The pads were very good with great modulation and worked well even in the wet.
On the climbs a mixture of light overall weight and the compact chainset , 12-28 cassette combo enables you to remain seated for the majority of the time. You'll only notice the weight of the rims on the steepest of gradients as you start to honk out of the saddle.
While we're on the subject of rims the Alex ALX200 hoops are a good solid build coming in at 1900g, there is some drag as you get them up to speed but it is barely noticeable. With just 20 spokes front and 24 rear there is enough spring in them to keep the comfort levels afforded by the frame and fork. They remained trus and the hubs felt really smooth. I was very impressed with Schwalbe's Lugano tyres, for mid range rubber they roll very well and certainly grip well especially considering 80% of the test miles were put in on wet roads.
FSA has a BB30 option on virtually all of their chainsets these days and while it feels odd to look down and see no bearing cups the narrower q-factor now that the bearings are back inside the frame suits my ride style. No noise whatsoever came from the bottom bracket even under big gear efforts and ran super smooth.
The rest of the groupset worked faultlessly with the 105 kit providing the usual spot on shifting. The Tiagra front mech worked fine now being 10 speed so the cage is the right size.
The GT Series 2 is the one bike that has shown me I don't know as much as I think I do, I took a quick look at the spec and pretty much made my mind up that it was going to be okay but nothing special. The GT turns out to be cracking bike and would easily make it into my top ten, mostly because it puts some of the 2 - 3 grand bikes I've ridden to shame. The frame is a perfect platform to upgrade on and with the groupset and brakes working so well the only thing its really crying out for is some lightweight wheels. As it is the Series 2 makes a top notch summer commuter or trainer and just chuck on those lighter wheels for your weekend sportive or fast club run. Comfort, speed, stiffness and handling for eleven hundred quid, you'd be a fool not to.
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Make and model: GT GTR Series 2
Size tested: 54cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame:New Hydroformed, Double Butted Alloy, Smooth Welded, Full Eyelets, BB30, Tapered HT
Fork:Full Carbon, Tapered Steerer
Front Derailleur:Shimano Tiagra
Rear Derailleur:Shimano 105
Shifters:Shimano 105 STI 10 Speed
Chainset:FSA Gossamer BB30 Compact
Bottom Bracket:FSA BB30
Cassette:Shimano 4600 10 Speed 12/28 tooth
Brakes:ProMax RC476 Cold Forged Dual Pivot, Aluminium Pad Cartridges, Surestop Pads
Handlebars:GTR Shallow Drop Double Butted 6061 Alloy BarStem:GT Design 3-D Forged 6061
Headset:Integrated TH Sealed Bearing
Rims:Alex ALX200 Wheelset, 20 Hole Front and Alex ALX200 Wheelset, 24 Hole Rear
Tyre:Schwalbe Lugano 700c X 23
Saddle:New GT Bio-Morphic Road Dual Density Base
Seatpost:Two Bolt Aluminium
Seat Binder:Cold Forged With Nickel Finish
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Evans website states: "These bikes don't break the bank. Just the competition. Stiff, strong, and durable the GT GTR Series 2 Compact 2012 Road Bike is ideal for serious riders who have the common sense to recognize quality, and not kit themselves out like a pro-team poster child. These are literally and metaphorically, the real deal."
I agree with there sentiments, probably put it a little differently though
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The matt finish paint makes a nice change and gives an overall classy look. The welds are functional rather than pretty but suit the chunky style.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6000 series alloy and carbon fibre for the fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our medium had a 54cm top tube which was spot on to what I usually ride and the rest of the fit was like a glove
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfort was high on the agenda suprisingly for an oversize alloy frame. A solid feel which felt planted on all road surfaces.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
A good level of stiffness without harshness
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Acceleration, climbing and top speed are all taken care of
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
All round handling is good, very surefooted. Descending is top notch though
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels and tyres provide a good level of shock absorbtion
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame and fork are where most of the stiffness is at backed up by the stiff bar and stem combo. The BB30 is very smooth and the oversize dimensions keep things taught
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Overall its a good package that works well together
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It all comes together to work well. The BB30 chainset is very smooth and the 105 shifters are a great balance between cost and performance
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The wheels, while no lightweights ride well and stayed true throughout the test miles. The tyres were a real highlight though, grippy in all conditions.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The shallow drops of the bars allow a comfortable position even if you aren't that flexible
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Age: 32 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!