group test: GT GTR Carbon Sport review

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1st June 2010 Words: Simon Smythe Photos: Roo Fowler

The GT brand goes right back to early-1970s California, when Gary Turner, who had previously built dragsters, turned his oxyacetylene torch to creating BMX frames for his son. But don’t let that put you off; GT became a global brand and has produced excellent mountain bike and road frames, often recognisable by the ‘triple triangle’ design.

Although the triple triangle now appears to be redundant — and to make it in moulded carbon-fibre would probably be a pointless exercise anyway — the blue, white and nude carbon GT really looks the part. The frame is angular yet curvy, made up of oversized tubes that flare and taper for optimal rigidity and lightness and has a list of ride-enhancing features.

It’s also bang up-to-date with its tapered head tube, full carbon fork, press-fit bottom bracket and aero seatpost. GT is aiming it at recreational riders or beginning racers. There are some nice details, such as the pierced head tube, which means the cable outers stop in front of it, rather than slap the side of it, and the internal cable routing of the rear brake caliper is nice to have.

Full-on 105

GT has specced the full version of the black 105 groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset, including the hubs, which are laced to Mavic CXP22 rims with stainless spokes. It’s rare to find handbuilt wheels these days, and this impressed us.

The finishing kit is also excellent, with a Ritchey Pro bar and stem, and a Fizik Arione saddle, which is almost universally liked due to its long, flat profile, and padding that is spot on for both long rides and short blasts.

The GT is the lightest of the three at 18.5lb — which you might expect of the only carbon bike on test, but as Cannondale used to demonstrate regularly, it is possible to build very light bikes out of aluminium too. On the road, the GT is extremely surefooted. The front end, with its head tube that flares at the bottom to encompass an oversized 1 1/4in bearing, ensures that the steering is precise, and on fast descents and corners it is highly stable.

Uphill fast

At the bottom bracket, the big down tube and squared-off seat tube create a shape that is very twist resistant and the result is efficient climbing and acceleration. The rear triangle is also very stiff and rattles you around a little on bumpy surfaces. The GT is fast, but — and a heavier rider’s experience may be different — it’s not the smoothest. Another slight gripe was that if you pedal bringing your knees inwards at the top of the stroke, you are liable to bash your knee on the edge of the wide, square-edged top tube.

In this test we’re taking as read that the 105’s performance is up to scratch, but on the GT it is outstanding.

But it’s the only bike here using the 105 calipers, and what a difference! Braking is the most positive by a long way, and the levers are perfectly weighted. Just a measured squeeze at the tip produces considerable stopping power at the compatible calipers. The accuracy of the wheel build also meant that the calipers could be set up with the pads only a millimetre or two from the rim.

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group test: 105 road bikes introduction

Cannondale CAAD8 105

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GT GTR Carbon Sport

group test: 105 road bikes verdict

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