Wilier GTR Athena

Is Wilier’s GTR a race bike? Or is it a bike for sportives? Or will it simply defy being pigeonholed and prove to be an all-round gem?

Wilier GTR Athena
(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Wilier’s GTR is a competent all-rounder that would be ideally suited to someone whose road riding encompasses a bit — or a lot — of everything. It’s certainly a fine bike that doesn’t disappoint, but it perhaps suffers from not truly excelling in any one single area.

For
  • +

    A great-looking Italian bike

  • +

    First-class handling

  • +

    Well thought-out all-round usability

Against
  • -

    Slightly heavier than some of its direct rivals

  • -

    Bump transfer on uneven road surfaces

Another Italian company with a 100-year-plus history of manufacturing top-end bikes, Wilier is perhaps still not as well known in the UK as some of its compatriots. This remains a mystery to us, as the brand offers a dazzling array of bikes, from road to mountain to urban to electric bikes.

The latest GTR models are an evolution of Wilier’s Gran Turismo range, which sits approximately mid-pack in its comprehensive line-up of road bikes.

We’re a bit of a sucker for Wilier’s logo, which manages to combine an extravagant flourish without looking cheesy. Our bike’s frameset came in white with tastefully picked out decal highlights in grey and bright orange. It has a thick, glossy finish, which looks great in the sunshine. And indoors. Everywhere, really.

Wilier GTR Athena

The Wilier GTR Athena's frame is a real looker
(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)

Swoopy and swish

Wilier’s designers haven’t held back when it has come to sculpting the GTR’s tubes, with angles, curves and swooping junctions aplenty.

No matter how closely you inspect the frame, you’ll still find a new swoopy bit the next time you look. The frame is made to stand out even more by the use of all-black components throughout the rest of the bike. Thankfully, no white bar tape to get filthy within five minutes on a British road.

 

Campagnolo provides its 11-speed Athena drivetrain, with notable exceptions being the FSA Gossamer chainset and brakes. The Italian theme continues with the wheelset: Miche's GTRX1 options.

The wheels are fitted with Wilier’s own-branded 23mm width tyres, rather than third-party rubber. FSA also provides the seatpost, stem and bars — and there’s the 'standard issue' Selle Italia X1 saddle.

Wilier GTR Athena

Miche hoops roll along well
(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)

Delivering the goods

The GTR is aimed at the longer-distance gran fondo/sportive market, but is also designed to be sprightly enough for racing too. In order to fit both of those bills, the bike needs to be many things: comfortable, light and provide direct power transfer from rider to the road. This quite a big ask when you have a price point to hit, but Wilier has used all of its experience to come up with the goods.

The GTR takes on everything, and we found it to be a genuine all-rounder. Climbing performance was decent, helped along by the compact chainset and 11-28 cassette, and it certainly felt better than its 8.5kg weight for our XL model led us to expect. However, it seemed more at home on descents, taking on tight bends without wobbling from the desired line. Handling is first class and assured thanks to a direct-feeling front end.

Wilier GTR Athena

Wilier-branded FSA brakes worked well
(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)

Given the GTR’s long-distance ride credentials, we did find the direct front end started to feel fatiguing through the bars on rough B-roads and bumpy country lanes. Not as jarring as some pure race bikes, but not quite as comfortable as some sportive bikes. This was most noticeable perhaps because of the bike’s rear end attributes, which provided a smooth path over lumpy roads. However, if we think back to Wilier’s aim of creating a sprightly sportive type bike, it’s really not far off the money.

The original version of this review appeared in What Cycle magazine Spring 2015 issue

Wilier GTR Athena

Wilier GTR Athena
(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)