Big news for GT in the UK in 2011 is the decision to focus their pure road bike GTR series much more at the entry level market, and to go for it on the commuter/recreational side of things with ranges aimed at different types of commuting/leisure and urban riders. Surprisingly, we didn't spot a fixed or singlespeed at the launch. We'd say GT are missing a trick on that score, a stripped down 700c wheeled bike with the old GT triple triangle could well have some urban appeal, but maybe that's just us.
On the face of it GT's decision with their road bikes makes sense, they are owned by the same outfit that owns Cannondale and the UK distributor of both is also a part of the company so better to let Cannondale take care of the higher end where it has more of a track record anyway and let GT have a crack at the more cost conscious but less brand conscious entry level new cyclists.
GT have four road-going series: the GTR drop-barred road bikes, the Tachyon flat-barred performance bikes, the Transeo urban mountain bikes and the Traffic full-on commuting machines. If you’re looking for something to ride to and from work on, there's plenty here to check out
Although GT have decided to concentrate on the entry level end of the market in 2011 their range topping machine, the GTR 2.0 sells for more than a grand, but it's not carbon and the likes of the GTR Sport Carbon that we reviewed recently will no longer be coming to these shores – so it might be worth looking for a bargain on that score.
GT’s GTR road bikes – at least the four that are available in the UK – are all built around the same hydroformed 6061 aluminium frame. They’ve done away with the carbon seatstays for 2011 and focus on strength and durability rather than single-minded pursuit of gram-saving.
The new 5.0 (£599.99) model comes in at the entry level with a carbon legged/alloy steerer fork and a solid, branded spec which pitches it straight up against the likes of the Giant Defy, Specialized Allez and Trek 1.2 plus a whole lot of other entry level contenders.
The £1,199.99 2.0 tops the GT's UK road range and it's a good looking bike with a competitive spec list. You get a full carbon fork, a Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic’s Aksium wheels and more quality kit from the likes of Ritchey, Fizik and Vittoria. Looks like good value to us, but it's in very competitive territory the 2011 CAAD8 105 from GT's sister company, Cannondale sells for the same price with a classier frame, but slghtly inferior wheels and both of them are up against the Boardman Team Carbon at the same money too. And if you are in the market for a carbon road bike it might be worth having a look out for
The Traffics are made from 7000 series aluminium and all four bikes in the range have a host of commuter-friendly features. Mid-density rubber strips running along the top tube protect the frame when you lock it to a bike rack or lamp post, for example, and you get a little rear LED integrated into the back of the saddle so you’ll never be without a blinky for your ride home. You get eyelets for fitting racks both front and rear, and for mudguards too, along with loads of clearance.
The gear cables are well protected from the wet and grime of year-round commuting, both being internally routed through the down tube and exiting just in front of the bottom bracket. Outer cables run all the way through so you won’t find yourself fishing inside the tube for the inner cables when you need to swap them over – which has to be the home mechanic’s most nightmarish job.
The Traffic bikes also come with Pinhead security on the wheels, seat and headset top cap. If you’re not familiar with the Pinhead concept, essentially, you need key to unfasten the bolts, preventing your components going walkabout if you leave your bike locked in a public place.
The Traffics all come with rigid forks, Schwalbe puncture-resistant tyres and direct pull brakes (linear pull or V-brakes, by another name), except for the top-of-the-range 1.0 which gets discs. They range in price from £369.99 for the 4.0 up to £749.99 for the Shimano Deore-equipped 1.0 although, unlike last year, there’s no Shimano Nexus hub-geared version this time around which does seem odd to us at least in a bike with such an urban/utility feel. The 3.0 (£449.99) and the 4.0 are both available in women’s versions.
The Transeos are built to be highly practical too, taking the middle-ground between a mountain bike and a standard commuter. So, you get a ruff ’n’ tuff aluminium frame that’s been redesigned for 2011, a relaxed geometry, along with suspension forks, a triple chainset and strong MTB components. These bikes are designed to look after themselves when you’re hoofing around town, they’ll handle towpaths and other unsurfaced tracks, and can even take on a bit of singletrack action too.
This year the Transeo’s front mech cable is piped internally through the top tube while the rear mech cable travels back inside the down tube, keeping them both sheltered from the elements and, let’s be honest, improving the look. We like that – clean lines are cool. You get a reinforcing gusset between the head tube and the down tube, rack and mudguard eyelets, and disc brake mounts.
Speaking of which, the top three bikes in the range come with disc brakes ready-fitted, the rear calliper sitting inside the chainstay so as not to get in the way if you fit a rack. The entry level 4.0 model (£399.99) comes with direct pull brakes, while the 3.0 is available in direct pull (£449.99) and disc (£499.99) options – and all of these three bikes are available in women’s versions too. At the top end of the scale, the 1.0 (£799.99) has an SR NCX Lite fork and an all Shimano drivetrain.
GT label up their flat-barred Tachyons as performance bikes but we reckon they’re as suited to commuting as they are to fast rides out on the open roads. Multipurpose, that’s what we’re saying – good for fitness rides, scooting around with the family, and getting the ride to work done and dusted in double-quick time.
Again, they’re aluminium-framed, the 1.0 (£999.99) and 2.0 (£699.99) models having been lightened up for 2011 with butted front triangles. Last year it was only the 1.0 that had a carbon fork but this time around it’s only the entry level 4.0 (£499.99) that does without and sticks with alloy. Road bike drivetrains and wheels lighten the load and all the models come with full mudguard and rack capabilities. There are a couple of women’s versions in the range too.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.