GT's GTR Sport Carbon is a good bike with a bit of an identity crisis. According to GT, it's a bike for the "recreational rider or beginning racer looking for a carbon racing bike". If that's you GT reckon you need "look no further than the FTR carbon sport…you can rest assured that the GTR Sport Carbon can, and will, make up for any lapses in your own racing ability. See how nice the podium feels”. Hmm… well, we'd agree with the "recreational" bit but we're not sure the GTR Carbon sport is going to bridge the gap between a lack of training, or the wrong sort of genes, and putting you or me on the podium.
Don't get me wrong this is by no means a bad bike, sprinting the Sport Carbon up Cheddar Gorge was a joy as the bike moved where I wanted, when I wanted without missing a beat. Churning a gear up Burrington Combe on the return trip was just as efficient, I never felt the need to jump up and add some speed but then again I didn’t feel like I wanted to either. This brought me to the conclusion that this bike is a little too relaxed to be the genuine race bike that GT want it to be seen as. You would need to move up the GT range to the higher grades of carbon weave, much higher component spec and integrated seat masts etc on the GTR Expert Carbon (rrp£3600) for that sort of thing.
Componentry on the Sport Carbon are Shimano 105 throughout with Ritchey Logic offering the cockpit kit. The rims are Mavic CXP22s laced to 105 hubs. On a £2000 bike I would want more. £2k gets you 105 nowadays although I would want Ultegra if possible for this outlay. Take a look to see what Planet X will give you for £2k and decide if 105 is good value for money. Essentially then we are looking at a frame/fork package that you would aim to upgrade over time, is the frame good enough for that? In my opinion, no. I wouldn’t pick this frame over others at the same price point such as the Felt F4 (with Ultegra) or the Pinarello FP2 (with Veloce and £100 in your pocket). Felt, BMC, Bianchi, Scott and Cannondale all have 105 full carbon framed bikes for £1600-£1900 so GT are hoping for a lot with the GTR Sport Carbon.
On the flat the bike feels a tad sluggish, I'd blame the wheels for that, and okay "sluggish" is a relative term for this sort of bike. I couldn’t get it to accelerate as quickly as, say, my Felt AR4 or indeed the GTR Expert Carbon that I tested in 2009 which shares the same frame. The change from 105 to Ultegra and from Mavic CXP22s to Ksyrium Equipes for the extra £300 that the Carbon Expert costs makes a big difference. The upgraded wheels and groupset change the whole feel of the bike. I would struggle to justify buying the Sport Carbon (either as a whole bike or to upgrade) but would seriously consider the Expert Carbon as a whole bike.
On winding roads the GTR Sport Carbon was planted and reliable but it never pushed me to stamp on the pedals and really fly into corners and accelerate out of them like a full on racing machine. The whole sensation of riding this bike was nice, enjoyable, relaxed even - an ideal bike for putting in some big miles on.
The frame has semi compact geometry so there's a decent amount of seatpost on show and plenty of stand over height. The former adds to the comfort. The full carbon monocoque frame delivers comfort and a good degree of speed, it is responsive but not awe inspiring. The tapered stem, press in bottom bracket and carbon dropouts all show detailed work from the GT designers and the neat cable routing on the head-tube works well. Sprinting up cheddar gorge was a joy as the bike moved where I wanted, when I wanted without missing a beat.
Final thoughts – judged purely on its own the GT GTR Sport Carbon is not a bad bike - it's pretty good, but it's not a great bike either and with £2000 to spend you have a whole lot of choice out there. I just don’t think there is enough to pull you to this bike over its rivals or indeed its better equipped siblings. Capable but not captivating.
Good for big mile rides, but we'd expect a better spec for the money
road.cc test report
Make and model: GT GTR Sport Carbon
Size tested: M
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame and forks are full carbon fibre. Semi compact geometry, carbon dropouts, asymetric head tube and press in bottom bracket.
Groupset - 105 throughout except rims. 20 speed with 12-25 cassette
Rims - Mavic CXP22
Bars and Stem - Ritchey Logic Pro
Tyres - Vittoria Zaffiro
Saddle - Fizik Arione with Manganese rails
Steapost -GT Carbon
Grips - Black cork
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?
GT say that the GTR Sport Carbon is aimed at those who are taking up road racing and want a professional machine to match their ambitions. I think that GT are over stepping the mark a bit by suggesting this bike can make up for any lack of talent or training, the truth is that it cant. It is a nice bike but not one that made me feel any faster at all.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The frame was very good, not super light but not heavy to pick up. On hills the frame was fine, didnt feel any noticable power loss and the semi compact geometry helped the bike feel secure in tight situations.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon fibre construction. Force Optimized Construction increases strength and stiffness where needed and minimizes weight where it can.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Semi compact geometry, the medium test model had an effective top tube length of 55cm which felt ideal for me, 5ft 10" with a 32" inside leg. With this geometry, the standover height is increased in comparison with a 'traditional' frame. This gives the bike quicker handling
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I didnt feel cramped or stretched out, it fitted slightly better than my own bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it was perhaps too comfortable. As mentioned in the main body of the review, where I would be throwing bikes into corners on a normal high tempo training ride I just felt too relaxed to do that on the GT GTR Sport Carbon, it didnt make me ride fast, it made me ride comfortably.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
There was no obvious flex in the frame but the wheels did feel like a weight being dragged around with me. If you get this bike change the wheels
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
There was not much in the way of power loss. Yes it did feel efficient apart from on hard accelerations on the flat, hilly sections were handled without fuss.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Only a slight bit but it never troubled me
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Reliable, neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It was honest, it didnt push me to do daft things but then it didnt challenge me either. I felt calm while riding which is great on tricky decents but a little boring on the flats of North Somerset
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle was fantastic, the 105 groupset performed as we know 105 should but I would expect a better wheelset for £2k.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame was the standout here, it was very nice to ride up hills but like I say the frame also felt sluggish in accelerations when paired with those wheels.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Im afraid I come back to the same things, good points - the frame was reliable and did its job without complaints but the wheels are ripe for changing
fine when on an incline but a little lacking on the flat.
The GTR Sport Carbon didn't bully me into accelrating, it was happy at a steady pace which given the build up was somewhat of a disappointment.
Not great when it doesnt like accelerating on the flat. I got up to speed and held it but didn't get there quickly – I blame the wheels for that
On the flat and descending it was fine, the position made me feel secure and in control. High speeds werent a problem for the GT GTR Sport Carbon but it is a bike that is very much more suited to 75%-85% efforts
This is where the Sport Carbon was at in its element
The geometry of the frame meant I could whip in and out of cars in the city centre with ease.
Didnt push me to go in fast
Better when decending than on the flat, very nimble
I did like this frame for climbing, not the lightest but very comfortable both in and out of the saddle churning away at a gear
105, you get your money's worth
Hard to test on such a limited run but we know how good Shimano components usually are and I have no reason to doubt this set up.
Not superlight but not lardy
On its own great value but other bike manufactuers can spec Ultegra 6700 at this price point
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 worked very well as I would expect, the levers are a very comfortable design.
Wheels and tyres
Sluggish, the tyres are proven but the wheel set up just didnt match the hype GT created for the bike.
They are strong wheels made by Mavic and Shimano so you know you are getting quality. This was never in doubt.
Not as heavy as they feel when riding but certainly no match for some wheels to suit a fledgling racers career.
When rolling at a steady pace the wheels were at their best.
I would expect more on a £2k bike.
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 were the major sticking point for me with this bike, if I was paying list price I would want more from the specification that GT are offering. I would look at upgrading the wheels or, if possible, getting the Expert Carbon at £2300 with ultegra and ksyrium's.
Ritchey cockpit gear, very smart and very reliable.
When 105 shifters are matched with ritchey logic bars and stem the front end will feel reliable and strong without feeling slow.
On a par with other bikes in this price range.
Matched to the frame well, as I said previously, this whole bike fitted me very well.
Some other £2k bikes spec own brand stems, bars and seatposts. GT have gone branded here and it works.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The shimano 105 units are very well designed from an ergonomic standpoint, Shimano refine their grips and shapes year after year so it is no suprise they fit well. The bars are fairly wide for this size of bike, I prefer slightly narrower but the bars on this bike are not a problem.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? At times
Would you consider buying the bike? No
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I would try and convince them to find an extra £300 on the Carbon Expert
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
A bit of a mixed bag. If GT hadn't suggested it was the missing piece in my dream of being a pro racer then I would probably have cut it more slack judged purely on performance it is a good big mile, all day kind of bike, the problem then is that there a lot of that type of machine about many offering a more competitive spec for the money than the GTR Sport Carbon
About the tester
I usually ride: felt ar4 My best bike is: i like my felt and my orbea ora tt bike equally
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, triathlon