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The Gran Turismo is a new model from Italian brand Wilier, designed to be lightweight and efficient like a road race bike but with an extra helping of comfort added to the mix. It sounds like the perfect sportive machine… Is it?
Frame and fork
The all-carbon frame is a busy design – there’s plenty going on here. The front triangle is a monocoque with some unusual tube shaping. The sloping top tube, for example, is… well, there’s no name for that profile. It’s got a convex top, concaved sides, a couple of flat bits and then a more-or-less flat bottom edge. Complex, it’s fair to say.
The down tube is a different shape but it’s just as intricate. Wilier call the GranTurismo’s tube shaping a Sharp Edge Design, which is reasonable enough. The edges are mostly squared off rather than curving gently into one another, with ridges and folds designed to boost the stiffness in key areas.
The top tube overlays the down tube where they meet at the head tube, wrapping around the outside. It’s a similar deal at the opposite end where it flows around the seat tube and then continues down to form the seat stays. Well, that’s not actually true from a structural point of view. Each seatstay/chainstay is actually made separately and then joined to the front section afterwards. The dropouts are carbon and you get a replaceable mech hanger.
Those seatstays are really skinny – triangular up by the brake mount, almost flat by the time they reach the rear dropout – the idea being to add some extra vertical give at the rear end, while the chainstays are much meatier and asymmetrically designed with different carbon layups to take account of the differing forces the drivetrain puts on either side of the bike.
Different types of carbon fibre are used for different sections of the frame. Wilier use high modulus carbon fibre for some areas but other parts are lower modulus and a little less rigid, the idea being to improve damping and add comfort.
The rear brake cable runs internally through the top tube while the gear cables head underground at the top of the down tube. The rear one pops out briefly underneath the bottom bracket but only emerges properly right next to the dropout. It makes for a clean look and also protects the cables from contamination – we approve.
If you forget about any of these frame features, by the way, don’t worry: everything is labelled. Your old science teacher would be so pleased. Integrated drop-out. Asymmetric rear arms. Smooth rear design. Integrated cables system. Sharp edge design. High modulus monocoque. It’s all written on the frame in finest helvetica. Over the top, if you ask us, but we guess it saves you from missing anything out when you give your mates the full tour of your new bike.
The fork gets its own label too: “Easy drive system”, referring to the reinforced head tube and fork crown. It’s an impressive piece of work, all carbon with broad, tapered legs, and what Wilier call a “stiffening crease” that’s designed to improve lateral rigidity.
As for the geometry, the Gran Turismo is fairly aggressive for a bike pitched at sportive riding. Our test model is a size L, coming with a 55.4cm top tube and a 58.5cm seat tube. That seat tube extends well beyond the top tube junction, though – this is roughly the size of most 56cm bikes. The head tube is 16cm and even with a couple of headset spacers below the stem, the front end is pretty low. Well, low for a comfort-inspired bike – about average for a race bike. Specialized’s Roubaix, for example, in a 56cm size (56.5cm top tube, so a touch larger), comes with a 19cm head tube. We’ll come back to the ride position in a bit.
The Gran Turismo has a spec that’s based around Campagnolo Athena and FSA SL-K parts.
It’s the levers and mechs that are Athena which, if you’re not familiar with the Campag hierarchy, sits below Super Record, Record and Chorus, and above Centaur and Veloce. It’s 11-speed (the lower two groupsets are 10-speed) and, like the entire Campag range, it uses a little thumb lever on the inner edge of the shifter body for moving to a smaller chainwheel/sprocket.
We’ve got to say, although this ErgoPower system is perfectly simple to operate from the hoods, we find it a little more difficult to use from the drops than the equivalent designs from either Shimano or SRAM. But different strokes for different folks, and all that. Some people prefer it. It certainly works reliably enough and durability isn’t an issue.
Most of the rest of the kit is from FSA, co-branded in Wilier livery. The chainset, for example, is a compact (50/34-tooth) model from FSA’s SL-K group, coming with hollow monocoque composite crank arms. The seatpost is a carbon SL-K offering too, while the dual pivot brakes look very much like FSA’s Energy callipers to us. FSA also provide the alloy stem and carbon bars, and Selle Italia chip in with an SLR saddle – again co-branded and all colour co-ordinated.
The wheels are tried and tested Fulcrum Racing 3s which are stiff, solid and reasonably light. The bearings are high quality too and they’ll last an age if you open them up and give them a good greasing from time to time.
The Gran Turismo is also available in a next-level-up Chorus build with Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels for £3,850.
As we mentioned earlier, Wilier like to push the comfort angle on the Gran Turismo. Basiclally, it’s designed as a sportive bike. Okay, but that depends what you mean by a ‘sportive bike’. For one thing, sportives come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The best bike for a flat 80-mile jaunt in the New Forest might not be the best bike for taking on a mountainous epic like La Marmotte.
Plus, some people want a bike with an upright position and a soft ride for taking on sportives – they’re willing to take a hit on all-out speed for the sake of all-day comfort. Other riders want something that’s more like a pure race bike. In other words, when it comes to sportive bikes, it depends what you’re after.
The Gran Turismo performs a lot like a race bike. As we said, the geometry is racy – it’s almost exactly the same as Wilier’s Cento1 road race bikes. You don’t get any concessions for high mileage here – it’s a low and efficient set up.
That’s cool with me. I don’t want a high front end. I want a low and fast position when I’m on the drops, and if I want to give my back a bit of a rest, I’ll go up on the tops or hoods. I don’t want a high body position even when I’m on the drops.
You might be different and prefer a more relaxed setup. Absolutely fine – lots of people do. But if that’s the case, this isn’t the ideal geometry for you. You could flip the stem, of course, or even put on a handlebar with a bit of rise, but why bother? You might as well buy a bike with a bit more length in the head tube to begin with.
One other reason why the Gran Turismo doesn’t feel like a typical sportive bike (if such a thing exists) is the firmness of the ride. Now don’t get us wrong here, we’re not saying this bike has a harsh feel, but if you’re looking for a bike that soaks up every little bump on the road surface and plasters over all the little dents, this isn’t it.
It’s not so rigid that you get a whack on the arse every time you go over a cat’s eye in the road, but it’s towards the firm end of the spectrum (can you have a firm end of a spectrum? Probably not. But if you could, this bike would be towards it). Despite what Wilier have done with the frame design, you get a lot of feedback from the road, put it that way.
Personally, I prefer a firm-riding bike. As well as a whole lot of shorter rides, I did a few five-hour stints on the Gran Turismo and came home feeling absolutely fine – not uncomfortable in any way. That’s a matter of horses for courses. It depends what you like. And the fact that the saddle is a Wilier-branded Selle Italia SLR definitely helps on the comfort front. We like the amount of flex you get there for taking the edge off the bumpy bits.
There’s very little sway at the bottom bracket when you give it the beans and only a touch more at the front. We’ve known stiffer front ends, especially on bikes with wider head tubes (this has 1 1/8in bearings top and bottom), but the Wilier is perfectly well behaved when you charge through fast bends. Once you’ve steered, it stays steered, so you can spend your time concentrating on other things, like getting the power back on as quickly as possible.
The Gran Turismo is an able climber too. Ours hit the scales at 7.65kg/16.8lb so it’s a perfectly respectable weight, and we rate the Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels. Combined with the stiff frame, they give a really solid feel when you get out of the saddle to lay down the law – even with larger riders on board – and the bike heads swiftly upward without complaint.
To us, the Gran Turismo rides more like a road race bike than a sportive bike. If you’re after a relaxed ride position and a ton of damping, this bike isn’t for you. Well over three grand for a Campag Athena-equipped bike, even taking into account the Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels and FSA SL-K parts, isn't cheap, but if you want a fast and efficient bike for eating up the miles, the Wilier is well worth considering.
Nimble and efficient lightweight that rides more like a road race bike than a sportive machine
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Make and model: Wilier Triestina Gran Turismo
Size tested: 56cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Wilier say, "Leveraging our proven designs while following our innovative instincts, we have created a bike that is nothing short of revolutionary. The Granturismo satisﬁes that elusive place between ProTour thoroughbreds like our Cento1 series and our award-winning value stallion, the Izoard. Our tireless search for that magic mix of performance and comfort led to unique tube shapes and lines made possible by the latest composites technologies and monocoque construction processes."
See the full review for our thoughts on this. We feel it rides a lot like a road race bike rather than splitting the difference between race bike and sportive bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yeah, good, responsive ride
Would you consider buying the product? Would consider it - but it's a hugely crowded market
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.