Like Genesis, GT is a marque more famed for its off-road credentials – it’s been one of the giants of mountain bike production for longer than I’ve been cycling or can even remember.
Beyond this, other than their identical price tags, it’s hard to draw comparisons between our two test bikes. If historians excavated both these machines centuries in the future, we reckon they’d struggle to date them as being part of each manufacturer’s 2013 model range.
The GTR 5 looks positively space-age next to the classically styled Volant. Its chunky looking, hydroformed, variously profiled tubing forms an awesomely sturdy junction at the head tube end. With its matt-black coating and smooth welds, it could easily be mistaken for a far costlier carbon road bike.
More multi-use than racer
One obvious difference between our bikes is that the GT has eyes for fitting proper mudguards, which designates it as more of a multi-use bike rather than an out-and-out speed machine, but, like the Volant, clearance is tight around the tyres, so choose your fenders with care.
On the road, the slightly taller head tube of the GTR 5 and longer wheelbase do lend it a more staid character than the Genesis Volant, but it’s by no means sluggish.
Although there was a sense of a little more resistance from a standstill, it not only holds speed very well and has really confidence-inspiring and predictable handling, it responds to a nice little extra kick of pedalling just when you need to buck the speed up a touch.
The only real downside is you get quite a lot of road feel transferred to the rider over bumps, leaving us feeling a bit pummelled after a long ride, particularly at the front end.
Where things get really interesting, though, is when you come to change gear. We all know any bike at this price is going to be shifting on Shimano 2300, which relies on a rather unpopular set of shifters – the thumb paddle means you can’t actually change gear when riding on the drops – but although the GTR has 2300 derailleurs, the good news is the controls are made by little-known component maker Microshift.
Say what you like about the motive for this simply being a cost-saving mod, but I found the hood shape felt much broader and sturdier than the Shimano 2300’s design, which I always struggle with due to them feeling narrow and flimsy, button position aside.
What’s more, the Microshifts have both levers tucked alongside the brake lever. From the hoods this means a little knuckle nudge to change gear and they should be accessible from the drops too. I say ‘should’, because my fingers were, in fact, a little too short to get to the smaller lever and I found them rather stiff from this angle too, needing a good shove to change gear, though most male riders won’t have this issue unless they’ve especially small digits.
With its trustworthy handling characteristics, fender mounts and more useable controls, the GT GTR 5 is a great candidate for a first road bike at a budget price. You should definitely put it on your shortlist.