NEWS: HOW TO DECIPHER THE LINE
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How to understand product lines and compare to find the right bike for the track

Which bike is right for me? This is the question every rider is asking when it comes to buying a complete and even with a very clear idea of budget and bike size, there may be more then one bike offered by a brand that fits both your budget and size needs.  This is especially relevant in racing where a proper fit is a must, but the right bike can also make a huge difference in your race performance. 
Take GT Bicycles for example, on their race side they offer a Pro sized bike in all three of their lines; their introductory Power Series, their mid level Pro Series and their top of the line Speed Series. As a shopper it can be tough to decipher which line is best for you and even after breaking down the bikes part by part and spec by spec, there is always the chance that you might be spending a whole lot more then is necessary for your needs. So we decided take a moment and break down the Pro sized bikes in each of the GT race series lines to help you weed through the excess and identify what matters most to both your wallet and track ability.

SPEED SERIES PRO

PRO SERIES PRO

POWER SERIES PRO


GEOMETRY
It doesn’t take more then a minute to find out that the bikes have extremely similar geometry. The Pro and Power Series bikes are identical in every way, while the Speed series frame offers just over a quarter inch more in chainstay length. This measurement is based on stability at maximum track speed, so the top of the line Speed Series is hopped up just a touch. 

SPEED SERIES PRO
TT- 20.5”
CS- 14.5”
HT- 74 degrees
ST- 72 degrees

PRO SERIES PRO
TT- 20.5”
CS- 14.2”
HT- 74 degrees
ST- 72 degrees

POWER SERIES PRO
TT- 20.5”
CS- 14.2”
HT- 74 degrees
ST- 72 degrees

FRAME MATERIAL
SPEED SERIES- Alloy Hydro Formed and Butted Speed Metal
PRO SERIES- 6061-T6 AL
POWER SERIES- 6061-T6 AL

As you can see, the Power and Pro series frames are made from the same materials. In fact, aside from a few small details, like the press fit headtube on the Power Series, versus the integrated headtube on the Pro Series, the frames are the same, so at a glance you know the $200 price difference is coming in the form of parts between these two bikes. The Speed series on the other hand is made from a completely unique tube set which is custom formed, butted and heat treated for this model only. Everything from the CNC’d headtube and bottom bracket shell to the dropouts and integrated seatpost clamp are made to the highest standards, so it is a safe bet that the near $900 price gap between the Speed and Pro series is significantly based on frame design and materials.

COMPONENTS
The Speed Series is by far a stand-alone product that is dressed up with only the best of the best. Once again there are zero ties to the Pro and Power Series bikes so there is no fair comparison to be drawn between them. You get what you would expect from the Speed Series, the best of what GT has to offer and dollar for dollar, there aren’t too many complete bikes on the planet that can touch what this bike has to offer out of the box. Meanwhile, nearly a thousand dollars away, the Pro and Power Series bikes are once again a little tougher to decipher. Many of the key details are the same, like the full chromoly forks and bars and real Tioga Power Block tires. Aside from the nicer two-piece cranks and SDG seat/post combo on the Pro Series, the most notable difference between the two is the brand name parts. Details like a Promax lever and Alienation rims help give the Pro Series a little more track cred’, and individually help to shed a little weight and improve performance, so when all compiled the $200 price jump does offer improved ride quality and performance in the hands of an experienced rider.

WEIGHT

Speed Series Pro – 20.6 lbs
Pro Series Pro – 20.8 lbs
Power Series Pro – 23.3 Lbs

Quite the opposite of components, when it comes to weight we actually find that the Speed Series and Pro Series bikes are closer then the Pro and Power Series, in spite of the massive price gap. At this point the Pro Series is looking pretty inviting, but at a glance, here is what should be considered when it comes to weight. As we know, the weight savings between the Power and Pro series bikes is a simple matter of upgraded components. As we pointed out, there are only a few obvious upgrades in parts, but those upgrades were made because they do offer such a dramatic drop in weight. That said the obvious question arises as to why you are spending $200 to drop about two pounds and then spending $900 to drop two ounces? This is because once you get into the magical 20-pound range of race bikes, its not the pounds that get expensive to drop, but rather, the ounces. Between 20 and 21-pounds is where stiffness, strength, performance and weight all seem to collide, meaning if you want to make improvements to one category, it becomes exponentially more expensive to maintain the other categories without compromise. For example, if you make a bike a little lighter, it may loose a little strength, a little stiffness and a little performance, so to maintain balance across the board A LOT more engineering is required. This is why you will find mid to high-end bikes from most brands colliding weight wise in the 20-21 pound weight range.

STIFFNESS
Stiffness between models is always something that will be tough to gauge based on a web site or catalogue alone, but there are tells that don’t require riding each individual bike. The Speed Series for example is built around stiffness and reduced flex, a feature that is clearly built into the frames every corner via the custom made tubing. Details like the hollow, alloy cranks, BB30 bottom bracket and Carbon fork are all what we like to call “tells” when it comes to stiffness. Visually, this can be a lot tougher between the Pro and Power Series bikes, especially since we have deduced that they are pretty much the same frames, but there are differences to be found and more importantly as a shopper, seen with a simple visual comparison. What grabbed us the most was the nicer two-piece, tubular chromoly crank set on the Pro Series, versus the pinch bolt style, three-piece, chromoly cranks on the Power Series. The two-piece design has fewer flex points and though small, it is a detail that is rooted in stronger, stiffer performance.


BREAKING DOWN THE LINE BY PRICE
SPEED SERIES- $1520
PRO SERIES- $650
POWER SERIES- $410

Since we know the geometry is a wash between all three models it really comes down to cost in the GT line when making your selection. At the top of the line, there is no doubt that the Speed Series is worth every dime performance wise. And when you break down the parts, though $1520 may seem like a crazy amount, if you were to piece together this same bike from the ground up, you would spend about $700 more. That said, if you are an expert level racer in search of peak performance, then this is the bike for you and rather then waste money building your own complete, there is a lot of money to be saved by buying complete.
Things get a little more confusing when it comes to the Pro and Power Series bikes. Knowing what we know about the two bikes, the Pro Series is extremely tough to beat. It is almost as light as the Speed Series, pounds lighter then the Power Series and has more brand name parts and accessories to go along with it. All things considered, if you were looking for a reason to spend a little more, don’t hesitate to move on up. Does this mean the Power Series should be overlooked? Not at all, the Power Series is a great bike for the beginning rider on a tighter budget and since the Pro and Power Series share similar frames it becomes an affordable way to get started and sets you up with a platform well worth upgrading in the long run.


In the end, any line can be broken down in detail as we just did with GT by doing nothing more then comparing info we found on their web site. As an educated shopper, making these comparisons can help not only with limiting your field of potential bikes, but also cross comparisons between brands. So take a few minutes and research brands and the lines they have to offer and you too may find yourself leaning towards a bike that you previously overlooked. We have to say, as riders on a limited budget, the Pro Series has our attention and for the money is a pretty sweet deal. Hopefully we helped you decide which GT line is right for you, and taking what you have learned, apply it to any size and/or brand of bike to make the smarter purchase and get the most speed out of your buck.

http://www.gtbicycles.com


AMERICAN OR MID BEARINGS
RIDER AREA VERSUS TOP TUBE LENGTH
An affordable Fit
SPOKE SWAPPING

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