A New GTA 5* Review
“Having bought into the n-1 trend that was going around at the time I wanted to consolidate my bikes down to just two models, a full suspension mountain bike and a new “do it all” road bike. My cycling interests span from the occasional time trial, weekend club rides, sportives, unsupported multi day cycling tours and a 26 mile commute over mixed terrain. The bike was going to be an investment and thus needed to last at least 10 years, so a titanium frame fitted the bill.
With an expansive brief I started an internet search to find a bike that would work for me. After an extensive search (who doesn’t like spending time researching bikes) the Vaaru brand kept coming up, better still they were less than a 40 minutes drive away making them almost local, certainly compared to another bike company in the States that was on the short list. After a few initial emails with James I took a long lunch break and went to meet up with the Vaaru team and test ride a GTA. Once I arrived I went out for a good blast on a demo model to gauge the bike’s capabilities. On my return what impressed me even more was James’s knowledge and passion about the wider cycling industry and especially titanium. He was more concern about finding the right bike for me, even if it wasn’t one of his products! The choice in my head was between a MPA and a GTA but the GTA won out due to the practicality of the extra tyre clearance. The GTA clearly fitted the brief by providing a solid disc frame, internal cable routing and the capability to have a pannier rack for those occasional adventure tours.
I came away from that first meeting sure in the knowledge that a Vaaru purchase wasn’t going to be like a standard bike shop experience – this was going to be more akin to a custom car build with every detail scrutinised. After a few more emails a final specification was decided and an order placed. One of the biggest discussion points was whether to get the frame, and or, forks painted. I had started this journey with the opinion that painting a titanium frame is sacrilege, however, having seen a few stunning examples of what James had managed to achieve my interest was pipped. I had secretly always hankered for a custom paint job, at the very least it is a talking point at café stops. I provided Vaaru with a brief and colour options to which James then sent through a range of designs for my feedback, after 4 iterations we had something that I felt was unique and still highlighted the titanium frame.
Vaaru then kept in regular contact regarding my bike’s progress, from the frame manufacture, to the painting process, with pictures of the different stages. Once the delivery day arrived I was fortunate enough to spend the day building the bike under James’s tuition, I try to do all my bike maintenance myself but had never built a bike from scratch before. James was more than willing to let me spend the day with him, understanding how the Di2 cable routing worked and getting the bike fit just right. I came away with a bike that was almost too nice to use certainly too nice to get muddy!
1000’s of miles later over all kinds of different terrain and seasons I am still as impressed with it as I was on the first day. Mechanically it has not skipped a beat and the paint job almost looks as good as new. I have lost count of the complementary comments I have received from other cyclists out on the road regarding the bike but receiving each new one still brings a smile to my face. The bike has carried me up and down technical gravel tracks, alpine climbs, canal paths and a lot of asphalt. One of the joys I have is when the tarmac unexpectedly gives away to gravel. Previously I would have held on for dear life praying not to puncture or break anything, now I find I just peddle a little harder with a smile on my face.
Did it meet my original brief? No, it has far exceed it. With the icing on the cake being an end to end sales process that luxury car show rooms could learn from.
Would I buy another Vaaru bike again? Yes, without hesitation. Having not tried the whole Vaaru range I can’t speak with confidence regarding the benefits of the GTA over an MPA or Octane etc, but what I can say is the GTA was and still is perfect for me.”