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Pro Bikes, November 27, 2007

Todd Wells' GT GTR Type CX

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James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Light makes right

By James Huang

GT doesn't take any risks here
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In case you were wondering
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A replaceable derailleur hanger
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Even if you tried to swipe it
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Not everyone may like integrated headsets
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Easton provides Wells with its light and fast carbon fiber Tempest II wheelset
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Todd Wells is officially paid to ride and race mountain bikes by his team sponsor, GT Bicycles, and does an excellent job at it: he's a former US national champion in short track, a two-time collegiate US national champion, and as one of the most consistent performers on the US national circuit, Wells represented his country at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

As if that weren't enough, Wells is also equally accomplished on in cyclo-cross with an additional pair of US national titles there, too. According to his mechanic, Doug Hatfield, "[The mountain bike is] what he's paid to race, but he loves [cyclo-cross]; it's in his heart. It's fun for him and it's good conditioning in the winter. Back in the tradition, cyclo-cross was your off-season sport, but now it's become such a big mainstream sport and he does well in it as well."

"I started racing cross in '01 just because I love racing and it's something different," Wells said. "I really enjoy racing 'cross, though, and have been stoked to see its growth over the last six years. Personally I find 'cross more exciting to race then mountain bikes but I love racing and riding mountain bikes also."

With such a well-rounded skill set, Wells has shaped up as one of the country's premier all-around off-road riders and GT has long supported his ancillary efforts on the cyclo-cross scene. Years ago the company had to build custom race machines as there was nothing suitable in the GT catalog at the time, but this season Wells finds himself on a stock production frame that is finally available to the public and closely mimics what he's always used.

"My bikes this year are awesome," said Wells. "GT is coming out with the same bikes I am riding this year as production models next year with just 2 small changes. I like the cable routing on the top tube this year… and [the] formed top tube that makes it easier to shoulder. Last year we had some shaped tubing that wasn't too comfortable to run with. I really like the white color and graphics as well. I run a single ring and sometimes I have to bend the chainstays to fit the single ring but with the frames this year it fits perfect with out any modifications."

According to Jenni Schwai of Pacific Cycle (GT's parent company), "The GT brand was built around racing. Our products are designed by racers for racers. The GTR Type CX reflects this long-term philosophy. GT is excited to have Todd Wells, one of the top cyclocross racers in the nation, developing and racing its bikes, and we're excited to support this growing sport. Over time, we utilized his feedback on the custom GT frame he had been riding to develop a true production model. We used his input to develop the exact geometry. He is now riding the same frame that any consumer could purchase in the IBD channel."

The production GTR Type CX is fitted with a solid array of mid-level components befitting what is often a "second or third bike in a rider's stable", but Wells' bike spares little expense to get the job done. Easton provides its top-end EC90X full-carbon 'cross fork and Tempest II deep-section carbon fiber tubular wheels, KORE tosses in its lightweight carbon fiber handlebar, aluminum stem, and old-yet-new Kross Race high-profile cantilevers, and SRAM's brand-new Red group finds itself moonlighting for 'cross duty. Rounding out the kit are the much sought-after Dugast tubulars, ubiquitous Crank Brothers Candy 4Ti pedals, and SDG USA's innovative I-Fly saddle and I-Beam seatpost.

The underlying theme of Wells' race machine is simplicity and light weight; at just 7.85kg (17.3lb) complete, his 'cross machine rivals that of some bikes on the ProTour. Wells runs just a single 42T chainring sandwiched by a pair of guides, and the relatively wide 11-26T spread on the cassette provides all the gear options he needs. As a result, the left-hand Red DoubleTap lever is devoid of any shifter internals to shed unnecessary grams.

Those levers are also positioned particularly high up on the bars. "They never go on the drops anymore," said Hatfield. "It's all on the tops and on the hoods; that's where they get most of their power from. Not many of the top riders get [down there] anymore."

In terms of setup, Hatfield stresses the importance of proper tire tread and pressure selection, and the critical requirement of having both the main bike and pit bike be as close to the same as possible. "Tires are the main thing. [Todd] wants his bikes to be as identical as possible (one versus the other). We always have to put wheels in the pit, a faster tire, different pressure or something, but obviously the riders want to keep their bikes totally the same so when they have to dismount and get on a different bike, they're identical."

With the mountain bike season's arduously long schedule and heavy travel requirements, Wells does still ease back the throttle a bit when it comes to 'cross season. and his efforts have been tightly focused. "I had only two goals for this 'cross season: 1. Get enough points during the season for a front row start at nationals. 2. Win nationals. I have a really long mountain bike season where I log in close to 100,000 airline miles and hit just about every continent out there so I don't have the motivation to ride at a high level all 'cross season. I try to pick one race to really be good for and the past few years it's been nationals."

Wells just landed a pair of wins at last weekend's Jingle Cross races in Iowa City, Iowa, and hopefully he'll be able to carry some of that momentum into the US National Cyclo-cross Championships in Kansas City, Kansas on December 16, 2007. Either way, we're pretty certain of one thing: the bike isn't holding him back any.


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: GT GTR Type CX, size XL
Fork: Easton EC90X

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.88m (6'2"); Weight: 77.1kg (170lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 533mm; c-t 581mm
Top tube length: 585mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 808mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 538mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 630mm

Bottom bracket: SRAM GXP BlackBox with hybrid ceramic bearings
SRAM Red, 175mm, 42T single chainring with dual guides
Chain: SRAM PC-1090R
Front derailleur: n/a
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Brakes: KORE Kross Race
Brake levers: SRAM Red (with shifter internals removed from lefthand lever)
Shift levers: SRAM Red (with shifter internals removed from lefthand lever)
Rear sprockets: SRAM OG-1090, 11-26T


Wheelset: Easton Tempest II
Tyres: Dugast Typhoon Cotton, 34c

Bars: KORE Cockpit II Carbon
Stem: KORE Race, 110mm x -6°
Headset: Ritchey WCS Drop In
Tape/grip: Specialized cork

Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beater 4ti
Seat post: SDG I-Beam Carbon Road
Bottle cages: n/a
Computer: n/a

Total bike weight: 7.85kg (17.3lb)