GT Bicycles have launched their 2011 mountain bike range, which includes 29er hardtails, a new carbon Zaskar, plus more machines for gravity riders in the shape of the new Sanction and Distortion.
At this weekend's press launch in Les Deux Alpes, France it was clear that all those involved with the GT brand are determined to breathe fresh life into the company, and the new models are just the start of things to come.
New for this year are the Karakoram 29er hardtails, with two models available in the UK and a third bike on offer in the more big-wheeler-friendly US.
The £799.99 Karakoram 1.0 will come with a RockShox Recon fork, a mix of Shimano and SRAM X7 for shifting, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. The cheaper (£649.99) 2.0 has a RockShox Dart fork, cable disc brakes and a mix of Shimano Deore and
The iconic Zaskar has received a makeover for 2011 which the company's mountain bike product manager Todd Seplavy describes as a "total rebirth of Zaskar carbon fibre".
An updated frame has resulted in claimed weight savings of 300g, but Seplavy was keen to point out that GT are striving to build a "totally dependable product" rather than make the lightest frame on the market.
The beautiful blue Carbon Pro (main image) is at the top-end of the Zaskar family and will set you back £2,999.99, but it's a race-ready piece of kit decked out with a RockShox Sid RLT fork, 2x10 gearing setup with SRAM X0 rear mech and Truvativ X9 chainset, and Formula RX disc brakes. A WTB saddle, CrankBrothers Cobalt seatpost and gold-coloured stem and bar end caps finish off this sweet looking race hardtail.
The iconic Zaskar retains GT's trademark triple triangle frame design
At the more affordable end of the spectrum, new Comp and Sport models are designed to offer riders "whatever bike they want or need at an accessible pricepoint". The £799.99 Zaskar Sport has an SR Suntour Raidon X1 fork, nine-speed Shimano Deore gearing and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
A carbon Zaskar 29er will be available in the
The Zaskar will be available in a 29in-wheeled carbon fibre version – but not in the UK
For the four-cross, dirt and street riding crowd, the La Bomba looks a neat little package. It’s not available in the
The La Bomba is GT's new do-it-all hardcore hardtail
GT's Independent Drivetrain (I-Drive) suspension system – a ﬂoating bottom bracket that’s connected to the front end of the bike via a dog bone link and the rear by a swing link – has been around for years. The company's philosophy is that it's better to make small refinements to this tried and tested design rather than launch a new platform every couple of years.
Just as GT don't claim to make the lightest carbon hardtail, they don't make extravagant claims about how their suspension platform is 'the best' either. Instead, they argue that it offers the optimum balance of performance and durability, resulting in bikes that are easy to set up and service.
We can see the 120mm-travel Sensor 1.0 (£2,699.99) being a perfect UK trail centre machine, with a Fox RP23 shock and F-Series fork, Formula RX brakes and 2x10 gearing using a SRAM crankset and Shimano XTR rear mech. A CrankBros Cobalt 2 seatpost, WTB saddle and stem/bar from Syncros finish off the bike.
GT's 120mm-travel Sensor looks like a trail centre slayer
Moving up the travel scale and into the all-mountain category of bikes (extra fun coming down, but can still pedal up), there the 150mm-travel Force line. For 2011, there's the Force 1.0 (£2,799), 2.0 (£2,199), 3.0 (£1,699.99), Carbon Expert, Carbon Pro and Carbon Sport (unavailable in
GT Force Carbon Pro
The Carbon Pro we rode in Les Deux Alpes took both cross-country and downhill trails in its stride, with the 2x10 setup enabling us to climb with ease (even taking altitude into account; not nice) and descend with confidence – without getting rattled to death by the terrain and the braking bumps created by other riders. Here's a helmet cam video of us cruising downhill on the Force:
We are having trouble displaying this video
Seplavy has worked with Fox this year to revise the valving on the rear shock. Now, when the bike is 60 percent into its travel, both compression and rebound damping increase to help you get most out of the last part of the stroke. The lighter frame, tapered head tube and shock overhaul should put this bike on your list of bikes to demo if you’re after a do-it-all machine.
If you're after something with slacker angles and more travel, then the new gravity line looks very tasty. The Fury World Cup is the top-end racing weapon from GT, as ridden to victory by
For 2011 the full-carbon frame has lost weight frame and has a slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket, along with adjustable geometry via angled headset cups. This race-proven frameset is available in the
The Fury World Cup downhill sled is now lighter, lower and slacker
Although not available in the
Spec highlights on the Distortion 1.0 include a Fox 32 Float RLC FIT fork and RP23 rear shock, SRAM X9 rear mech, RaceFace Atlas AM cranks, Formula R1X brakes and a CrankBrothers Joplin 4 remote seatpost.
The Distortion may only have 140mm of travel but it's no slouch on the downhills