The Aggressor is GT’s entry-level mountain bike, described as “everything the aspiring trail rider needs to be introduced into the sport of mountain biking” but with a nod towards round-town use too.
Ride & handling: Lively and enthusiastic ride; feels like a 'proper' mountain bike
Aggressor by name and a little bit aggressive by nature, GT’s budget offering is quite daringly racy for the price. It’s a long, low bike, with the kind of roomy cockpit feel more commonly associated with higher-cost bikes, GT having resisted the temptation to go all sit-up-and-beg at the entry level.
While it may be less immediately welcoming to beginner-level riders, the Aggressor’s longer cockpit won’t prove a hindrance as their experience builds. A relatively short back end, sturdy frame and stretched ride position despatches climbs with an ease not commonly associated with lower-priced bikes.
The angles are steep, but the GT’s length helps keep your weight centred and stops anything too surprising happening as speeds climb on the descent. And because there’s plenty of room to move about on the bike, you’ll be developing those all-important weight-shifting skills in no time at all.
We think this is a better approach to a beginner’s mountain bike than a very short, upright cockpit. There’s undeniable logic to the short design approach, especially in anticipation of urban commuter use, but if you’re looking to get into riding off-road then the GT Aggressor is a very appropriate choice for the money.
We’re not sold on the benefits of the MegaRange cassette, though, which has six close gears, then a big jump to the bottom 'bail-out' one. The huge leap makes the transmission effectively a six-speed rear during the 95 percent of the time you’re not grovelling up a barely-scalable hill.
Frame & equipment: Iconic frame design lends an air of cool; limited upgrade potential
GT have been using their Triple Triangle frame design for more than 20 years now. It’s more visual trademark than ride-enhancing engineering, but few bikes are as instantly recognisable as a GT hardtail. While GT’s more expensive models have hydroforming, curved tubes and interesting dropout details, the 6061 aluminium Aggressor frame keeps it simple.
There are straight tubes (albeit with a bit of a flare), plate dropouts and a big gusset under the down tube just like the one on the iconic early-90s Zaskar. The ring-reinforced head tube takes a conventional headset, cable routing goes for the shortest routes – rear brake and gear cables under the top tube, front gear cable down the down tube – and you get two sets of bottle bosses.
Rack and mudguard eyes at the back make the frame commuter-ready, but forget any future upgrades to disc brakes – there aren’t any mounts for them. The SR Suntour fork is all-steel, undamped and rather twangy, but the top-out is respectably controlled, it doesn’t bob too crazily under power and in the less-demanding conditions a novice rider is likely to experience it’s almost worth having.
The wheel package is noteworthy for its light weight. They’re 32-spoke rather than 36, which doesn’t save a huge amount of weight but tells you something about GT’s priorities here. The Kenda tyres have a tread pattern that mixes worthwhile side knobbles with a continuous line of blocks down the middle, keeping them reasonably fast-rolling but not too sketchy in the corners. Climbing and braking in mud tends to suffer a bit though.
The handlebar is steel, but it's at least a reasonable width and an agreeable shape. The seatpost is a skinny 27.2mm unit, which delivers a bit of useful give to the back end. Transmission matches the usual EZ-Fire shifters with a pair of budget Shimano mechs, with the rear Tourney unit boasting a cable guide pulley that’s supposed to make for lighter shifting.
Whether it does is debatable, but it does do away with the often-troublesome final loop of cable to the mech. We’re don't like the MegaRange cassette, but that’s a minor niggle, and there’s no denying that a 26/34T bottom gear is a useful thing on a bike pitched at novices