GT Sanction Expert - first ride review£2,499.99

Atherton-approved enduro hooligan

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Whispers of Dan Atherton’s enduro race bike going into production got us pretty excited, and when the Sanction was finally unveiled it went straight to the top of our wants list. Would it meet our high expectations?

Frame and equipment: solid kit for serious riding

The Sanction is made from 6069 alloy and GT makes no apologies for it not being carbon – this is a tough frame for tough riding. A toned-down version of GT’s Independent Drivetrain suspension system eats up the bumps, and the tapered head tube and 12x142mm rear end tick all the boxes when it comes to handling the kind of abuse this bike yearns for. A 66-degree head angle matched with a 585mm top tube on the medium size adds up to a more than respectable 1,193mm (47in) wheelbase.

The fox float x shock takes all but the biggest square-edged hits in its stride:
The fox float x shock takes all but the biggest square-edged hits in its stride:

The Fox Float X shock takes all but the biggest square-edged hits in its stride

The Expert is the most basic Sanction build but features some good, solid kit that won’t be breaking in a hurry. Marzocchi’s 350 R fork is paired with a Fox Float X CTD shock. A Shimano SLX shifter and derailleur take care of the 1x10 drivetrain, with the chain kept secure by a Race Face Narrow/Wide ring and e*thirteen LS1 chain device. A basic Race Face Chester crankset does the job and the Kore bar and stem are super-neat. It’s a heavy build though, weighing in at 14.58kg. You do get an e*thirteen EX 40t sprocket included in the box too for a wider gear range though.

Ride and handling: unleash the brute!

Hit the trails and it doesn’t take long for the hooligan within to be unleashed. The Sanction may not be all that bothered about the climbs, but point it downhill and it’s a knuckleduster wielding thug on a mission to cause trouble!

Uphill pedal-pushing performance is good, even with the Float X shock in ‘descend’ mode and set up with 30 per cent sag. But having to stop and raise the seatpost is a pain, and if you want to upgrade to a dropper, the short seat tube means you’ll need the shortest one possible to make things work.

Tested by dan atherton on the enduro circuit, the sanction expert is ready to race:
Tested by dan atherton on the enduro circuit, the sanction expert is ready to race:

Tested by Dan Atherton on the enduro circuit, the Sanction Expert is ready to race

The bike’s 32lb heft mars its climbing ability, but we found the e*thirteen 40t crawler sprocket a big help. You can definitely feel the missing 17t sprocket (which has to be removed to make space for the extra large sprocket) though, with the big gap between the 19t and 15t cogs very noticeable when shifting.

It’s the downhills where the Sanction really excels though, and the Atherton pedigree is clear in the frame. The long wheelbase and slack head angle give shedloads of confidence through fast sections, while the bike still feels manoeuvrable and quick-handling on steeper, tighter trails. The Float X is sensitive yet still handles big compressions with ease, with the bike only feeling slowed down by the biggest square-edged hits. The Marzocchi fork would benefit from being more supportive and sensitive to match the rear, though once we dialled it in it wasn’t too much of an issue.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Freelance Writer, UK
Jake comes from a downhill background but now spends most of his time smashing shorter-travel trail and enduro bikes down those same downhill trails. He's well known for pushing components and gear to their limits, and a little further.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Any type of razzing, anywhere, on any bike!
  • Beer of Choice: Cider! West country, like.

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