GT goes old school with original suspension bikes

GT throws it back with 25 years of suspension

Left-side drivetrains, faux-moto saddle/number plate/fender concoctions and anodized parts galore were just a part of GT's retro celebration at the 2018 Sea Otter Classic. Instead of using its booth at the California festival to showcase its latest and greatest products, GT instead celebrated 25 years of making all sorts of full suspension. 

2006 iT-1 

Amazingly, this was the second version of GT's insane internal transmission bike
Amazingly, this was the second version of GT's insane internal transmission bike

The oddly capitalized iT-1 was the world's first internally geared production bike. How many did GT sell? Probably a fraction of the brand's heralded Zasker. 

Even today, the iT-1 looks crazy with its rear disc brake mounted on the right side, and of course, the short mid-gear drive chain and the chainguide-equipped drive chain on the left side of the bike. 

1996 concept bike

Downhill bikes flirted heavily with moto influence back in the day
Downhill bikes flirted heavily with moto influence back in the day

It's funny to think about, but a few different decisions here and there could have completely changed what downhill race bikes have become today. This prototype GT downhill bike was the brainchild of GT senior suspension engineer Jim Busby. 

Gearbox mountain bikes: mad science or the way forward?

Tucked in the massive aluminum frame is a Shimano Nexus 7-speed internally geared hub. 

And look at that saddle / seat area
And look at that saddle / seat area

But it's the unabashed moto styling that really catches the eye, especially the monstrous, elongated seat and side number plates. 

1992 RTS

GT was showing a remarkably well preserved RTS-1, one of the first full suspension bikes
GT was showing a remarkably well preserved RTS-1, one of the first full suspension bikes

Rocker Tuned Suspension was the branding GT gave one of its first modern full-suspension designs. 

It's a smart rear-suspension design with the bulk of the components low in the frame and a simple rocker link pushing the coil shock. 

The front frame triangle of the American-made GT was 6061 aluminum, but on the original bikes the rear end was True Temper chromoly. According to GT, this RTS has been updated with newer parts and is still ridden frequently. 

1996 LTS-1

How many stories can you recall about the LTS bikes?
How many stories can you recall about the LTS bikes?

"The LTS-1 is race-ready rocketship that will lead full suspension on to the XC race courses of the world," claimed GT's 1996 catalog. 

With 89mm of coil-damped travel, a look-at-me polished alloy frame and likely way too many anodized parts, this bike was an utter dream for legions of riders, at least where I was back then. 

1998 STS DH Lobo

Carbon! The STS downhill bike was like a shapeship back in the day
Carbon! The STS downhill bike was like a shapeship back in the day

Seeing an STS DH Lobo back in the late ’90s was like witnessing a spaceship hurtling down a mountainside. It was a wild bike. 

Carbon road frames were rare and carbon downhill bikes even more so, but the Lobo proudly got down with a thermoplastic frame with aluminum lugs. 

A massive swingarm connecting the two halves of the bike didn't squeeze the coil spring, but rather uncoiled it. It was odd then and is today; pull shocks are still seldom used.

The bike had 150mm rear travel and was the first time the public could get a RockShox Boxxer Pro, which was a pro-only fork before the Lobo.

2003 i-Drive Marathon

2003 wasn't that far back, oh wait, yes it was
2003 wasn't that far back, oh wait, yes it was

"Cooking with leftovers," is how GT product manager Mark Peterman described the 2003 Marathon. GT used old tooling and the original i-Drive rear suspension on the bike. 

Nevertheless, it was successful and well received by mountain bike editors and riders. 

The 2003 Marathon only saw one season of production. GT changed up its i-Drive rear end and retired the Marathon name for four years until it was able to produce a carbon model. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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