GT was a hot BMX brand in the 1980s that morphed into an even hotter MTB brand in the early nineties. I managed a Schwinn/GT shop in Franklin, Wisconsin during the high-flying Julia Furtado/Hans Rey/Rishi Grewal days, and while it helped that the team won races and garnered magazine coverage, the bikes themselves were an easy sell.
Technological advancements and smart component spec gave GT the edge over several bike companies, and it appears GT is enjoying something of a rebirth with the advent of carbon fibre and its place among full suspension mountain bike design.
The GT i-Drive Carbon Pro reflects the company's push against the
likes of long-time competitors Specialized, Trek, and Cannondale. The monocoque carbon front triangle is a curious study in tube manipulation and engineering, tapered and bulge-formed in all the right places. Even the internal cable routing is smooth and somewhat organic in appearance. The design team, led by 20-year veteran Mark Peterman, also managed to keep GT's trademark Triple Triangle aesthetic.
Like several companies, GT has also chosen Fox Racing Shox front and rear. Up front, the i-Drive Carbon Pro features a Fox Float R with 100mm of travel, rebound adjust and lock out. At the back, Peterman et al chose the Fox Float RP2 with rebound adjust and adjustable ProPedal. Not only is this suspension platform user-friendly, it's also quite effective when climbing in or out of the saddle, as I've done the past few months in the Santa Cruz mountains. A simple flick of the switches, and voila!, full suspension avails itself. My wrists, back, shoulders and neck have never been happier.
DT Swiss Onyx disc hubs and DT Swiss XR 455 double wall rims for extra confidence, something a rider weighing 185 pounds-plus appreciates. The tyre spec also reflects the sponsorship arrangements of GT riders Hans Rey and Brian Lopes sponsorship deals: Kenda Nevegal 26"x 2.3 in front, 26"x2.1 in back, both with Kevlar bead.
The component spec was generous where needed, with a few caveats: much Shimano and TruVativ, like other brands at this price point. The Shimano LX Trigger shifters worked well with the spiffy XTR rear derailleur. Shimano XT crankset and front derailleur rounded out the drivetrain, sending the LX chain over the LX 11-32 tooth 9-speed cassette. Braking comes courtesy of Avid's Juicy 5 hydraulic setup, something that was a bit finicky out of the box, but after some bleeding and tweaking (of the brakes, not me), slowing down was as expected.
My large-size GT i-Drive Carbon Pro weighed 28.4 pounds with the Crank Brothers Candy pedals (included), not bad for a big rig with a reasonably high-end spec. Some of the extra weight comes from the 6061 aluminium rear triangle. The handling was familiar and comfortably predictable, thanks to the somewhat old-school 71/73 head/seat angles. I felt a bit stretched out at first on the somewhat longish 61.3cm top tube, but the 25mm rise TruVativ handlebar provided a bit of compensation. Climbing on the i-Drive Carbon Pro was never laboured, but there were times when descending was a little challenging at first. Once I gathered my bearings and position, though, it was smooth sailing.
Overall, a top-notch ride. GT has been doing bikes since 1973, and they've witnessed fads come and go. They've stumbled a few times over the years, but if the i-Drive Carbon Pro is any indication, the southern California band of dirt brothers is back on track.
Verdict: 4 stars
Sizes:: S, M, L (tested), XL
Weight: 28.4lbs. w/ Crank Brother Candy pedals
Frame: Monocoque carbon front w/ 6061 aluminum rear 4 inches travel
Fork:: Fox Float R 100mm travel, rebound adjust and lock out
Rear shock: Fox Float RP2 with rebound adjust and adjustable ProPedal
Wheels: DT Swiss Onyx Disc, DT 32 hole hubset with DT DB SS spokes and DT XR455 rims
Tyres: Kenda Nevegal 26x2.3" front, 2.1 rear
Derailleurs: Shimano XT front, XTR rear
Crankset: Shimano XTR
Cassette:Shimano LX 9spd 11-32T
Chain: Shimano HG-73 9spd
Shifters: Shimano LX trigger
Brakes/levers: Avid Juicy 5 hydraulic
Handlebar: TruVativ XR 31.8 clamp, 680mm wide, 25mm rise, 8 deg sweep
Stem: TruVativ XR cold forged w/ 5 degree rise
Grips: GT Lock Down
Headset: FSA integrated sealed angular contact bearing
Saddle: fi'zi:k Gobi
Seatpost: TruVativ micro adjust
Contact GT Bicycles