GT have specced the 112mm-travel Distortion to be a tough, capable bike that can be pedalled back up the hill as well as ragged down. We took a pre-production model for a true all-mountain hammering.
Ride & handling: Great potential as a ‘do it all’ machine if rear shock is sorted
The 22/36-tooth chainring arrangement is a little awkward – something in the middle or a 34t single ring would have been much better suited. At 710mm wide, most will ﬁnd the Gravity bar roomy enough but we didn’t get on with the shape, finding it uncomfortable.
The 112mm (4.4in) of rear suspension handles large, single-hit bumps well, but when taken onto technical singletrack it gets out of its depth sharpish. Experimenting with settings resulted in poor results when it came to repetitive compressions.
The short travel complements GT’s Independent Drivetrain Suspension System (IDSS), though, meaning the bike climbs extremely well, even at 35 percent sag, which means the lockout feature on the Fox Float RL shock becomes puzzling but is there just in case. After discussions with GT, we think that a shock with a softer compression tune might be the way forward.
We did dabble in a bit of freeride, taking the Distortion down to the four-cross track and dirt jumps, and saw a lot of potential in this ‘do it all’ machine. With the shock set with less sag the bike performed well, and it didn’t have any of the efﬁciency issues of other IDSS bikes when we put the power down.
The frame features a tapered head tube, which makes it nice and burly, and the revised IDSS linkage and bottom shell help create a back end that’s noticeably stiffer than other GTs. The top tube measures 22.8in, so the Distortion is pretty compact for a bike that’s designed to go up as well as down.
The low-slung top tube and 15.8in seat tube (medium size) give loads of standover height but meant we had to have a lot of seatpost showing to get the correct pedalling height. The speccing of a height adjustable X-Fusion HiLo post is a great idea. We had problems with the pre-production unit that came with the bike but haven’t had any major issues since it’s been replaced with a production unit.
The RockShox Sektor TK fork is brilliant and the 15mm Maxle coupled with the tapered head tube makes for a really stiff front end. The Formula RX brakes performed well and the Shimano running gear works well too. The M545 crankset is basic and heavy, though, and the Deore shifters don’t provide the room to run brake levers inboard enough.