Today at 2am New Zealand time a bunch of the world's MTB media met down in the basement conference rooms of our Deer Valley, Utah accommodation for the final unveiling of GT's two new Trail/All Mountain bikes, the Sensor and Force. Both these bikes have been in development for over the past two and half years, when Jerome Clementz visited New Zealand two years ago he'd already ridden some early iterations of these two new GT Bikes.
Before GT's product manager Todd Spelavy unveiled the bikes though he talked us through GT's latest acronym COR. COR stands for Centered On Rider and it's GT's attempt at understanding the riders that exist in the market; it obviously helped them when spec'ing these new bikes, knowing who they were actually making them for, and secondly it helps the rider understand what the bike is for in what, right now, is a pretty complicated area. GT broke it down in to DH, Enduro, All Mountain (150mm), Trail (130mm) and XC.
What impressed me most when at GT's last press camp was how the spec of the bikes was spot on, nice stems, wide-ish bars etc... well it seems that with the COR research they did they have refined that even more with these bikes, with the parts choice pretty much replicating the discerning rider's custom build; dropper posts are standard on almost all of the models, bars wide enough that a lot of riders may even be cutting them down...
So, both the Force and the Sensor utilise GT's new Angle Optimised Suspension or, wait for it, AOS. Suspension guru Peter Denk is responsible for it, you may recognise his name, he's also responsible for the Scott Genius LT as well as more recently the highly regarded Cannondale Jeykll and Trigger bikes. He explains it better in the video above but the gist of it is he set out to keep the pivot point high as on previous iDrives (providing a nice up and rearward axle path) but making the suspension platform lighter, stiffer, better on bearings as well as lowering the centre of gravity, whilst maintaining minimal chain growth. From this morning's presentation it looks like he has achieved this through the AOS's Path Link (no more Dogbone!). The linkage is a solid and stiff, welded and CNC-machined piece of engineering that houses the BB as well as a pivot for the shock mount on top and for the chain stays on the bottom. The BB moves independently of the front triangle and all but eliminates chain growth and pedal feedback. We haven't ridden the bikes yet but from the presentation it looks like he's achieved all of this and in one super resolved package (make that two super resolved packages).
The New Force
When we reviewed the older Force a while back, we loved some aspects of the bike but couldn't get past a few things, namely a super high BB, a shortish top tube and a relatively steep head angle. Well everyone (well maybe not everyone) will be relieved to know that all that has changed. The new Force sports a nice and low BB, a long top tube (so you don't have to buy a size bigger) and a nice short modern 60mm stem. All this in a package that has been designed from the ground up for the medium wheel size. All three Force models also come with internally routed dropper posts as well as triple chain rings! Yes triple chain rings, New Zealanders... The folks at GT find the Kiwi market to be somewhat of an anomaly and it appears that we are one of the only markets that demands two and one ring setups. That said, just like a wide bar can be cut down, a triple chain ring can be dropped to two easily enough but there is no adding a third ring to a dedicated two ring crankset.
It's also worth mention that GT have gone above and beyond to make this bike super stiff and responsive. The main pivot point is actually a thru axle, the chainstay pivots each utilise two bearings and the chainstays themselves are massively oversize and stout.