June 26, 2014
Last year, GT Bicycles released the Force and the Sensor – bikes that used its new AOS isolated drivetrain suspension system (a very much modernised take on the original I-Drive idea) with 150mm and 130mm of travel respectively and 27.5in wheels. These bikes seem to have gone down very well since then, but not every rider is after that amount of travel…
GT reckons that there’s an XC rider out there who’s not a racer as such; they want a bike that doesn’t weigh much, that goes fast, but that is still fun to ride, whether riding trail centres, doing a fast hour after work, 24 hour racing or actual old-school XC racing. No one denies that a good 29er is probably the fastest race bike out there, but they can be a little too earnest in their pursuit of efficiency and can lose some of the carve and pop that many of us got into mountain biking for in the first place. Here’s where GT’s Helion is aimed. GT points at its evergreen Zaskar frame as inspiration – it was a bike that was used successfully to compete in trials, XC racing and even DH racing in the early days of the sport. GT hopes that the Helion will be seen as a similarly versatile and fun bike.
GT maintains it’s not a World Cup XC bike, but a fast trail bike. Prices will start (in the US at a mere $1550, going obviously up to ‘how much can you afford?’ with full carbon frame and top-notch components. The higher models will come with the dual Fox CTD lever for instant control of the bike’s attitude.
With 110mm rear travel, and a 120mm 27.5in fork, the Helion will come in carbon (2.2kg for medium carbon, 2.8kg medium alloy frame) and aluminium. Both have a 69.5° head angle, roomy 23.85 top tubes for shorter stems and a new ‘Lock’r’ pivot system that does away with pinch bolts and which is said to give a lighter, stiffer ride.
And finally, here’s a video showing some dusty trails being ridden on a pair of Helions.
And finally, finally… GT did show us a Sensor-X, which Chipps got to ride and declared ‘Wicked fun’ – which is GT’s 130mm Sensor platform, only with a shorter stem, an up-specced 150mm Rockshox Pike and a flamboyant orange colour. The only trouble is, CSG UK isn’t going to bring them in for 2015 (though it will be doing the Enduro-ready Sanction, which is some consolation).