GT Bikes 2011 Part 1: Fury, Sanction and Distortion

by singletrackjon 21

GT is a classic bike brand that has been through some dark times in recent years. Much like the recently relaunched and rebranded Saracen, they’re trying hard to recapture their heyday, when GT were at the forefront of bike design with the thermoplastic STS, carbon fibre LTS, the titanium Xiazang and proto-hardcore-hardtail Zaskar being on most rider’s wishlists at some point.

Blue skies in Les Deux Alpes

Since being bought by sports giant Dorel in 2004 they’ve been steadily working at getting back on track, with Dorel buying the UK distributor last year as part of a global expansion scheme. Another sign of the attempt to reposition GT is that the longstanding association with Halfords is to end on the 1st January 2011, with GT Bicycles only being available from independent bike dealers from that date.

GT want you to "Earn Your Wings"..

With all this in mind, GT took us to Les Deux Alpes in France to show us their progress in the reinvention of the brand and, as their new motto, the chance to “earn our wings”. Quite. They’ve been doing some soul searching and have decided that the path to righteousness is to concentrate on producing bikes that are dependable, reliable and offer value for money as well as a solid riding experience, rather than going down the route of changing technology every year or making bikes that might be light but might not last.

They’ve also been trying, like the rest of the bike industry, to figure out which pigeonholes to put their bikes in. Unlike Cannondale, they’ve not come up with any new genre defining phrases and have gone for just three self explanatory categories, Gravity, All Mountain and Endurance.

Gravity Bikes

We’ll start off with the Gravity range, which brings us neatly to the Fury, the bike that has just taken first place under GT Team Rider Marc Beaumont at the Val Di Sole World Cup.

Lower and slacker but just as bright...

The Fury

For 2011, the Fury has been given a lower BB and a slacker head angle by using removable headcups. The frame still uses full carbon fibre construction and the eye-bendingly bright paint scheme does a good job of making the seriously chunky chassis look much skinnier than it is. The Independent Drivetrain system remains, having been revised over the years to make it lighter and easier to maintain, the bike having 211mm of squidge at the back. A full build of the top end Fury World Cup model with Fox 40 RC2 forks and a DHX RC4 shock tipped the scales at 39lbs without pedals. In the UK the Fury will only be available as a frameset with DHX RC4 shock, priced at £2,999.99.

That paintjob really does have a slimming effect..
Independent Drivetrain - high single pivot with a floating BB connected by a dog bone

The Sanction

Moving down in travel we come to the Sanction, having 150mm of travel at the rear and 160mm single crowns up front. Designed for enduro racing in the European sense, there’s a tapered 1.5″ to 1.125″ headtube and, as with almost all of the 2011 bikes, the rear shock tune has been revised with input from Fox as well as GT Product Manager Todd Seplavy to give an increase in rebound and compression damping in the top third of the travel.

David Arthur pins it..

There are no current plans to bring the Sanction into the UK but it felt quite at home on the less full on downhill trails in Les Deux Alpes, the Independent Drivetrain system working well during seated pedalling and with no overly intrusive pedal feedback when descending, although the new shock tune did seem to make the bike sit in the middle of the travel, falling away in the initial part before ramping up steeply in the end stroke.

[premiervideo src=”extras/Issue59/GTLaunch.m4v”]

The Distortion

The main surprise from the Gravity range was the Distortion. It’s a bike that’s hard to label, with only 112mm travel at the rear but 140mm at the front. It could be called a short travel slopestyle bike or a heavy duty XC bike but neither of those capture what it does it completely. When you looking at the frame geometry it makes more sense, with a long top tube, 67° head angle and pleasingly low 12″ static BB height. It rides like it’s packing more travel than it does, and has a planted feel in turns, the longer top tube giving plenty of space to move around and adjust position and weight.

Tapered headtube with Fox 32 forks

The tapered headtube and thru axle rear end keep everything stiff and this combined with the lack of wallowy travel means it’s great fun to snap out of the tight, hardpacked berms that were on offer in the bikepark trails of Les Deux Alpes. Throwing it into the braking bumps was a bit more of a rough ride than on it’s longer travel brethren, but the way the Distortion sucks up punishment is rather impressive. I imagine it’d be excellent fun on the more twisty and jumpy trail centres out there, as well as for ragging through the local woods or the odd bit of DH track poaching thrown into a longer ride.

Modular rear dropouts using 12mm Maxle..

It’s not been decided whether to bring the Distortion into the UK yet, but if you’re happy with genre-bending between the worlds of big bike handling and XC bike travel then the Distortion is a lot of fun. The Distortion 1.0 that I rode came with Fox 32 Float FIT forks, RP23 rear shock, Joplin uppy/downy post and an X.9 2×9 drivetrain. It weighed in at a respectable 30.1lbs with (light) flat pedals. The only disappointment about the Distortion was the Formula R1 brakes, which had plenty of power but were lacking in modulation, mostly due to it being impossible to get the lever blades close enough in to the bar.

Closer look at the shock and Independent Drivetrain setup

Next up in Part 2: We get see the All Mountain and Endurance flavours of GT…

Comments (21)

  1. I like the idea of the Distortion a lot!

  2. So do I, that would be the bike to tempt me back to full suss

  3. Distortion – looks ace and based on the description would be a perfect UK trail bike IMO.

    It’s still idrive tho 🙁 . Why don’t they just go to simple single pivot like Orange? Folk would love them again.

  4. So Dorel’s idea of a global expansion scheme is to buy the UK distributor and then not bring the range into the UK?
    Nice reinvention, probably should have gone to Halfrauds

  5. Nice pic of the editor of Bikemagic there….

  6. I hope that the distortion idea/style of bike is a sign of things to come and there will be more manufacturers offering bikes like this (with seattubes longer than 15”)…yay!

  7. What the Distortion is described for is exactly the riding I do. Sounds ideal on the geometry too, just a shame it’s got that weighty iDrive malarkey.

  8. I like modern I-Drive bikes. They work very well IME.

    Nice to see GT catching up (and even pushing things forward) when it comes to geometry.

    The Distortion is on My List.

  9. I agree Distortion looks interesting which is why I bought an Orange Blood. Slack with low bottom bracket. 36s up front and a lot less at the back. Good luck to GT and Beaumont will help. However i drive is ugly, looks counter intuitive and I have never found necessary. Also Fury is a lot of money for a frame and I am used o Orange frame prices.

  10. Benji: would you summarise what you think about idrive? In my (very limited) experience there’s a lot of feedback through the feet.

  11. What do you mean by “feedback through the feet”? Harsh suspension?

    The IDrives I’ve ridden have been far from harsh. Lovely and cushy on small and mid sized stuff. And on big hits/landings they felt like they had more travel than they do (no excessive ramping up or chain-kickback stiffening). Running a minimal amount of ProPedal was required to prevent excess bob/squidge but not too much so as to remove the suppleness.

    I think the only criticisms I had were excess weight, poor standover and steepish head angle on some models.

    I’ve not ridden any of the 2011 models above by the way.

  12. IAN1775;
    All distributors in the UK bring in a smaller range than what is available from brands, even in the US the ranges are not complete.
    There is a good possibility the Distortion will be available 2011 in the U.K, i hope it is as it looks great and sounds like an ideal U.K bike.

    PS. GT have ended their agreement with Halfords and as of Jan 1st 2011 GT is independent dealers only.


  13. That means massive discounts on GTs at Halfords come feb!

  14. I think by feedback through the feet he means you can feel the BB moving about on the dog bone bit. Am I right?

  15. Massive discounts on 2009 stuff yes, i dont believe they had any 2010 range but dont quote me on that.

  16. Distortion sounds (and looks) excellent. Kinda like an up to date version of my Blur 4X but arguably prettier…. Could be on my wishlist if they do come into the UK.

  17. “ou can feel the BB moving about on the dog bone bit”

    Yeah. You’re partly standing supported on the rear-triangle which is reacting to bumps.

  18. Were you actually feeling that, or were you just thinking you were feeling that because you had preconceived ideas about the bike? 🙂

    I’ve ridden early anti-squat-tastic I-Drives. They were awful. Some of the worst bikes ever. But not because they were harsh due to pseudo-URT theory. They’ve always been very good at soaking up bumps due to the excellent axle path (back and up, like a fork). They were awful because they were impossible to get the front wheel off the ground due to how the suspension extended under input!

  19. There’s a reason why Paul “God Of Suspension” “Rock Shox” Turner used a similar design to the I-Drive for his Maverick bikes.

  20. “There’s a reason why Paul “God Of Suspension” “Rock Shox” Turner used a similar design to the I-Drive for his Maverick bikes”

    Yep, thats because it is I-Drive. They pay to use it.

  21. Really liking that Distortion… Only real criticism I had of my Idrive 5 was that it was too heavy, and that it was too steep- like an enormous XC bike rather than a 6 inch trailbike. But i’ve still not ridden anything that can match it for stuff like glentress black, even if I wouldn’t ride a lot of the stuff I do on my Hemlock on one.

    So- cool new Idrive, hurrah!

Comments are closed.