First Impressions: GT Distortion 2.0

By Ryan LaBar

GT Distortion 2.0

GT’s Distortion defies conventional bike categorization. The bike has a 66.4-degree head angle, 17-inch chainstays, 13.8-inch high bottom bracket, a 150-millimeter fork, bash guard and wide bars with a short stem. None of these numbers seem out of place together, but what’s unusual is that the Distortion only has 114-millimeters of rear travel. On GT’s website the Distortion is placed in the ‘Enduro’ bikes section, but is marketed as a bike that can handle everything from XC rides to all-mountain and even light freeride or downhill action.

I often have fun on shorter-travel bikes, so I was quite interested to see just how this 114-millimeter all-mountain bike handled.

My first ride on the Distortion contained a solid mix of cross-country and freeride/all-mountain trails. It was immediately apparent that the Distortion was all about the descents. The cross-country-class travel didn’t seem to hold this bike back all that much on the trails I was riding, though I didn’t get into any super-rough rock gardens (Check out Bike for how the bike does in our full review).

Climbing the Distortion was better than I had expected given its angles and weight (I haven’t thrown it on a scale yet, but it’s not built with the lightest parts, nor is its frame all that dainty). The rear end stayed planted and felt snappy up rough climbs and, with a flip of the lever on Fox’s Float RL rear shock, the bike scaled smooth grinding climbs with nary a bob. I really found the shorter travel to be nice on transitions between steep descents and climbs.

The overall frame stiffness was solid.

Of all the parts hanging from the GT, I was the most wary of the RockShox Sektor TK fork. I was, however, immediately and pleasantly surprised by its performance. The damping felt good all around and the spring rate was spot on. I’ll be interested, though, to see how well the TK holds up over time.

Based on my first impressions, this bike would be great for an agressive bike handler who enjoys riding steep terrain and likes the feel of a short-travel bike.

Check back for the complete review of the GT Distortion 2.0 in the August issue of Bike magazine.