GT has a longstanding reputation for creating some of the most iconic, out-of-the-box full-suspension designs since it started making double boingers back in 1993. Some of the bikes churned out by the GT think tank were groundbreaking, while others, although reputable ideas, once turned from concept to reality, were convoluted, overly complex and a nightmare to service. Take GT’s most current mousetrap, Angle Optimized Suspension or AOS, for example. Great concept--GT really wanted a rearward axle path to get the wheel up and out of the way quickly. That’s a good idea, right? Sure, but to do that, they put the pivot way up high, which creates tons of chain growth. So to combat the negative attributes of that, they designed a floating bottom-bracket shell that would move backward with the rear axle throughout the travel. All that monkey motion, winds up being more trouble than its worth sometimes. I for one, love the way the AOS bikes ride, but I’d never buy one.

 

The new GT LTS bikes run a familiar, proven four-bar linkage.

 

What wasn’t overly complex was the GT LTS, arguably one of the most recognizable, fondly recalled full-suspension bikes of all time. LTS used a simple four-bar design, back before GT engineers’ brains got too big for their britches. So, in an effort to achieve pure, unfiltered, clutter-free fun machines, GT is ditching the ‘Rube Goldberg’ designs and going back to its simplified, four-bar-LTS roots--modernized, of course. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.

 

The flip chips at the lower shock provide simple two-postition geometry adjustability.

 

The new 2019 Force and Sensor are refreshingly standard, in-the-box Horst-link rear suspension designs. To some, this might seem unoriginal, but just remember a few things: First, GT was early to the four-bar game--they were messing around with this stuff way before many of the brands we might think these new bikes resemble. Second, every Horst-link bike is unique--there’s tons of room within the platform for what you might call kinematic originality. And third, and most important, it’s a proven design that works, so who cares if it doesn’t look crazy unique? Before the forums start blowing up with snide remarks, like, “Way to go GT, you’ve made a Transition,” consider this: Dirt bikes all look exactly the same and nobody seems to care.

So, without further ado, let’s have a closer look at the 2019 GT Force and Sensors.

 

2019 GT Force Highlights:

  • 150 millimeters of rear travel, with 160 up front
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • Flip chips on the lower shock mount, for a half-degree head angle and 7 millimeter bottom bracket height adjustment
  • Trunnion mount shock
  • External cable routing, but tucked away with the revival of the GT Groove Tube.
  • Reasonable 65/65.5-degree headtube angle
  • Steep 75.5/76-degree seat angle
  • Modernly long 465/470-millimeter reach (size Large)
  • Reasonable 432/435-millimter chainstays
  • Replaceable ISCG mount
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Coil or air shock compatible
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2019 GT Force Models and Pricing:

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2019 GT Force Carbon Pro First Ride Impressions | $5,000

I’ll keep this section short and sweet for now, since I’ve only spent a single three-hour ride on the Force. Right off the bat, the Force felt smaller than other size Large bikes I’ve been riding, despite the fact that the reach number is decidedly not so. The steep seat angle, though, does make the cockpit feel short when seated. The low bar height on my test bike, combined with those tiny 27.5-inch wheels, compounded the relatively small-feeling size Large bike initially.

After some getting used to it, the Force started feeling more natural to me, and that’s when the bike’s sprightly, playful demeanor surfaced. The suspension has an overall predicable feel to it, with a linearly progressive ramp. That might sound contradictory, but it just means that there’s not a huge arc in the suspension curve. Instead, the suspension becomes consistently more progressive throughout the stroke.

Between that, and balance between active suspension and pedaling support, the Force did a nice job of maintaining momentum without feeling cumbersome, or getting in its own way. The LTS suspension isn’t the most supple feeling thing in the world, but that’s a good thing because there’s always support and never any weird wallowing feel. It’s not the most pedal-efficient bike we’ve ridden, but it does strike a comfortable balance between pedal ability and traction. The bike doesn’t squat, or buck and bob, but instead remains fairly planted and predictable.

Personally, I felt more at home on the shorter travel, bigger-wheeled Sensor, despite the fact it bounced around more on the rugged Norwegian trails we rode at GT’s launch. But, you know, that really comes down to personal preference. If you prefer the maneuverability of small wheels over the stability of bigger ones, you might not dig the Sensor as much as I did.

 

2019 GT Sensor Highlights:

  • 130-millimeter front and rear travel
  • 29-inch wheels, with 27.5-plus compatibility
  • Flip chips on the lower shock mount, for a half-degree head angle and 7 millimeter bottom bracket height adjustment
  • Trunnion mount shock
  • External cable routing, but tucked away with the revival of the GT Groove Tube.
  • Aggressive 65.5/66-degree headtube angle
  • Steep 76/76.5-degree seat angle
  • Modernly long 470/475-millimeter reach (size Large)
  • Short 435-millimter chainstays
  • Replaceable ISCG mount
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Coil or air shock compatible
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2019 GT Sensor Models and Pricing:

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2019 GT Sensor Carbon Pro First Ride Impressions | $5,000

I immediately felt confident to ride the Sensor aggressively, thanks to its slack 65.5-degree head angle and progressive, predicable suspension feel. One-hundred-thirty millimeters isn’t a lot of travel, and unlike bikes like the Evil Following for instance, the Sensor doesn’t give the feeling of having a single millimeter over that figure.

It’s not gushy or vague whatsoever. You definitely feel the trail beneath you, but the Sensor is easy to control, carries speed well, and corners with snappy responsiveness.

It was so good, that it had me wishing for a much more aggressive spec. The geometry and ride attitude of the Sensor is nothing short of badass, but the bike is dressed in khakis and a button down. All but the top-level Carbon Pro model come with a RockShox Revelation fork, which has no chance of keeping up with this bike’s potential. But even the Carbon Pro model is curiously spec’d, starting with the SRAM Level brakes. This bike needs Guides at the very least. It should also have a Fox DPX2 shock and 36 fork, and front travel should be 140 millimeters. Apparently most GT employees run the Sensor with 140 millimeter forks, so it’s curious to me why the bike would be so conservatively spec’d. Fortunately, GT will offer the Sensor as a frame-only for those looking to build the bike to its full potential.

Even still, the Carbon Pro build was a complete riot to ride. It climbed far better than the Force and carried speed thought the chunky stuff, despite having significantly less suspension travel. Out of the two, the Sensor would for sure be my preference for a ride-everywhere bike. I can’t wait to get more time on one.

Find more details at GT Bicycles.