Editor’s Note: The 2014 Bible of Bike Tests is now on newsstands, and it features straightforward reviews of 34 of this year’s most promising bikes. We’ve created videos with highlights from our candid ’roundtable discussions’ of each bike, all against a backdrop of shredding footage from our test trails in Sedona, Arizona.
Here’s the first: On the all-new GT Sensor Carbon Expert, a bike that totally took our testers by surprise. Be sure to watch until the end to find out what this bike’s awesomely low bottom bracket meant for one of our testers….
Final Take: Performs like twice the bike, even concealing some of the holes in the part spec.
The new GT Sensor ignited the enthusiasm of most of our testers. The high pivot point AOS suspension system allows the rear wheel to move out of the way of bumps brilliantly. Normally, high-pivot bikes left unchecked can pedal like dogs but GT's PathLink minimizes pedal feedback by controlling the chain growth and isolates both rider input and suspension performance. It pedaled insanely well on technical climbs and gobbled up chunky descents better than many other 130-millimeter-travel bikes.
While we understand that the component choice is determined by price structures we felt that some of the parts—namely the Formula T1S brakes, RockShox Sektor RL fork, triple crankset and Continental X-King tires—compromised the bike. The brakes lacked the power and modulation that other brands' stoppers do; we would prefer to see a fork that matched the Sensor's rear suspension capabilities; and the tires, although high volume, don't keep up with the Sensor's on-trail sensibilities.
Sure, for $4,880 you get a fantastic handling bike with a carbon frame. Still, this is a lot of money, and the next Sensor up in the range costs more than $7,000 and still comes with a triple chainring, Formula brakes and the same tires.
Also, with more right angles, bends and holes in it than an inner-city English traffic system, the cable routing resulted in heavy shifting even right out of the box.
Despite this we all had a blast on the Sensor Carbon Expert and could almost overlook the parts choice simply because of its performance. The bike has a low 13.2-inch bottom bracket, which makes for a precise and snappy feel. It's the type of bike that makes you want to keep riding and searching for the next bit of technical trail. –Seb Kemp