Carries amazing speed on rougher trails
While £4k represents the starting point for some carbon enduro bikes, with GT you get the top of the range model. That model is the GT Force Carbon Pro.
GT Force Carbon Pro review
It gets a monocoque carbon front end married to an alloy rear, where the frame pumps out 150mm of travel via its new LTS suspension linkage. It’s a genuine 4-bar design where the shock uses a trunnion mount with bearings in the rocker link to reduced breakaway friction. Said rocker link is a welded one-piece construction to boost stiffness, and a flip-chip in the frame give two distinct geometry setting.
GT has also resurrected the Groove Tube on the carbon models; it’s a recess in the top of the down tube that conceals the cables without the hassle of running them internally. An additional bonus being that the recess also allows the bottle cages to sit lower in the frame.
GT has pulled out all the stops to fit Factory level Fox suspension on the top-end Force. With 160mm travel up front, it is 10mm shy of what the team riders run, and you get the FIT4 damper rather than the RC2 version. The fork has got plenty of support, but its lacks the sensitivity of the RockShox units, so your hands take more of a battering, especially with the hard, skinny GT grips. Especially when you have to jack up the fork pressure to help raise the front end.
If you can hold on to the bar though, you’re in for a treat as GT has done a really good job with the rear suspension. This bike doesn’t hook up or chip away at your momentum even on the roughest trails so straight line speed is impressive. The progression rate of the LTS linkage is good too, so you can use the full 150mm travel without the bike bottoming too easily or wallowing in the mid stroke. At 80kg we ran the rebound adjuster on the DPX2 shock in the full open setting, so it would probably benefit from a lighter shock tune to increase the range of adjustment.
It only took one ride on the Force for us to raise several red flags in the build kit. The alloy end caps on the GT grips reduce the effective width of the 780mm handlebars by 10mm per side, which makes the bike feel smaller than the reach measurement suggests. Also as we mentioned earlier they are too thin and hard.
There’s also no rubber chainstay protector to silence the chain slap. Then there’s the quick release seat collar, even though the bike comes with a 150mm dropper post. All small detail that are easy to remedy, but one detail that’s more expensive to fix are the 175mm crankarms. We clipped pedals several times, so 170mm cranks like on the Canyon Spectral and Nukeproof Mega 275c are the way forward.
It was GT’s choice of tyres or more specifically tyre compounds that was the biggest let down though. We’re big fans of the bock tread pattern on the Schwalbe Magic Mary, but basic Addix Performance series rubber is just too hard for a bike of this calibre. As such, the front end pings off rather than rolling over wet roots and rocks.
With so many mixed messages coming from the build kit, it was actually really hard to get a handle on its underlying performance of the Force. Jacking up fork pressure to increase the height of the front end wasn’t ideal. Also the short head tube gives an artificially long reach measurement, and once you jack the stem up to stop the frontend feeling too low, the bikes feels smaller than the numbers suggest, something that’s compounded by the grips.
With a higher rise bar, better tyres and some 3M rubber tape on the chainstay the GT Force finally started to spread it’s wings. And thanks to the LTS suspension this bike can be ridden fast for sure, but GT needs to get the basics right if the Force Carbon Pro is really going to fly.
The new Force Carbon Pro has good angles and suspension but GT seems to have missed all of the low hanging fruit when it comes to the build kit. Out of the box the minimum you’re going to need is a higher rise bar, fatter grips, a better front tyre, shorter crank arms and a chainstay protector. Not the sort of changes you’d expect to make on a £4k bike. Ideally, the Force Carbon Pro would also come with a 170mm fork, but we’d settle for an extra 10mm spacer under the stem, as the front end is currently too low.