Point the GT downhill and it starts to make sense
The Verb is the latest addition to GT’s line of full-suspension trail bikes. It’s a three-model range, and with prices starting at £799 for the Comp and topping out at £1,199 for the Verb Expert, it’s fair to say this is an entry-level platform.
That’s not to imply that GT has cut any corners, though. All of the Verbs share the same sleek aluminium frame, sporting GT’s Independent Drivetrain suspension. Travel is set at 120mm, where the layout of the floating bottom bracket, forged links and swingarm share more in common with GT’s Sanction enduro bike than the 130mm-travel Sensor.
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The angles are relatively modern too — at least for a short-travel trail bike. Factor in that the frame is available in five sizes and the Verb Elite starts to look like a great package. Sure, standover clearance could be improved with a lower, or even kinked top tube, but the cockpit is every bit as modern as the sizing, where the stubby 60mm stem and relatively wide 720mm handlebar ensure that the tail isn’t wagging the dog.
As the only bike sporting a coil-sprung fork in this test, the GT is starting out on the back foot. Not only does this make the 120mm-travel Suntour XCR 32 heavier, you’ll also need to buy a different spring if you’re not within the weight range of the stock set-up.
At least, with 32mm upper tubes, the Suntour XCR offers a more stout front end, with better steering precision, than the Giant Stance. However, given that after a couple of rides most of the lubrication was on the upper legs, not inside the fork, we don’t hold out much hope for reliability.
Out back, GT uses a custom DNM All Terra shock, which has a rebound adjuster that works in the opposite direction to every other shock on the market. Once we figured this out, we realised that it can be tuned from bullet-fast to stuck-down slow. The shock also makes an annoying wheezing sound as it cycles, so even though it felt a bit lifeless on the trail, at least you know it’s doing something.
The GT has the same Suntour XCM double chainset as the VooDoo, with one subtle difference; the Verb gets the older square taper bottom bracket interface, which isn’t anything like as robust as the Octa-Link design found on the VooDoo.
With big 180mm rotors, and extra-long, two-finger Shimano brake levers, there’s no shortage of stopping power on the GT Verb. Unfortunately, this is all for nothing on the trail, as the semi-slick Kenda Slant Six tyres don’t produce enough braking traction to slow you down in a hurry. They will be all but useless in wet conditions too, as will the non lock-on grips.
Sling a leg over the bright orange GT Verb and it’s apparent from the off that the riding position is more arse-up and head-down than the other bikes in this test. And that’s with all of the spacers placed below the stubby 60mm stem. It’s also got the steepest steering geometry so, combined with only 120mm travel, it’s easy to assume that the Verb is the most XC-focused bike here.
That’s only half the story though. At 15.57kg — without pedals — the GT is almost 2kg heavier than the Giant Stance; its closest rival in terms of both travel and attitude. And even the fast-rolling tyres aren’t enough to mask the extra weight, particularly on the climbs. As such, it will have you wheezing just as hard as the rear shock.
Point the GT downhill, however, and it starts to make more sense. The generous length in the frame, combined with the short stem and wide bar, put you in a poised, attacking position on the bike.
GT has also nailed the spring rate on the fork for 80kg riders, as we still had some travel in reserve even on steeper descents. Which is exactly how we’d set up the fork if it was air-sprung.
Being the heaviest bike on test, with the worst specification, it’s easy to see why some test riders thought the GT Verb Elite was actually a £750 bike. To its credit though, the Verb has great sizing, and can be ridden harder on the descents than the meagre 120mm travel and semi-slick tyres suggest. It’s on the climbs that the GT really suffers though, as there’s simply no escaping the extra gravitational pull of all that mass. If GT intends to resuscitate the Verb’s somewhat lacklustre performance, it need only put the bike on a diet — fitting an air-sprung fork would be a great place to start.