After a couple of years in the wilderness, GT are properly back for 2004. Most of the range was at the weekend’s Cycle 2003 show, with centre stage taken by the prototype G-Box “urban downhiller”. What makes it urban other than a single-crown fork and Maxxis Hookworm tyres we’re not sure, but the centrally-mounted gearbox concept should reach production sometime next year. This concept was nearly GT’s downhill bike a few years back, but never quite made it. At the moment there’s a Shimano Inter-8 hub gear in the middle of the frame, with a primary drive from the cranks on the right hand side and the final drive to the fixed sprocket on the rear wheel on the left, aligned with the swingarm pivot for zero chain tension effect (the rear brake lives on the right). There’s talk of a standardised, modular gearbox being developed with race motorbike-style cassette cogs for rapid ratio swaps, and a wide-stance fork so that front and rear wheels can be exactly the same, just flipped at one end.
The DH-i downhill bike returns for 2004, now available as a complete race-ready package with XTR bits and Marzocchi 888 fork for £2,999. Also in the burly camp are the Ruckus I-Drive bikes, with six inches of travel and various specs. The top-line 1.0 runs a heavy-duty spec with a 150mm bolt-through rear hub and ‘zocchi 888 forks, while the entry-level 2.0 looks like something of a deal with a Fox Vanilla 125R fork and Avid Juicy 7 brakes at £1,599. Possibly most interesting is the Flowta, with Shimano’s new Saint group, rear air shock, Marzocchi Z150 Air fork and a triple chainring making a kind of “low-phat” spec.
The existing I-Drive “trail” range continues with the usual colour and spec updates. But for a few dollars more you can have the all-new I-Drive XC, complete with a redesigned I-Drive system that does away with the eccentric bottom bracket. In its place is a comparatively simple double pivot. The swingarm pivots about the upper one, giving a bit of rearwards action in the stroke of the axle path. Meanwhile the bottom bracket pivots on the lower pivot, with a simple tension band taking the place of the old “dogbone” linkage to move the BB around to minimise chain growth.
There’ll be three bikes in the range, with the entry-level 3.0 starting the bidding at around £1,500 and working up to the Fox/XT equipped 1.0 (seen here) at somewhere the other side of two grand. The bikes look good (in a kind of RTS reincarnated kind of way) and the new I-Drive design is somewhat more accessible than the original.
There’s also a range of Avalanche hardtails, complete with trademark Triple Triangle frames and integrated headsets on the mid- to high-end models. The 3.0 kicks off the range at a wallet-friendly £249 while the 0.0 gets a lighter frame, Hayes brakes and a smattering of XT at £799. Those of a burlier disposition should look at the Ruckus freeridey hardtails from £599 to £899.
And for the irrepressible show-offs amongst you, there’s the welcome return of the GT cruiser range with various combinations of large handlebars, kicked-back riding positions and chrome. Just the job for the seafront, although possibly not our first choice for a UK winter…
More info at www.gtbicyles.com (turn the volume down if you’re at work…).