GT Sensor 2011 first ride

GT’s 120mm Sensor
The Independent Drive
The link that connects the bottom bracket to the front triangle

We were lucky enough to ride most of the full suspension models that GT offers in its range, but perhaps one of the most interesting, from a UK point of view, is the 120mm Sensor.

It uses the Independent Drivetrain (ID) suspension on a lightweight and hydroformed aluminium frame with, on our range-topping model, a Fox Float RP23 separating the main frame from the swingarm. The main pivot bearings use standard headset bearings and it’s just a couple of Allen keys to take them out, and new ones simply slide into place. No special or difficult servicing requirements needed here.

ID works by separating the drivetrain from the suspension, so the suspension can do its thing independently of pedalling action. And because the bottom bracket is allowed to ‘float’ attaching it to the main triangle, effects such as chain growth and pedal feedback are vastly reduced.

It might sound a little complicated, but it’s actually a very clever and simple solution to the problem of eliminating the unwanted feedback that occurs in some suspension designs. And in practice is works extremely well. Despite what some seem to say on various bike forums around the internet, there’s barely any discernable pedal feedback when riding, either in the saddle or standing up on the pedals. During the first part of the rear wheel’s movement the axle path first goes backwards, and this is noticeable as small bump performance is impressive.

On the short XC test loop we took the Sensor for a spin, no mean feet when you’re at 2000m altitude and your lungs feel like they have collapsed due to the lack of oxygen in the air, we got a real feel for how capable this bike is. It’s both sprightly and agile, with the geometry providing positive handling and predictable steering and, on the large size we rode, a decent stretch to the handlebars even with a fairly non-XC stubby stem was noted.

The Fox shock ProPedal lever, after trying the bike in both settings, seemed unnecessary. The suspension travel is so well controlled and well-mannered that with the minimum ProPedal damping the suspension felt really taut and controlled. The suspension was barely noticeable even riding of some terribly rutted trails, but a quick glance down at the shock confirmed that the suspension was indeed doing its job. Pedal feedback is virtually unnoticeable, at least I didn’t detect any negative traits on this short ride.

The Sensor 1.0 we tested will cost £2699.99 and for that you get a Fox 32 F-Series RL Fit 120mm fork. The drivetrain is a mix of SRAM and Shimano, with a S1400 39/26t chainset and SLX 10-speed cassette and XTR rear derailleur, and the provided 20 gears proved more than ample for the test ride we took the Sensor on.

GT uses Formula brakes on a lot of its models, and the RX version had a really nice lever shape with enough power for easy one-finger braking with nice modulation. Bars and stem come from Syncros and the Crank Brothers Cobalt 2 seatpost. Wheels are a mix of All Terra hubs and DT Swiss X430 32-hole rims fitted with Maxxis Aspen tyres, a 2.35in on the front and a 2.1in out back, a good combination that felt fast and grippy on the loose dusty trails of Les Deux Alpes.

The Sensor is a focused bike. On first impressions we were really taken with the Sensor as a bike perfectly suited to the vast majority of typical UK riding, from all-day epics across the Peak District to trail centres to the odd 24-hour race. I really got on well with the Independent Drive suspension, but a more thorough test should offer us the chance to really get under the skin. It’s a real gem of a bike.

We’ll get one in for test soon and let you know how we get on.


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