Over 25 years. That’s the amount of time that GT has been creating full suspension mountain bikes. Compared to that very first RTS (Rocker Tuned Suspension), today’s bikes are lightyears ahead in terms of technology and capability, but one things remains the same – GT is continuing to add shocks to their bikes in order to make them more fun. Whether that means going faster, riding with more comfort, or just tackling more challenging terrain is up to you, but the bikes are getting better, and more fun, all the time.
As GT’s suspension designs have evolved over the years, how we’re able to ride has changed as well. Bikes are quickly changing with 1x drivetrains, better brakes, wider tires, and better suspension in general, which led GT to reevaluate how their bikes were designed. That led eventually to a completely clean slate design, and eventually… the rebirth of the LTS (Link Tuned Suspension) platform.
According to GT, just about every suspension design was considered before heading down the LTS path. But in the end, their take on a modern Horst Link design was chosen for a few specific reasons. GT was very clear that they didn’t set out to create the most pedal efficient bike ever – rather they wanted to make the most fun bike possible. The word fun came up a lot over the course of our time in with GT in Trysil, Norway, and why shouldn’t it? Isn’t that why most of us ride in the first place? It is for us.
It’s a bit surprising to see GT to back to a Horst Link after years of extremely unique designs, but it also makes a lot of sense. The design is more than proven at this point, and they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, GT was able to spend their time and money on improving the design when it comes to a modern Trail or All Mountain bike. Starting with a full complement of test mules and data acquisition bikes, GT honed in on the braking performance and the progression of the suspension while also dialing in the geometry. After finding that bikes were blowing through the travel GT wanted to come up with a suspension curve that still offered better small bump compliance while increasing bottom out resistance as well. As a result, the new bike has a progressive ratio with a consistent slope and smooth ramp up at the end. The suspension also includes a bit of anti-rise under braking which is where the suspension “squats” under braking and is preferable to brake rise, or brake jack.
Other suspension details include a lower amount of anti-squat which is said to improve grip and traction for technical climbs. GT points out that you can improve the climbing of a bike with a lock out lever, but there’s no lever to increase traction. Instead, they wanted a consistent bike that offers great grip, traction, and has minimal pedal kickback, all while remaining extremely active on the descents. Thanks to the Metric Tunnion shock mount, the frame is compatible with both air and coil shocks in modern fitments.
Along with better suspension performance, the design should also be good news when it comes to maintenance. Featuring sealed bearings at all the pivots, the seat stay and chain stay pivots use two bearings each, and the main pivots uses a LockR axle that locks the pivot in place with low torque, which we’ve also seen on Cannondales at this point. That focus on durability and serviceability extends to the bottom bracket with a threaded shell with replaceable ISCG 05 mounts.
The carbon bikes also get a special cable treatment which is fully external (with exception of the dropper post) – but it looks like it’s internal at the right angle. Called the Groove Tube, the design isn’t new to GT, but it is new to the Sensor and Force. By building a concave channel in the back of the down tube, GT is able to hide the housing while also adding a bottle cage mount to the cable clamps. This not only makes it look cleaner, but also should protect the cables from damage. Called F.O.C. Ultra2 technology, all of the carbon versions benefit from the latest iteration of GT’s carbon technology which basically means that the carbon plies and layup have been improved to make the frames stronger and lighter.
Additional frame details include a Boost 148 x 12 rear hub spacing, 31.6 seat tube with plenty of room for dropper posts, 1x specific design, and integrated downtube and chain stay/seat stay protection.
While the geometry has been massaged to fit with current trends of longer, lower, and slacker, GT emphasizes that the geometry needs to be balanced. That means that while the Force has a 65º head tube angle, 75.5º seat tube angle, and 758mm front center (size medium, low setting), it balances that out with slightly longer 435mm chain stays. Both the Force and Sensor also have the opportunity to tweak the geometry with a simple flip chip built into the lower shock mount. This ends up offering a +/- 0.75º seat/head tube angle adjustment, and a +/- 6mm change in BB height.
To change the flip chip setting, all you need is a 5mm wrench and about 1 minute. The bolt is simply loosened from the drive side enough to pop out the chips, but not actually remove anything. Then the chips are flipped, and re-tightened.
When it comes to wheel size, you have one choice – depending on the bike. The Force is 27.5″ only, while the Sensor is 29″ only. This corresponds to the amount of travel of each, where the Force is a 150mm travel frame equipped with 160mm travel forks, while the Sensor is a 130/130mm bike. Both are also available in carbon models with aluminum rear ends, or full aluminum frames, each with the same features (except Groove Tube). Tire clearance is said to be 27.5 x 2.3″ on the Force, though that is with CSG’s own requirements of 9.8mm per side. They say they’ve fit bigger tires without issue, but due to the wide range of actual tire and rim size combinations, they have to be conservative. The Sensor on the other hand, will clear a 29 x 2.35 or 27.5 x 2.8″ plus tire.
Certain markets will also see the availability of frame only version of the Force and Sensor, and all of the models should be available next month.
Force Carbon Pro
- Carbon/alloy frame
- Fox Float Factory 36 Fork / Fox Float Factory DPX2 Shock
- SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed / SRAM Guide RS Brakes
- KS Lev Ci Carbon dropper post / Race Face Aeffect Bar and stem, 40mm
Force Carbon Expert
- Carbon/Alloy frame
- RockShox Pike RC, DebonAir Fork / RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir Shock
- SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed
- KS Lev Si dropper, Southpaw Lever / Fabric Saddle / SRAM Guide RS brakes
- Aluminum frame
- RockShox Yari RC Fork, RockShox Super Deluxe R Coil Shock
- SRAM NX Eagle 11-Speed
- Tektro Slate T4 brakes / Race Face Chester Alloy bar and stem, 40mm
- WTB ST i29 rims / Schwalbe Hans Dampf Performance tires
- Aluminum frame
- RockShox Revelation RC Fork / RockShox Deluxe R Shock
- SRAM NX 11-Spd. / Tektro Slate T4 Brakes
- WTB ST i29 rims / Schwalbe Hans Dampf Performance, tubeless ready tires
Sensor Carbon Pro
- RockShox Pike RCT3 Fork / RockShox Deluxe RT3 Shock
- SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed/ SRAM Level TL Brakes
- KS Lev Ci Carbon Dropper Post / Race Face Next Carbon Bar, RaceFace Turbine stem, 35mm
Sensor Carbon Expert
- RockShox Revelation RC Fork, RockShox Delux RT3 Shock
- Stan’s NoTubes Flow S1 rims / Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance tan wall, tubeless ready tires
- SRAM X01/GX Drivetrain, 12-speed / KS LEV dropper post, Southpaw Lever
Sensor Carbon Elite
- RockShox Sektor RL Fork / RockShox Deluxe R Shock
- SRAM NX 12-speed / SRAM Level TL Brakes
- X-Fusion dropper post
Sensor Alloy Comp
- RockShox Sektor RL Fork / RockShox Deluxe R Shock
- Shimano SLX Drivetrain, 11-speed / Shimano MT400 Disc brakes
- Alex MD27 rims / Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance Tubeless Ready tires / All-Terra dropper post
Sensor Alloy Sport
- RockShox Recon RL, Solo Air Fork / X-Fusion O2 PRO RL Air Shock
- SRAM NX Drivetrain, 11-speed / Tektro Hydro Disc brakes
- Alex MD27 rims / WTB Ranger Comp tires