GT Force X Carbon Pro | Longterm Test
December 9th, 2016
GT Force X Carbon Pro – Doddy’s Mountain Bike Adventures steed
With 150mm of travel and a carbon fibre construction, the GT Force X Carbon Pro has enough travel for anything you dare throw it down – and is light enough for all day missions.
When GT provided Anna Glowinski and myself one of these each for filming, I was pretty enthusiastic about it as I’ve not ridden a GT in anger for a while. The last GT I rode was the 130mm travel GT Sensor Carbon (review here) which had a great ride – so the Force X promised a lot.
Whilst Anna had a teeny little size small, mine was the XL – which had fairly roomy geometry. Although not quite as exaggerated as my Mondraker Dune, it was certainly big enough to have fun on and was a riot for chucking about.
The carbon front triangle offers a 66.7degree head angle; 657mm top tube and a 352mm BB height. Seat angle is 73.3degrees and out back there is a roomy 443mm chainstay which pleased me – I generally prefer longer back ends on bikes.
Out back, the huge carbon seat and chain stays make for a solid back end, and utilise the same AOS independent drive train suspension platform as the Sensor. Basically, it is a high pivot design with the bottom bracket mounted on a link called Pathlink. Above the BB is a pivot allowing top of the link to drive the rear shock, and the bottom allows the rear end to move back and up without affecting the chain length.
This system shares similar principles to the old iDrive system that GT pioneered, but in a much better lay out. The idea is that the transmission remains isolated from suspension action – and though it does feel odd at first is very effective
Spec on the GT Force X Carbon Pro is all high end gear, but my size XL weighed over 33lbs – that’s pretty porky for a high end carbon bike that retails for £5100. As a rough comparison the Mondraker Dune R Carbon retails for £4999 but weighs nearly 2.5lbs less in the same size.
When I first weighed the bike, I was a little surprised. But taking it out for a quick ride a few days before filming episode 1 of Mountain Bike Adventures I found the weight didn’t feel too bad and the bike had a good lively feel.
As my favourite tyre combo was already set up on another set of wheels, I swapped the Stans wheels from the GT with my E13 TRSr carbon wheels – saving a chunk of weight in the process. As standard, the alloy Race Face bar was wide enough at 800mm, but was virtually flat – so I swapped that out for the 35mm rise carbon model.
Up front the supplied 160mm Rockshox Pike was fine, though I had been running a brand new Rockshox Lyrik with 170mm travel. It also had a custom decal kit supplied by Slik Graphics to match my previous bike – but just so happened to match the GT perfectly! So I slipped those in and stuck the bike in the boot for the first lot of filming at Dalby Forest.
Out On The Trail
As is sits, the front end is about 20mm shorter, and has a steeper head angle and slacker seat angle than my Mondraker – plus a longer rear end (the Mondraker is 430 stock, but I have the extended drop outs for 440mm). But with the 50mm stem on the GT, the position is comfortable and the bike feels really lively.
It took me a little while to get the shock set up the way I like it – the sag system, like the Sensor isn’t ideal and I ended up running the GT Force X with faster rebound than I usually would. But immediately, I had great fun riding the bike. It popped up nicely on the jumps and the combo of shorter front and longer rear felt really balanced through the turns.
Although the AOS system isn’t as supple as some out there, it responds well to riding hard. In particular roots and square hits are coped with admirably, and the bike fires out of tight bermed turns.
As with other GT bikes sharing this suspension platform, it’s really efficient when putting the power down. I never felt I needed to run the shock in anything except wide open. Even on courses like Hadleigh Park with a lot of pedalling, I left it alone and got on with the cranking.
However, one thing that frustrated me was the constant ghost shifting. I put it down to a short outer cable fitted at the factory and took a look later – only to discover the worlds most complicated cable routing. I tried a few things to remedy this, ending up skipping out most the original routing and using cable ties to fasten the outer to the Pathlink. Not ideal, but it worked.
Over the next few shows, I really came to enjoy riding the GT Force X. Although the bike was quite different to my usual bike, it was a bloody good laugh.
I especially loved jumping it and firing it in to corners – even set up softer and a little faster than I usually would, the bike never felt slouchy.
It was easy to use the full travel out back, but not once did the bike lose it’s composure – even with some pretty bad landings. Which encouraged me, constantly to give it the beans!
Over the time I had the bike, I took care of it like I would any other bike. It did develop a creak after a while, which I traced to the 4mm pinch bolts on the pivot under the bottom bracket. Once cleaned and re-installed with fresh thread lock they never caused an issue again – I put it down to them being dry from the start.
The Final Say
The GT Force X Carbon Pro is a pricy bike no doubt, and perhaps a little porky – but it’s not held back when you give the cranks some abuse.
The harder you’re willing to ride the Force X, the better it gets. Yep, it pootles along quite nicely – but if that’s your style you should really be on the shorter travel Sensor and make the most of the lighter weight.
But if uplift days and sessioning spots like the FOD or Tidworth are your kind of thing – the Force X will suit you well. And it would make a decent Enduro race bike too – it’s got great kit on there, though going tubeless and speccing better rubber would improve the stock build substantially.
The GT Force X Carbon Pro goes up; along; over and down anything you point it at. It doesn’t answer back much and generally takes abuse quite well.