Gilles Franck is a Belgian EWS racer who recently built up a custom GT Force that is painted to replicate a 1997 GT LTS. Over the last few years, Gilles had a successful stint in the U21s, finishing consistently in the top 10 in 2020, and will be moving up to the big leagues for 2021. We caught up with him with a few questions about his racing and to learn all about the new bike.
How did you get into racing?
I’ve started riding in Patric Maes’ mtb school at 12 after playing basketball during my childhood. After a few years of just having fun on my bike, going racing was an obvious choice. Then I followed the process to race my first EWS in 2017. Many destinations, trails and dream results later… Here we are!
What are your race plans this year?
After a satisfying 2020 season with a 4th place in U21. I am as motivated as ever before to do well in my first-year elite and racing all the EWS rounds.
How did you come up with the idea for this bike?
I have been riding with Martin Maes’ ex bikes since 2017. For this season however, I was going to get my first new bike in long time. And as I already had a similar looking bike last year, I decided to make this new one special.
Why did you choose the 1997 GT LTS?
It is a mythic bike from GT, the colours are matching perfectly with my Michelin tires and in a time where retro becomes fashion again, I had to make this one!
What was your favorite part of the build process?
The drawing is always the most exciting part because I have the shape of the bike in front of me and I’m like “OK now everything is possible.” Then I also really like when everything is ready on the workbench and the build starts… Every detail must be thought of!
The inspiration for this bike, the LTS-5, shared some basic characteristics with today's bikes and built a foundation for the suspension designs we have today.
A light yellow Fox 36 ties the bike together so nicely and contributes to the retro look.
Anything else about the story that you would like to share?
Fun fact, it was a race against time to get it on time before leaving for a riding trip in Madeira. I had the idea quite a long time ago but getting parts during a bike scarcity is an adventure itself. I got the last part the day before flying, gave a call to my friend Thomas Theunissen who was free that evening and made some banger shots! Then it was time to unbuild it to fit in the bike bag.
We look forward to following along as Gilles takes on the EWS this season. It's great to see a modern bike pay homage to its roots.Learn more about the original 1995 LTS here.