Bike Check: Martin Maes' DH-Configured GT Force - Maribor World Cup DH 2021

Aug 13, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  

Martin Maes has had one hell of a season so far. He became a father right at the start of the EWS season and returned to racing for EWS round three, where he was sitting in third until a crash in the final stage took him out of round four due to concussion symptoms. Now, he's back to racing on a new bike for the Maribor World Cup, where he's sitting 37th in the UCI Elite DH rankings, thanks to a 9th place result at the first Maribor World Cup last year and two 13th place finishes at the back-to-back Lousa events.

Martin's new bike is a Force that's tweaked to a downhill setup, which suits him, his coach Steve Spencer said, because he prefers a bit shorter travel than most on both his downhill and enduro bikes. While the Force comes stock with a 170mm fork for enduro mode, Martin prefers to run it at 160mm to keep the bike nimble. "He can choose very good lines," Spencer said. Similarly, instead of a 200mm fork, he's running 190mm up front to prioritize maneuverability over a monster truck feel.

Martin Maes is beyond stoked to be back.
Martin Maes // GT Factory Racing
Age: 24
Hometown: Liege, Belgium
Height: 183cm / 6'0" (estimated by mechanic Mark Maurissen)
Weight: 72kg / 159lbs
Instagram: @martin_maes5

Frame: GT Force (large)
Shock: Fox DHX2, 160mm, 425lb spring and "average" settings
Fork: Fox 40, 190mm, 73psi, rebound "very average" and LSR 10 / HSR 6
Wheels: 29" Stan's Flow F & R
Tires: 29" Michelin DH22 F & R
Drivetrain: Shimano Saint
Brakes: Shimano Saint, 200mm rotors F & R
Cockpit: OneUp bars at 780mm width, 20mm rise, RaceFace Atlas direct mount 50mm stem
Size: L
More info: GT Bicycles

bigquotesWe’re always trying new stuff just seeing what the capabilities are of certain bikes. Martin and the crew have been trying a couple different things out and we’ve been making a lot of learnings with the current setup and are looking to apply things down the road. It’s kind of just testing options and what works because every track is different and some bikes, you need a little more, a little less, a little more maneuverability, so we’re just finding out what the limitations are of the bike. They’ve been having a good time on it.GT Coach Steve Spencer

Martin likes to keep his setup relatively consistent and runs the same brakes whether he's racing enduro or downhill, but he did switch to 200mm rotors front and rear for this race rather than his usual 180mm.

It's powered by a Saint 7-speed setup, with the recent addition of an idler wheel of course.

GT's chainstay adjustment lengthens or shortens the rear end by +/- 10mm. Martin has opted for the longer setting, putting the chainstays at 445mm.

By running shorter travel front and rear than most riders on the World Cup track, Martin can play to his strengths with an ultra-maneuverable bike.

A RaceFace stem and seatpost round out the build along with a Fabric saddle.

We expect him to have a lower number plate the next time he races a World Cup.


  • 222 1
 Maes the Force be with you.
  • 6 2
 damn you beat me to it
  • 98 0
 @likeittacky: To the punch, beaten you, I have.
  • 3 0
 well played sir
  • 4 0
 What is this heresy
No wyn tv on on pinkside
I think it maybe the end of the world!
  • 46 0
 C'mon, be a man and put a bottle holder on it so you can do practise runs with a drink in there. Go full enduro! :-D
  • 9 0
 And a dropper post. Why not? Would be great to hammer across the finish line... then casually pop the dropper and pedal around the finish area...haha.
  • 43 0
 I’m excited for this fusion of big enduro bikes and dh bikes! Great development for us average joeys hitting the park and natural terrain on one big bike.
  • 16 24
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Aug 13, 2021 at 0:14) (Below Threshold)
 Downhill bikes will usually be faster on World Cup DH tracks, unless it's a weak track.
  • 30 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: sure, but I was talking about us mere mortals and being able to use one frame with either dual or single crown.
  • 4 3
 This isn't anything new. People have been running DC forks on "small" frames before. Maybe not on WC level, but some park & free ride bikes for sure
  • 8 3
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Enduro bikes are basically DH bikes with less travel and a steeper seat angle, so I'd think the differences would be negligible on all but the roughest tracks.
  • 1 0
 Surely it’s about the rider too though @DoubleCrownAddict:
  • 1 1
 Lets go back to the Freeride Era and just mount a SC Fork on a DH Frame and call it a Day. A Demo 8 with a Single Crown and a Dropperpost would be the Dream Bike for me
  • 19 0
 Enduro bikes as Dh bikes is the future probably.
It really works for the fork manufacturers to be able to sell 2 sets of forks for 1 frame. Doesn't work so well for the frame manufacturers apart from streamlining their portfolio.

Having been there with my VPfree, a Dh bike is faster than an Enduro/all mountain freeride as it was back then bike with a Dh fork on. So for pure racing Dh racing, the Dh bike is faster, bit not by much, a couple of seconds on a track at the top level probably, which can be a lot of positions.
For average Joe, doing a few Dh races, spending thousands on a Dh rig doesn't really make sense these days.
  • 10 55
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Aug 13, 2021 at 0:17) (Below Threshold)
 Only because everybody wants E bikes instead of DH bikes. But for World Cup, DH bikes are faster. He should be on a Fury for this track and this is a bad move.
  • 53 2
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Sorry, I upvoted your comment, by accident. Should have been a downvote, and that was a bad move.
  • 2 0
 @betsie Sure it works for the frame makers too, as they get to repackage the main components, ie. front and rear triangles, with maybe a tweaked linkage, and voila, they've make a "downhill bike".

It works for the consumer too, if it gives you more options with one frame, why not. And as you say, most people, even if they enter a couple DH races per year, probably don't need a purebred DH bike.
  • 22 0
 So this is what the dark side of the Force looks like....
  • 11 0
 Looks pretty bright to me.
  • 1 0
 @seraph: Banshee reference goes screaching by...
  • 22 2
 GT Tequesta paint job! Nom nom nom
  • 5 0
 Yesssss the classic GT colourway. Love it.
  • 11 0
 Loving the “team scream” heritage paint job.
  • 10 1
 Make a 50mm rise bar, oneup
  • 12 0
 spank em till they make one
  • 1 0
  • 4 0
 Could there be some marketing push behind this bike choice and coincidentally bike check? This bike that just came out. Definitely won't hurt sales for this new bike when shown that it is worthy of DH WC...the do it all bike at a great price...with a high pivot. GT is making the right moves!
  • 3 1
 Given that GT also has a DH bike and they like to be competitive in actual racing - I'd think Maes has tested both and found the Force to be quicker.
  • 3 0
 I remember Steve Peat saying that 180mm front and rear is more than enough for DH racing.... Back in early 00´s Smile
Lewis Buchanan did Hardline with his enduro bike with a few changes and finished 12th despite being all beat up from the crash in practice.
  • 4 0
 Hardline has a lot more than speed just to get to the finish line. And he finished 12th. Even Sam Hill raced with his enduro bike in Cairns a few years ago, and despite the never ending final flat section (which on paper should have favoured lighter enduro bikes), he ended up outside of the podium.
  • 3 0
 Didn't Jared Graves win in South Africa on an enduro bike a few years back?
  • 3 0
 @jamin589: he finished 3rd in 2013 worlds... South Africa yes.
  • 2 0
 @carreiro-12: Steve Smith race a Spartan with a triple clamp as well. Forget the race.
  • 3 0
 I love that the line between enduro and DH bikes is blurring. I've been calling it for a while now, but im sure at some point we are going to see manufactures selling 200/200mm bikes with dropper posts and wide range cassettes.
  • 4 1
 Canfield The One.1
  • 4 0
 Is it just me or are those bars rolled waaaay forward? I guess he likes up sweep?
  • 4 0
 I've started riding with my bars like this in the last year and have found it helps to weight the front wheel and give more confidence in corners and steep sections. I should probably just get a longer stem but that's not as cheap.
  • 3 0
 @mr-moose: that used to be the norm back in the day.
  • 1 0
 I like mine like that too. Keeps you elbows higher, in more of a BMX racing type position. Not so good for a "heels down" position but still
  • 1 0
 Try it out, you will love it.
  • 1 0
 Yep and you're not supposed to do that with the OneUp bars. The oval shape works best in a certain position... the bars even have markings with head tube angle numbers to help you match the oval shape to your bike for optimum benefit.
  • 1 0
 I've been rolling mine forward like that too, feels good on me hands.
  • 1 0
 I also like that position for all my bikes. Feels like a better ergonomic position for my hands/wrists/elbows. I run aluminum bars though, I am aware that many carbon layups aren't intended for some positions.
  • 5 1
 What a sick build, would love to take that for a rip.
  • 3 1
 The only difference between enduro and DH bikes now is the fork, at first glance at least. If they said it's his Fury no one would have noticed.
  • 5 0
  • 4 0
 Now this looks delightful!
  • 1 1
 maybe I just can't see it but, I can find out anywhere on the bike the word *Force*; I mean, it could be the future Sanction(Force with a different link, acording to the pictures I saw) with a 190 Fox40 instead of 180 Fox38. I guess, someone should check those ATC and see if they match, as in, mantaining the geometry.
  • 2 0
 I checked, it's a Force frame with a 205x65 shock at the back equating to 162mm travel.
  • 2 0
 scratch that, the shock size is actually 230x65, looks like it's possible to put a 225x75 trunion shock there equating to 184mm+- of travel.
  • 1 1
 @Lans: basically.. the next Sanction looks to be the Force frame with a different link/longer stroke(maybe) and a 180 fork.

if the Sanction will be 170-180, as long as the atc of the 190 Fox40 is around the same numbers as the 180 Fox38.. then, yeah, this bike could be exactly that and showcase the potential of fhe Force(/futurevSanction) frame.
  • 1 0
 @Lans: trunnion won’t fit without a custom link. Stock link has 50mm of clear width and a trunnion mount is 54mm wide. Also that shorter length and longer stroke would likely cause parts of the frame to collide at bottom out.
  • 4 0
 Finally a bike check with more than just pictures Smile
  • 10 9
 "GT's chainstay adjustment lengthens or shortens the rear end by +/- 10cm."

I find that hard to believe, maybe check units :^)
  • 13 2
 You’re right, that’d be quite the range. That’s been corrected.
  • 11 39
flag wardo7 (Aug 12, 2021 at 21:43) (Below Threshold)
 Wouldn’t be a Pinkbike article if there weren’t errors. I still don’t get why Pinkbike articles are constantly full errors and wrong information and have to always be corrected by commenters who are reading the article for the first time. Or is this like a running joke?
  • 15 0
 @wardo7: they do it for people like you
  • 55 1
 @wardo7: You missed the word "of" between "full" and "errors" in your second sentence. Please correct this at your earliest convenience.
  • 7 0
 @JonnyTheWeasel: Also, in the 1st sentence: "It" before "wouldn't" and "any" between "weren't" and "errors".

And, if @wardo7 had any sense of humor, he'd have used "road bike" instead of "running" in the last sentence.
  • 12 5
 Wow editing your own work really is hard because I suck. To be fair I don’t have a edit button and now I get to live with that chopped up excuse of a thought. I’m also not wrong about how quick commenters point out errors and I’ll also remove ability to write in basic sentence structure from my resume.
  • 5 1
 @wardo7: For what it's worth (i.e. nothing), I agree with the sentiment of your comment. (Downvotes be damned. :-P) As a fellow proofreading nazi, I notice errors in almost every Pinkbike article I read. I guess they don't have a very rigourous (English spelling) proofreading process before publication. Not many people are good at proofreading their own stuff.

Also, it's not unreasonable to expect a professional writer (somebody who gets paid to write) and content publisher (Pinkbike) to have significantly higher standards than the typical Pinkbike commenter. :-)

  • 3 2
 @WishIWazFaster: You forgot a comma after "i.e."
  • 2 0
 You need at least a 535mm chainstay for modern DH tracks, everyone knows that.
  • 1 1
 @WishIWazFaster: Complacency & apathy are the bane of society.
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: Hmm, not sure I agree but can't be bothered to google. But I did skip them after "write)" and "Pinkbike)", just to be less anal. :-)
  • 2 0
 I've bought two sets of those orange decals from stan's. Just thought I'd mention it
  • 5 0
 Tell us more! Shade of orange, length width and thickness of decals... Oh man don't leave us hanging like that!
  • 12 0
 @bishopsmike: That'd be Pantone Orange 021 on matte black. Height and curvature gonna vary by rim diameter and model and asym or symmetric, but it's 16mm height on the Flow EX3 Martin often runs, and they're about 274.7mm long. Decal thickness is closely guarded proprietary info. Some secrets we just can't share.
  • 3 0
 @StansNoTubes: That is the customer service I expected from Stan's! You guys rock!
  • 2 0
 @bishopsmike: Thanks! Smile And hey @seismicninja thanks for the support.
  • 2 0
 Hey GT you should offer this exact bike. I don’t even ride or race DH, but I would just buy this cause
  • 1 0
 Isn't the full team on the Force? Wyn's posts and pictures do seem tho show the Force and not the Fury. And in that case, curious decission.
  • 3 0
 fresh looking wheels
  • 2 0
 Forgot and pulls out of Maribor
  • 1 0
 *Forgot "... and pulls out of Maribor". :-)
  • 3 0
 he is definately 5"11
  • 2 0
 I like the average suspension settings…. I run the same on my bike.
  • 1 0
 Don't see why he doesn't just use this same setup for enduro with a dropper and 12-spd ???
  • 2 0
 Save some weight and 12spd wide range cassettes weight a ton, since it is unsprung mass reducing it when you can is the smartest thing to do.
  • 2 0
 Dang! That paint job is epic!
  • 1 1
 With high pivots designs popping up all over. You knew a triple clamp on an Enduro bike was the next step. Literally had this conversation yesterday with a buddy.
  • 1 0
 I can’t wait for a cascade or Williams linkage set to pump up the travel a bit.
  • 2 0
 This is a beautiful bike.
  • 1 0
 Any ideas why the new Force didn't go for a Trunnion mounted rear shock?
  • 3 1
 Probably it's not the smartest idea to make the shock a structural part of the frame, at least not on every kind of rear suspension
  • 7 1
 Because trunion is a terrible standard ? Shocks should be mounted on spherical bearings to reduce side loading which creates quick wear and binding. Trunion does the exact opposite and heavily transmit to your shock every single frame side load.
  • 2 0
 @Becciu: but it’s not a structural part of the frame.
  • 1 0
 He's about to find out it's no Fury
  • 1 0
 That steep STA should put him in a nice pedaling position for the climbs.
  • 2 1
 What a BEAUTY !
  • 3 4
 Ahmaesed GT forced him to ride that paint scheme
  • 6 0
 Classic orange, yellow and blue?
  • 3 4
 Looks like the new session
  • 2 0
 Beat me too it
  • 2 4
 His helmet is very large looking and that GT yellow is a bit off eh?
  • 1 2
 shimano don't make 200mm
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