Bike Check: Martin Maes' GT Force Mullet Race Bike - EWS Zermatt 2020

Aug 29, 2020
by Mike Levy  

GT's Martin Maes has had a wild couple of years, from winning EWS and DH World Cup races on back-to-back weekends to a second-place at the DH World Championships in 2018. That was followed by a remarkable three-win start to 2019... That was scuppered by a 90-day suspension after failed drugs tests in Rotorua and Tasmania, something that Maes said was the result of required medical treatment at the New Zealand race that included ''a very high dose of antibiotics combined with probenecid, which was going to help me fight infection.''

After so many highs and lows, I'm betting that the Belgian powerhouse can't wait for the 2020 race season to kick off this coming weekend. Especially given that Maes took the win in Zermatt last time he was here by 12 seconds over the defending series champ, Mr. Hill.

Rider Name: Martin Maes
Team: GT
Height: 6ft / 183cm
Instagram: @martin_maes5

With 150mm of rear-wheel-travel and his Fox 38 at 150mm as well, Maes is running a bit less suspension in Zermatt than some others racers. His GT Force is also sporting a 29" front wheel and 27.5" rear wheel.

At 6ft tall, Maes is on a large-sized Force.

Frame: GT Force
Fork: Fox 38, 150mm
Shock: Fox Float X2
Wheels: Stan's Flow Mk3
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary / Big Betty
Inserts: CushCore (rear only)
Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
Brakes: Shimano Saint
Dropper post: Fox Transfer

Martin is running Schwalbe's Magic Mary up front and the new Big Betty for a rear tire. Like many racers, he's also using a tire insert in the rear only. Front tire pressure on this day was 23psi and just over 25psi in the rear. Soft compound all around.

The GT team uses Fox suspension, and Martin's Float X2 is set to 172psi for the Zermatt event. On the other end, the 38 was inflated to 90psi.

Maes uses Shimano's lightweight XTR cranks and their four-piston Saint brakes.


  • 186 45
 It's pretty shizzy that you cant write an article about Martin without mentioning the failed test. And I say that because it seems like Jared and Richie's feet have hardly been held to the fire when they strait up acknowledge that they cheated, and Martin's was related to a medical event. But hes still grouped in with the cheaters. Now, trust me, i know that the substance was banned and that the team and doctors did not properly apply for the exemptions. And, i know plenty of people are going to argue this as proof of cheating. For me the proof is in the fact that almost to the man/woman, Martin's competitors have said hes not a cheater. Hes just a down to earth super nice guy with godlike bike riding abilities. And his career is tarnished over some BS.
  • 30 53
flag Trudeez (Aug 29, 2020 at 0:25) (Below Threshold)
 I should also say, I'm a realist and I know people aren't always what they seem. So, if he did legitimately cheat then yes, he deserves all of it and that's something hes gotta live with for the rest of his life.
  • 58 3
 I think if your gonna lose a limb due to infection and the Doc says the meds are ok you've got to chance it.
  • 21 2
 @fatduke: I thought it was written in a balanced and factual way personally. He did fail a test, he may well have run away with the season if he didn’t get suspended. I remember in the comments the consensus seemed to be that he didn’t cheat, but the other two mentioned riders did. And that’s certainly something I think is likely.
  • 58 4
 Do your homework people! The only people labeling him a cheat are not fact checking the evidence. A test reviled traces of a banned masking agent that were in a drug prescribed to him in an emergency situation by a doctor unknown to him on the other side of the world from where he lives. Fact: He is innocent of cheating. Fact: He failed a drug test.
  • 12 1
 @oldfaith: exactly, there was punishment for failing a test which he received. His relatively short ban shows that he wasn't being punished as a "cheater". Being a WADA tested athlete is not easy, and they can't allow loopholes.
  • 9 0
 I agree, but social media always has to include some type of drama or back story of an individual. He took it on the chin and I appreciated that the most about him. Didn't complain at all and he had no choice. So how about leaving this crap out of future articles?
  • 8 2
 @Trudeez: I think it has to be noted because otherwise, we'd be referring to him as the EWS Champion.
  • 3 0
 How do you talk about his 2019 season without mentioning it - other than just ignoring the first half of his season. Had he mot won the first three races and finished 20th or something then it probably wouldnt be worth mentioning, but you cant really talk about the wins without mentioning they were stripped. And I agree that the writing balances it with context about the injury.
  • 1 0
 It would be ok if the others were held to the same standard and transparent with the events.
  • 14 1
 That's the problem of this day and age. If something is unpleasant to talk about people rather chose to not talk about it than talk about it in a factual manner.
This site is supposed to bring us unbiased articles and that also means not to exclude information in the interest of other people's feelings.
There is a distinct difference between mentioning a fact relevant to a discussion or event and using that information to discredit a person for more clicks. In this case, the information is relevant, otherwise how would they even talk about that race season?
It happened and it will always be part of his history. That doesn't mean it has to define him as a person or athlete. Get over it people!
It only makes sense to mention it.
He's back. He's healthy. And he's ready to proof to the world he will continue winning without any controversies. If anything this will give him the chance to settle this debate once and for all with a clean and decisive win.
  • 2 0

That’s how news works! Yes it is negative but as another poster has said, the article is balanced.
  • 2 3
 It would be naive to think there is no doping in this sport! Make enduro less physical and more technical could be one solution. When you have 18 min stages or pedaling sections physical condition makes a huge difference.
  • 3 0
 If pinkbike didn't include that in the article then the commenters would have pointed out mikes poor information gathering skills.
  • 1 1
 I've learned to chalk this kind of stuff up to the quirkiness of the Press, even back to their Journalism classes. They teach reporters to grab on to the slightest of irregularities like a pit bull grabs a strip of rawhide, and around and round they'll go with it. Fun, to them.
  • 2 2
 @pasteque51: what did you go and speak the truth in an inoffensive way for? Downvotes for you, charlatan!
  • 8 3
 @RayDolor: Ozzy Osbourne, who once bit the head off a bat, likes to eat toast slightly burnt.

Ozzy Osbourne, who once bit the head off a bat, was seen shopping in his flip flops on Saturday.

Ozzy Osbourne, who once bit the head off a bat, said: “I love cricket, me. I come to the Edgbaston test every year. It’s a great day out!”

Ozzy Osbourne, who once bit the head off a bat, walked his dog in the park yesterday.
  • 4 0
 @jaame: Do you work for the Star/express/dailymail/sun/buzzfeed
  • 22 1
 Please PB Could you include ALWAYS tire and rim widh on bike reviews??!
This is a hot point... Some running 2.6 and 35 rimms and others like Bruni 2.35 and 25... So there is really a batlle here to be watch... Also knowing if many use slightly slimmer tire at the back... Noticed tons if difference after going 2.6 front and back to 2.6 front 2.4 rear
  • 5 3
 Nobody is running 2.6 at that level. 2.5 is the widest. Pretty much count on ~30mm width rims. Would be cool to see all that listed though.
  • 13 0
 Internal rim width is 29mm.
  • 1 3
 @dualsuspensiondave: the ibis team were doing before the appearance of the assegais... I run magic mary 2.6 front and not bad I can proove... Plus is 200gr lighter than assegai... And infinite grip and can run low pressures on ibis 35 rims but the bike doesn't turn well... Shame is not in softer compound yet..
I don't see any con on this tire. They just could do it more roller frindly.
  • 1 0
 @dualsuspensiondave: Is that because of the limited choice of casings and compounds in 2.6? (this is at least true for Maxxis, not sure about the other manufacturers)
  • 1 0
 If you can be world champion on a 25mm rim and you can also win races on a 35mm rim, it shows that there is a lot of hot air and BS and you should probably just ride your bike better and not blow your $ or headspace worrying about it a couple of mm or rim/tyre width.
  • 7 1
 Comments fueled by materialism are what keeps the industry happy. I’m sure the shape of a rebound knob isn’t changing his overall performance. Once you have a dialed rig - don’t change it - it may be a key bit of his personality.

Seriously shimano when’s the new saint dropping?
  • 17 10
 Fox Factory rider riding the non-production fork and pre-facelift X2? Not a good imageSmile
  • 11 2
 Non-production fork? Because it's not sold at 150mm? And it's probably got a custom tune as well. Not really unusual to tweak the stroke length, just look back at all those 190mm "49" forks back when it was new: not sold that way, but lots of pros tried it when getting used to he 29er front.

Face-lift X2? Pretty sure the 2021 X2 is all new...
  • 8 0
 Just meet a pro rider and look at him riding: they don't do the same sport so if they ride other versions it is no big deal for me
  • 3 0
 @just6979: pretty sure that’s the old version of the X2, definitely seems strange he isn’t on the new stuff.
  • 2 0
 While the X2 is weird I agree, the RAD forks are more than a production fork that we will ever get. Its a 38. Just a lot different from what we can have. Most of the time, its specific to the rider, internally. Its possible he had a RAD shock and busted it, and the parts for his shock were not something that was easily on hand.
  • 4 0
 It's pretty possible that the new X2 doesn't fit into his frame.
  • 2 0
 @mirskeinereingefalln: nah the new X2 fits the force no problem
  • 1 0
 @TannerValhouli: the piggy needs more space, maybe it collides when compressing.
  • 2 0
 @mirskeinereingefalln: go look at wyn masters bike
  • 5 0
 My guess is he's running a mullet so that he can have a carbon frame. None of the Force 29ers have been carbon yet
  • 1 0
 The rumor is the Force and Sensor are the same exact frame with different shocks.
  • 1 0
 @Thirty3: the front triangle is the same but the rear end and the shock are both different
  • 6 4
 Well done PB, you somehow forgot to mention the most important info (is it a Force 27.5 or a Force 29) but didn't forget to remind to everyone that he got tested positif despite the pretty legit story behind it. I hope next article about "Rude the innocent who got attacked by a PED bottle" will not forget to mention it too, seems fair right ?
  • 5 10
flag RedBurn (Aug 29, 2020 at 23:44) (Below Threshold)
 Fck pinkbike srsly , they're probably paid for that . Waiting for more Blm articles and on why americans need to vote against Trump. Bias. Fuck off
  • 1 0
 It's the Force 27.5, which is probably the reason why Martin is only using 150mm of travel on the Zeb.
  • 2 0
 How different is the rear triangle of the force vs the sensor? Front triangles are the same. I would like to find that out to give my sensor 150mm. Forums have stated that you can fit a 185x55 shock in a senor, the same as the Force. It'll be really cool if there was a Cascade link for the GT.
  • 4 0
 No matter how long I look at the front tire I still see purple stripe there, not orange...
  • 3 2
 He's got the old Fox dropper lever... I know supply lines are wierd right now, but they can't get one of the best in the world the new goods? Hell, I could buy one right now and ship it to Switzerland! I refuse to believe that he actually wants that old janky one.
  • 1 1
 I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you did!
  • 2 0
 I caught that too! But I personally prefer the older lever because it works just fine and is the lightest 1X style lever you can find. Since it is now discontinued I was going to 3D image one and put it in CAD.
  • 1 0
 @silvbullit: You'd pick a few grams of weight over some better than "just fine"? The ergonomics of that level are terrible, not to mention that there is no brake clamp integration. Is it lighter than other options with iSpec or MMX integration, or are you comparing separate clamp options only? Because that clamp might weigh more than the integrated parts
  • 1 0
 Quite surprised to see him on an last generation Float X2. Everything I've read is that the new gen X2 is quite a bit better. The 150mm fork maybe makes sense as I think this weekends tracks appear to not be super gnar and with a 27.5 in the rear that 150mm fork will keep things as more "stock" geometry.
  • 5 5
 Has anyone properly tried a mullet? I get what Troy Brosnan was saying that it feels off balanced and a bit weird to have the higher front, also harder to weight the front for traction with being lower down at the back.
I guess if your only ever pointing downhill at quite a steep decline it could make sense, but for enduro you’d think a well designed 29er is better. Maybe GT haven’t got that yet.
  • 4 0
 I've been on one for about 6 months, its really good but whether it's faster for racing? It certainly is more fun and turns in better than its full 29 counterpart, buy I don't know it's better overall for racing.

The higher front does depend on the set up before and what you're swapping from and to, it could be that it rides better if you wanted some extra front end height
  • 6 1
 I would think if designed to work as a mullet setup you shouldn’t really have a bike off balance or lower at the back.

Bar height should be the same as any 29 setup, frame geometry adjusted to match so the only difference should be wheel diameter
  • 2 0
 A couple of years ago I was on a mullet DH bike from Votec that was sold as 27.5/26” and probably was the first mullet DH on the market and I have to tell you it was the best bike I ever owned.

I did not have a chance to try it on 29” but I’m sure it can ride nicely at least for my feel.

I’m currently on 29” Tallboy which is fine but that’s a trail bike. Last season on my non mullet 29” enduro I had moments where a smaller back wheel would suit me better in steeper and tight terrain.
  • 4 2
 I think mullet is better for downhill. Enduro races are timed mainly on downhills. It’s a bit more of a chore on uphills, but you get there in the end.
  • 5 2
 @kusa: some twenty years ago Specialized made a 26/24" mullet DH bike, especially to enhance cornering abilities with extremely short chainstays. Friend of mine owned one, can't remember though if he liked it that much, but I remember his cornering being very quick XD .
...remembering bike tech from 20 years ago...that's how I frequently remind myself how old I am ; ) .
  • 2 0
 I’m currently on a Gt force that I run mullet and it’s quite a big improvement over the stock set up. I think it’s all bike dependent. For this bike it works really well for other not so much.
  • 3 0
 I rode a mullet set-up (29/27.5) on a Merida 140b for a year, and then for a bit on a Ragley Mmmbop. I really liked it for park and gravity riding but not for peddling so much. Going to try it again soon with my spare DH wheelset - the benefits are real. All the front end rollover without compromising tight cornering.
  • 2 0
 Martin is taller than Troy, probably runs a higher bar anyway, so less of an issue weighting the front for Martin since his bars aren't pushed out of the comfort zone by the big wheel and fork. Just further showing that wheel size should maybe be connected to rider size and fit.
  • 3 0
 Might be the reason he is going with 150mm up front.
  • 2 0
 @TinuKu: don't worry. you're only old when you start to *forget* bike tech from 20 years ago.
  • 2 0
 @TinuKu: I've got a Specialized P1 from 2006 with 26 front and 24 rear. It makes the front stable and the rear fly all over the place. "Party" as they say. My regular mtb has 26 front and rear, I can imagine I'd try 27.5" at the front at some point and see if it makes a subtle difference.

For those interested, this magazine here did a little test:
  • 3 0
 The frame needs to be designed (or you just get lucky and the stock BB is high and SA really steep) around the mullet to maintain reach and stack. Just putting a 27.5 wheel on any old 29 isn’t very likely to work.

The Forbidden Druid with Link and mullet changes direction faster than the stock 29 bike.
  • 2 0
 Pointing a mullet bike downhill sure as hell makes a positive difference. I've found it makes some downhill sections that looked really scary to be "fun" to launch into.
  • 2 2
 Also, MM pretty much destroyed the field in every race he entered last year on the mullet - so it’s obviously not a shit setup.
  • 3 0
 I customized my Mondraker Dune 27,5 (2017) to a mullet. The bike came stock 160/160mm. I updated it soon to a 170mm fork 27,5 but used 99% of the time just 150-160mm at max.
One month ago I put in a 29" Lyrik 150 (I use it!) and an offset bushing. My BB is 5mm higher compared to 27,5. With a low-rise handlebar the higher is +5mm aswell. It feels very good and the bigger front wheel gives me better confidence plowing through rough stuff. The HT angle is about 64°. On mellow and flowy trails there was no difference in time (GoPro/Strava). I'm 1,70 / 5'6 and happy with the butt clearance.
  • 2 0
Did they same on a 2017 275 patrol. Ended up with a 150 lyrik 29. Great improvement.
  • 1 0
 You have to balance the geometry when you setup a mullet, either by having a custom linkage or put an angleset out at front. Otherwise, it feels crappy when climbing. You don't want it too high up front or the bb too low. on my current setup, I reduced my rear travel to 145mm from 160mm. And the front swap to a 29er 140mm with a 1 deg angleset from a 160mm 27.5 fork. Had to do it cos if I didn't my seat angle slackens too much and i have to keep pushing down the front.
  • 2 0
 @DrSam: That was the big reason I went for the YT Capra 29. The other bikes I looked at all needed a lot of faffing around to correct the geometry. On the Capra 29 it has a high and a low setting. The geometry is the same in the low oosition with 2x29" wheels as it is in the high setting with a 27" at the rear.

I think this is the route a lot of manufactureres will take for upcoing model years. I noticed Kona released a bike recently with the same. Other bikes already have it - I believe the Trek Slash is one such bike.

As long as you're happy to always have the bike effectively in the low setting, it's a great solution. Granted, it is a bit of a pig on the ups, but it pays you back on the downs.

  • 1 0
 @jaame: Liteville has a couple of tricks to make it work. They actually have a plug for the lower headset bearing. Just noticed PB released an article on it, haven't checked it yet.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: Yep, I’m with you on this. Just highlighting that just sticking a 29er front or putting 27.5 rear will not make every mullet bike work well. People seriously need to think how slotting the different wheelsize affect the geometry and ride quality.

Case in point my Intense Tracer T275c 2014, putting a straightforward swap with a 160mm 29er fork will bring up the bb too much and move my weight over the rear wheel too much. The seat angle is pretty slack if compared to the current bike geometry nowadays. To maintain the correct ride height ideally I should be having a 120-130mm 29er fork. I prefer the having the rear bottom out first than the front so I should have more travel in front or at least the same travel. So with a 1 deg angleset this lowers the front a bit so I can sneak in a 140mm fork, since I can flip the rear travel from 160mm to 145mm - I did just that.
Truthfully I’ve had very little ride time lately but so far it feels ok. My trails has plenty of switchbacks and roots so I think it should suit the current setup. Time will tell.
  • 1 1
 To run so little pressure on the shock it must be "chock-full" of spacers. I know these are different shocks with different adjustment capabilities, etc, but I wonder if a shock with a smaller air spring (that wouldn't have to be reduced) wouldn't fare just as well, with less weight.
  • 2 1
 Came here for the bike... caught all the comments on Maes. Yes he was caught Yes he was banned Yes he can be caught again and banned again... but until now, no such thing occured, so...let's move on!
  • 4 0
 I use the same stem on my hardtail, I guess it's all podiums for me now.
  • 1 0
 Did the frame start out as a 275 or 29?
Cool info to know about mullets...and how anything was done to put geo back to designed spec(mullet links/flip chips/lower stack fork etc)
  • 1 0
 It's the 27.5 version. The geo with a 29er150mm combo is effectively the same as a 27.5/170mm.
  • 4 0
 180mm rotors?
  • 17 1
 150mm fork!!! Is Martin going downcountry??
  • 4 1
 No point being bigger if he don't use them Wink
  • 5 0
 ...and the old X2...he wont have a chance ^^
  • 4 0
 Go Martin!
  • 2 1
 So it's the front triangle of a GT Sensor Carbon 29, and the rear triangle of a GT Force?
  • 1 0
 Same front triangle. Potentially the same frame for both.
  • 1 0
 Surprised gt doesn't have a hsp enduro bike yet...maybe it'll be a cannondale 1st..?
  • 1 0
 It would be cool to see their trail/enduro bikes to gave that high pivot like their Downhill bike
  • 1 0
 If you ever get the chance to avoid wrenching on one of these crooked machines make sure you do.
  • 2 0
 Fork offset?
  • 1 3
 Hey PB, please do your journalist job, be factual and speak about reality : this is a 36 not a 38... no need to lie for Fox's beautiful eyes !
Don't write for the market and your friend brands, but your readers ;-)
  • 2 0
 IF that's true, why would you assume it's part of some grand conspiracy and not a simple mistake?
  • 1 0
 i love that colour it is almost identical to my 2009 Nomad
  • 2 0
 That Blue is amazing, but I think the orange forks just clashes
  • 1 0
 @ginger-wheels: A white fork would look nice
  • 1 0
 What's the oversized bolt on the seatpost collar?
  • 1 0
 Such an un-flashy build!
  • 7 1
 How could he possibly ride with eight year old brakes and six year old bar/stem?!?! Haha, I like blingy bikes but I sure do love when a guy goes about and absolutely trips on what would be a not so traditional build kit. Especially when he has access to the newest and hottest things. Trusts what he knows works!
  • 2 1
 @Trudeez: not a great endorsement for more recent products from his sponsors though!
  • 2 0
 @Molesdigmyjumps: very true! Would be interesting to know how much heat the sponsors put on him to upgrade.
  • 1 1
 @Trudeez: they’d be pressuring him quite a bit
  • 1 1
 It's like asking Alberto contador if he doped... he'll lie to your face
  • 1 0
 Maes didn't try to hide it
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