What is it and what's it for?
In a nutshell, this is GT's 29" wheeled version of their Force, the bike that Martin Maes had been using to step on the rest of the EWS field before he was interrupted by that infected leg gash, a ''potential loss of limb situation,'' and the UCI's inability to think rationally
. Anyway, the Force 29 platform gets 150mm of rear wheel travel and 170mm forks across the three-bike range, all of which are aluminum. GT doesn't call it an enduro bike, but that'd pretty much sum it up.
In GT's own words: ''The Force 29 is for riders who prefer descending and like to go fast. It hits that sweet spot right in between all-mtn and dh, it’s low fuss and provides more versatility than a dual crown bike.
'' So yeah, it's an enduro bike. If you want to know more about the 27.5" Force, Kazimer rode one in Norway awhile back and wrote about it
Force 29 Details
• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Travel: 150mm rear / 170mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame material: aluminum
• Adjustable geometry
• Head angle: 65-degrees
• Seat angle: 77-degrees
• MSRP: $2,700 / $3,700 / $4,700 USD
• More info: www.gtbicycles.com
It sure looks like the current Force...
The 150mm of rear-wheel travel is controlled by a Horst Link system, and all three models get 170mm-travel forks.
Good eye, Sherlock, but it's an all-new frame from tip to tail that's been designed specifically for big wheels. What about Maes using a 29" front wheel on his EWS race bike
? He's actually on 27.5" Force with a 29er fork and wheel, not a carbon version of the Force 29 that we'll surely see at some point down the trail.
You probably also spotted the same LTS ''Linkage Tuned Suspension'' system, although GT says they've made some kinematic changes to have it better suit big wheels. The latest incarnation of their LTS design is very not GT-like in its straightforwardness; it's a Horst Link system driven by a big rocker that, unlike many of their previous layouts, isn't trying to pull some kind of trick. It's also a layout that GT is using on everything from their Sensor trail rig to their Fury DH bike.
Our own Dan Roberts took a deep and dorky dive into the 27.5'' Force's kinematics
, and while they're obviously different bikes, the two are basically blood relatives whose suspension will perform similarly on the trail.
All three Force 29 platforms come from GT with air-sprung shocks, but the bike is said to be compatible with the linear action of a coil as well. That said, we might have to slap one on the bike to check, as the 27.5" Force doesn't have a ton of built-in progression.
Force 29 Geometry
Not surprisingly given that it has the same intentions as the 27.5" Force, the new big-wheeler gets some modern geometry numbers that make a lot of sense, with a few exceptions. First, the good: there's a 65-degree head angle that's fitting, a 77-degree seat angle, and a 475mm reach on our large-sized test bike. Those all seem about right given the action the Force 29 is meant to see, but the relatively tall seat tube and standover height aren't ideal.
For comparison's sake, the large-sized Force 29's 460mm seat tube is 30mm longer than what you'll find on a large-sized Santa Cruz Megatower, and my underside tells me that the 770mm standover is way too high. In fact, my underside contacts the top tube when I have both feet flat on the ground.
It also gets the same geometry adjustment chip at the lower shock mount; flipping it provides 6mm of change at the bottom bracket and a half a degree at the head tube.
The ready-for-action Pro model that we'll eventually review comes with a Grip2-equipped Fox 36 and a chainguide.
The Force 29 Trio
No excuses for messing up the sag.
GT's new Force 29 can be had in three flavors to match your bank account and your needs, all of which are based off the same aluminum frame. The bike pictured here is the Pro model that comes with a not-that-pro GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, but that did give GT some room to have $4,700 USD bike ride on Fox's best dampers and that counts for a whole lot more. The 170mm-travel 36 Float Performance Elite doesn't have the showy Kashima coating that you'd never notice in a blind test, but it does have the four-way adjustable Grip2 damper that actually matters. There are four matching damper adjustments out back, too, courtesy of the Float X2 shock.
It's this exact bike that we'll be testing in the 2019 Pinkbike Field Test later this summer.
The Expert (left) goes for $3,700 USD, while $2,700 USD will get you the Elite model (right).
For $1,000 less than the Pro model, the Expert runs an NX 12-speed drivetrain and a Fox 36 Float Performance paired with a DPX2 shock. At $2,700 USD, the Elite is the least expensive Force 29, and that'll get you a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork, a DPX2 shock, and 12-speeds via SRAM's new SX Eagle drivetrain.