GT Bicycles' Timeline Museum - Sea Otter 2018

Apr 20, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  
GT Proto IT
GT's 1996 proof of concept IT gearbox downhiller (missing its front fender) was made by Aaron Bethlenfalvy - GT's head of design. Jim Busby designed the suspension and gearbox drivetrain, which used a Shimano Nexus 7-speed planetary hub transmission.

The Nexus gearbox was in the downtube. Idler pulleys were necessary to make the chain-drive behave at speed.

GT proto IT
Hope disc brake? Yep, they've been in the game for a while. The drivetrain was reversed left-to-right, to accommodate the secondary drive sprocket that was bolted to the left hub flange of the planetary gearbox.



GT IT1
GT's 2006 IT-1 was the production version of GT's gearbox descender, which was much more refined, but not as futuristic looking.

GT IT1
The Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub looks like it was actually designed to be a frame-mount transmission, and the chain drive has been updated with a roller guide, which was state-of-the-art DH hardware at the time. GT's high-pivot swingarm and no-growth chain-line is cutting edge today,

GT IT1
Not exactly period-correct, but the IT-1 looks contemporary enough to pull it off.



GT i-Drive
The 2003 i-Drive Marathon was one of the many iterations of the dual-suspension platform that elevated GT to the forefront of the trailbike game. Its gusseted aluminum frame and interrupted seat tube mast were hallmarks of the era.



GT LOBO
GT introduced molded carbon frame technology using thermoplastic resin. The 1998 STS DH Lobo showcases the construction, which required aluminum inserts where stresses were concentrated. That limitation boosted the Lobo's weight and ultimately spelled doom for GT's thermoplastic carbon program.



GT LTS
The 1996 LTS-1 was the most innovative suspension designs of the early development period. Its scissor linkage compressed the tiny shock with a favorable leverage rate, which extended the wheel travel to somewhere around 55 millimeters. Its location behind the seat tube allowed GT to offer a very conventional looking chassis to reluctant dual-suspension converts.



GT RTS
The 1992 RTS was GT's first and perhaps, its most famous dual-suspension bike. This model has been updated with an aluminum swingarm (the original steel one cracked and its owner still races and rides this bike). The pull-actuated-shock design was travel-limited by derailleur technology, as its high-pivot swingarm created monstrous chain growth. Inventor Jim Busby was well aware that the high-pivot's upward and rearward axle path would optimize the suspension's performance, which later inspired him to solve the chain growth issue and ultimately design GT's i-Drive system.



MENTIONS: @SeaOtterClassic



64 Comments

  • + 54
 PinkBike is the only place I see GT anymore.
  • + 2
 I see the occasional force or sensor out on the trails, always liked the way they looked from 2009 onward, just never at the top of my list to buy
  • - 3
 Even Performance stopped carrying them
  • + 7
 @dangmtb: that's because performance is owned by ASI "Fuji" now.
  • + 4
 The GT Avalanche was the first mtb I bought for myself and I still have it and use it as a commuter bike. When they released the 25th anniversary Zaskar I picked up a carbon version for a second bike. It's far more fun than I thought it would be and I ride it just as much as my all mountain ride.
  • + 1
 @ccurtis20: *ASE but I know what you meant
  • + 7
 @lifeofloon: Mk1 Zaskar needs to be in there as the first hardcore hardtail, that frame was Burley A F! An alloy frame built like a tank an weighed more than most chro mo's!
  • + 2
 @nojzilla:
An anodised mk1 would be nice to see in there
  • + 1
 Seen the Rob Talks To episode with Brook Mcdonald? He's pretty damming of the GT Fury
  • + 13
 Man those were the good old days where V-brakes with boost arch was the shit... My first full Suspension was the RTS, snapped that then upgraded to the LTS, snapped that then upgraded to the STS, then I-drive 1.0, then IT-1, then Ruckus 1.0, then Carbon Fury... etc... You get the trend. I was on GT for at least 15 years and I still feel that the IT-1 and Carbon Fury were some of the best technological designs every launched by GT.
  • + 7
 Boost... Arch? Are you telling me that the term 'boost' is not new to the world of mountain bicycles?
  • + 1
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: brake booster
  • + 1
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: Yup, brake boost was used to keep the frames from flexing while the V-brakes engaged the rims. It actually worked pretty good.
  • + 0
 You kept breaking them and still you kept buying them? Loyal? Or stupid!?
  • + 6
 Rode GT for close to 10 years from 96-06 with my first bike being a GT Timberline then moving onto Zaskars when I moved from trail riding to trials riding after seeing a few Hans Rey vids. Really cool to see their history on display here.
  • + 6
 Hans Rey inspired me mid 90s to ride trials and also to build a GT Zaskar to what people would consider DJ/slopestyle bikes today. You simply bought the smalled frame they had for the low standover...haha. Triple Triangle just stood out to me after riding treks, fishers, kleins and specialized back then.
  • + 8
 I'm stoked - that's my RTS on display! Noga Korem was doing wheelies on it yesterday!
  • + 4
 The IT-1 was dammed by it's head tube angle. Was almost 70 degrees when everyone else was moving towards 66/65. They fumbled so hard on that one that it's hard not to mention.
  • + 3
 It’s a real shame about that head angle, as other than that the rest of the bike looks absolutely badass.
  • + 3
 I really wanted one at the time until I read the MBA article about it, which stated as much. It was probably one of the biggest geometry overlooks of the last generation of bikes. On the flipside, imagine how things would be today if it got popular. A good derailleur alternative that used off the shelf parts. Took years before Zerode took that spiritual design and made the G series.
  • + 3
 yup spot on... If GT got the GEO right, it would have been the game changer that Zerode became...
  • + 4
 RTS was my first dual suspension bike and the first time I had a specific "downhill" bike. I still remember my 1995 LTS with SPIN carbon wheels with fondness. Back when 50-55mm of suspension travel was revolutionary!!
  • + 3
 I have made a few comment receently on here about the complete lack of innovation and different ideas/designs in the bike industry today. These pictures prove my point. There is far more innovation shown here many years ago then there is in moderm times. Here they were using internal gearboxes and yet, unbelievabley, were are still using cassettes and derailleurs. Suspension designs are the same and have been for years. The only new things we get is new bloody "standards" .
  • + 1
 15mm axles were pretty innovative. 90% of the stiffness of 20mm with only 94% of the weight
  • + 1
 I wouldn't say the lack of variety these days is a bad thing - a lot of these old innovations were pretty terrible. No design lasted more than two seasons because people found out pretty quickly that they were terrible. About the only thing that survives from that time is the Horst Link/FSR type designs. Everything you buy these days works better, is stronger, is lighter, and is, in today's money, cheaper (no matter what anyone says - my Mountain Cycle Shockwave with Risse Champs and Pro Stop disk brakes, RF Turbine cranks cost $10k in '90s money, sucked, and something bent/broke/cracked nearly every race). These days, nearly every bike is pretty good.
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: I appreciate that you cant really buy a bad bike these days. The problem with that is i think people are scared to come out with a bold design and not get a huge backlash for it because it challenges the norm. I think the industry has been stagnent for years. I still cannot believe we have devoloped and embraced the gearbox drivetrain. We are still using the same principle of changing gears the was invented more than half a century ago.
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: ^haven't^
  • + 3
 @Matt76: There have been some innovations in suspension design, such as the Polygon R3ACT system. At the end of the day, there are only so many ways you can make a bike wheel move out of the way of a bump.

Wrt gearboxes, I would have thought they would have taken off more too. Maybe they never will if shimano or Sram don't get behind them. They could be leapfrogged by motors.
  • + 3
 Love GT. I’ve sold versions of all them! From the RTS to the STS and the LTS1000s series. Worked in a shop in South Uk, one of the biggest sellers of GT during the 90s. Good times !
  • + 2
 I remember seeing a guy racing a STS DH (not lobo) in the Uk, he came to a sharp turn and the thermoplastic sheared atbgge headtube, splinters everywhere. As he lay recovering in the grass he was heard to say “Duck this (sic), I’m buying an ATX-1”
  • + 2
 Putting an igh in the frame would probably be so much cheaper to develop a gearbox bike than to develop a whole new gearbox. If more companies followed suit, that would likey be the end of mtb derailleurs. I would totally ride a bike similar to the gt it1
  • + 3
 I remember drooling over the rts and lts during my 90’s NORBA racing years. On my Univega with high mag 21 fork. Haha. Love the new bikes. Fun to look at and remember the old ones.
  • + 1
 Two of moy most ridden (and abused) bikes, 1999-2000? GT iDrive XCR-4000, and a 2002 GT iDrive 1.0 customed up by the guy I got it off. Bomb proof. Loved those bikes. Still see them rolling around town. Should the garage space open up I would seriously consider putting them back in the fleet!
  • + 1
 That's what I'm talikn' about! When bikes weren't just copy/pastes of each other with different colours.

There was more innovation/ideas in MTB 20+ years ago than there is now. They may not all have been sound, but at least they existed.

I been looking at Horst link/4 bar bikes for 2 + decades now. Lame...
  • + 1
 I lived they those years. 90% of the suspension designs were shit. The basics have been sorted. That's why most look similar today
  • + 1
 Had one of those gt it in a bikeshop i worked in some years ago. It is kinda cool. Let down by a shity fox40. if it had zocchi all round. It would have been a fantastic bike. It felt pretty similar to my nicolai nucleon tst. Only nicolai uses rohloff instead of shimano alfine or what ever shimano hub they used.
  • + 1
 My 1st GT was a Backwoods in 1998, then a Tempest frame in 2000... I've lost that bikes... Then in 2015 a Ruckus Flowta get into my hands and few months later a Ruckus 3.0... Love GT!
  • + 2
 Still have my LTS-2 out in the shed, with Kore bars which are narrow as hell by today’s standards, and the big horns on the ends. That thing climbed like a goat though.
  • + 3
 Awesome love GT I remember getting the Idrive withe the Fox extra travel kit lol! Great bike.
  • + 3
 What's not period correct, the brake? Saint m800 had been around since MY03, right?
  • + 2
 Gen 1 Saint and MTX rims looks exactly right to me, but it should have a Fox 40 and not a Boxxer on the front.
  • + 2
 @Fix-the-Spade: sorry neg propped accidentally, they did come with 40’s.
  • + 4
 I see they have the new cane creek ee cranks on the first bike there
  • + 1
 Pity there was no GT I-Drive DH bike on show, those always broke on the rear swing arm. Wasn't there a GT thermoplastic bike without those alloy bits? I am sure my brother had one and, yes, it broke at the head tube.
  • + 2
 I still have my RTS and STS hanging up in the garage, they were the dream bikes back then, doubt they'll ever be as desirable again
  • + 1
 That 2006 IT-1 is pretty much stock except for the saint brakes (they were sold with hope M4s) and they came with 40s instead of the boxxers. I have one sitting in the shed, charges hard
  • + 1
 Loved my 1990 Tequesta in sky blue... £400 was a lot of money for a ridged bike then... especially when you save up from a £2ph paper round...
  • + 2
 If I wanted to buy a 2006 IT-1 frame, could anybody point me in the right direction?
  • + 2
 Still ride my 93 team avalanche, even after all these years it's 90% original factory spec. Love it.
  • + 1
 Oh there's some history and good memories. Back when GT was the pioneer of the sport. Still have a LTD Boomerang and STS Lobo fames.
  • + 3
 I love the RTS. The look just says Yes! to my eyes
  • + 3
 and all these years later still want a LTS
  • + 3
 “Look at the cool shit we used to make”
  • + 2
 Whatever happened to my AC chain guide? It was the dog's bollocks BITD.
  • + 1
 The RTSsuspension was not a pull shock... it was a copy of a formula 1 design....
  • + 1
 Remind me of the good old days when GT was my dream bike... but the dream bike status was replaced by intense m1 later on
  • + 1
 Loved my old Idrive till I snapped it in half. Always drooled over the lobos though.
  • + 1
 nice Cook Bros F crank in the 1st pic
  • + 1
 So many cringe puke designs it really is staggering.
  • + 1
 Looks like a.... Brooklyn...
  • + 1
 I had a GT Palomar and then a GT Arrowhead!!!
  • + 1
 yup feeling old when I can say I saw all of those bikes get introduced
  • + 1
 Gong time
  • + 1
 Yup...

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