GT's enduro racers spent most of last season aboard the 150mm travel Force platform, although both Dan and their young phenom Martin Maes did spend time on a prototype machine that appeared to be a pint sized version of the 200mm travel Fury downhill bike. We showed you that early prototype
just prior to last year's inaugural Enduro World Series stop in Punta Ala, Italy, but the blacked out bike was clearly in the early development stages and the Force seemed to still be the go-to bike for most events. It would have been easy to assume that would continue in 2014, but GT dropped a teaser video
of their new 650B wheeled Sanction just a few days ago, and it's clear that it is the production version of the prototype that we saw early last season. Downsized Downhill Bike
It's no coincidence that the 165mm travel Sanction closely resembles the company's critically acclaimed Fury DH bike, albeit with 55mm of its travel removed, as the engineers behind the new bike set out to create exactly that. The Sanction is intended as a full-out Enduro World Series race bike, which means that while it still needs to pedal acceptably well, the emphasis is really on tackling serious terrain at speed. GT has applied the same geometry principles that make the Fury such a badass in such places: a long front-center combined with a short, 30mm stem and a wheelbase that provides stability when things get rowdy. Despite the similar appearance, they have invested in an entirely new tubeset for the Sanction that is made from 6069 aluminum that allows for thinner tubes and therefore, a lighter weight frame than the 6061 aluminum used to create the Fury. Total frame weight sits at a claimed 5.9lbs, which is about two pounds less than the Fury.
Independent DrivetrainFOX Suspension
The Sanction's rear suspension design takes after the Fury rather than the high main pivot layout found on the Force, a choice that should clue you in to how active the bike is intended to be when under pedalling loads, and an inspection of the nearly hidden floating bottom bracket and linkage underneath the frame reveals much of the same. It isn't actually a carbon copy of the Fury's setup, though, as the pivot locations and components are quite different, save the dogbone connecting link. These differences are purely down to GT wanting the bike to accelerate better under loads than the Fury, but still offer a much more active setup than the Force ever could. The bike's main pivot has also been positioned with this in mind.
Maes is fast enough to earn a spot on FOX's Racing Applications Development roster, thereby giving him access to all sorts of trick suspension bits that the consumer might not see for some time, or maybe not at all. The front of his bike is equipped with the recently released 36 RC2 fork
in 650B, 160mm travel flavour, and finished off with a retro sticker kit. We'll have more on the new 36 soon, but Maes' production spec version features a redesigned air spring system and valving changes that is said to offer up better small bump compliance and improved traction.
The de-stickered Float X shock on the other end of the bike clearly has some RAD-ness applied to it, with its air can appearing to be of a larger volume than we've seen before. Pushing on the back of the bike reveals an extremely supple initial entry into its travel, enough so that we might guess that it's coil sprung rather than air sprung in a blind test. There's no word on any internal changes to the valving or efforts to reduce friction, but it's a safe bet to assume that it sports some very not-off-the-shelf parts within.Components
A 35mm PRO Atherton Star Series stem is used to compensate for the Sanction's long top tube, with Maes also running a handlebar and lock-on grips from the same sponsor. See that Shimano shifter on the left side of the bar? It actually doesn't have anything to do with gearing, but rather seat post height. Martin has chopped off the release trigger and rigged it up to control his FOX D.O.S.S. seat post via the thumb paddle. The result is an ergonomic setup that is sleek enough to go unnoticed by many riders, although forgoing the stock two trigger D.O.S.S. remote does mean that he has to manually find the middle setting rather than using the stock trigger's smaller inner lever to automatically find it. www.gtbicycles.com