PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
GT Force 29 Pro
Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Trevor Lyden
Martin Maes may have raced at the Trophy of Nations aboard a Force 29, but GT aren't billing their latest aluminum-framed machine as an enduro bike. Instead, they say it was developed for riders that seek out big hits and a lot of gravity. However you want to categorize it, with 29” wheels, 150mm of rear travel, and a 170mm fork up front the Force 29 looked well suited to the lift-served and pedal-powered laps that we had in store for it in Whistler and Pemberton.
The frame layout is nearly identical to the 27.5” Force, with GT's Linkage Tuned Suspension (LTS) design, their take on a Horst Link layout, handling that rear travel. A flip chip on the lower shock mount allows the head tube angle and bottom bracket height to be adjusted, but it stayed in the low setting for the duration of the test period. That position gives the Force 29 a 64.6-degree head tube angle, 76.6-degree seat tube angle, and a reach of 470mm on our size large test bike.
GT Force 29 Pro Details
• Travel: 150mm rear / 170mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 64.6° / 65.1° (geometry
• Seat Tube Angle: 76.6° / 77.1°
• Chainstay Length: 442 / 440
• Sizes: S, M, L (test), XL
• Weight: 35.6 lb / 16.1 kg (as tested)
• Price: $4,700 USD
The Force Pro's build kit include a Fox Performance Elite 36 fork, a Fox Float X2 Performance shock, SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, G2 brakes, and Stans Flow MK3 wheels. The aluminum frame helps keep the price out of the stratosphere, and as it sits the Force 29 Pro retails for $4,700 USD. Climbing
The Force wasn't exactly a rocket on the climbs, due in part to its fighting weight of 35.6 pounds once the Maxxis Double Down casing tires were installed. The good news is that the seated climbing position was quite comfortable, and the fact that it was a little shorter and steeper than the Specialized Enduro made it easier to maneuver around tighter switchbacks. It may be on the stouter side of things, but it's a steady roller, and once the Force got moving that extra heft wasn't as noticeable.
There is a fair bit of suspension movement with the shock in the open position, which meant the climb switch was regularly called into use on longer logging road climbs. It may not be the most efficient feeling climber, but there was plenty of traction, a welcome trait when it came to navigating up and over wet and slimy roots.Descending
The Force 29's geometry was very easy to get along with – it didn't take long at all to feel comfortable dropping into trails like Dirt Merchant, Schleyer, and Lower Whistler Downhill. It does take a little extra effort to get it up to speed, but there weren't any handling issues, and the bike felt very composed on rougher trails. In its stock configuration there's not a ton of end-stroke ramp up, and even with 25% sag it was relatively easy to use all the rear travel on bigger hits. Adding an additional volume spacer is a recommended step for harder chargers.
Those rough trails did take a toll on the wheels - the rear wheel lost nearly all spoke tension after a few days of riding. It turns out that the while the wheels use Stan's rims and hubs, they're built by a third party, and we suspect that this was the root of the issues.
In addition, the SRAM G2 brakes were underwhelming on longer, sustained sections of braking, with a noticeable lack of power. SRAM's more powerful Code brakes would have been a much more appropriate choice for a bike of this nature.
It's also worth mentioning the relatively tall, 460mm seat tube height on our size large test bike. That number is an outlier compared to the 440mm seat tube on the Specialized Enduro, or the 419mm seat tube length of the Ibis Mojo HD5. 175mm and even 200mm dropper posts are becoming increasingly common, but running a post with that much drop may not be possible on the GT.