It's been nearly five years since the Sensor received a significant update, so it was high time GT revised their 29” trail bike. After all, this is the do-it-all category, the home of bikes that have the widest range of possible uses, capable of tackling everything from technical trail rides to the occasional local enduro race, or even a bike park lap or two.
The Sensor's frame still has that distinctive GT look, but the amount of rear travel has been bumped up to 140mm, a change that's accompanied by revised geometry. The Sensor also now has a shorter travel sibling, the Sensor ST, which has 110mm of rear travel and a 140mm fork.
• 29" wheels
• 140mm travel, 150mm fork (carbon)
• 130mm travel, 140mm fork (aluminum)
• Aluminum & carbon models
• Weight: 32.7 lb / 14.8 kg (Carbon Pro LE, L)
• MSRP: $2,300 - $5,750 USD
• Carbon frameset: $3,500 USD
There are five models in the Sensor lineup – three with carbon frames (except for the chainstays) with 140mm of travel, and two with aluminum frames with 130mm of travel. Prices range from $2,300 USD for the alloy Sensor Comp, and go up to $5,750 for the Sensor Carbon Pro LE pictured above. Frame Details
A lighter front triangle and the move to carbon seatstays allowed GT to shave a substantial 600 grams off of the Sensor's frame weight. Where the previous version hid externally routed housing underneath a cover on the downtube, the new Sensor has tube-in-tube internal routing, which thankfully doesn't go through the headset.
There's a generous amount of chainslap protection, and I can attest that it works well – the bike I've been riding is very quiet. A full-sized water bottle will easily fit in the front triangle, and the seat tube lengths have been decreased to accommodate longer travel dropper posts.
The Sensor doesn't have any in-frame storage, or even the two bolts that many bikes have under the top tube for attaching a tube or tools. It's also lacking any flip-chips or other methods of geometry adjustment – what you see is what you get. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just means the geometry isn't as customizable as it is on a bike like Trek's Fuel EX or Specialized's Stumpjumper EVO. Geometry
The Sensor's geometry falls into what I'd call extra-normal-modern. The 65-degree head angle is moderately slack, but not extreme, and the 480mm reach for a size large paired with a 77-degree seat angle is a familiar recipe. Compared to the previous version, the reach is approximately 10mm longer per size, and the seat angle is a degree steeper.
The stack height is fairly high, thanks to the longer head tube lengths, a frame design decision that seems to be gaining ground. I'm a fan of the move towards taller head tubes where it makes sense, since it means taller riders won't need to resort to extra-high rise bars or stacks of stem spacers to get their handlebars into an acceptable position.
It is interesting to see that the chainstay length measures 440mm for all 4 sizes – we've seen more and more companies adopt size-specific chainstays over the last few years.Ride Impressions
My first ride on the Sensor was one of those times where everything went right – the sun was shining, the dirt was perfect, and the suspension required minimal fiddling to get it dialed in. I was able to turn my brain off and just ride, a sensation enhanced by the fact that the Sensor is extremely quiet out on the trail.
One good ride is fine and dandy, but there's always the chance that it could be a fluke – seeing the sun after weeks of rain can create addled initial impressions. So I headed out on the Sensor again. And again. And again. Four solid rides in and my conviction is growing stronger that the new Sensor is a good one. It climbs well, with enough support to leave the shock's climb lever alone, and there's plenty of traction even when set up with 25% sag.
On the descents, the suspension does a great job of muting hits of all sizes. The tune on the RockShox Super Deluxe feels ideally suited to the Sensor's kinematics - it's fluttery off the top to take care of the small bump chatter, and then settles nicely into its stroke when dealing with repeated larger impacts. All 140mm of travel is usable without any harshness or severe end stroke ramp up, and it's possible to add or subtract volume spacers to suit a rider's preference.
The Sensor's relatively high stack creates a better position for dropping into steep trails, making it possible to feel very comfortable when gravity takes over. The geometry may be fairly middle of the road, but it's a recipe that works well, and the result is a bike that feels like a familiar, friendly companion almost immediately.Spec Check
A RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork, SuperDeluxe Ultimate shock, and SRAM Code RSC brakes are the highlights of the Carbon LE models. Those high-end components all work well and were easy to get dialed in on my first few rides.
There are a few flies in the ointment, though. The first is the TransX dropper post lever – its ergonomics are atrocious, and it's extremely hard to activate even with fairly low cable tension. That'd be the first upgrade I'd make, ideally before even leaving the shop.
For the wheelset, WTB KOM Trail rims are laced to a SRAM rear hub and a Formula front hub. I've had a couple of disconcerting pops come from the hub so far – that'll be something to keep an eye on; I've had mixed experiences with this hub model in the past.
The XO1 derailleur is paired with a GX cassette and shifter; that's not the end of the world, just be aware that on most of the bikes in the Sensor lineup the derailleur is a level above the shifter and cassette – the 'GX drivetrain' on the Sensor Carbon Pro has a NX cassette and shifter.
The $2,600 Sensor Comp is on the way for inclusion in an upcoming Value Field Test – keep an eye out for those reviews later this summer, where we'll dig deeper into where to spend and where to save, and find out if the versatility and easy handling of the Pro LE model carries over to a version that's half the cost. Models & PricingSensor ST