GT SENSOR CARBON ELITE – FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS

We recently had a some time riding the GT Sensor Carbon Elite (which has just landed in South Africa) and have put together our First Ride Impressions for you to watch or read about below! Check it out!

Background
GT is a California based Bicycle company. This is where their bikes are designed while manufacture, like most other brands, is taken care of in the East. The brand was founded in early 1970s by Gary Turner and has a long history of world class bike designs and race wins. Their gravity focussed bikes have been featuring on Enduro World Series and Downhill World Cup podiums under the likes of Martin Maes and others in recent years and the lessons learned from racing at the top level have been implemented in making the Sensor a better bike.


Bike Overview
GT have pegged the Sensor as their “trail” bike. The build and design suggest that it is intended for a rider looking to enjoy the descents without sacrificing too much uphill efficiency. The 29 inch wheels, capable geometry, and 130/140mm travel bracket mean that this bike should be ready for just about any adventure, be it short trail loops from home or a long weekend outride, and trails ranging from fairly steep and technical to flatter flow trails.

GT Sensor Profile shot
130/140mm (r/f) Trail bike built to tackle any adventure

The two models available in South Africa will be this, the Sensor Carbon Elite at R52 000 and the Alloy Comp model for R42 000. These both come in small, medium, large and XL sizes.

The front triangle of the bike is made from carbon while the rear is alloy. It features a flip-chip ar the lower shock bolt that can slightly adjust the geometry, 148mm boost spacing at the rear hub, room for a water bottle in the front triangle, chain stay and down tube protection, neat cable routing on the down tube, popular Horst-link suspension design, and geometry that is bang on the money when it comes to modern “trail bike” standards.

We will get into the build details a bit later but I can say that as stock, you won’t be needing to make any extra purchases out of the gate to get the bike up to scratch. It is a well thought out package that you will be able to upgrade over time, as wear and tear items run their race, if you so desire.

Setup
All in all, the setup was a quick and painless Toit have the bike ready to rip!
For the suspension setup, the bike has a sag setup guide printed on the rocker link to get you started. I settled for 155 psi for my 80kg weight which is about 33% sag. This felt like it let the bike sit well into its travel and feel stable in the corners but without bottoming out regularly.

GT Sensor Rocker link
The rocker link has sag setup instruction on top. Helpful!

At the fork, RockShox have printed a setup guide on the lowers. In the end I settled for 85 psi, at the top end of the recommended pressure bracket for my weight in order to gain extra support form the 35 Gold RL fork.

I slid the saddle forwards on the rails to feel a bit further over the pedals as I prefer but otherwise found it to be comfortable much like the fabric Fun Guy grips the bike is specced with. The rest of the cockpit didn’t require any fiddling. The 45mm stem and 780mm bars with 15mm of rise suited the bike well and I was happy to ride them as stock.

Geometry
I have been riding the medium Sensor and these are some of the geometry numbers for you to chew on.
The bike’s Head Tube angle is 65,5 degrees and the Seat Tube angle 76 degrees. Both are appropriately progressive but not too radical, making the bike stable on the descents and a comfortable climber. Seat Tube length of 430mm on the Medium and 480mm on the Large. This could be a bit shorter for my personal liking but they certainly allow for a reasonable length dropper post to be used.

Reach is a comfortable 445mm for the Medium and 470mm for the Large while the chain-stays are a compact 435mm all around. BB height sits at 349mm.
Wheelbase for the Medium is 1194mm and 1222mm for the Large.
The Flip-Chip will adjust the head and seat tube angles by 0,5 degrees.
More geometry numbers are in the chart below.

GT Sensor Geometry

Climbing
The bike feels stable when climbing, with just a slight pedal bob. The sensor generates good traction on the trail and was happy to deal with all the hills I presented it with over the test period.

Gt Sensor Climbing
Stable and well mannered on the climbs

There is a climb switch on the shock if you want to use it but I personally didn’t feel the need to click it into climb mode.

I was pleasantly surprised by the bikes ability to power through technical features when climbing. This would be due to the combination of 29” wheels, supple suspension with good anti-squat support, the steepened seat tube angle and the 32t chainring paired with the 11-50 tooth NX eagle cassette.

The Sensor Carbon Elite isn’t a lightweight but it does carry it’s weight well, feeling agile and ready to go!

Descending
I tested the bike at a few spots around the Cape, namely Tokai MTB Park, Hoogekraal, and the trails around the City Bowl. These locations provided a good mix of trails to get a feel fo the bike’s performance.

GT Sensor Descending
Balanced is the word that comes to mind when riding the sensor.

Suspension
The Sensor’s suspension offers decent support. The bike handled everything that I threw at it, and I did tackle some chunky trails! I did have a couple crashes as well but, if you know me, I don’t need any help from the bike to make those happen!

The fork isn’t on par with its more expensive sibling, the Pike, but it did a good job of absorbing the terrain and keeping the front wheel on the ground! The rebound and compression adjustments are effective which is great to see. Unless you are a real high performance rider, you won’t likely be unsatisfied with its performance and the same can be said for the rear shock.

Brakes
The Sensor is specced with TRP G-Spec brakes and 180mm rotors front and back. They are appropriate brakes for the bike’s intentions and powerful enough to handle the demands of trail riding. There is room to upsize the front rotor to 200mm if you’re looking for more power.

Geometry
The geo is bang on for the bike’s intentions. It strikes a well balanced ride that is stable and but while still feeling agile and ready to make quick directional changes. This isn’t a full blown enduro bike but will undoubtably give you performance gain over the popular XC and marathon bike designs that are common on our trails.

I could easily be on a large sized bike but the added nimbleness of the medium was something I was keen to get a feel for and I really enjoyed it. The large would naturally offer a more stable ride for my height of 1.78m.

I noticed that the bike was surprisingly stable in the rougher terrain and has a planted feel on the trail. That being said it could still pop and play if you wanted it to. In the corners, the geometry, short and wide cockpit, and good suspension worked together to generate good traction and a balanced feeling that I enjoyed!


Build
Here are the details on the build.
140mm RockShox 35 Gold RL Fork
RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT Shock (130mm travel)
SRAM NX Eagle Drivetrain – 12 Speed 11-50T Cassette
Truvative Descendant Crank with 32T Chainring
TRP G-Spec Trail Brakes – 180mm Rotors – 4 Piston Callipers
GT Dropkick Dropper Seatpost — 120mm (S,M), 150mm (L,XL)
30mm WTB Rims on Formula Hubs
MAXXIS 2.5 Minion tire up front and 2.4 Dissector on the rear
GT Cockpit – 780mm by 15mm Riser Bars // 45mm Stem

GT Sensor Side Profile 2
The GT Sensor Carbon Elite has a well thought out build that ticks all the necessary boxes for a modern trail bike.

Wrap Up

The GT Sensor Carbon Elite come through as a well rounded trail bike package.The best thing to do, if you are interested in the bike would be to go and test ride one for yourself!It hits all the necessary marks that a trail bike should and I enjoyed the time on the bike around the Cape.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Cheers,
J-Dogg

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