[Tested] GT Force Expert 27.5

[Tested] GT Force Expert 27.5

03/09/2019
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03/09/2019

At the end of April, we hopped on board the GT Force 27.5″ for a long term review of the bike. We have been testing the Expert tier build, which retails for $4,199.99. Read on for our long term impressions, and a riding video highlighting some of the trails and terrain we tested the bike on.

Details

  • 27.5″ wheel size
  • Carbon fiber front end / Aluminum rear end
  • 160mm front / 150mm rear travel
  • LTS suspension with Horst link
  • Boost front and rear hub spacing
  • Four sizes: XS / S/ M / L
  • Metric shock sizing
  • $ 4,199 USD

Clockwise, from top left to right: The link GT’s suspension rides on, said to provide improved braking performance, and bump absorption. A channel in the the downtube provides a nice place for the cables to sit out of the way, though to re-adjust seatpost height, each cable/hose clasp needs to be loosened, which is a bit of an inconvenience. Guide brakes mated to a 200mm rotor up front. to keep things under control. The  RockShox Deluxe RL Debonair features a trunnion mount, and 150mm of travel with a 3-way lock out.

The Stan’s NoTubes Flow S1 rims are of course tubeless ready, and remained solid throughout our test period, though the Formula hubs were not particularly light weight, and had rather slow of engagement, making a hub upgrade desirable. Schwalbe Magic Mary’s ‘Performance’ tires come with the bike, we raced the rather rocky TDS Enduro on this bike, and opted to switch a few parts out, including the swap for Addix soft compound Magic Marys in the thicker Super Gravity casing.

As is common with trail bikes at the $4,000 price point, SRAM Guide R brakes provide the stopping power for the Force Expert. The tool free lever adjustment, and reliable modulation makes for the straight forward feeling brake set that we have become accustomed to, though for a bike designed with fairly aggressive riding in mind, we certainly would happy to see Codes spec’d on future models.

Out front, the Force features a 160mm RockShox Pike RC with a Charger Damper, coming in with a 46mm offset. The fork showed to be quite agile in nearly all terrain, and we had no issues adjusting the settings to fit our preferences, making for a smooth ride throughout our test.

The Force Expert is built with the well proven, and hard to dispute SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain. Descendent DUB cranks keep things stiff and are a good spec choice for a bike designed around rough terrain. The Force surprisingly doesn’t come with a built in chainstay guard, prompting us to lay down a strip of Mastic Tape. Also noteworthy is the easy to use flip chip in the lower shock mount.

Overall, the Force Expert sports a well thought out build kit consisting of a reliable bread and butter spec list. As we raced this bike, and desired a few tweaks, such as saddle preference, and handlebar width, we did swap out a few of the original parts as well as used the bike to conduct a couple of long term reviews…

The above photo illustrates the bone stock build, featuring a Fabric saddle, KS Seatpost, and a house branded cockpit.

Geometry

Logical geometry numbers make for trusty and easy to get used to ride characteristics. While we mostly rode the bike in the low setting, in high, the 65.5° head angle made for better climbing, and more agile descending when in tight terrain. We felt that overall, the slacker and more stable benefits of the low geo setting outweighed the slightly longer reach, raised bb height, and steeper seat tube angle of the high setting. The 435mm chainstays proved for a fun, yet well balanced and easy to manual bike.

On the trail

We headed straight out to trails that we know quite well, and in the dusty Summer conditions, it can get a bit loose and wild. That being said, the Force felt easy to get acquainted with, and didn’t have the skittish feel we expected. The LTS suspension platform carries a straight forward ride feel, and we quickly got the bike set up to our liking. Without flipping the shock to lockout, the Force provided fairly neutral pedalling, and handled technical punches, and long fire road grinds equally well.

While the Force doesn’t feature a super slack head angle, or long reach, the bike descended even the roughest of trails with ease. It was a surprise how smooth we were able to ride, even mid enduro race run, in a rocky section of trail that claimed a lot of bikes and riders (photo below). Air time on the Force seemed to be something the bike sought out, whether small side hits, or proper jumps, the Force kept its cool, and maneuvered well while off the ground.

Photo: Max Mandell

Overall

For a 150mm/160mm bike, the Force is extremely well rounded, getting us to the top efficiently, and back down in a playful and smooth manner. For a 4k price tag, this bike can easily get you riding and even racing in a variety of terrain, at an affordable value. For a 1k price hike, you can find yourself with a Force Carbon Pro, which hence the name, is essentially a pro level build, ready for an EWS race. We’d recommend the Force to anyone simply looking for a reliable all around mountain bike. More info and current models at: GT Bicycles