Steve Jones takes a look at the all new Sanction from GT, built to a spec of his own and taken to the hills near and far for testing. Here’s Dirt’s verdict on the bike so far, there is a full in depth review in the next issue of the mag out next week.
Words and Photos: Steve JonesThe new GT Sanction looks set to be a force on the Enduro world, offering 165 bum curling millimetres of travel and arguably the most progressive and aggressive hard hitting geometry on the market. It is one hell of a bike. Let’s take a look at some of the key questions.
GT SANCTION – ROUGH AND READY
What’s all this about , another GT Enduro bike? The GT Force in full carbon and 150mm travel at £4499 ain’t a bad bike and sometimes the Enduro bike of choice for the GT team. I’m saying nothing. Remember Dan Atherton podiumed the opening EWS at Punta Ala last year on this very bike. The Force isn’t bad but the YT Capra at £3300 and Orbea Rallon as just two examples are better.
But they offer more travel (160/170mm) so not really a comparison? That’s right, so maybe better comparing this GT Sanction at 165mm travel then?
Is 160mm + too much bike? To a certain extent yes they can be but it depends where you ride it, but hell if you can have a 28lb 170mm bike then why not. It can certainly munch up some terrain and opens up so many more opportunities, plus the aluminium isn’t involved in the same beauty contest as carbon.
The 6 foot tester has gone for an XL? That’s right, Dan Atherton is six two. Even though it’s one of the largest 165mm bikes on the market it feels perfect, we’ve had riders from 5’9″ enjoying it too.
What about the numbers on the geometry? This, an XL pushed past the 49″ wheelbse marker, no other 165mm bike gets near. Most 165mm travel bikes offer (very) roughly the same geometry numbers. On average this bike is longer in wheelbase, longer in reach and lower in bottom bracket but then it’s capabilities are arguably higher. We’ve ridden some really crap carbon 160mm + bikes with rubbish suspension and clangy frames which get out of their comfort zone far sooner. This is tough, with excellent suspension; it can simply be pushed harder.
Looks like a full SRAM build? Yes to keep the weight down to 28.9lb. Reverb goes in without question, as does the simple one-by X1 and the great shape Boobar. We’re trying the new Guide brakes which have a crisper action than previous X0 Trail.
Michelin tyres, they’re full on? Its a full on bike.
Aluminum? Come on that’s dated! Well the material still seems to be winning World Cup downhill events this year at Fort Wiliam and Cairns. There’s no holes in the chain stay like we have had on a couple of test bikes and it can be chucked in the corner without worrying about it being scratched. Like I said for many people riding bikes isn’t a fucking beauty contest.
Shape and purpose of this bike? Its a bruiser, the swing arm is bloody awesome, the suspension simple, easy to understand and predictable – this means the bike is dynamic and reacts immediately to rider input. More than anything it’s a 165mm bike that few will find the limits of, this is down to its strength, it’s longer than average length and good bottom bracket height.
Is it an all day bike, and how does it compare to the YT Capra? Yes. Ok look its not quite as crisp or immediate as the YT but is slightly more forgiving than most carbon bikes if you don’t get the suspension dialling code correct. BOS suspension and Mavic wheels are better. Having the both specced with the same components would be some test.
How’s the Fox 36 compared to the Rockshox Pike or BOS? Unfortunately Sram don’t offer a 170mm Pike so the balance is better with this 170mm Fox 36. Slightly stiffer too – it has bigger legs for starters and has four bolts clamping the axle – but more importantly slightly better control because of this. The 170mm war is Fox 36 vs BOS.
Another mega expensive bike no doubt? Looking at about £1600 for the frame but there will be full builds available.
So what does it ride like? It’s a fucking flying machine that will tramp on through anything without getting out of shape, and it does so quietly. It is definitely one of our key Enduro bikes of the year, offering progressive geometry numbers and suspension dynamic. You’ll certainly not outride it. If you want to find out where this bike’s development started then check out the video we shot with Dan last year.