RTS, LTS (in all it‘s various guises), LOBO…OK, so each of these bikes may have later turned out to have a few flaws, but let’s not forget that at their time of release they were all found on World Cup podiums, and deservedly so. GT’s i-Drive system has been around for a while now, they obviously believe in it, and the results seem to have backed them up. Those years have enabled a subtle evolution of design to take place, but it seems like subtlety has left the building this time!
Simplification (I wasn’t sure if that was really a word, but the spellchecker seems to like it), that is what the new DHi is all about. I know some of you may already be laughing because the i-Drive system is inherently never going to be the simplest of bikes, but GT seem to have finally pared the design down to its bare bones. It is not just the i-Drive itself that has undergone change, it’s the whole shebang, when you first lay eyes on this bike it just looks ‘clean’. The monocoque front end ups everything except weight, and if it wasn’t already strong enough, there’s a bit of gusset action going on too. On closer inspection it looks as if they got quite carried away with designing the mould for the front end, what with all the recesses and funny shaping, but then in comparison the back end looks like something that was done on a Friday afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new simple back end, in fact I probably like its subtle looks more than the fronts slightly ‘brashy’ ones.
Anyway, in the middle of all that you’ll find the carbon fibre seat tower which bolts onto the main frame, and envelops the entire shock. There was a tiny cut out on this pre-production version, which didn’t quite provide enough room for fettling, but this will be larger on the ones you’ll be able to get your hands on. Mind you though, this didn’t really prove to be that annoying because you can still get to the rebound, and the seat tower takes less than a minute to remove. Whether or not the use of carbon has actually saved any weight is perhaps debateable, but you can’t argue with the fact that it’s got that ‘factory’ look. The two different size bikes have both different sized seat towers and front ends, which leads me to think about the possibility of fine tuning the size by switching seat towers. Hmmm, maybe not, I dread to think how much they would charge for a spare one.
The suspension itself remains a quirky take on the single pivot, with the added twist of the bottom bracket being moved via a rocker system in order to reduce any chain growth. There’s no doubting that this bike pedals well, but when you look at all the stuff going on down there you do start to wonder if it is all quite so necessary when it’s only going to be used with a just a single ring. The bikes definitely a whole lot simpler than before, and the weight certainly doesn’t seem to be an issue, but you’ve still got a whole heap of extra bolts that need regular checks. To be fair this is both simple and fairly quick to do, and so long as you keep an eye on it, it shouldn’t cause you any problems. The large diameter pivots are slightly let down by a bit of movement in the swingarm itself, which didn’t seem to affect the ride of the bike, but at the same time I do feel a bit sorry for the shock! Talking of shocks, from riding previous incarnations of this design it has been clear that this design pedals well pretty much regardless of whether or not it has got the latest platform damping or not, and so you almost feel that some of the DHX’s capabilities aren’t required. You can of course get rid of most of what you don’t want by dialling things out, and then just letting the suspension perform as it wants so to speak. A damn fine job it does too.
Now some bad news for those of you looking to buy just a frame, it ain’t gonna happen for at least another year, but hopefully by the time you get to read this you might just be able to get hold of the complete bike, funds permitting of course. A penny shy of four grand may seem like a lot to be spending on something that you’re going to rag down a hillside, but when you check out what it comes with you start to see a possible bargain (if you can ever have one at this kind of price?). Written down, the list of components could easily be the dream list of any racer, and no doubt you’ll find many of them in our end of year top tens. The bike that we got to test had a few minor alterations to the spec listed below, but nothing that you’d notice if blinkered. You’re only going to be making changes to this bike for the sake of it, I can’t really think of anywhere that I could justify spending extra cash, and even if was forced at gunpoint to think of somewhere that could do with an upgrade, I’d struggle for an answer. The only slight criticism, which is really about the frame, is that there is no ISCG mount, but even if there was one, it apparently wouldn’t work. The supplied e.thirteen chain device is custom made, but we had what seemed like a regular MRP fitted to our bike. Does it really matter? Probably not, because you can be guaranteed that the e.thirteen will work as well as anything else out there.
Overall, this latest in the long line of DHi’s has undergone what must be one of the biggest ever makeovers of an existing design, and unlike most makeovers off the telly, it’s definitely come out better for it. Put it this way, I certainly don’t think that any of GT’s previous designs will be turning in their grave. Ed.
GT have done a great job with the new DHi. No, they’ve done a really good job. This is primarily because it looks different, sounds different and perches a rider in an alternative way to most other bikes around. It is also a single pivot and therefore has rear suspension that is relatively simple to understand and set up.
Dave Wardell’s race bike is a small but isn’t really so small as you cannot ride it. In fact a lot of racers in the high five’s may opt for this size. Geometry didn’t highlight any flaws, as you would hope from such a large company, and the angles are for race only, although I did have to pedal 11 miles on it to pick up my car one evening, aided by that well known i-Drive system.
How effective is this well-known system at keeping a riders feet on the pedals though? And is it an advantage? Well there certainly is a difference in the manner in which it takes off and it probably does do a better job particularly of keeping flat shoes planted. You have to remember however that very often it’s your hands that take the first impact so when the whole body is taken into account it probably has less effect, particularly on downhill. But then it is a downhill bike. When freewheeling over rough terrain then it doesn’t matter so much, it’s only when pedalling over rough ground or when manualing through sections that it plays a part. To conclude I’d say yes it’s a good system that allows little rear suspension interference.
Being suspended by the Fox DHX shock the bike is geared up for competition. With the volume run entirely inwards and with 150lbs pressure the rear suspension is up there with the best. There’s no doubt that in terms of pedalling this shock does play a small part, particularly in unison with the i-Drive system. In terms of manoeuvrability it’s a bit undecided as to whether it’s an on the ground bike or an up in the air bike. Whatever, its clever design and good simple angles ensure that it’s never going to be a burden on your brain.
But it is very light. Even if 40lbs sounds a lot, the riding weight, or rather the dispersal of weight on the bike, makes it almost flighty in nature. At first and early in a run this is good, it’s all good, but entering tricky or technical terrain late in the day this weightlessness can sometimes lead to loss of line. You must be forceful with the GT otherwise it will lead you astray. If I were to spend more time on the bike I’d take a closer look at the steering, maybe try and lower the bottom bracket very slightly.
More than anything though it feels very special. And this is mostly a sound thing. Echoing the sound of a Honda down the track you may not have a shed load of technicians waiting for you but it definitely has the hollow sensation that Minnaar must experience. The Intense and Mountain Cycle used to sound very similar once upon a time. OK, it makes you notice it at first but then it’s a positive sound rather than the hideous clanging sound that you find on so many downhill bikes. Wardell mentioned protecting the swingarm from chain wear, probably a good move, but the noise was minimal.
What are people going to be asking then? How does this single pivot compare with the Orange or Honda even. Do I really need the i-Drive? How good am I at maintenance because there are more moving parts to think about? How much do I value having a quite unique looking bike? How much should I listen to this review? Am I fast enough to have one of these? They’re all ridiculous questions, because when you’ve got a removable seat tower to fiddle with, on a bike that sounds like (and might as well be) a Honda, and in such a fantastic colour with such a great identity, who really gives a toss? It works. What do you mean it only comes in white? Steve Jones.
FRAME: GT DHi, 8.5” TRAVEL
REAR SHOCK: FOX DHX 5.0
FORK: ROCKSHOX BOXXER WORLD CUP
HEADSET: FSA PIG DH PRO
STEM: EASTON VICE
BARS: EASTON MONKEYLITE CARBON DH
GRIPS: GT LOCK-ON
SHIFTER: SRAM X-0
REAR MECH: SRAM X-0
BRAKES: AVID JUICY 7
HUBS: DT SWISS FW 440
RIMS: SUN MTX
TYRES: KENDA NEVEGAL 2.5”, STICK-E RUBBER & DH CASING
CHAINSET: SHIMANO SAINT
B/B: SHIMANO SAINT
CHAIN DEVICE: E.THIRTEEN SRS
CASSETTE: SHIMANO DURA ACE, 12-25
CHAIN: SHIMANO HG-93
SEATPOST: SDG I-BEAM
SADDLE: SDG I FLY I-BEAM
SIZES: SMALL OR MEDIUM
COLOURS: NASA WHITE
WEIGHT: 40 lbs
CONTACT: HOTWHEELS 01202 732 288
RTS, LTS (in all it‘s various guises), LOBO…OK, so each of these bikes may have later turned out to have a few flaws, but let’s not forget that at their time of release they were all found on World Cup podiums, and deservedly so. GT’s i-Drive system has been around for a while now, they obviously believe in it, and the results seem to have backed them up.