GT Force 29 ProCheck Out the Full Specs and Review
We learned last year that the 27.5-inch GT Force is an enduro race bike that is best to be ridden like an enduro race bike. Set its suspension up for merciless bashing, and the whole package comes together quite nicely. On the other hand, set it up for leisurely ground-hugging, and it tends to fall through its travel. We learned something similar this year about the Force 29, but we also learned it’s not simply a bigger-wheeled Force 27.5. GT appears to have had different intentions for this bike.
Most brands take an apologetic approach when designing the 29-inch version of an exist- ing 27.5-inch bike. Shorten the travel, steepen the head angle, tighten up the cockpit. Mitigate the sensation that you’re on bigger wheels. But sometimes that bigger-wheel sensation is the whole reason you buy bigger wheels. That’s why the new Force 29 leaned into it. It’s got the same 150 millimeters of rear travel as the Force 27.5, but bumped the front travel from 160 up to 170 and nudged the head angle from 65 down to 64.6. The reach grew by 5 millimeters and the chainstays grew by 7. It is quite un-apologetic.
It’s also unapologetic about its weight. May- be GT is unsure if this whole long-travel-29er thing will ever catch on, but there is no carbon Force 29 at the moment. A surprise, given that the carbon Force 27.5 is such a remarkable value. Still, the to-the-nines spec of the aluminum Force 29 Pro is pretty impressive for $4,700. It does have two unexplained black eyes, though. The frustratingly slow KS LEV Si dropper tops out at 150 millimeters on large and XL sizes and 125 on small and medium. And the SRAM G2 RS brakes are underpowered for a bike like this.
By “a bike like this,” we mean a bike that, no matter how you choose to set it up, is meant for the rough, straight and steep if not a whole lot else. In addition to being a bit squatty on the climbs, it’s not the kind of bike that defies its category like the Commencal Meta AM 29 or the Ripmo AF, both heavy aluminum long-travel 29ers. They have a lighter-under foot feel that makes them more trail-ready or even playful. But the Force 29’s relatively moderate 150 millimeters felt uncharacteristically plush. Fortunately, much of our test course played rather well with that kind of setup. There were a few delightful chutes that were veritable fruit baskets of apple- and cantaloupe-sized rocks. The key is to float through them. You will not have traction. You will not slap berms. You will simply charge, and the Force 29 enjoyed those moments. Paired with the 170-millimeter fork and relatively heavy weight, it was nice and planted once you got it into its travel.
In contrast, if we chose a tune that was supportive enough to go huck ourselves, the bike would ride high in its travel, and even bashing felt a tad awkward. Our consensus was that if you wanted a more responsive ride, you would do well with a rear shock that naturally lent itself to a poppier, lighter feel. Something that would let out the kid trapped inside the long, burly chassis. Something like a Float DPX2, which happens to be how the Elite and Expert Force 29s are spec’d. And the rest of those bikes’ builds aren’t bad. The $3,700 Expert still gets you a Fox 36 and an Eagle-range 10-50 GX cassette. The Elite gets you a Marzocchi Z1 (which is essentially a basic Fox 36) with an NX/SX drivetrain for $2,750. That’s a stone’s throw from the impressively versatile Ripmo AF, but versatility isn’t every long-travel 29er’s bag. Again, the Force 29 makes no apologies.
This is a bike of simple tastes. And that’s why it’s pretty cool that it offers such rad options at its lower price points. It’s not meant for snobs or nerds. It’s meant for rocks.
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