GT Force Carbon Expert 2017 Review

GT Force Carbon Expert2

GT has deep roots in the history of mountain biking. Their bikes are known for their downhill prowess, but the Force Carbon Expert won’t limit you to just going down mountains. You’ll find it nimble enough for all-day, lose yourself over the mountains, type rides. If you are searching for an all-mountain trail machine that will let you rip down wicked descents, while still being light and nimble enough to get you back up and over the other side, then take a serious look at GT’s Force Carbon Expert. It is an all-mountain enduro machine that handles climbs with the same expertise as it does descents, and won’t hesitate to roll over any rocks or ruts that dare get in your way.

The heart and soul of this machine is GT’s Force Optimized Carbon layup. It allows the Force Carbon Expert to deliver a stiff riding platform, while keeping it from weighing you down during a long day on the trails. This proprietary carbon lay up technique takes a minimalistic approach, using the fewest amount of high-modulus carbon layer possible, leaving you with a stiff and responsive racing machine that doesn’t carry around any extra heft.

The heart and soul of this machine is GT’s Force Optimized Carbon layup

Anchoring the suspension is GT’s Angle-Optimized Suspension platform, which is designed to provide pedalling efficiency during XC efforts and dish out a plush 150mm of travel while navigating heavy all-mountain terrain. GT engineered AOS off the back of it’s long-standing predecessor, the i-Drive. ASO is similar to i-Drive, but has improved on its strengths and simplified its somewhat complicated design. With the AOS system, the bottom bracket is not carried on the swing arm or the frame itself, which allows it to have a very high pivot point without the chain growth and allows the suspension and drivetrain to stay active under high loads. The heart of this system is the Pathlink, a hollow forged aluminium link that houses three pivots, as well as the bottom bracket. One might fear that a bottom bracket with the ability to move under load would be disrupted, but it’s rare to find a rider that report any negative feedback due to this feature.

Slotting into the AOS suspension system is a Fox Racing Shox Performance Float X Air Shock. Fox is one of the most trusted names when it comes to full suspension systems, and the Performance Float X Air, with rebound and compression adjustment, lives up to the high bar one would expect from a Fox Racing product. You’ll feel inclined to take the rough line and won’t shy away from hitting jumps with the Performance Float X Air taking care of suspension duties.

Taking care of suspension duties up front is the RockShox Pike RC Boost Fork. Sporting 160mm of travel, the Pike suspension lets you fly into drops and jumps, knowing that you’ll be supported when you finally come back down. It is sure to give you a few precious seconds on your riding buddies that are stuck on an inferior suspension system, giving you a chance to grab a few extra breaths at the top of the climb.

The heart and soul of a bike begins with the frame, but the performance of a bike often comes down to the quality of the componentry. Shimano’s 11-speed Deore XT delivers smooth, reliable shifts over and over again. While not as crisp as SRAM’s drivetrain system, Shimano is still far and away the world leader when it comes to quality gear shifts in the mountain bike world. SRAM was the first out of the gate with 1x mountain bike setup, but Shimano has made great strides over the past year. The 1x gearing provided by the Race Face Aeffect CNC machine alloy crankset and Deore XT rear derailleur come together to provide uber efficient gearing ratios, letting you ride cross-geared combos without a worry, not to mention taking the dreaded dropped chain off the table completely.

The heart and soul of a bike begins with the frame, but the performance of a bike often comes down to the quality of the componentry

Some may worry that a 1x drivetrain setup will limit the range of gears available out on the trails. But the ultra wide-range 11-42 Shimano cassette ensures that you will keep top end speed on the flats, while still having a 30×42 to bail you out when you have to grind up the steep stuff. While you don’t get the 10 tooth cog that the XD driver technology allows on the higher-end SRAM cassettes, the 11-42 spacing limits the drops between gears and offers an optimal gear ratio for an 11-speed system.

What separates a good trail bike from a great one, is the presence of a dropper post. With the Force Carbon Expert, you are in luck, because the KS LEV Integra lets you drop the seatpost remotely from the handlebar when you want to shred rowdy, rocky descents. When you finally get to those bottom of that descents, you’ll love the handlebar mounted remote that will pop your seat right back into position.

The Force Carbon Expert is designed to get you up to speed quickly and stay there, and Shimano’s SLX hydraulic disc brakes will make sure you will be able to stop on a dime when you need to pump the brakes. The sizeable 203mm front and 180mm rear rotors and Shimano’s hydraulic design give you enough braking power and modulation to slow down in any condition or terrain you find yourself riding in.

The cockpit on the Force Carbon Expert is an all-aluminium setup from Race Face, which won’t win over any weight weenies, but will stay tough over the gnarliest terrain and is able to take anything you dare throw at it. The saddle, a Silverado from WTB, standard on many all-mountain machines, is slightly a bland choice, but will certainly perform its job while you search for your perfect saddle.

GT’s Force Carbon Expert is a solid all-mountain choice at its price point. The Force Optimized Carbon layup, with a Shimano XT wide-range drivetrain and RaceFace Aeffect CNC machined alloy cranks, the Force Carbon Expert makes climbing a breeze instead of a bear. The Shimano Deore XT groupset isn’t world-beating, but will give you solid performance without breaking the bank. With the GT carbon frame and Shimano/Race Face build, you will get a do-anything trail machine without digging too deep into your pockets. Most importantly, with the GT Force Carbon Expert, you’ll whip instead of scrub and find yourself taking the fun line instead over the easy line.


  • Founder of Obsessive about all things bikes and technology, Jamie decided to combine them to build BikeTorpedo to become the online hangout for UK cyclists.

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