We spent quite a few months bashing our GT Force Pro on the loose Southern California trails around Los Angeles. Frenchie finds himself mainly riding in the San Gabriel mountain range, which offers its fair share of technical singletracks. His main trails of choice looks something like this: a long, long climb to the top of a steep mountain where a short rest is then followed by a high-speed, flowy, off-camber and overgrown fire road. This high-speed track is littered with water bars and sweeping, foot-out brakeless corners. That section leads straight into a hillside traverse that drops into a ravine. From there, its tight, uneven switchbacks, both steep and flat rock gardens, stream crossings with the occasional rocky, uphill sprint. Frenchie was also able to get a weekend of testing in at Mammoth Bike Park (check out our Mammoth review to see the terrain offered). The conditions have been set, but how did the bike do?
The Force Pro didn’t leave us feeling one way or another when it came to climbing. It climbed okay. It wasn’t a rocket on the ascents, but it didn’t feel like we were “towing a dead cow” either. The bike pedals fairly well for a longer travel 29er designed for downhill abuse. In the Low setting, the Force felt more like a long and low limo, making it harder to get over some abrupt rock up-and-overs. Swapping to the High setting helped alleviate some of those hang ups on the technical portions of the climb. We’re quite confident that if that bike was a bit lighter, the Force would climb quite a bit better and offer a much better ride overall. At roughly 33 pounds, it is certainly not the lightest bike to push around, but at $4,700 we can’t complain it doesn’t weigh as little as bikes twice the cost.
As with most long, slack 29ers, the Force performs much better with the wheels pointed downhill. In the Low setting the bike felt really big in the corners and hard to flick around, making it awkward to handle on tight switchbacks in the San Gabriels. In Mammoth, the rear end hung up a bit on rocks and roots but shredded Kamikaze. Switching to the High setting was a night and day difference. The bike became more playful and didn’t feel as long in the corners. In general, though, the bike still feels big and long. Without a doubt the Force performed best in the High mode. While tight, switchbacks are the bike’s nemesis, it excels in high-speed rock gardens and wide-open sections of trails. Our testers did note that the SRAM G2 brakes were descent, but if there was an emergency that required instant stopping, there might be some problems.