Trail Test - GT Sensor 9er Pro
These days there’s no shortage of 29er bikes on the market, however the majority of them are pegged at the cross-country crowd, with steep-ish geometry and travel that tops out around 100mm. That’s all starting to change however, with the brave few pushing big-wheeled bikes into the hands of more aggressive riders by offering slacker geometry and more travel than previously thought viable for a 29er.
The Sensor 9er Pro from GT is one of these bikes, offering 120mm of travel front and rear and a reasonably slack (for a 29er) 69.6-degree head angle; its full intention is to tempt riders away from their 130-150mm travel 26-inch bikes and into the world of big wheels. One of the strongest temptations is certainly value for money, with Fox suspension at both ends and a full XT drivetrain, combined with Formula’s RX brakes, seeming almost too much bike for the $3,699 asking price. There’s also a cheaper ‘Elite’ version available with X-Fusion and Marzocchi suspension, a basic FSA/Shimano Deore drivetrain and Avid Elixir 1 brakes for $2,399. Our large-sized test bike weighed 12.68kg without pedals, of which 3,016g was comprised of the frame and shock; not bad at all for a well-priced longish longish-travel 29er.
The Sensor 9er’s ‘Speed Metal’ (aka 6061) aluminium frame uses a combination of post-dressed and standard welds and there’s nothing wrong with the overall construction quality. GT have made a conscious effort to keep things colour-coded with plenty of blue anodised bits to match the frame decals and this works to an extent, although depending on your tastes it could be a little over the top. Definitely a case of form over function is the seatpost quick release, which wraps so far around the post that it’s difficult to both open and close; there’s a reason why the majority of clamps use a relatively straight blade, and that’s because it works. The stem top cap is meant to be cool-looking, but in truth it’s reminiscent of a miniature circular saw blade, and almost as sharp. Do what we did and get this thing off the bike before you ride, lest part of your anatomy suffers the unpleasant consequences.
The Sensor 9er’s cable routing looks relatively clean and it’s good to see full length outer casing on all cables to keep things shifting smoothly in adverse conditions. Unfortunately all three of the cables rubbed heavily into the seat tube of our test bike, and without disassembling the bike it’d be difficult to put frame patches where they need to be in order to adequately protect the frame (you’d be replacing them frequently, too). Without some effective frame protection, we could easily imagine the seat tube incurring some serious wear within 12 months.