The GT Sensor — this one is exciting. It’s not only a new bike for us to review but a new brand we’re carrying at the shop. The GT Sensor falls in the trail category with 140mm rear wheel travel, a 150mm fork, moderate geometry, and two 29” wheels. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles we’re used to seeing on some brands these days, but that certainly doesn’t mean it rides poorly. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Stick around to see how it does.
GT Sensor Geometry and Details
Let’s cover some high-level details here before we go ride. First, let’s chat about the frame and features. The Sensor looks clean and simple — and that’s because it is. It has all the necessities, but it lacks some nice features like internal frame storage, flip chips, and size-specific chainstays. None of that is a deal breaker for me, however. Also, the chainstay is aluminum, which might make some folks upset, but it’s certainly not noticeable in the trail.
Now, let’s talk geometry and suspension details. Again, there’s nothing too fancy here. The Sensor uses 140mm of 4-bar suspension out back. While it’s not a fancy, patented suspension design, it sure as hell works — more on that later. It uses a 150mm fork and two 29” wheels. We’ve got a 65° head tube angle, making it more moderate than extreme. I’m riding an XL frame with a 515mm reach, which I found hard to believe. It feels much more moderate than that. I guess the steep 77° seat tube angle will do some work to make that reach feel smaller in the seated position. We’ve got 440mm chainstays, giving us a 1289mm wheelbase. That’s on the longer side for a 140mm bike. That length and stability come through out on the trail.
So, let’s go hit the trials and see how the Sensor performs.
GT Sensor Ride Review
The Sensor is one of those bikes that seem to disappear while you’re riding it. In fact, I’ve noticed that about a lot of 140mm bikes. That’s a story for a different day, though. The Sensor does perfectly fine on the climbs. It certainly doesn’t get in your way, but I couldn’t call it the sportiest or liveliest climber in the category. It is more on the active side of the spectrum, offering good traction and comfort while remaining efficient enough not to cause problems.
Let’s dive into the suspension. The Sensor uses a tried and true 4-bar suspension platform. A lot of folks tend to view this as a primitive or worse design because it doesn’t have a fancy name, lots of moving parts, or fall under a patent — that’s a myth the Sensor busts pretty quickly. It shows there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping things simple. The suspension isn’t the snappiest platform I’ve ever ridden, but it balances pedaling efficiency and traction well. It reminds me of a Santa Cruz Hightower to a degree. There’s certainly some movement when you stand up and pedal. I never found it necessary to reach for the lockout lever, however. The benefit of the more active suspension is traction. The rear wheel sticks to almost anything as you pick your way up steep, loose, or ledgy climbs — making the Sensor an excellent technical climber. I ran just under 28-29%% sag as I found that to be the sweet spot for pedaling and traction.
As for the Sensor’s geometry, I don’t have much to complain about either. It’s not the most contemporary, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I personally enjoyed the more upright feel. The front end feels tall, and the bike comes with 30mm rise bars. As a tall, lanky individual, that’s what I’d prefer anyway. Others might want to adjust that a bit. The seat tube angle worked wonders for keeping my weight balanced nicely between the wheels. A 440mm chainstay length is becoming more and more common. While the stays aren’t size-specific, I think 440mm is just fine for a 140mm bike on an XL. They might be a tad long for small frames, but overall, it’s a nice size to settle on. At least for me, they did a good job of keeping my weight from falling off the back of the bike. The wheelbase ended up being longer than most 140mm bikes, making it a little less agile on the climbs. Tight corners took a bit more effort than on other bikes in the category.
Overall, there’s not much to disagree with on the climbs. The Sensor does what’s asked of it without much complaint. It’s not an anti-gravity machine, but it is far from being an anchor.
While the Sensor is a competent enough climber, it is more than competent on the downhills. It’s quick, nimble, corners like crazy, and capable enough for most riding. The bike completely disappears on the DH. The suspension is consistent, predictable, and does everything that’s asked of it.
Starting with the suspension, the 4-bar design is simple, but damn, it works really well. It’s smooth, active, plush, and consistent. It feels well-supported throughout the entire stroke. There are no weird spots where it feels too stiff or too soft. It just kind of disappears underneath you. There might be plusher bikes, poppier bikes, or more progressive bikes, but you’re going to have a tough time finding a suspension design that performs this well in every spot of the stroke. Like on the climbs, it offers great traction on the descents. It’s half of what makes the bike corner so well. We’ll get to the other half (geometry) in just a second. The suspension offers a lively ride character that makes pumping and jumping rewarding. It’s pretty easy to bunnyhop and unweight over obstacles. Overall, the suspension is simple but pretty high up on my list of favorite designs.
The geometry compliments the suspension well. It’s well-balanced and not too extreme in one direction or the other. It’s fairly middle of the road and useable across a wide variety of terrain. It offers a quick and lively ride character that really starts to shine in the corners. In fact, I’ve rarely enjoyed cornering on a bike as much as I have on the Sensor. The balance between the reach and chainstay lengths makes it easy to center your weight and get the bike leaned over. The head tube angle is steep enough not to lead to understeer but not so steep that it’s squirrely at speed and in the rough. The bike ends up being aggressive enough for riding just about anything but not so big and burly that it becomes slow and cumbersome on easy terrain. I like it for everything from greens to double black diamonds.
Overall, the most accurate description I can think of for the Sensor is balanced. It’s so balanced that it blends into the background. It never calls attention to itself — something I prefer because if a bike is screaming at you, it’s usually something weird, in my experience.
GT Sensor Comparisons
It’s tough for me to make any specific comparisons at the moment, as it’s been a while since I’ve ridden something similar. Some bikes that come to mind are the Hightower and SB140. I’ll do my best to make some fair and accurate comparisons, though.
The SB140 is one of those bikes that will go just about anywhere. It’s well-rounded and capable. The Sensor could be described the same way. If I had to go do a big day ion the mountains with a lot of climbing, I’d probably take the SB140. I think it’s a more efficient climber overall. If I had shorter climbs and more deciding on the docket, I’d grab the Sensor. I’d especially prefer the Sensor on fun, flowy trails with a lot of good berms and jumps.
Santa Cruz Hightower
These two are a little tougher for me to differentiate. They have a similar suspension feel while pedaling, with neither one being a clear winner. I would say the Hightower feels like the more capable descender, while the Sensor is the more playful and fun option.
Who is the GT Sensor for?
The Sensor is one of those bikes that’s easy to recommend for almost anyone. In my mind, it’s a great option for someone newer to the sport. It isn’t a one-trick pony, so it will be versatile enough for a newer who might not know their niche yet. It will be equally as good for flow as it will be for rough trails and tech. Additionally, GT offers a lot of bang for your buck. So it’s good for folks who don’t want to dump a ton of money into a new hobby just yet.
I also like the Sensor for more advanced riders who want a bike that doesn’t get in their way or mute the trail. Instead, it allows you to focus on hitting your lines, working on your technique, and riding ability.
Really, if you like riding bikes and don’t ride just one style of trail all the time, the Sensor is a good option for you. It’s simple, but it’s nailed the fundamentals.
The Bottom Line
I keep coming back to “Keep it simple, stupid.” There’s a whole lot of wisdom in that saying, and the Sensor embodies it well.