2011 GT Gravity & Freeride Mountain Bikes Part 1 – Ruckus and Sanction

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GT’s 2011 mountain bikes are broken down into three categories: Gravity, All Mountain and Endurance.  Some of the bikes in this post actually cross the border into All Mountain (the Sanction), but we rode them like freeride bikes and they’re totally competent in that realm, so they’re bundled in with the pure gravity bikes like the Ruckus above.

The Ruckus is a new 7″ travel (180mm) performance freeride bike made for things like lift served bike parks and North Shore style trails. Shown at Interbike last year as a prototype, it’s finally going into production as a 2011 model. The frame is made to be easily user serviceable, which is good because it’ll let you do the kinds of things that break parts. There’s also a Ruckus DJ bike that we covered here.

Also new for 2011 are the Sanction and Distortion, two sweet bikes that come in a little lighter and shorter travel than the Ruckus, but have the spec to tackle many of the same trails. Lastly, there’s the new Carbon Fury Team that gets an adjustable headset. Covered in this post are the Ruckus and Sanction. Distortion and Fury are in Part Two.

Check them all out after the break…

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The 6061 monocoque frame is super stout. The bike is big and heavy, which imparts a substantial, confident feeling going downhill. I’ve been fortunate to get to ride a lot of freeride style bikes this Summer, and it’s amazing what bikes will let you do these days…and the Ruckus is no exception.  The slack geometry keeps this bike limited to gravity assisted riding. Both Ruckus models (which GT wants us to mention were not final production spec) were right at 40lbs, but once rolling down the hill, the bike’s weight didn’t translate into sluggish handling. The head angle is plenty slack, which keeps the front wheel out in front of (instead of under) you on even the steepest descents. Driving into some bermed corners that were in the 15º to 20º range, it was easy to stay over the rear of the bike and keep it balanced.

Interestingly, for such a big travel bike, the Ruckus does not have a tapered headtube. It still felt plenty stiff and stable, though.

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All of GT’s full suspension bikes, from their longest travel downhill to short travel XC stuff, use the same single pivot suspension design. It’s simple and it worked well, and GT’s tech folk said the wheel’s forward arcing path works better at maintaining momentum than designs that move the wheel straight up and down. While I haven’t noticed any particularly speed robbing properties on too many full sussers, I can say that GT’s design did seem to roll really well and it soaked up drops and braking bumps rather smoothly. That said, we also mostly rode downhill on our test runs, so the real test will be when we get on a true XC course and have some log crossings, rocks and step ups to tackle.

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All of the Independent Drivetrain parts get color-matched green ano.

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Raised swingarm keeps the chain from slapping the frame, but also raises the center of gravity a bit. On my test ride down the Les 2 Alps course, it ran quietly and handled well, soaking up the bumps very well without translating much in the way to my feet or legs.

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The Ruckus runs the 142×12 Maxle only…there are no replaceable dropouts or options on this model. Given the intended use, though, you probably wouldn’t want to downgrade it to standard QR.

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Like many of the GT bikes, the Ruckus has massive tire clearance, letting you run some really, really big tires if you want.

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Graphics and colors are matched throughout the bike with green stem, graphics, rims, seat collar and saddle stitching and embossing:

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Spec Highlights
Ruckus 1.0 ($5,349) – Rockshox Totem Coil DH & Vivid 5.1 coil shock, e.thirteen LS1 chain guide with 40T gear on Truvativ Holzfeller cranks, XO shifters and derailleur, Avid CR 203mm brakes and Funn wheels, bar and stem.

Ruckus 2.0 ($3,749) – Rockshox Domain 318 coil fork & Vivid 4.1 coil shock, same crankiest and guide at 1.0, SRAM X7 shifters and derailleur, Avid Elixir R 203mm brakes, GT/Alex/DT wheels and Funn bar/stem.

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The Sanction redesigned for 2011. Designed around a 150mm suspension fork and frame, it’s an all mountain bike that’s freeridable. Redesigned to cater more to the aggressive all mountain and enduro racer, it’s made for things like the European enduro race series. For 2011, it gets a revised rear shock tune for better support throughout the travel, gets a tapered HT and adjustable seatpost.  Specs are upgraded for next year to lighten up the bikes a bit, too, including 2×9 drivetrains.

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The Sanction One is the top end model (above), followed by the Sanction Two (top, white). I rode the Two, which has a coil Rockshox Lyrik, and some other testers rode the One with a Fox air suspended fork. While I pined for the air fork, the other guys said they wished their bikes had a coil fork, so it really comes down to preference.  Full specs are listed below, but on my test runs on the Sanction Two, the components were plenty capable and never seemed to be a limiting factor. In fact, if you like the feel of a coil fork (or you have a 150mm fork you already really like), the Two might be the way to go unless you’re planning on racing it in enduro style matches.

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Like the Ruckus, the Sanction’s front geometry pushes the front wheel out in front of you even on really steep descents. The Sanction felt balanced and soaked up drops and larger hits pretty well (although I could definitely descend faster overall on the Ruckus).

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The Sanction has a top-and-bottom gussetted, tapered headtube.

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Ample tire clearance should keep things rolling smooth even in lousy conditions. The front derailleur housing runs into a ferrule at the bridge between the seatstays where an adjuster barrel makes fine tuning and trimming a breeze. That said, you may want to put a grub seal on the underside of it, or run a sealed cable system to keep it running smooth.  That brings up another feature worth mentioning: On most of GT’s bikes, and pretty much all of their freeride/gravity oriented models, they’re running full cable housing.

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A few views of the Independent Drive system.

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The Sanction has replaceable dropout sections both so you can repair damage easily and swap axle formats if you’ve already got a bomber wheelset you want to keep using. It’ll ship with the Maxle.

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Bolt torque specs are printed across the frames in most places where you need to tighten something.

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The Sanction keeps a more traditional triangle, and on the rougher sections (ie. massive braking bumps), there was a lot of chain slap and noise coming from the rear end that didn’t occur on the Ruckus. In fact, several other riders commented on how noisy the rear end was, too.

The Sanction felt pretty snappy for a “freeride” bike.  It was easy to control and stable, making it a bike I’d want to pilot through a park or technical trail section, particularly with man-made features.  Even on the really, really jacked out entries left over from a Summer of riders braking late and hard, the suspension didn’t get bogged up. Granted, you felt more of that than on the Ruckus, but it made good use of the 150mm of rear end movement. Having ridden this though, it made me really want to give the Distortion a run, but they didn’t have my size.

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The Sanction has a monocoque 6061 aluminum frame with color matched parts in purple or blue, depending on the bike.

Spec Highlights:

Sanction One ($5,349) – Fox 36 Float RLC fork (160mm) w/ 20/110 thru axle, Float RP23 shock, e.thirteen chainguide, Raceface cranks, bottom bracket, bar and stem, Crank Brothers Joplin adjustable post, DT Swiss wheels, Maxxis High Roller Tires, SRAM Xo-X9/Shimano SLX mix.

Sanction Two ($TBD) – Rockshox Lyrik R Coil, Fox Float R shock, Shimano non-series cranks and BB, SLX front derailleur, SRAM X7 shifters and rear der, Formula RX brakes, X-Fusion drop post, Raceface stem and Gravity headset and bar.

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