GT LTS 1000|
Monday, June 28, 1999
Never before has a product sent to DirtWorld.com for review attracted so much attention. Every test rider and race team member was eager to hit the trail with the GT LTS 1000. The lure of a moderately light freeride bike was getting everybody hot and bothered.
With 4" of travel front and back (adjustable to 5" rear travel), the LTS made for a plush ride. Ordinarily rough trails suddenly seemed silky smooth. This soft, comfortable feel instilled great confidence in all our test riders pushing them to ride terrain never before considered.
Every rider who took the bike out came back with a giant grin. The opportunity to ride rougher terrain at faster speeds is an intoxicating drug.
In addition to coming back with big smiles most came back extremely tired. The majority of our testers are cross-country riders who complained about the bike's weight and the extra energy required to get the bike up to speed. The full suspension design is no hardtail in the climbs.
The long travel also promotes a lazy riding style. I quickly found that it was easier to just remain seated and power over logs and obstacles letting the suspension do all the work. The same riding technique on a hardtail would most definitely result in a crash.
The bike is equipped with Shimano's Mega9 drivetrain that allows an excellent gear range for everything from slow grueling climbs to the hang it all out descents. The extra gears were especially handy in the climbs where the bike's weight, cockpit geometry and suspension bob made climbing extra tiring.
A highlight of the components package is the brakes. The LTS 1000 is equipped with Hayes cable actuated disc brakes for both the front and the back. While these aren't as powerful as their hydraulic brethren, they did work well and were a very welcome feature on some of the muddier trails. For the suggested retail price of $4012 I'd like to see a full hydraulic set. Cable accuated disc will have to deal with stretch, contamination and wear that isn't a problem with full-hydros. Plus, the power of hydraulic brakes are unparalleled.
The front fork is a Rock Shox SID XL providing a respectable 1000mm of travel. I've never understood the concept of a long travel SID and after riding it I still don't. Yeah it's one of the lightest long travel forks on the market at 3.8lbs, but at what cost. Long travel requires extra stiffness which the SID doesn't provide. Also, a freeride bike like the LTS suggests extremely rugged terrain this fork doesn't. The SID's durability is suspect over the long term.
Rounding out the LTS' feature set is a Fox Air Vanilla rear shock, Mavic CrossLink Disc wheels and a very comfortable SDG Comp saddle. Though the Crosslinks performed extremely well, their stickers were a dissapointment as they began pealing off extremely quickly.
One really cool benefit of the LTS's aggressive seat tube angle is that one bike can easily fit several people. Our test riders ranged from 5'6" to 6'2" and we were all able to ride the bike with ease. The seat tube angle allows the seat to move back proportionally as it is raised increasing saddle height and cockpit length at the same time.
The LTS's frame is made from custom butted and machined TIG-welded 6061-T6 aluminum. It provides an extremely stiff frame while also managing the weight. The tubes are extremely large giving the bike extra strength and a very burly look.
While a lot of media attention has been focused on GT's innovative new I-drive suspension system, their original design is no slouch either. The LTS uses the same suspension concept that GT perfected several years ago. The suspension design has proven itself over the years and remains one of the top designs. Both in and out-of-saddle riding offers a plush and responsive ride with little power loss due to suspension bob under heavy acceleration. The suspension also remains extremely active during braking when you often need your suspension the most.
GT didn't rest on its laurels. For '99 GT upgraded the LTS's suspension design adding needle bearings to the pivots reducing maintenance and increasing durability and lateral stiffness.
Another key feature in the LTS suspension is the ability to adjust the suspension from 4" to 5" by flipping a plastic chip at the suspension mount. This requires a hex wrench and a bit of time so it probably isn't a trial-side operation, but it is still a nice option. We preferred just leaving the chip in the 5" position.
Our test riders took the LTS 1000 on several different test rides from a long cross-country trek to some of the Northwest's most popular downhill race courses. These tests definitely prove the LTS fits perfectly in the media popularized freeride group. The bike was much more at home on the dowhnill courses than on cross-country rides. Despite GT's DS moniker which means Dual Sport, cross country is not one of the sports.
Who's it for:
The amateur downhill or dual slalom racer or anyone who loves going down steep technical North-Shore style terrain.
Who isn't it for:
The cross-country racer.