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Long term bike test: The GT Sanction 1.0

1000 Enduro km’s and counting! Jim Buchanan presents a no-holes barred verdict after 3 seasons riding the GT Sanction 1.0

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Why the GT Sanction 1.0?

Well this one’s simple, I live in Shropshire where the Atherton’s come from, we all kinda look up to them round here, and I figured, if it’s good enough for Dan then it’ll be fine for me! OK  firstly I have to say that if you’re buying one of these over in Blighty you may struggle, as over here it’s known as the Force LE. I however opted for the importation of the Sanction rrp £4321. I won’t bore you with why, I just did!! I had read lots of reviews, the only downside being the weight, coming in at a sturdy 31.5 lbs. I ain’t got massive legs but I thought I could live with that!

First Impressions

On arrival I loved the look of this bike, with everything being a cool stealthy black it certainly looked the bees’ knees! As for kit it certainly came equipped with some nice hard-wear. The Fox 36 forks (although some people may now argue are now a bit overkill) certainly are up to the job of keeping things stable on the hard hits and match the Fox RP23 taking the rear bumps well. Rear derailleur is top notch, being that of the XTR Shadow, XT shifters, 10 X 2 gearing, crank-set’s Sram 9 36/32 with bash-guard. Brakes, the much rated Formula The One, 125mm Reverb post, Cane Creek angle-set, DT Swiss E2000 wheel-set, Maxxis Ardent tyres, Easton Havoc 50mm stem and Funn Fatboy bars. So like I said, pretty well equipped, but for the price it should be!

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How much riding?

Like it or not, Strava is a useful tool, it basically is how I know that from August last year to about now, I have done around about 1000 kilometers on this bike, all off road. These miles have been varied, from trail centres, a mini downhill race, 4 Gravity Enduro races and lots of local natural stuff. It has been ridden in sun, rain, frost, snow, mud, sand, roots and rocks, so a proper thorough testing it most certainly has had!

Changes, needed or not!

Ok so first things first, the Maxxis Ardent tyres are a good all-rounder, but my mates were nagging me about tubeless, I tried doing the whole conversion kit thing, but just kept loosing air, so after about 2 months, just as last winter was kicking in, I decided to go for tubeless wheels. I managed to buy a pair of 2nd hand Crank Brothers All Mountain wheels to fit a fantastic Continental Rubber Queen/Mountain King combo to. The tyres are great, but the wheels, well, lets just say I bent the back one twice, replaced the bearings twice, then just got rid for a nice Stan’s rim with Hope hub, now all things sorted there! I changed the bars and stem to the Atherton ones (same length stem) for no real reason. Replaced the BB like for like after the first bit the dust. I ditched the SRAM front derraileur and 2 rings to simplify things with a nice E thirteen chain guide with 33 tooth Superstar chain-ring which is still going fine. I had the whole frame, cranks and forks Invisiframed from new, hence why it STILL looks new! Recent Renthal grips fitted (a bit squidgier!) I lately ditched the Cane Creek Angle-set head-set, I got through 2 sets of bearings in this (the last set lasting 3 weeks!), they just didn’t seem to want to last, picking up crap like a magnet, almost needing stripping after every wet ride, this (along with the extra 1 degree of head angle slackness) was replaced by the very tasty Chris King, taking it from 66 degrees to 67.

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Maintenance

I pride myself in keeping a very clean bike, it’s my hobby and my pride and joy, so it has to look good! So I do like to stay on top of any little niggles when it comes to maintenance. To be totally honest the actual frame and linkage has been amazing, considering what it’s been through. I always blow out the linkages after a clean then spray with lube (this stops any of the annoying creaking some linkages can create), all the main bearings are still perfect and have never come loose. The tiny little I-drive nylon bushes are about to be replaced for the 2nd time, but they are pence anyway! There, however are 2 components which have given me no end of trouble, and as not many of my friends seem to experience this, I can just put it down to having, what I call, Friday afternoon versions! The Reverb seat-post has been serviced with a few seals and brass bits replaced (nothing unusual there) but I have now had to have it bled through 3 times due to it slowing down and even stopping its’ movement at one point! Then there are the Formula The One breaks, every time the pads wear out, it is not possible to fit new ones, after slackening adjusters off, without letting fluid out to fit, then they either loose all lever when bedded in or pump up so much on the first ride of new pads that it stops the wheels turning, although a good bleed usually sorts this problem, same as the seat-post. I have replaced 3 inner gear cables, 3 sets of break pads and had to do a couple of lower fork services to keep things smooth up front. The final thing I had done was to get local Fox Shock servicer, J-Tech to increase the amount the pro-pedal makes a difference when turned on, this is a real worthy upgrade for £80. Well that’s it for on the tools stuff, and after an Autumn, long winter and winterish Spring, I’d say that’s pretty damn good myself!

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Ride-ability

Well I’m not going to do the usual pro rider stuff, where I ramble on about how a few milometers could be added or removed here and there and angles changed a bit! I know how to ride a bike pretty good for my age, but ain’t no pro, so instead of pretending to be one I’ll give it to you in Lay-mans terms, basically how I think it rides and what I thought, with no bullshit! Well all right I might just mention the head angle, it’s slacker than the jaw of a hillbilly, and that to me makes for lots of downhill fun and confidence aspiration, I mean this bike’s position just spells out downhill attack mode! Ok the only downsides to the slack head angle are the obvious tight corners taking a lot more body movement and the fact it can tend to wheellie on you on steep climbs. The Bottom Bracket also is the only other thing I would say is possibly a bit high, great for ground clearance, but center of gravity can seem a tad high when sat with the post fully extended. Uphill, well on such a downhill eating beast it’s not bad really, aided by the I-drive link it has bags of grip, but being no mega lightweight you’re never going to be fastest up any climb. In my humble opinion it is a great fun bike to ride, it attacks well, jumps well and just seems to have bags of grip out on the trails! The best overall thing about this bike’s handling, is that the rougher the terrain becomes, the more it comes into it’s own, just seeming to smash it’s way through the gnarliest of tracks!

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Sum up

As you can imagine I ride this bike a lot, I am always testing myself against my mates and virtual Strava non-friends and I can honestly say I love this bike, but would like to say one thing to GT.= “Get with the times and do a carbon, lower BB height 650b version of it, then, and only then, I’ll be first in line to buy one!”

Thanks to Invisiframe, J-Tech, Rockguardz, Muc-off and Trailhead for helping me keep her going so well!

Words: Jim Buchanan

Photos: Doc Ward (www.doc-photography.com)

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