Martin Maes has been riding for the GT Factory Racing Team very successfully for nine years. His new enduro race bike, the 2022 GT Force Carbon, was only released to the public in August and Martin has been racing it in the Enduro World Series ever since. Visiting the penultimate race of the season in Finale Ligure, we had the chance to take a closer look at his personal machine.

Martin Maes’ enduro race bike: 2022 GT Force Carbon in size L with 160/160 mm travel (f/r) and 29″ wheels

While his previous enduro race bike, the GT Force Carbon Pro, had little in common with the production bike, that’s changed with the new model. In our group test of the fastest enduro last year, Martin Maes’ bike was fitted with a 29″ wheel up front, whereas the production bike came with 27.5″ wheels. Due to the bigger wheel’s effect on the geometry, the fork’s travel had to be reduced from 160 mm to 150 mm. The new 2022 GT Force Carbon runs on 29″ wheels as standard, but the travel of Maes’ fork doesn´t corresponds to that of the stock bike. On the beach in Finale Ligure, Maes and his long-time team mechanic Mark Maurissen let us in on which parts of the race bike differ from the production model and how he has it set up.

Martin Maes | Born 1997 | Nationality: Belgian | Height 1.83 m | Weight 70 kg
The most striking feature of the new 2022 GT Force is the high pivot suspension and pulley, which, until recently, you would have been more likely to see on the downhill circuit.

The Forbidden Druid and the Deviate Highlander were the pioneers of pulleys and high pivot rear suspension in the trail and enduro segment. Meanwhile, the new Norco Range, Cannondale Jekyll and the current Devinci Spartan also rely on high pivot rear linkages. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of this rear suspension concept, you will find everything you need to know in our article on how your bike’s suspension design affects its performance on the trail.

DThe FOX 36 Factory fork featuring the GRIP2 damper had a pressure of 92 psi and three volume spacers for the trails in Finale.

The FOX 36 fork isn’t much lighter than the FOX 38 which you’ll also find on many enduro race bikes, but our comparison has shown it to be more forgiving on long descents. Martin Maes and Richie Rude were the first to ride with the new FOX 38 suspension fork at the 2019 EWS in Zermatt, which was still a prototype at the time. While many other pro riders have now made the switch to 38 mm stanchions, Maes has returned to a FOX 36.

In Finale, Maes rode the FOX FLOAT X2 Factory shock with a pressure of 154 psi and two volume spacers.
Maes has small 180 mm brake rotors fitted to his new bike, whereas the production model comes with a 220 mm rotor up front and a 200 mm version on the rear.

On his race bike, Maes currently relies on Shimano SAINT brakes and 180 mm rotors. When he brakes, he only does so very briefly and very hard, which means that his brakes don’t get that hot. As such, 180 mm rotors have long been plenty for him. The side effect of the smaller rotors is that they save weight.

A 175 mm FOX Transfer dropper post provides sufficient freedom of movement.
This year in Finale, Maes had a 32 tooth Shimano XTR chainring fitted, sizing down from the 34 tooth model he used to rely on in the past.
As in the years before, he has his 170 mm Shimano XTR cranks equipped with Mallet E LS pedals.
The entire drivetrain consists of Shimano’s flagship XTR groupset. Maes finds that a 10–45 tooth cassette is sufficient, which demands strong legs when combined with the 32 tooth chainring up front.
The carbon OneUp Components 20 mm riser handlebar has a width of 780 mm. ODI supply the grips.
No, this photo isn’t crooked! To put more power on the pedals when climbing, Maes likes to have his Fabric Line saddle inclined slightly forwards.
29 x 2.4″ Michelin Wild Enduro Front
29 x 2.4″ Michelin Wild Enduro Rear

Maes rides his Michelin Wild Enduro tires with a pressure of 1.4 to 1.55 bar (20-22 psi) at the front and 1.5 to 1.75 bar (22-25 psi) at the rear. For more information about the tires offered by Michelin, check out our review of Michelin mountain bike tires.

The Michelin tires are fitted to Stan’s NoTubes rims: a FLOW MK4 up front and a FLOW EX3 at the rear.
The mudguard is supplied by FOX. If you’re thinking of putting a mudguard on your bike, you should check out our group test featuring 7 of the best mudguards .
The OneUp EDC tool is neatly hidden inside the head tube, where it’s always within reach.
In the early day of the Enduro World Series, most racers used to use a Hip Pack or a small backpack. Now, they simply strap the spare tube to the frame.
After his fourth place finish in Finale Ligure, the likeable Belgian finished on the top step of the podium in the final round of the EWS in the Tweed Valley.

All the best for next season, Martin Maes! You can follow Martin on Instagram: martin_maes5

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Words: Manne Schmitt Photos: Manne Schmitt