Except for the frame, both the GT Force Carbon Pro that Martin Maes rides in the Enduro World Series and the replica we received for this group test have little in common with the production model. One thing our test bike proved on our race stage is that you don’t need a lot of travel to be damn fast!

In our introduction of the fastest enduro race bike on test you can’t just find our most interesting findings and our overall conclusion, but a good view on all bikes tested.

GT Force Carbon Pro Martin Maes Edition | 150/150 mm | 15.38 kg in size L

Small brake rotors, small gear range and only 150 mm travel. Just looking at it, you know that Martin Maes must be an absolute animal and has to spend a lot of time in the gym. It also shows in his race results in recent years. Besides the frame, his race bike has little in common with the standard GT Force Carbon Pro. Instead of 27.5” wheels front and rear, his build relies on a 29” wheel up front. To avoid changing geometry too much, the travel of the FOX 38 RAD fork has been reduced from 160 to 150 mm. Yep, that’s right, these guys ride the toughest trails in the world with only 150 mm travel, not just up front but at the rear too.

Stopping is taken care of by Shimano SAINT brakes with small 180 mm rotors. The motto here: the less you brake, the longer you’re going fast! The drivetrain, also supplied by Shimano, is a flagship XTR groupset. However, instead of the usual 10–51 t cassette, this bike is fitted with a 10–45 t cassette combined with a 34 t chainring up front, requiring powerful legs on steep climbs. The handlebars on our test bike were shortened to 775 mm and clamped to a 50 mm stem. Overall, the front end is very low, so you can generate a lot of grip on the large 29er wheel. Nothing is left to chance with the heavy-duty tires and CushCore tire inserts provide added puncture protection. We replaced the extremely worn Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the rear that was on the bike with a Big Betty which happened to be spot on – at the first round of this year’s EWS in Zermatt, Maes was using the exact same tire combination with a Magic Mary upfront.

Everything onboard
You won’t find many riders using a backpack in the EWS. Instead, the tools get stowed on the bike, just like the OneUp tool.
Big wheels keep on turning
To improve the rollover characteristics of the GT Force, Martin Maes prefers using a 29” wheel upfront. This will become part of the standard configuration in 2021.
Less, done right
The Force is based on the principle that less is more. 150 mm travel isn’t a lot for an enduro race bike but it makes use of every bit of it as efficiently as possible. However, the bike passes more hits to the rider on really rough terrain.

GT Force Carbon Pro Martin Maes Edition


Fork FOX 38 Factory RAD 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory mm150
Brakes Shimano Saint 180/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 34 (10-45)
Stem Race Face Atlas 50 mm
Handlebar Race Face SixC 775 mm
Wheelset ZTR FLOW MK3/EX3
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary / Big Betty 2.4"

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL
Weight 15.38 kg
Wheelsize 29"/27.5"

Specific Features


The later you brake, the longer you’re fast
Martin Maes has his SAINT brakes paired with just 180 mm rotors. This offers better modulation. However, if you’re on the brakes more often than a top-ranking EWS pro, you’ll be better off with bigger rotors on steep terrain.
Powerful legs needed
Maes’ gear ratio requires very powerful thighs on steep climbs
Pretty high
The frame of the Force Carbon has an unnecessarily long seat tube and high top tube. Unfortunately, this limits your freedom of movement.

The geometry of the GT Force Carbon Pro as a mullet build

The geometry of the GT Force Carbon Pro, as we tested it, only partially matches that of the production bike. By installing the larger front wheel, the head angle has become slacker, the reach shorter and the bottom bracket higher, which has only been counteracted to a limited extent by the reduced travel fork. Interestingly, the team still uses the low position on the flip chip. However, the reach is shorter than the specified 465 mm, which is short already. The 480 mm seat tube is very long, which limits the insertion depth of the seat post.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 392 mm 400 mm 430 mm 480 mm 520 mm
Top tube 543 mm 568 mm 595 mm 621 mm 648 mm
Head tube 102 mm 102 mm 110 mm 118 mm 126 mm
Head angle 65.0° 65.0° 65.0° 65.0° 65.0°
Seat angle 75.5° 75.5° 75.5° 75.5° 75.5°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 20 mm 20 mm 20 mm 20 mm 20 mm
Wheelbase 1,139 mm 1,164 mm 1,192 mm 1,221 mm 1,249 mm
Reach 390 mm 415 mm 440 mm 465 mm 490 mm
Stack 591 mm 591 mm 599 mm 606 mm 613 mm
Helmet FOX Rampage Pro Carbon | Goggles FOX Main Stray | Jersey FOX Flexair
Pants FOX Defend X Kevlar | Shoes Specialized 2FO Cliplite

When things get really fast and rough, your hands tighten like a vice and you really have to hold on!

Agile, direct and demanding – the GT Force Carbon mullet on the trail

In an interview with photographer Sven Martin, Martin Maes’ team mechanic, Marc Maurisson, once said, “It’s not about being as comfortable as possible, it’s about being fast.” That’s exactly what you notice when you get on the bike. If you’re expecting plush suspension that absorbs a lot of energy at high speed, you’ll be in for a surprise. The Force is fast, damn fast even, but it has to be ridden with conviction and dedication. The team’s approach is to use a small amount of travel well rather than having lots of travel and not using all of it. With very fast, hard hits, the setup demands a lot from the rider to keep the bike on track. As soon as the track becomes tighter and more winding, the GT is in its element. When you’ve got to carry as much speed as possible or react quickly to unforeseen obstacles, the Force shines.

The GT Force Carbon is reminiscent of a terrier – fast, nimble and full of confidence!

As a rider, you don’t feel as integrated with the bike as with the best models in the test, but that makes it all the easier to throw around beneath you. Quick direction changes require little effort and you can position yourself optimally between fast switchbacks. The only problem in situations like these is the height of the top tube, which unnecessarily limits your freedom of movement.

How does the GT Force compare to the competition?

The GT Force is very similar to the Yeti SB150. Both bikes are very agile and easy to ride. When the Force reaches the end of its travel, the Yeti still has some reserves. Compared to the Nukeproof, the GT is significantly more nimble in narrow sections, but it takes a lot more out of the rider on big hits.

Differences from the standard bike:

  • fork with 150 mm travel
  • 29” wheel up front
  • Shimano instead of SRAM brakes
  • XTR instead of GX drivetrain
  • robust Super Gravity tires


In the mullet configuration, the GT Force Carbon is in its element in tight sections with quick direction changes. Despite having only 150 mm travel, it copes well with hard hits but it requires a committed riding style and a powerful rider to stay on course at high speed.


  • very agile and quick to change direction
  • doesn't waste any energy
  • super precise and direct


  • brake rotors too small for (heavy) riders who are on the brakes more
  • not a lot of reserves for big hits – you'll have to absorb those with your body
  • top tube height and long seat tube limit your mobility

More information: gtbicycles.com

The test field

A lot more mtbs, our findings and the trends for the upcoming saison can be found in our introduction of the fastest enduro race bike on test.

All bikes in the test: Canyon Strive CFR Jack Moir Edition (Click for review) | Commencal META AM 29 (Click for review) | GT Force Carbon Pro Martin Maes Edition | Lapierre Spicy Team (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290c RS Team Edition (Click for review) | Raaw Madonna V2 FOX Factory Custom (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Enduro Team Edition (Click for review) | Trek SLASH 9.9 2021 (Click for review) | Yeti SB150 Team (Click for review) | YT CAPRA Elite 29 (Click for review)

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