A well-known in cycling circles Gary Turner began his career in his garage in 1975, manufacturing BMX frames, which quickly became very popular.
At the same time, his future partner, Richard Long, had an accident on his motorcycle. An enterprising American, using insurance payouts as an initial investment, opened a bicycle shop in Anaheim, California. The sons of Richard and Gary were about the same age, and both were fond of bicycles. Becoming friends, these guys began to see each other often and started to compete in BMX tricks.
Richard sold so many frames to Gary’s store that it was no wonder that two men decided to combine their efforts. This turned out to be a correct decision. Gary loved making bicycle parts, and Richard was a born businessman with a degree in psychology. Officially, their partnership took shape in 1979 – from now on Richard was selling GT bikes, and Gary was working on improving them.
GT Bicycles were founded by welder Gary Turner in 1972, when he made his first BMX with a light chrome-molybdenum frame. He build it for his son who was fond of motocross. His bicycle was exceeding steel bikes of competing companies in terms of strength and weight. Gradually, BMX began to gain popularity as a separate sport, and in 1974 the owner of a bicycle shop in Orange County (Southern California) Richard Long, noticed GT frames. And in 1975, Gary Turner and Richard Long joined forces and the GT bikes went on sale.
From mid 70s to the mid 90s, GT was considered the world’s best BMX bike manufacturer. In 1988, the company began production of mountain bikes and quickly managed to break into leaders on the market. In 1998, GT Bicycles merged with another bicycle manufacturer – Schwinn, but in 2001 the conglomerate went bankrupt and was bought by Pacific Cycle. This company in turn was absorbed by the Canadian company Dorel Industries, in 2004. (Dorel Industries also own famous bicycle brand Mongoose).
If GT’s BMX bikes were considered to be out of competition, mountain bikes produced by the company did not find such glory in the early years. They were considered too heavy and one step behind their competitors. Fortunately for the company, GT Bicycles was already quite well-known on the market, due to the fact that the owners of bicycle shops loved to deal with Richard.
Bob Hadley, the former chief executive of GT, whose task was to accompany the racing team, organize special events and attract dealers across the country, recalls: “While working on GT, I traveled a lot. Could visit some tiny GT shop in the backwoods, and the shop owner informed me that Richard Long had been here just last week. And this is not an isolated example, each time it was the same thing. ”
GT’s customer service representative, Dave Brown, recalls the day Richard broke into the office with a new decree: “You know what? I decided that from now on you should pay attention to any problem related to our products and mentioned in the dealer report. No questions asked! The dealer is always right. Just deal with this problem. ” There were no meetings, no disputes, no cost analysis due to his new policy. He simply said that everyone should start working that way. This is a very vivid example of Richard’s personality. Dave believes that it was on this day, the company was truly born.
Richard treated stores not only as dealers – for him they were first and foremost partners. If a store selling GT bikes had financial difficulties, Richard was always ready to help, because he personally knew these guys. He sought ways to help them get back on their feet. Richard did not consider such cases as situations when someone wanted to borrow money from him – he believed that it was just someone who really needed his help.
Bob Hadley also mentioned Richards extraordinary zeal in work. “He could schedule a meeting at seven o’clock in the morning, could start working two hours before we woke up. And he remained in the office until seven in the evening, ” Bob recalls.
By 1991, sales of GT Bicycles grew to 74.5 million USD, and by 1993 they had risen to 123.7 million. The company, being a partnership, used all possible ways for its further expansion. Gary and Richard began searching a venture capital, that would help them to turn a growing company into an open joint stock company. They turned to East Cost investment group, to which Gary sold a significant portion of his shares. He now worked as a consultant, while Richard still had a fair share in GT and had voting rights in daily operations.
In 1995, the company became open and placed its shares on the NASDAQ National Market. Bidding started from 15 USD per share, and the following year they rose in price, which became 17.5 USD per share. The IPO allowed GT to reduce its long-term debt and continue the same movement by leaps and bounds with the increase in turnover, which the company has enjoyed for several years in a row.
And then came the black day in the history of GT.
It is hard not to notice the irony: the accident led Richard Long into the cycling business and a similar accident deprived cycling of one of its most prominent personalities. Richard was racing on a “Big Bear” motorcycle in the 1996 NORBA National competition, in which his mountain bike team meant to take part. He died from a collision with a truck. Since that moment, GT has become completely different.
“The production of the GT faced enormous difficulties,” explains Bob Hadley. “It seemed like every bike was lacking something. You can’t ride a bike that doesn’t have pedals, chain or handlebars. As result, forecasts for the development of company did not came true. Although GT had a very competent leadership, the company irretrievably lost Richard’s charm. They were not able to maintain close partnerships with dealers, as they did with Richard. “
The tragic death of Richard Long and the mess with production were not the only problems that GT Bicycles faced in 1996. The boom on mountain bikes began to subside. Mountain bike manufacturers, who could not meet the demands of consumers, even a year before had noted that growth is slowing. Despite the fact that a record number of people rode bicycles, they were quite pleased with bicycles they owned and didn’t want to purchase new ones.
The growth of GT decreased from 18 to 4% per year, and then dropped to zero, and after 1996 a decline in sales began. Their shares in 1998 fell to a mark not exceeding five dollars. GT’s golden years were over.
The Questor Partners Fund, which owned Schwinn company, bought GT’s shares in June 1998, at a price of 8 USD, thereby removing the company from stock market. Questor bought a company whose capabilities and staff allowed it to maintain sales up to 400 million USD a year. Unfortunately, at that time, the company barely used half of its potential.
Questor took a number of painful measures aimed at saving the company (and to compensate for its investment). These measures included downsizing, moving the company to a smaller head office and eliminating the goods that were accumulated in the warehouses.
These drastic measures negatively affected the activities of most bicycle shops, which still held memories of Richard Long’s personal visits. The biggest concerns of store owners were that Questor could stop selling GT bikes through specialty stores, and instead will start working with large stores. Schwinn’s authorized representatives assured the dealers that they were not going to cooperate with large stores, but did not promise to never do so either.
Therefore, the owners of bicycle shops gradually reduced the number of GT models in their assortment in order not to depend too much on these companies. GT continued to produce great bikes, win races and promote their collections, but financial difficulties did not allow the provision of appropriate parts and warranty service. The business was still in a deplorable situation, and the lack of funds eventually led GT to initiate bankruptcy proceedings.
But everything was decided on September 11, 2001, when Pacific Cycle LLC, the largest importer of bicycles in the US, acquired the property of Schwinn / GT for 86 million USD.
Chief executive of Pacific, called GT an American symbol: “We will do everything possible to maintain the popularity of this brand on the market, because it is a trademark with which many generations of American cyclists have grown, and I, by the way are among them.”
The newly minted owners claim that the continued maintenance of the GT brand is a long-term strategy for the company. The reputation of the GT brand has been and will be determined by the quality and variety of products. The new owners of the company generally have a huge number of plans: expanding the volumes of wholesale products of the GT company, mass distribution of the company’s products, support for the dealer network.
Pacific’s acquisition of property of GT terminated a period of uncertainty that occurred in the history of the brand and allowed all fans to calmly indulge in their favorite hobby – cycling.
GT Models lineup
Bikes of this brand are designed for a wide target audience – its model range includes professional models (used in various international high-level championships), and equipment for beginner athletes, and “simple bicycles” (though not at all budgetary) – intended for ordinary cyclists. At the same time, Americans offer bikes for almost everyone, regardless of age, gender, and preferred sports discipline.
The headquarters of GT Bicycles is located in the American outback – a small town of Wilton with a population of just over 18 thousand people, “lost” in southwestern Connecticut. As regards to production, it is mainly concentrated in China and Taiwan, but the development and design of new bikes is carried out in the USA. The brand itself is currently controlled by the Canadian concern Dorel Industries.
In the production of bicycles this company uses both its own components and those purchased from third-party companies.
On their own GT produces steel, aluminum and carbon frames, steering elements, rims, hubs, and seat posts and saddles (but not for the entire lineup).
However, many of components are imported from outside, for example: derailleurs, shifters, chains and brakes are purchased from Shimano. Handlebars and seat posts – from RaceFace and All Terra. Front and rear suspension – from Fox, RockShox and SR Suntour. Brake systems from Tektro and Promax. (and this is not a complete list)
GT’s models lineup is quite extensive and is able to meet the demands of various cyclists and athletes:
GT mountain bikes
GT Avalanche – is an entry level hardtail mountain bike (has version for women), which is intended both for semi-professional riding in disciplines such as “cross-country” and “trial”, and for active riding in city parks and on bike trails.
This bike is not suitable for use in extreme conditions, but it can boast a number of solid technical solutions – for example, its aluminum frame is made using proprietary technology “Triple Triangle”: in this case, the seat stay of the rear triangle is welded to the top tube of front triangle (in front of the seat tube).
By default, (on the Sport and Comp versions), the bike has SR Suntour XCT-HLO front suspension fork with a 100 mm of travel and remote lockout. But on the Elite and Expert versions use more advanced systems: in the first case – SR Suntour XCR with remote lockout and adjustment of rebound and preload, and in the second case – RockShox air suspension, remote lockout and adjustment of rebound.
The bike is equipped with 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, a threadless headset, a 27-speed Shimano transmission (their “professional suitability” depends on the configuration) and 160-mm disc brakes (hydraulic on top versions).
GT Aggressor – is a “entry level” hardtail mountain bike, oriented towards common cycling enthusiasts (also available both in male and female versions) intended for active riding on city streets and light off-road, but not suitable for use in serious sports disciplines.
Like its “older siblings” this bike is not deprived of interesting solutions, among which is the frame made out of special aluminum alloy, and is constructed using the same “triple triangle” technology.
The bike is equipped with All-Terra spring-oil fork with 80 mm of travel: on Sport and Comp versions – СР-565, and on the Expert – CH-525 HLO (with lockout). Bike has a non-integrated threadless headset with a double-battered All-Terra handlebars, Shimano 24 gears transmission with , 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims and 160 mm disc brakes (Sport and Comp – Tektro mechanic disk brakes, and for Expert – Shimano hydraulic disk brakes).
GT Palomar Al – is an “amateur level” hardtail mountain bike designed for beginner cyclists who like cycling on city streets or parks. It has a “triple triangle” aluminum frame, an All Terra front suspension with 80 mm of travel, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, a 21-speed Shimano transmission, threaded headset and V -type rim brakes.
GT Transeo – hardtail mountain bike (hybrid) intended, first of all for riding on city streets, but at the same time is suitable for light off-road. It has a “triple-triangle” aluminum frame, SR Suntour oil spring fork with 75mm of travel and a lockout, 24-speed Shimano transmission, 28-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims and 160mm Shimano mechanic disc brakes.
GT Pantera – “mid level” hardtail mountain bike with 27.5 inch wheels, which is suitable for both beginner and experienced cyclists in “trial” discipline. This bike has an aluminum frame, uses the same “Triple Triangle technology”, front suspension fork with a 100-120 mm of travel (Sport and Comp versions – Suntour, Elite and Expert versions – RockShox) 11-speed Shimano transmission and 160mm disc brakes (basic version – mechanical Tektro, the rest – hydraulic Shimano).
GT Sensor – is a “semi-professional” full suspension mountain bike, designed both for cyclists who prefer rides with maximum comfort and for riders who are seriously interested in sports. It has a hydroformed aluminum frame, an integrated headset, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, 20-speed Shimano transmission and hydraulic disc brakes of the same brand with 180-mm rotors. The Comp version has a SR Suntour fork with a 140 mm of travel and a shock absorber. Elite has a RockShox suspension (in both cases comes with lockout and rebound adjustments).
GT Karakoram – is a hardtail mountain bike designed for both active city riding and cycling tours, and for beginner athletes in “all mountain” disciplines. This bike has an aluminum frame (triple triangle), 29-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, a SR Suntour front fork with a 100 mm of travel, Shimano 27 gears transmission, threadless headset, and 160mm hydraulic disc brakes.
GT Force – is a full suspension mountain bike, advertised by the American manufacturer as a “professional sports equipment” for “all-mountain” discipline (although it can easily satisfy the demands of amateur but demanding cyclists). Bike has hydroformed aluminum frame, high-speed 10 or 11 gear Shimano transmission (Sport and Expert, respectively), 27.5-inch wheels with double wall rims and hydraulic disc brakes (front rotors – 200 mm, rear – 180 mm). “Base” bike is equipped with front and rear RockShox suspension, and “top” versions have “Fox Racing” rear shock absorbers.
GT Zaskar – is a “professional” hardtail mountain bike (available in male and female modifications), which is designed for training and competitions in “cross-country” discipline. The bike has a “Triple Triangle” aluminum frame, RockShox suspension fork with a 100 mm of travel, remote lockout and rebound adjustment, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, 11-speed Shimano transmission and 160 mm hydraulic disc brakes.
GT Zaskar Carbon – in general, functionally and structurally, this bike is identical to the previous version, and differs from it only with a frame made entirely of carbon fiber.
GT Hellion – is a full suspension mountain bike, created for professional riding in “cross-country” discipline (although it does not exclude “every day” use). By default, it is equipped with an aluminum frame, but also has a carbon version. This bike has a RockShox or Fox Racing suspension fork with a 100mm of travel, rebound adjustment and remote lockout, Fox Racing rear shock with remote lockout, a 10 or 11-speed Shimano transmission, 29-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims and 180-mm hydraulic disc brakes with.
GT Sanction – is a full suspension mountain bike, which is aimed at professional athletes racing enduro discipline and practicing aggressive riding style. At the base of the bike is an aluminum frame with a RockShox front suspension fork with a 170–180 mm of travel (rebound and compression adjustment) and a RockShox or Fox Racing rear shock absorber (depending on version). It has an integrated headset, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, a 10 or 11-speed SRAM transmission, and hydraulic brakes with 200 mm rotors.
GT Fury – full suspension mountain bike designed for professional downhill racing. It has an aluminum frame, an integrated headset, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall rims, a 7-speed SRAM or Shimano transmission, and 200 mm hydraulic disc brakes. The base model is equipped with a RockShox suspension with adjustable rebound, and the “top” model – is equipped with Fox Racing suspension with compression and rebound adjustment.
GT Slammer – BMX-bike, designed for extreme riding in city streets or on specially prepared tracks, and performing various tricks. This bike has a steel frame with reinforcement on the down tube, 20-inch wheels with single wall aluminum rims, and rim brakes (front V-brake, rear U-brake).
GT Mach One – is an “entry-level” extreme bike, which is designed for active cycling, high-speed riding through the city streets and various tricks … Its target audience is more likely to be BMX riders than professional athletes (the bike is offered in different versions – for children, teenagers and adults). This is a single-speed model with a welded frame made of thermally treated aluminum, 20 or 24 inches wheels with double wall rims and V-type rim brakes.
GT Performer – BMX-bike on which you can ride through the city streets and parks, and perform various tricks. This bike is presented in several modifications designed for different age categories. Bike has a steel frame with an integrated seat post, 16- or 20-inch wheels with single wall aluminum rims and V-brakes.
GT Team – BMX-bike is available in several versions and intended both for beginners who are taking their first steps in BMX racing, and for “mid-level” athletes for active riding and intense training. This is a single-speed bike with a welded frame made of Cr-Mo and Hi-Ten steel, with down tube and cup reinforcement, 20-inch wheels with single wall front and double wall rear rims made of aluminum (on the “top” models – both wheels have double wall rims), and V-type rim brakes in front and U-type in rear.
GT Labomba – is a single-speed hardtail aimed at “mid-level” riders, designed for riding and performing various stunts in urban environments or on specially prepared tracks. This bike has an aluminum frame, 26-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, an integrated headset, a Manitou front fork with a 100 mm of travel, preload and rebound adjustment, and 160 mm hydraulic rear disk brakes.
GT Speed Series – is a professional-class stunt bike, which is designed both for riding on city streets and stunts, and for participating in serious competitions on specially prepared tracks. This bike has a frame made out of thermally treated aluminum, a carbon fork, 20-inch wheels with double wall rims and V-Brake rim brakes.
City and Road bikes
GT Traffic – is a city bike created for riding on asphalt or roads with a flat surface, and urban (city) riding. This bike does not have a clear separation by gender – it will suit both men and women. It comes with an aluminum frame made using “Triple Triangle” technology, rigid front fork, 28-inch wheels with double wall rims, 21-speed Shimano transmission and mechanic disc brakes with 160 mm rotors.
GT Laguna is a “entry-level” women’s hybrid bicycle, the main purpose of which (despite the fact that it is a hardtail) is city riding with occasional light off-road (not difficult gravel sections). This bike comes with an aluminum frame with an All Terra spring-oil fork ( 80 mm of travel) and a threadless headset. Normally, it is equipped with 26-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims, a 21-speed Shimano transmission and V-type rim brakes.
GT GTS – “entry level” road bike (suitable both for men and women), which is designed for high-speed and long-term riding on city streets and country roads, including gravel. This bike has a hydro formed aluminum frame, a carbon front fork, a 16- or 18-speed Shimano transmission, an integrated headset and 28-inch aluminum wheels.
GT Grade is a universal road bike suitable for riding on asphalt or gravel roads. It is designed primarily for city riders (regardless of gender) who make long rides on their bikes, but is able to meet the demands of athletes of advanced levels. The bike is build on an aluminum frame with an aluminum or carbon fork. It has 28-inch wheels, an integrated headset, a 16-or 22-speed Shimano transmission, and disc brakes with 160 mm rotors (by default, mechanical and on the most expensive versions – hydraulic).
GT Grade Carbon – is a professional gravel bike, aimed at participating in serious competitions (although it is quite suitable for everyday riding). It has a “triple-triangle” carbon frame with integrated headset, 28-inch wheels with double wall rims, a 20 or 22-speed Shimano transmission, and 160-mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes.
GT ePantera Bolt – is an electric hardtail mountain bike (“unisex”), designed for active riding on city streets or light off-road. This bike has a “triple-triangle” aluminum frame, semi-integrated headset, oil-spring fork with a 120mm of travel, 27.5-inch wheels, 11-speed Shimano transmission and disc brakes. It features a frame mounted motor, which delivers 250 W (0.34 hp) and 70 Nm of torque, and a 500W lithium-ion battery.
GT ePantera Dash – is an electric hardtail mountain bike for both to men and women (model with the letter “W” for women), whose purpose is riding on city streets and in parks, and light off-road. This bike has identical frame design and electronics as the previous “e-bike”, and it features a Suntour fork with a 120 mm of travel, a 10-speed Shimano transmission and an integrated headset.
GT eVerb AMP – is an electric full suspension mountain bike (has both male and female models), which is designed for active urban riding and in riding on rough terrain. Bike has an aluminum hydro formed frame, front and rear RockShox suspension with a 130 mm of travel, semi-integrated headset, 11-speed Shimano transmission, 27.5-inch wheels with double wall rims and disc brakes. It is equipped with an electric motor that generates 250 W and 70 Nm, and has a 500 W lithium-ion battery.
GT eVerb Current – in a constructive way this electric bike is the same as the previous model, the only difference is equipment: RockShox front suspension with a 120 mm of travel, a rear shock absorber with a 130 mm of travel and a Shimano 10 speed transmission.
GT eTraffic AMP – electric city bike (model with W is for women), designed for riding on asphalt roads (mostly urban environments). It has a “triple-triangle” aluminum frame, with a 250-watt electric motor (70 Nm) and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 418 Wh, a 10-speed Shimano transmission, 28-inch wheels with double wall aluminum rims and disc brakes with 160 mm rotors.
AOS (angle optimized suspension) is a rear suspension system that has a high-mounted hinge and a hollow aluminum lever: the first allows overcoming obstacles with sharp edges, moving the wheel in the “correct” position up and back, and the second is countering increase in a chain length.
F.O.C. – Ultra Carbon – is a monocoque bicycle frame. This technology requires a minimum amount of carbon for frame building.
GTW is a set of measures to create “female” bike models, the components and settings for which take into account female proportions.
Independent Drivetrain is a rear suspension system that is distinguished by a bottom bracket placement outside the rear and front triangles. This solution allows you to maintain a constant tension of the chain when moving on uneven surfaces, but creates a constant change in distance from saddle to pedals.
Legit Fit Design is a special program of American bicycle manufacturer for creation of kids and teenage bikes, starting with design and ending with constructive and technical issues.
Monocoque XM Metal – manufacturing technology of aluminum frames of various shapes, allows achieving strength and rigidity, which can not be obtained using traditional round pipes.
Monocoque / Hydroformed AM Metal is a program designed to create light and strong frames (monocoque structures) using aluminum and hydro formed pipes, without loss in strength.
Speed Metal is a special technology for forming aluminum that allows you to control the state of the metal at the molecular level and achieve its optimal structure.
Triple Triangle is the so-called proprietary “triple triangle”, which increases the torsional rigidity of the frame: in this case, the seat stay is welded to the top tube (in front of the seat tube) and to the seat tube (under the top tube).
GT’s advantages and disadvantages
- A wide range of products – the American company offers bicycles for almost all age categories, ranging from “budget” models to professional in various sports disciplines.
- Lightweight and durable materials – even the most affordable bikes (except for stunt bikes) have aluminum frames, while the “top” options are made out of carbon.
- Modern technology – in the production of bicycles GT relies mainly on its own advanced development, but at the same time it buys some parts from world-famous companies.
- Stylish design – bicycles of this manufacturer stand out with an attractive and recognizable look.
- High price – due to use of aluminum, even on “entry-level” models (not intended for professional riding) bikes cost a lot of money, especially compared to analogues from other bicycle manufacturers.
- Third-party components – with all the high-tech solutions for their frames even on relatively affordable bikes, GT still uses components of the simplest technical level.