Thursday, July 17, 2008

The History of GT Bicycles

People often ask me - what is it with me and GT bicycles? It's a topic that comes up very, very often. Well, unless you were really into mountain biking since its infancy in the early 1990s, or perhaps BMX racing during the early 1980s, it's a hard to appreciate what GT was like during peak of its power. Myself, and many others around the world, still recall the glory days, and watched in despair as the brand neared brink of extinction, before the recent return to prominence of this famous brand.

So, the history of GT Bicycles.

IT IS THE EARLY 1970’s. Moto Cross takes off and MX racing is big. Between moto’s parents allow the youngsters to race bicycles on the big dirt tracks. Dad’s get involved and Bicycle Moto Cross was born. In 1973, a father named Gary Turner is one of the dads that goes to Moto Cross races and watches the kids racing, including his own. He notices that the bikes are heavy, slow and fragile. Gary is not only a musical instrument repairmen with experience welding things like trumpets and trombones, but is also a professional drag racer and has experience welding and building cro-mo “rails” or chassis, for drag racers. With the high grade aircraft cro-moly tubing used for dragsters, Gary starts to make frames for his son to race at the MX track. His son’s bike gets noticed and Gary starts to supply the frames to other kids and building his reputation one frame at a time.

Product Highlights:

  • 4130 Cro-mo Frames / Forks

1974 THE BEGINNING. Richard Long owns and runs a bike shop in Orange County, California. He notices Gary Turner and his frames. He notices that they are selling and that people want to know how to get them. Richard calls Gary and asks him if he can stock and sell the frames. Gary agrees and the most famous partnership in BMX history starts.

1975-1980 BUILDING A BRAND, ONE FRAME AT A TIME. Things happen fast and soon Richard and Gary invested in a shop dedicated to making top quality Cro-moly BMX frames in Santa Ana. In 1979 they incorporated into GT Bicycles, Inc. Richard sold his bike shop and began selling frames as fast as possible to bicycle distributors across the USA and into Europe. Business is huge and so is BMX. GT begins to sponsor BMX racers. Richard is the business and marketing genius and Gary is the engineer and craftsmen. Little did they know that in 20 years they would build together one of the most well known bicycle companies in the world.

Product Highlights:
  • 4130 Cro-mo Frames / Forks
  • 4130 Handlebars
  • Forged Stems
  • 4130 Seatposts

1980-86 THE GLORY DAYS OF BMX. GT expands exponentially every year and enters the new off shoot sport of BMX, Freestyle. The first frame designed by Gary for freestyle, the Performer, becomes a legend in freestyle and, still today, in 2002, is one of the most recognized brand names in juvenile bicycles. The company moves into new digs on 2300 Container Lane in Huntington Beach California. Soon, they grow from one office into 4 separate buildings that handle welding, warehousing, shipping and administrative. During this period GT would come to dominate BMX racing as the sport matured into a worldwide phenomena. GT establishes itself as the preeminent racing brand in the sport and begins to dominate the race venues that would lead to the nickname “the firm”. For better or for worse GT goes from garage to corporate in a big way.

Product Highlights:
  • Full assortment of USA made BMX frames and parts
  • Full assortment of USA made Freestyle frames and parts
  • Performer frame and GT Freestyle parts challenge Haro for dominance in the market place.
1987-1994 BMX DIES WHILE GT MOVES INTO MOUNTAIN BIKE. As the late 80 ‘s approached, BMX racing tapered off and the BMX business got hit hard. In light of this Richard turned his focus onto the new sport of Mountain Biking, although he never forgot BMX and in fact turned up the heat on his competitors. In November of 1987 GT showed its first line of 5 mountain bikes at the young Interbike Show in Reno, Nevada. 5 years into the MTB boom many said that GT was too late and too BMX to make it in this market. Those that knew Richard Long thought other wise. Within 5 years GT came to dominate the sport of Mountain Bike racing as it did in BMX with a massive marketing effort led by a large international race team that raised the brand to a high awareness level on a global scale. In 1988 GT moved from the 4 separate Container lane buildings into a specially built facility on 17800 Gothard street in Huntington Beach for the next 5 years. Many would say that this was the high water mark for the company in terms of culture and profit. In January of 1988 GT bought its way into dealer direct distribution with the acquisition of Riteway products in Placentia Ca. Within 4 years GT purchased 3 more distributors across the country and became a national force in the IBD market. During this period GT started to make and assemble complete bikes. The complexity and scope of the business increased yearly and soon GT was a 125 million dollar company. In 1991 GT signed World Champion Julie Furtado to it’s international racing team. Julie would go on to win more World Cup’s than any rider of her time. On the men’s side GT signed up Junior World Champion Nicholas Vouilloz who would dominate DH like no other rider in history and has yet to be dethroned. Also signed was Rishi Grewal, a pioneering MTB racer that had style and flash to match the GT image. Many other world class racers would join the stable of Team GT in the early 90’s to form one of the most powerful MTB teams in history. Also implemented at this time was Project ’96. A “no holds barred” attempt to design and produce the fastest track bikes in the history of the sport for the US Olympic Track team. This would be a multi million dollar effort and would eventually lead to the UCI banning most aerodynamic design aspects from bicycle racing due to the revolutionary bicycles that resulted from this award winning and medal winning venture.

Product Highlights:
  • 1988: Full assortment of USA made 4130 BMX and freestyle frames, components and accessories
  • Complete BMX bikes sourced from Taiwan, range expands to over 10 models Introduction of MTB line with 5 models: Outpost, Timberline, Tequesta, Karakoram, and Avalanche all featuring triple triangle technology. This would become a GT hallmark of frame design Dyno brand name introduced to market place as a hard core freestyle brand.
  • 1990: MTB range expands to 12 models including the Titanium Xizang LE and the ill fated 700D series of trekking / cross bikes.
  • Dyno brand name introduced to market place to be a less expensive line to complement GT.
  • 1991: The legendary USA made Zaskar (frame only ) is introduced. This is one of the first USA made aluminum frames that can withstand the rigors of offroad use.
  • The Quatrefoil off road tandem is introduced.
  • 1992: Huge proliferation of GT innovations such as the Groove Tube, Flip Flop stem and 2 x 4 forks are introduced.
  • GT “Tech Shop” concept introduced to allow GT shops to buy custom USA made Titanium, Aluminum and Cr-Mo ATB frames.
  • Taiwan aluminum arrives in the form of the Pantera
  • 1993: RTS hits the market and GT becomes a leader in full suspension.
  • GT USA begins to assemble complete adult bikes with the RTS-1 and Zaskar LE.
1994-JULY 1996 TRAGEDY KILLS THE DREAM. As GT prospered and grew the competition could do little but watch. Many wondered what the secret formula was to GT’s run away success and wondered when it would end. As the fall of ’95 approached business was better than ever. BMX racing was coming back and GT was on top. Richard had crafted GT into one of the few, if not the only, bicycle company in the world that was a top supplier of not only BMX bicycles and products but adult bicycles as well. Combined with the might of the Riteway parts business GT was the dominant US cycling company in the USA in 1995. That year GT left the old building on Gothard and moved into a sprawling warehouse back in the original town of GT, Santa Ana, California. With twice the space for both warehousing and office GT kept growing and growing. In October of 1995 GT Bicycles Inc. went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange with the help of Bain Capital, a well known investment bank in Boston, Mass. Richard and Gary were turned in multi millionaires over night. As the 1996 Olympics approached the company was at full throttle and hitting on all twelve cylinders just like Richard’s BMW 850i. Life was good and Richard lived it to the hilt. Motorcycles had always been a passion of Richard’s and with his new found wealth he indulged his habit of speed by owning no less then six high performance cars and four Harley Davidson motorbikes. A particular model caught Richard’s eye, the new monster bike made by Honda called “Valkyrie”. Built on the Gold wing platform it was basically a horizontally opposed 4 cylinder car engine stuffed into a motorcycle frame. It was huge. Richard took delivery of the bike a week before the 1996 NORBA national at Big Bear. With a few rides under his belt Richard blasted off toward Big Bear on the bike to watch Team GT crush at the races once again. However, Richard never arrived. On the way up the hill to Big Bear, on the winding route called the “back way”, he was killed in a wreck with a pick up truck that turned left across his lane in front of him. Thousands of stunned spectators and racers listened in disbelief as the announcer read the news. The man who was bigger than life, who almost single handedly built a 250 million dollar public company was dead at 46 years of age leaving a wife and two sons. From that point on GT would never ever be the same. There has always been and will continue to be speculation of the role that the big bike played in that wreck. But it cannot change the fact that Richard Long, the life force behind GT, was gone. The very next day a Board of Directors meeting was called by Bain Capitol, who had control of GT (much to the dismay of Gary Turner) and told Gary and the other members that GT was to be sold as soon as possible for the highest possible price. Only they would know of this plan.

Product Highlights:

BMX bikes:
  • 1994: “Fueler “ frame introduced, at the time it was one of the only dirt jump specifc frames in the market. The Fueler featured massive over size cro-mo tubes with plate cut dropouts and 1 1/8” headtube.
  • 25 models in the combined GT / Dyno line
  • 1995: Fueler is offered as a complete bike.
  • Power Series tubular cro-mo cranks introduced.
  • Line grows to 27 models and over 20 framesets.
  • Powerlite and Robinson lines are also introduced with a combined total of 16 models.
  • 1996: Aluminum hits the track with the all new “Speed Series Team” . This is a huge step for the former Cro-mo driven BMX product line. GT applies lessons learned with Zaskar production into BMX technology.
  • GT and Dyno both feature price point Taiwan frames to capitalize on the trend. There are now 50 models between GT/Dyno/ Powerlite and Robinson.
Mountain bikes:
  • 1994: RTS becomes a complete line of suspension bikes.
  • GT is the first company to mass produce a functional full suspension bike in Taiwan.
  • GT introduces a line of road bikes.
  • High end custom bikes are ridden by the US Olympic Team
  • GT is the official sponsor of the US Team through the Olympics in Atlanta.
  • The ground breaking LTS, a 4- bar linkage frame is introduced in the January of 1994
  • The LTS wins the 1994 “full suspension shootout ” among all the major brands.
  • 1995: LTS ruled the MTB line up and GT is the first to supply dealers with a fully functional 4 bar linkage MTB made in the USA and damped by the infamous ALPS 5 by Fox.
  • The Karakoram won “1995 bike of the year”
  • 1996: Adult line features two complete suspension platforms in the LTS and RTS. RTS dies a quick death at the hands of the functionally superior LTS platform
  • LTS-2 and 3 is the attempt to bring LTS technology to an affordable price. The Rock Shox coil sprung 2 is a hit. The elastomer sprung 3 is late and a dud.
JULY 1996-1998 THE SALE. Even Richard’s death could not at first slow the massive inertia that GT generated. Business kept growing and GT soon purchased distributors in the UK (This deal was actually consummated in the months prior to Richard’s passing) , France and Japan in the months after Richard’s death. GT moved to an even larger 300,000 square foot facility a few miles down the road in June of 1997. This latest location was a fully integrated manufacturing, assembly and warehousing facility. The stock price, after a dip following Richard’s accident, soared as high as $22.00. However chinks in the armor started to show and the weak organizational fabric that was previously held together by Richard’s sheer force of will was starting to rip apart. By the fall of 1997 a few corporate suitors had secretly come and gone. The focus of senior management was not on the company and the internal forces within were often at odds. Sales goals were missed, forecasts were wrong, product delivered late, massive recalls occurred. The numbers slipped and so did the stock. However the money kept flowing like water out of a broken dam and to all outward appearances GT was as healthy as ever. In the summer of 1998 GT introduced a new suspension platform called “I drive” that was the next step in suspension technology. The global press, 60 publications in all, were given the royal treatment at an all expenses paid junket to Las Vegas, Nevada and Brian Head, Utah to view and ride the new bikes. However the party was spoiled when on the first night of the press intro the surprise announcement was made that Schwinn had just bought GT for 175 million dollars. Stunned GT employees walked around as though in a daze and wondered what their fate was and what would happen to their world.

Product highlights:

BMX bikes:
  • 1997: Monocoque constructed “Box series” chainstays appear for the first time on the Speed series team.
  • Shimano V-brakes are used for the first time on a GT BMX bike.
  • Spin wheels are introduced to BMX.
  • 1998: Aluminum is introduced to freestyle by the groundbreaking “Show” flatland frame. With close input from legendary flatlander Rueben Castillo, Robert Kahler and Jeff Soucek designed a frame specifically for the discipline of flatland that has yet to be equaled in the business.
Mountain & Road bikes:
  • 1997: With the massive press of the 1996 Olympic Superbike 2, and the revolutionary “STS” technology GT threw out new model after new model on the adult side.
  • Carbon fiber and aerodynamics drove the Mountain and Road lines respectively.
  • In 1997, GT introduced 3 new carbon fiber high end LTS full susp. MTB’s and 3 new Aero road bikes including the alien looking Vengeance triathlon bike.
  • The Vengeance was based on the old SB-1 or first generation Superbike and turned out to be a template for almost all TT bikes in used in the world today due to the enforcement of stricter rules governing aerodynamics brought about by the SB-2 and others.
  • 1998: STS technology drove the product line and GT introduced the LOBO DH bike.
  • Full suspension represented almost 80% of the models over $1000.00.
  • The LTS –2000 won “Bike of the Year” .
  • GT hires Steve Peat for DH and Team Saturn rides our bikes on the road.
  • Summer of 1998, I drive is introduced to the press with one of the most controversial launches in the history of the bike business.
10/12/1998 - 9/11-2001 THE QUESTER YEARS. In reality Schwinn had not purchased GT. An investment company, not unlike Bain Capital, Questor had purchased Schwinn bicycle from Scott USA in 1997 as Scott sought to escape the US bike business and focus on Europe. The mighty Schwinn Organization had been downsized to virtually nothing but a marketing organization by then. They had no manufacturing, no global presence and more importantly they had no big factory and no huge Riteway parts business. From the onset of the purchase Questor underestimated both the power of the GT brand, the intense pride of it’s employees and the complexity of it’s operations. However, Questor Senior management did instantly alienate large amounts of vital personal upon their first few visits to the Santa Ana plant. Instead of conserving needed senior talent, they disparaged and denigrated key players that left the company headless and open to the whims of the top dogs at Schwinn. Schwinn Sr. management, having had time to get close to Questor over the past 15 months, then moved into the power vacuum and asserted control and used influence to make sure that GT was cast in the worst possible light. From the start Questor could not control the strong personalities and internal factions of Schwinn and GT. They sought “synergies”, they wanted to “leverage strengths”, they talked management speak better than anyone but could not understand bike culture and what motivated bike people. At the same time the US bike business and European businesses continued to tank. The market had matured and problems previously masked by double digit growth were exposed by thinning margins, massive overheads and dropping sales. Rah, rah speeches, and gung ho memos were replaced by cost cutting, lay-offs and closures. As Questor desperately tried to stem the red ink the business suffered and so did the brand. In spring of 2001 it was obvious that Questor and the banks had decided to get out. Spending was frozen, payments to vendors and subcontractors were stopped. The writing was on the wall. Questor through their holding company, Schwinn-GT inc, declared bankruptcy on 6/27/01. Five years to the day that Richard Long had died. The once mighty duo of bicycle companies was sold to Pacific Cycle through bankruptcy court on 9/11/01 for 86 million dollars. This represented an almost 175 million dollar loss to Questor and a much larger blow to the bicycle community.

BMX bikes:

  • 1999: Niche takes over the line with the products firmly going into three categories
  • BMX racing: Speed Series sets the tone for all the models
  • Trails: Fueler, Bump and Thumper mark a new segment for GT
  • Freestyle: Dominated by the Show platform and “Vert” bikes
  • 2000: ULTRABOX !!!. An all new creation by PM Robert Kahler and Industrial Designer Alec Tam blows away the BMX world. With super exotic monocoque technology the Ultrabox gives GT a much needed boost in the BMX market place.
  • Fueler and Show platforms carry on in their respective categories
  • 2001: In an effort to catch up to the rider owned companies GT switches the focus to the X Games crowd and starts to market their athletes more aggressively with an all new model line up.
  • Vert legend Dave Voelker and new schooler Jamie Bestwick are the centerpieces for the new line of jump bikes.
  • Ultrabox leads the charge in the shrinking BMX category and the Show carries on unchallenged in flatland.
  • 2002: Basically a bust due to the bankruptcy.
Mountain & Road bikes:
  • 1999: I-Drive is born and marks a new chapter in MTB suspension technology. Suspension guru Jim Busby invents a whole new way to suspend the bicycle.
  • The buzz is huge and so is the hype. GT features the technology on 7 models for an across the board roll out designed to leave the competition in the dust.
  • LTS carries on in it’s last year and the final model, the XR-1000, with sealed bearings and FOX air shock is actually the finest LTS ever made and sets the stage for light weight cross country full suspension bikes.
  • 2000: GT acquires the Syncros brand and gets into the Tour De France. With a vastly revamped road platform GT does what only Cannondale has accomplished and is the second US bike brand in the Tour de France.
  • The new line of triple triangle road bikes is as light or lighter than the competition and has a much smoother ride making it a natural for team Lotto to use in the brutal classics of the spring.
  • The I-Drive line is refined and lightened.
  • The world beating DH-I is used by the team to replace the aging Lobo platform.
  • In August Roland Greene pilots a prototype I drive to a silver medal at the 2000 world championships in Madrid, Spain. It is the highest ever finish for a suspended bike in a UCI world championship.
  • 2001: The new I-Drive Team (inspired by the bike Roland raced) weighs in at about 24.5 pounds and brings I-Drive onto the race courses of the world in numbers.
  • The Dh-I is released as the most affordable and highest performing DH bike to date.
  • The emerging extreme category is addressed by the Ruckus hardtail.
  • The Zaskar Team weighs in at an unbelievable 22.5 pounds.
  • 2002: The only real news is the Ruckus I-Drive which is the new standard for free riding.

THE PACIFIC YEARS. On 9/11/2001 Chris Hornung, then owner and CEO of the highly successful Pacific Cycles, LLC, managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat in a Denver bankruptcy courtroom and snatch away the prize jewel of Schwinn from the seemingly invincible Huffy Corp. 3 years later, Huffy would file for bankruptcy as a result of this loss. Hornung knew very well that whoever possessed the number three most well known name in American brands would have the golden key to the mass merchants floor space for a very long time. And he was right. However, very few people know that the sr mgmnt team at GT had a deal with Huffy to off load GT to a private equity firm the minute they won the auction for @25 million dollars. But as they watched the horrible spectacle of the twin towers burning and collapsing the irony of that image as personal metaphor could not be shaken.

2003, RISING FROM THE ASHES. PC had Schwinn….and they knew exactly what to do with it. Make Money. They had the bikes ready to go. They had PO’s with Walmart, Target and TRU. PC was a well oiled sourcing and delivery machine and Chris punched the gas pedal and accelerated towards one of the most successful moves in the bicycle business. However none of this applied to GT. PC had no idea what to do with this once high flying IBD brand….the mass was not interested and PC had no infrastructure to support it. All of the GT crew in Foothill Ranch and all of the Schwinn crew in Boulder were given their walking papers in the weeks that followed the sale of the company. The buildings were emptied. The equipment was sold or moved to Madison. All the accumulated history and people scattered to the winds. There was no Schwinn / GT left. At Interbike 2002, one of the most famous battles of all time in the IBD occurred when Chris Hornung and Byron Smith attempted to embrace the IBD at Interbike in Las Vegas. In three days of raucous, often highly vocal meetings, Chris and Byron tried to impose a whole new way of doing business on the IBD dealer base. It was complete disaster. No one signed up and it ruined the reputation of the brands until this day. But in mid November a senior member of the PC staff, Bob Ippolito, once one of Richard Longs’ right hand men, saw some potential in GT and asked Chris to keep 3 key members of the GT product and international sales team. He agreed. A tiny office space was found in Lake Forest in Feb of 2002 and GT was back in business. Sort of. From a high watermark of over 2000 global employees to three people is hardly “back in business” . But the small team, with the addition of three more staff, went to work to make a line of bikes for the 2003 season. None were sold in the USA. All were sold internationally. Richard had been the first, besides possibly Cannondale, to understand the importance of a global brand strategy. GT had purchased four international distribs, the UK, Japan, France and Germany prior to being bought by Questor. They were the first US brand to do so. Every other major American brand has done so since, as well as some Asian brands. GT was ahead of the curve here but the BK lost all of this momentum. However there were many ID’s that were still very interested in the brand despite the financial woes it had encountered. Their countrymen had no idea of the demise of GT to any great extent so the brand was still viable and powerful. So the 2003 model year was in actuality a moderate success. This impressed Chris and gave him some inkling of the power of the GT brand that he had purchased for virtually nothing…..

Product highlights:

  • I-Drive Marathon- Featured on the cover of BIKE (Germany) magazine buyers guide, full XTR fullie weighing in at 25 pounds.
  • Ruckus Dullies- One of the first lighter weight 6 inchers
  • Not much else as the GT crew was essentially cooking with left overs…….

2004, A HARD YEAR. With some success under their belts and a steady pay check in hand the meager GT crew did their best to follow in the footsteps of the once mighty brand. Prior to the sale to PC and the bankruptcy, plans were afoot to revolutionize the I Drive system introduced in Brian Head Utah in 1998. The goals were to simplify, lighten and improve the I drive suspension system. However it would prove very difficult to bring out a piece that would compete with the horsepower that the majors had acquired during those years that GT floundered. Specialized Trek and Giant were hard at work in the black arts of carbon frame construction and aluminum Hydro-forming and those two specialties would come to define the business in the middle part of the decade. To not have those processes involved in your design was to not have marketable products. Due to many internal factors GT did not have access to those processes and hence was handcuffed to good old mitered tubes and welding……this was to be a problem. While GT grew its lower priced business the high end languished as the majors rolled out model after model of incredible workmanship and weight. GT could only watch as the peloton of high end business rolled away.The rework of the new I drive system was slow and painful. However two new models of short travel full suspension were introduced. The marketing effort was not enough to make a dent in the onslaught of the competition however and the new platform was not well noticed.

Product Highlights:

  • IDXC 1.0 and 2.0 The reinvention of I-Drive for short travel.
  • The first full suspension bike that uses a Shimano BB tool and a 5 mm allen key for disassembly and service.
  • Ruckus FlowtaThe first Air / Air free ride bike from an American brand
  • Zaskar Team Sub 23 pound hard tail is a hit in niche markets like South Africa and Norway…the bike reinvigorates the Zaskar name in the world of racing

2005, THE REVIVAL. Slowly but surely the GT development engine gets more gas as two years of success convince PC that it is worth paying attention to not only GT but the IBD market in general. The international business is gaining steam and the US market is not a total failure. Team GT/ Hyundai is actually a good presence at the races and with Brian Lopes and Hans Ray representing the brand, press actually gets generated. With more engineering and design resources added the GT product team resurrects the “G-Box” concept bike for the 2005 Eurobike show. This gets noticed. Also a new 5 inch platform is introduced that uses the new idrive system and finally lays to rest the old eccentric based system. A new era has begun. The international markets begin to take notice of these new designs and sales begin to creep up. The IDXC 1.0 gets the coveted “Gear of the Year” award from Outside magazine. The last year for any eccentric based fullie is offered. After 7 years of history the original I drive design is gone.

Product Highlights:

  • I-Drive 5 All new 5 inch all mountain platform. Uses same flex bone technology as the IDXC platform and a new modular drop out system.
  • ZuM Zaskar Urban Machine. A new breed of city sport bike

2006, RETURN OF THE I-DRIVE. This is the year that all the full suspension models employ the new I-Drive system. The DH-i which is under a complete redesign will not be offered this model year. Also offered to the amazement of many is the IT-1….the commercialization of the original Gear Box design first shown in Anaheim in 1998. While not perfect it represents what could be done if a small group of passionate people work hard to make something unique happen. The IT-1 is fully functional production gear box design using a Shimano Nexus hub mounted centrally in the frame. The bike gets large amounts of press inside and out side the industry. To the lay person it represents something new and exciting in the world of bikes. The IT-1 sets the stage for a larger introduction of gear box designs.

Product highlights:

  • IT-1 First production gear box design.
  • Zaskar All new hydroformed frame. The lightest aluminum MTB frame ever produced by GT.
  • Double Down Kustom Kruiser super chopper.
  • I-Drive 7 All new freeride platform using the new I Drive system.
  • GT Ruckus 29" MTB for the singlespeed crowd
  • Kustom Kruiser All new line of totally aluminum cruisers. The lightest most rust proof cruisers available

2007, THE YEAR OF CARBON. After extensive preliminary research and development GT is ready to offer carbon in more categories than every before. Road, DH, XC are all addressed with new carbon frames or structures. The new carbon road platform is met with excellent sales in key markets such as South Africa, New Zealand and Norway. The I-Drive 5 platform is also totally revamped and now meets the need of the market place with a great riding frame in a lighter more responsive package. Also introduced after almost two years of testing and development is the all new DH-I, the lightest production downhill bike available. With the former DH-i, although loved for its pedaling and handling characteristics, getting a bit long in the tooth, the product team at GT knew that they had to redefine the bike in order to compete with the best out there. Using the I drive technology in a whole new package that allowed for better optimization of the system the GT engineering and product team brought out a bike that is a state of the art piece for today’s DH courses. It is met with universal acclaim. Also offered is the new Carbon I drive 4. This is a complete ground up redesign of the I Drive 4 cross country platform.

Product highlights:

  • DH-i - All new downhill bike that weighs in under 40 pounds
  • I Drive 4 Carbon - All new 4 inch XC platform that combines a mind boggling new front carbon triangle with a super light rear aluminum triangle for a bike that offers the best of both worlds.
  • Carbon road All new proprietary road platform spread across three models.
  • I-Drive 5 complete frame redesign that moves away from the “Flex bone” to a new forged I-Link as used on the ID 7. Also employs a modular drop out system.

That is all for now, 2008 marks a true return to form for GT Bicycles. With the introduction of the all new GT Zaskar carbon hardtail, Marathon, Force, Ultrabox 2 carbon BMX and GTR Series of carbon road bikes, GT have come a long way from the 2002 bankrupcy. To celebrate 20th year since introduction, GT also released a limited edition of GT Zaskar Re-Issue, in gloriously retro ball bearing burnished finish and decals to mimic the original Zaskar. In the pipeline, new GT Fury carbon downhill bike and Force carbon bikes are under development test by racers Bryn Atkinson, Jill Kintner and legend Hans Rey. Let's hope GT will continue and return once again to its glory days.

Article extracted from GT Bicycles Taiwan website & edited accordingly.


maximilian said...

It blew me away to find this page and to read things about GT that I never knew before. Good stuff! I grew up drooling over GT's, LTS's and STS's especially, not to mention then untouchable Lobo's, but living in Eastern Europe wasn't easy in terms of affording a bike. Either way, what goes around comes around and it so happens that most people fulfill their childhood/teenage dreams (and frustrations) later on, when they are so affordable and no one wants 'em anymore (because they don't grap them) and they are affordable. By such means and circumstances I got to own 5 GT's during the last 10 years, 3 of them which I still have and they all have some stories behind them!

The '98-'99 GT Moto cruiser (try to find an image via Google; I dare you!) is orange and beaten up by the sun, has a slightly torsioned fork and just got a working 7-speed Nexus and is full of other goodies, STM front hub and orange Ti Flite included.

The '99 Lobo is a two time National Champ under a good old friend, got broken via a stupidly long Shiver and I saved it ad raced it for two more years. I repainted it for a fourth (?) time and I gave it to a talented kid who didn't have a bike to ride and he cherishes and understands it, even though it is not his. It now sports a '99 factory Marzocchi Super T fork, new Coupe Deluxe pull-shock, Mavic 121/D521's in white, a pretty full Race Face kit, Bontrager parts and Juicy 3's.

The '93 Karakoram in Ferrari red is the last of the bunch and I hitchhiked 200 km and back to buy it off a 15 year-old kid who got it from his tall uncle in Germany. It is in perfect shape, except the slipping drivetrain, the replaced Kool Stop pads, the massive stack of spacers under the stem and the '99 Indy XC who works amazingly fine. Even the Z-Max tires are 17 years old but in good condition! This one will be rebuilt with matching upper-class period parts.

Currently I am hunting for a Zaskar. I'll keep you posted...

I just wrote an e-mail to my best friend from high school and told him about the things above, mentioning how ironic and circumstantial m bond to GT is, even though it was the first brand we truly loved. And what a brand it was! I decided to assume this weakness and to start collecting GT's. If you want to drop me a line, this is my e-mail address:

With kind regards from Romania (yes, you read that right!),

Unknown said...

great read, checkout

we would love you to post there, you will be greatly welcome

Andrew Liu said...

Thanks Matt, will love the Retrobike website, it's one of my favorite and one reason why I started my retro GT collections. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I love cycling and i always like to read something about cycling,This is great for me to read the History about cycling and you have described everything very nicely in this post.
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JFlo said...

Thank you for your work. It was like a walk down memory lane. How long did this take you to research?

JFlo said...

This was an awesome read, thank you! I remember the fallout GT experienced within the bike community in the late 90's. Working in a bike shop in Spokane Wa, my boss felt the fallout of GT not paying vendors prior to bankruptcy. It totally eliminated the brand in stores for several years!

I hope GT can return to a culture of innovation and flash that I remembered from my youth.

Andrew Liu said...

Hi JFlo,
Thanks for the positive feedaback and glad you enjoyed reading up on my post. Same here when GT went bust it also left a lot of bitter taste with the bicycle traders here in Australia. Anyway it's all history and I'm hoping, like yourself, is to see GT return to the top of bicycle pile soon.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work. Domain in India

Andrew Liu said...

Thanks Adol, glad you found this post useful. Cheers.

Wessel123 said...

Well, I've ordered my first GT Karakoram 1.0, and after reading the article are really excited about getting a bike with such a rich history.

Being a cancer patient, and having to exercise and help improve lung capacity to aid recovery, I can't think of a better way to do it.

Thanks for the inspiration.


Andrew Liu said...

Hi Wessel,

Glad my little write up is inspiring you to get into mountain biking. I'm certain this sport will introduce you to new faces which not only will improve your health but also open new opportunities in life. It certainly has for me.

All the best!


Anonymous said...

I read this a few years back, and have just reread it, great info, I own quite a few GT bikes and frames, I love how they ride and look, fit me perfectly, also was the first MTB i owned.

Andrew Liu said...

Thanks Matt. I've since also ridden lots of modern day 'superbikes' but somehow other than the 2006 Specialized Enduro, I've not come across another bike that I'd keep. When onboard an old GT, it still feels like home for me.

Unknown said...

My husband and I each bought a GT Outpost bicycle 1-19-91 from Ocean Schwinn in Huntington Beach. We've only ridden them about a dozen times through the years so they look practically new. I'm thinking of buying new tires and start riding again, so thought I'd see what I could find on the internet about my bike. Glad I happened upon this site - learned alot.

Unknown said...

good article to read through, iworked with GAry Turner at Alliant BMX a couple of years after its inception and had the chance to work side by side with Gary Turner and hear all of the great GT stories , as the Chief saw it, moving in the new building and taping 50 dollar bills to the ceiling of the warehouse and letting pro riders jump their bikes to grab the easy money. I actually worked and had the keys to the container lane building in HB - best days of my life. the pat sucked, sometimes it bounced but it got the bills paid on time and I could ride and race BMX as much as my heart desired. we later moved to Garys race shop in Anaheim and the container building was sold to consolidate warehouse, sales and manufacturing in Lake perris. Despite a very hearty and heartwarming invitation to stay with the Turner family and continue to sell and ride for Alliant BMX - we had to part ways when the 90 mile commute each way became more than myself or y civic could burden. Gary is / was great to work for, what I learned from him in less than a year sprouted into a 15 year trade, the pay still sucks in the bike biz - but the bills are paid. Thank you GT

Andrew Liu said...

Eddy, thank you for your comments. I've tried to track down former employees of GT to contribute to my forum for the past 10 years without any success. It's great to hear the culture of GT back in the days and we would love to hear more from you.

Unknown said...

I got my GT MachOne the summer of 99
I've had it from then on and love it...Many of my bikes were GT's...thats my heart, my love, my passion. I'd look to ride nothing else.

This was a wonderful read and it fills me with joy and pride. I love my GT

gummo- said...

im kinda late to the page but I am a huge fan of early gt products, gary killed it til about 95-96 and also remember the down fall. the one thing I didn't catch in this read was gt's buy outs. my favorite bike company of all time was robinson bicycles and dyno. these were helping processors to the empire that was gt bikes. bmx had a huge fall out but thank god we had pirates like mat Hoffman who kept the dying sport alive. I like to refer to the 90's as the dark days of bmx/freestyle. anyone born up to about 91' lived a decent bmx life I like to think but the following generation just wasn't as into it as we were lol. oh well, now we can all look back at it and either say we thrashed hard or we should have trashed harder, either way we were there man! lol

Andrew Liu said...

Indeed. Today's riders are totally different breed, although they push for bigger and flashier moves, BMXers of any kind are far and few in between compared to the 90s, where just about every kid in the neighbourhood was trying to pull a wheelie hop on the sidewalk or skid along the roadside kerb. I hope BMX will make a big comeback someday, because pure BMX riders are the most technically advanced pilots of any cycling discipline in my opinion.

Unknown said...

Very cool , Richard Long was my father , i was just googling his name (as i do from time to time) and came across this. I even read somethings towards the later years that i did not know. Its extremely bitter sweet for me to see GT making a comeback, my mind and heart will always be stuck in the RWL years. Thats when GT was really GT. My dad sacrificed everything for GT , was constantly gone , traveling or working as I grew up. He was a great father though. The man had a work ethic and a drive unparalleled by anyone i have ever met. His vision , and integrity was second to none. As i got older , he allowed me to come on biz trips with him to Taiwan, japan etc. To watch him negotiate a deal behind closed doors was a lesson I hold dear to my heart. Thanks for this post!
Chris Long

Andrew Liu said...

Hi Chris,

Thank you for leaving your comments on my little blog post.

Your father was indeed a great man and his influence and contribution to the world of cycling is still visible today. Thousands of riders are better off today and riding quality bicycles because of your dad's vision.

Long live his legacy.

All he best, Andrew

The Adventure Biker said...

Wow... this is a fantastic and most informative article! Thanks