The GT brand remains one of the most iconic bike brands in the world. For me, it conjures up memories of riding my GT BMX bike around my home town and hitting the local dirt jump tracks. With that nostalgia fresh in my mind, the 2020 GT Sensor Carbon Pro has been my companion to rekindle my love affair with the brand, local trails, dirt and solace.
2020 GT Sensor Carbon Pro Features:
- Sensor carbon front triangle with alloy rear
- Features 130mm rear travel via LTS suspension
- Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock
- Fox 36 Performance Elite 140mm fork
- Boost 148 rear and 110 front axles
- Truvativ Descendent 6K 32t crankset
- SRAM GX Eagle shifter
- SRAM X01 Eagle rear derailleur and cassette
- SRAM Guide RSC G2 brakes w/180mm Centerline rotors
- KS LEV Si 150mm dropper with Southpaw lever
- Spank Oozy Vibrocore 780mm riser bars
- 45mm GT 0-degree stem
- Schwalbe Magic Mary/Nobby Nic 29×2.35″ tires
- Stan’s NoTubes Flow MK3 wheelset
- Weight: 31.3 lbs (large, actual — running tubeless)
- MSRP: $5500
Spec’d for a competitive segment
The GT Sensor is what we would call a “trail bike”. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it’s a bike that can be ridden anywhere. And, as far as the Sensor Pro is concerned, it’s a bike that can be ridden hard anywhere. Built around GT’s LTS suspension (essentially a GT-flavored Horst 4-bar), the Sensor Pro Carbon features 130mm rear travel and 140mm front. Squish aside, the spec is good overall with a solid SRAM 1×12 drivetrain (GX/XO1), KS LEV Si dropper and Stan’s NoTubes Flow MK3 wheelset.
This segment of the market is hyper-competitive, with a mix of 27.5 and 29er options (but mostly 29er). The Sensor Pro Carbon can hold its own among most of the competition, but feels a little overpriced — all things considered. The spec unnecessarily has an XO1 rear derailleur and cassette, which adds to the price, but honestly a GX rear derailleur and cassette would perform just the same and could possibly (with a few other tweaks) allow for a more competitive sub-$5k price. That said, the included spec, frameset and wheels really are solid performers.
The Trail-loving GT Sensor
These days, the line between a trail bike and all-mountain bike can be blurry and the GT Sensor Carbon Pro is a great example of that. It’s built burly and capable with enough suspension to tackle some of the gnarliest terrain. Considering the 130mm rear travel alone, it may seem like a trail bike, but decked out with 140mm travel Fox Performance Elite 36 fork begins to tip the scales towards the all-mountain end of the spectrum. Further, the geometry and characteristics of the bike can be modified using the flip chip adjustable shock mount, if you wish. It takes about 5 minutes to do.
Much of my time on the Sensor Carbon Pro was in the low setting. The bike comes shipped there and it’s the most slack and downhill-friendly setting. Low setting doesn’t mean it’s a slouch of a climber, but the bike does exhibit a little more wandering on steep climbs. However, it rewards you with ultra-forgiving handling on the roughest descents and rock gardens. And, it’s the perfect setting for resort duty.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, then keep it in the low setting and proceed to rip. You’ll be rewarded with a bike that chews up challenging terrain and exudes confidence. The stout Fox 36 and plush DPX2 rear shock provide excellent squish on both small and large hits — both can take on much more abuse than my body is willing to dish out. GT’s LTS suspension is tuned perfectly to tackle anything you can throw its way. It remains active and ramps up nicely for a smooth and progressive suspension feel. For my 172 lb. rider weight, I kept the fork at 60 psi and shock at 170 psi and primarily rode in trail mode.
Swapping that chip into the high setting raises the bottom bracket and steepens both the head and seat tube angles. Doing this changes the Sensor Carbon Pro into a fun and flickable trail bike — something that’s much more my style. Climbing is more efficient and handling is more responsive (but never twitchy). Additionally, it tracks slightly better on steep, technical climbs. I feel like the bike is more fun to ride, yet still smooth and capable in the rough stuff.
One one segment that I ride quite often, I’ve been consistently smashing my climb times with the Sensor Carbon Pro now occupying four of the top 6 slots. In the high setting, I flirted with my PR and achieved consistently-faster times.
In addition, I had trouble riding hands-free in the low setting. The front wheel always wanted to wander. But, in the high setting, I can ride hands-free for days. Again, that slight change moves the seat tube one degree steeper and a half-degree steeper head tube. Keep in mind that you’ll want to re-adjust your saddle angle after the change. As an added bonus, I felt like I could consistently hit the “pop” point on jumps and drops much more easily in the high setting.
When climbing on any bike, there are always times when you’ve got to stand up and power thorough some sections. The suspension platform in trail setting (where I spent most of my time) allowed me to stand and climb, when needed. The rear tire consistently maintains traction and propels forward with confidence. On the above climb, I have to maneuver through a plethora of switchbacks and the Sensor Carbon Pro admirably swoops around each one and makes quick work of long climbs. It does carry its 31 lb. weight quite well, but there’s no getting around the fact that a lighter bike would certainly climb faster. But… as my times can attest, this bike does climb really well.
The included gearing is delivered via a 32t front chainring. That size is perfect for this bike and allows for the lowest of gear ratios for steep and long climbs. On road approaches, you’ll top it out, but I never felt undergeared on the trails.
Yes, it’s a solid climber, but the Sensor Carbon Pro also slays swooping descents, rock gardens, drops and the like. It easily maintains momentum and rails just about anything. I preferred the more playful feel of the high setting as it tracked a little better and felt even more fun on every little trail feature. Just point it, angulate and it responds.
Solid spec, with a few tweaks
With Fox’s Elite-level suspension a KS LEV Si dropper post and solid Stans NoTubes Flow MK3 wheelset, the foundation of the Sensor Carbon Pro is reliable and proven. SRAM’s 1×12 Eagle drivetrains are the best on the market. With a huge range and reliable shifting, there’s no better option. Throughout my testing, I only had to do slight tweaks to the shifting to maintain performance (nothing out of the ordinary). I can easily flow through the cassette as needed with every click of the trigger. The GX/XO1 combo is stellar.
As mentioned, the Stans NoTubes wheelset is excellent. They track well and feel solid even under hard cornering. That 29mm internal width provides a wide platform for the Schwalble 2.35″ tires. I’ve run them tubeless from the get-go and haven’t had any burping or air loss issues at ~19 psi.
With any bike like this, a dropper post as a necessity. Without it, you’ll have a hard time leaning into high-speed corners. Dropping the saddle makes this bike shine on swooping terrain. I did wish for a little more positive extension on the dropper, but there’s little to complain about on this KS LEV unit.
The SRAM Guide RSC G2 brakes are excellent with proper modulation and power. They also include adjustable reach for the ultimate in personalization. Speaking of that, I moved the shifters inward and, after a few rides, swapped out the bar/stem for a RaceFace Turbine R 35 20mm riser bar and a matching 70mm 0-deg stem. With 800mm width bars, the Sensor Carbon Pro came to life for me and the longer reach gave me more wiggle room on climbs and descents. As always, cockpits are personal, but the extra reach and width really nailed it for me.
NOTE: At 5’11” tall, I went with the size large. It was definitely the right choice for my fit and riding style
- Excellent climber (particularly in high mode)
- Fox 36 fork tracks with precision
- Fox DPX2 shock is easy to set up and devours all terrain
- Smooth, progressive suspension feel
- Durable, reliable parts spec
- Great wheelset with reliable tubeless performance
- Flip chip changes the bike’s personality
- So fun on swoopy descents
- Can serve bike park and trail duty quite well
- Bottle cage mount in the front triangle
- Unique cable routing channel instead of internal routing
- Fabric Scoop Shallow is one of the best saddles available
- A little portly
- Bar/stem combo weren’t my favorites
- Dropper post could extend a little faster
- You’ll have to source longer bolts to mount a bottle cage
The Bottom Line: 2020 GT Sensor Carbon Pro
Beyond the nostalgia of riding a GT, this bike truly is a blast to ride. It climbs like a champ and descents with confidence. I can power it through just about any terrain and it swoops in/out of corners with precision. The overall kit is solid and should provide years of reliable performance. I’d like to see a little lower price point, but the overall package remains competitive for the segment. Hope on, pedal up anything and proceed to rip.
The Sensor Carbon Pro is an excellent mix of trail and all-mountain. You can certainly ride it anywhere and it will respond well to rider input. It climbs really well (in spite of its 31 lb. weight) and descends on rails. A little lower price point would be superb, but the entire package is respectable and has been fuss-free throughout the duration of the review. I've got to give a nod to the awesome Fox 36 fork and DPX2 shock too... they are masterful on this bike.