Bike: 2014 GT Fury Expert
Size Tested: Medium
Bike Weight (as tested w/ 530g Time Z Pedals): 41.2 lbs
Geometry: (see page 3)
Build: (see section below)
MSRP (as tested): $6026
Reviewer Info: 5’ 8” 160 lbs
Days Tested: 6
Test Location: Whistler, BC
Of all the bikes we took on our test trip to Whistler last month, the GT Fury was the one I was most interested in riding. Why? Partly because it’s geometry is fairly different from all the other bikes we rode; partly because there are some interesting things going on with the bike’s rear linkage; and partly because, over the course of my time riding bikes, I’ve watched GT as a company go from the top of the pile to the bottom.
It’s no secret that GT has gone through fits and starts over the years. In the mid 90’s GT was a leader in the sport and made some pretty damn good bikes. But then hard times hit, GT went bankrupt, eventually got bought up by Dorel Industries, and the future of the company was uncertain. GT kept making bikes, though, and their i-drive suspension platform did reasonably well. But as the years wore on, GT’s innovation seemed to lag.
Fast forward to 2014, and enter the newly revised line of Fury DH bikes, a group significantly different from the prior iteration of the Fury, and proven capable by some fast World Cuppers on the GT team.
Gone is the somewhat tall, gangly looking Fury of the past. The new Fury is long, low, and generally massive looking. The essentials of the i-drive system remain (though GT has now lengthened the label to “Independent Drivetrain”), and the linkage is neatly tucked away in a clean package around the frame’s bottom bracket.
Frame Construction & “Independent Drivetrain” Suspension Design
The new Fury is aluminum, which is interesting considering that the older version of the bike was carbon. Yet despite the massive aluminum tubes used on every part of the Fury, the new frame is reportedly significantly lighter than the older carbon version.
What all those huge tubes compose is really a fairly simple single-pivot frame—i.e., there is no linkage between the frame’s front triangle and the rear axle. As the suspension compresses, the rear wheel travels in an un-modified arc around the pivot, slightly above and in front of the bottom bracket. Compared to the old Fury, the new frame’s pivot is substantially lower. While that revised pivot placement might help a bit with pedaling characteristics and slimming down the independent drivetrain linkage, it also makes for a slightly less desirable wheel path, which I’ll discuss below.
The basic premise behind the Independent Drivetrain system is to get the desirable suspension characteristics of a single pivot layout while working around the less desirable pedaling characteristics that usually come along with it.
The pivot placement on most bikes, including the Fury, has the rear wheel traveling in an arc. At the beginning of that arc, the wheel is traveling slightly rearward, which is a good thing when you want the wheel to get out of the way of bumps. But that slightly rearward arc does weird things with your drivetrain; the distance from your chainring in the front to your cassette in the back increases as the suspension compresses, so it will have a tendency to jerk on the chain when you hit an abrupt bump. It also means that when you’re trying to pedal through bumps, the force that you’re putting into the chain is fighting against the suspension movement.
One possible way to address this problem is to move the frame’s pivot very close to the bottom bracket (this is what Trek has done with the suspension design of the Session 9.9, for example). This minimizes that rearward portion of the wheel-arc, but it simultaneously negates some of the desirable suspension characteristics that you get with a higher pivot placement.
GT’s solution to this problem, and what their Independent Drivetrain design is all about, is to put the bottom bracket on a little piece of floating linkage so that it may move freely in conjunction with the rear axle. So when you smack a bump and the suspension compresses, the bottom bracket moves with it, roughly mirroring the axle path. The “floating” bottom bracket only moves about 10mm, so I never noticed it shifting, but it did seem to provide some real benefits to how the bike handled, which I’ll get to below.
Fit & Sizing
Before moving on, it’s worth taking a moment to look at how spectacularly long the Fury is. In a size Medium (which I rode), the horizontal top tube is 657 mm (25.86”), the reach is 438 mm (17.24”) and the wheelbase is a massive 1230 mm (48.43”). Even as modern bike geometries trend toward longer front ends, those numbers are still pretty unusual.
Compared to a Medium Specialized Demo (the front end of which I’d call average or just slightly on the long side), the reach on the Fury is a modest 8mm longer, but the wheelbase is 39mm (1.5”) longer, and its horizontal top tube is a whopping 77mm (around 3”) longer.
It should also be noted that a medium Fury is the second largest bike in the Fury size run, which goes from Extra Small through Large (rather than Small through Extra Large, like many other companies). So if you’re particularly concerned about the length of the Fury, it might be worth considering sizing down from your normal frame size.
Also contributing to the length of the bike is a 63 degree head angle, greater than any of the other bikes we rode at Whistler and a lot of other modern DH bikes. The Fury’s bottom bracket is relatively low, at 349 mm (13.7”), which is particularly noteworthy since the frame gets 220 mm of travel – a bit more than many other DH bikes that tend to come in around 200 mm.
The one relatively normal measurement on the Fury is the 432 mm (17”) chainstays. They’re longer than the Specialized S-Works Demo 8’s, and just a bit longer than the Trek Session 9.9’s.
With all that said, I felt remarkably comfortable on the size Medium Fury that I rode.