#94 MARTIN MAES’ GT FURY CARBON TEAM
A bike that sits collecting dust, save for when its owner pulls it out to podium at a DH World Cup or World Champs!
How can a man from a country with barely any hills be so fast at riding down them? It’s a question that’s surely on everyone’s lips after Martin Maes’ 2018 season. Closely followed by, how can that same man go so fast on a downhill bike when he rarely rides one? This year, the Belgian racer wasn’t only consistently one of the fastest riders in the Enduro World Series, he also won his first DH World Cup (one of only two he entered this season) and backed up that astonishing achievement two weeks later with a World Champs silver medal. The steed he represented his country on is this – the new incarnation of GT Bicycles’ Fury.
Latest in a long line
GT are no strangers to racing success, with the likes of Nicolas Vouilloz, Fabien Barel, Steve Peat and the Athertons all having topped the podium aboard their bikes. The frames ridden by these stars have earned their place in mountain bike history too, from the pioneering early RTS and LTS suspension designs to the linkage-operated pull-shock of the Lobo and the unique ‘i-Drive’ system, with its floating bottom bracket. For 2019, GT have revived the LTS (Linkage Tuned Suspension) acronym and based the new Fury around a more conventional four-bar linkage (1), but with a high pivot for better bump absorption and an idler wheel to combat the resulting pedal kickback.
Luis Arraiz (formerly of K-9 Industries) configured the Fury’s suspension kinematics. He tells us GT were after a similar ride to their Force and Sensor trail bikes, but with increased progression, to provide the combination of small-bump sensitivity, grip and bottom-out control required of a DH race bike. Control in loose conditions was a big focus, with the team seeking to use anti-rise to stop the chassis pitching and maintain traction while braking. “But overall, we wanted a well-rounded bike,” says Luis. “One that carries speed, corners on rails, gives stability in the rough and yet is still playful and fun.”
Industrial designer Jordan Recchia helped finesse the form and aesthetics, while suggestions from GT Factory Racing mechanics Mark Maurissen and Tom Duncan were also incorporated. Steel and alloy prototypes were tested in-house before refined versions were sent out to the team riders (although Martin’s teammate Wyn Masters did race one of the 43lb metal test mules).
Creature of habit
The production Fury can accept 29in or 650b wheels, with no change to the BB height, reach or head angle, in the interests of maintaining a consistent feel. But Martin has always opted for the smaller wheels. Despite the frame having fine-tuning options like shock mount and chainstay flip-chips and reach-adjusting headset cups, Mark tells us that once Martin finds a set-up sweet spot, he’ll rarely stray from that. “For the EWS, you look for a neutral set-up that works in all conditions,” he explains. “Even though in DH you can be more track specific, we won’t usually change more than a click or two on the suspension.”
That EWS influence is also apparent in Martin’s preference for a lower than average front end, which puts him in a more aggressive position for pedalling. It’s been claimed online that he runs his Fox 40 Factory fork shortened to 190mm, but that’s not the case. He does like to keep things pretty slammed though, sliding the stanchions through the crowns and only running a 20mm-rise bar. His handlebar of choice is a carbon Race Face SixC 35, which is cut down to 780mm before his ODI Elite Pro grips are fitted (2). Mark says this gives Martin the perfect amount of flex at the tips.
Ready to race
The air-sprung fork is paired with a Fox DHX2 coil at the rear, fitted with a 500lbx3in spring and mounted in the lower BB position. An interesting quirk in his set-up is his preference for using a mud tyre at the back, even in the dry. As a Schwalbesponsored rider, he generally uses a Magic Mary up front (3) and a cut-down Dirty Dan at the rear, although at the Lenzerheide World Champs he switched to two Magic Marys, both in the ‘ADDIX Ultra Soft’ compound. His pressures seem low – between 23 and 26psi – but he always runs a Cushcore puncture protection insert in the rear, regardless of which discipline he’s racing.
Save for the Belgian flag paintjob and matching Fabric saddle, there’s nothing particularly radical or different about Martin’s bike compared to a stock GT Fury Carbon Team. The way he was able to rock up at the World’s on it and finish just 0.3 seconds off Loïc Bruni – who’d raced his Specialized Demo 8 all season and honed his set-up through hours of telemetry testing – is a testament to Martin’s skill and the capability of the racehorse that GT have created here.
Aged just 21, Maes is arguably the best all-round gravity racer in the world right now. Beginning his EWS career as a Junior in 2013, he’s risen rapidly through the ranks to become a top contender. We reckon it’s going to be a tightly-fought battle between him and the mighty Sam Hill in 2019, and the way he can casually dip into World Cup DH racing too and win at the highest level is simply mind-blowing. MARTIN MAES