GT Bicycles designs and manufactures road, mountain, and bmx bicycles — originally in the United States, and now as a division of Canadian conglomerate, Dorel Industries, which also markets Cannondale, Schwinn, Mongoose, IronHorse, Dyno and RoadMaster bicycle brands; all manufactured in Asia.
GT was founded in 1972 by Gary Turner and Richard Long in Santa Ana, California and was noted at its inception for spearheading the prominence of BMX bicycles, later for developing a range of bikes around its "triple triangle" design, and at the end of its independent history, winning a commission to manufacture a $30,000, 16lb. carbon fiber "Superbike" for the 1996 Summer games. GT sponsored numerous race teams and individuals, including noted riders Rebecca Twigg and Juli Furtado.
In 1998, the company went public and subsequently merged with Questor Partners, then owner of Schwinn. The conglomerate went bankrupt in 2001 and was acquired by Pacific Cycle, which was in turn acquired by Dorel Industries in 2004.
GT is noted for their "triple triangle" hard-tail frame design — where seat stays are parallel to the downtube and attached to the top tube forward of the seat tube, rather than directly at the seat tube. The company often uses a frame design where the bike's top tube extends rearward past the seat tube, claimed to reduce the vibration transferred to the seat from the rear wheel. Later versions would have "GT" stamped on the end of the extended top tube.
GT was co-founded in 1972 by bike shop owner Richard Long along with welding engineer and custom bike maker Gary Turner, in Turner's Fullerton, California garage — at first manufacturing for the youth motocross sport, BMX bicycle racing. Turner had been a musical instrument repairer by trade, and began making BMX bikes for his children, improving on the quality over then available bicycles. Long had used money from a motorcycle accident settlement to open his bike shop in 1975, the Anaheim Bicycle Center, where he and Turner would later market their bicycles. GT would grow to a multimillion-dollar firm supplying bicycles to the U.S. Olympic cycling team,
In 1996, GT won the commission to manufacture a highly aerodynamic bike design that would later become known as the "Superbike," hailed at the time "as the best on the planet" and later banned by Olympic regulations for being "too fast." A byproduct of a year-long development program with the U.S. national team known as Project '96, the bike featured a carbon graphite frame with no top tube, extremely thin seat and downtubes, a seat tube with a deep cutout to accommodate the rear wheel, as well as differently sized aerodynamic wheels. Describing the bike, the U. S. Cycling Federation's track endurance coach Craig Griffin said "it's so thin and light, and it's as strong as anything built. It's so aerodynamic that when you look at it from the front, it disappears." Controversially, just prior to the 96 Summer Olympics, Rebecca Twigg quit the team, citing her Superbike's ill fit as one of the reasons for departing.
A week before GT's debut at the 1996 Summer Olympic, GT co-founder Richard Long was killed in a motorcycle accident on his Honda Valkyrie en route to a national championship series race for the National Off-Road Bicycle Association at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino mountains.
At the time of Long's death, GT maintained an office at the factory in Santa Ana as well as a factory in Huntington Beach — and manufactured 600,000 bicycles annually under the GT, Powerlite, Robinson and Dyno brands, distributed bikes, parts and accessories via its Riteway network and had annual revenues of $150 million.
Less than two years after Long's death, in 1998, Bain Capital sold GT to another investment group, Questor Partners, which at the time also owned Schwinn, for $175million. Questor would file for bankruptcy on June 27, 2001, five years to the day that Richard Long had died.
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GT Factory Racing Team...
GT Freestyle (GT Air Show) - Santa Ana/Huntington Beach...
BMX Freestyle and GT BMX have a well documented history on video and in magazine coverage from publications like Freestylin/Go, BMX Plus, and Ride which all fostered young talent like Eddie Fiola, Spike Jonze, Eddie Roman, and Mark Eaton and helped an entire generation of riders define themselves and their sport. From the mid-eighties onward, Team GT's Pro Freestyle riders were some of the biggest and most recognizable names in BMX.
The GT BMX brand and team riders appear in the 'HellTrack' starting lineup scene in the BMX cult-classic film Rad. Famous names from the ranks of Teams past include X-Games Champions Dave Mirra, Jay Miron, Jamie Bestwick, Eddie Fiola, aka King of the Skateparks, Brian Scura 'Rad Dad' inventor of the Gyro, aka SST Oryg, Trevor Meyer, Martin 'the Chairman' Aparijo, Josh White, Dino DeLuca, Dave Voelker, Brett Hernandez, Kevin Jones, Mark Eaton, Gary Pollak, Kevin the 'Gute' Gutierrez, Ruben Castillo, Robert Castillo, Jason Geoffery, Goro Tamai, Krys Dauchy, and Adam Jung.
Along with Team Haro, Team GT helped shape the future of BMX Freestyle and helped pioneer a sport once deemed nothing more than a fad. GT produced some of the first Freestyle specific bikes in their early Performer and World Tour models. Later highly successful models were the Pro Freestyle Tour, which saw the first use of mountain bike style brake mounts for use of Dia-Compe 990, Dyno Pro Compe - one of the most ridden flatland frames of the early Nineties. GT was also there for the birth of street riding in the late Eighties with the GT Aggressor (Designed in California, but frames made in Taiwan) and Dyno Slammer bashguard models. GT also designed and sold the first flatland specific bike in the USA: the GT Show.
GT Bike's current Freestyle Team includes the riders: Dave Dillewaard, Rob Wise, Eric Bahlman, Justin Coble, Bobby Kanode, Calvin Krey, and Brian Kachinsky.
Eight riders in the Mountain Team, compete in global competitions including downhill, four-cross, trials, freeride and dirt jumping. The riders in the team are: Marc Beaumont, Hans Rey, Eric Carter, Roger Rinderknecht, Kevin Aiello, and Tyler McCaul. In 2012, GT added Kyle Strait, Dan Atherton, Gee Atherton, and Rachel Atherton to the team.
Hans Rey has been sponsored by GT since 1987.
GT Bikes briefly served as team sponsors and bike supplier for Jelly Belly professional cycling team. After the 2009 season, the team ended their relationship with GT and began riding Focus bikes. Lotto pro cycling team (now Lotto-Belisol) at one time had Easton aluminium tubing GT frames. The team now rides on Ridley carbon frames.
Co – Factory Team
The Co – Factory Team was founded in 2008. The team is composed of riders from across the US riding for local dealer teams that represent GT Bicycles.
Notable past Factory team members...
Gary Ellis, Greg Hill, Tommy Brackens, Mike King, Lee Medlin, Andy Patterson, "Chicken" George Seevers, Alexis Vergara, Terry Tenette, Randy Stumpfhauser, Thomas Allier, Mike Luna, In Hee Lee, David Milham, Eddie Livingston, Danny Nelson, Eddie Fiola, and Bob Morales. Past mountain bike team riders include Eric Carter, and Brian Lopes.
- Mach One
- Pro Series
- Pro Series (Team Model)
- Speed Series
- GT Zone
- Pro Performer
- Pro Freestyle Tour (Older models were called the Pro World Tour)
- Pro Freestyle Tour (Team Model)
- La Chiva
Road and Mountain
- Aggressor (Polished aluminum hardtail)
- Aggressor 20 and 24 (Boys version of the hardtail adult bike)
- Arrowhead (Aluminum hardtail)
- Avalanche (All Mountain hardtail)
- Borrego (Steel hardtail)
- Bravado (True Temper chromoly steel hardtail - higher spec compared to Karakoram)
- CHUCKER (Aluminum dirt jumper)
- Chucker (Freeride/dirt jump hardtail)
- Course (Very rare road, Reynolds 853)
- DHi (Downhill bikes)
- Distortion (Dual suspension slopestyle and 4X bike)
- Edge (Road Series)
- Fury (Unique full carbon downhill frame)
- Helion (Full suspension cross country)
- iT-1 (Downhill/freeride dual suspension)
- Karakoram (Steel hardtail)
- La Bomba (4X hardtail)
- Laguna 20 and 24 (Girls version of the Aggressor 20 and 24)
- Lightning (Titanium hardtail)
- LTS (Full suspension)
- Outpost (Mountain hardtail)
- Pantera (All mountain hardtail)
- Psyclone (Fillet brazed steel hardtail)
- Psyclone (Hardtail - hand made steel frame from GT Tech Shop, True Temper and Reynolds 853)
- Rebound (Hardtail - steel, and then later aluminum)
- Richter 8 (Steel hardtail)
- RTS (Full suspension)
- Ruckus (Freeride hardtail and Duallys also Dirtbikes)
- Saddleback Mountain (Hardtail)
- Slipstream (Comfort)
- STS (Carbonbikes)
- Talera (Mountain hardtail)
- Tequesta (Steel hardtail)
- Timberline/Nomad (Comfort)
- Transeo (Crossover)
- Xizang (Hand polished titanium hardtail)
- Zaskar (Hardtail - aluminum and recently carbon fibre)
- ZR Series road bikes with a numerical designation, the lowest being the best spec'd bike (i.e., a ZR 1.0 was a better quality bike than a ZR 4.0)
- ZRX (Cyclocross)
GT also manufactured a series of highly regarded Track bikes
- GTB (General Track Bike)
- GT Pulse
- Jamie Skinner
- GT Factory Racing, aka Atherton Racing
- "Richard W. Long, 46, Builder Of Bicycles for Olympic Team". The New York Times, July 20, 1996, Robert McG. Thomas Jr.
- "Crash Kills Bike Firm's Chief". LA Times, July 16, 1996, John O'Dell.
- "Best U.S. Cyclist Quits Team". Washington Post, Arnie Stapleton, July 31, 1996.
- TIM BLANGGER (July 18, 1996). "Wheels Of Fortune? Developers Hope Superbike Ii Gives U.s. Team A Cycling Edge". The Morning Call.
- "Stealth On Wheels The Wraps Are Off U.s. Cycling's Secret Weapon: Sleek, Swift Superbike II". Sports Illustrated, Richard Deutsch, April 29, 1996.
- GT Bikes Team home page
- GT Bikes co-factory team page.