You don't need to be a pro to be able to appreciate the advantages of 29-inch-wheeled trail bike. Thanks to the Karakoram, you don't need to be wealthy either. With an SPF II Aluminum frame similar to that of the Zaskar, and trail proven components, it's ready to earn its wings as the latest addition to the GT Endurance family.
Frame: New 29" wheel, hydroformed, 6061-T6 aluminum, triple triangle design
Strengths: easy to ride, looks amazing, performs amazing
Weaknesses: none that stick out to me
I bought one for 799 from Performance and was extremely happy with the bike after putting 30 miles on it. At that point they dropped the price another 100 and I asked them to credit me back 100 and they did without batting an eye. What an amazing deal, this bike looks as good as it rides. I've put many miles on it and it just wants more. Very happy with the purchase.
If you can find I'd highly recommend...
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: May 12, 2012
Strengths: Price. Components for money. fork.
Weaknesses: Paint chips easily. Not completely crazy about the tubing size (toptube).
This is my first 29er so my review may be slightly biased towards that fact, but this is a very good bike for the money spent. The components are better then I've seen on other entry level mountain bikes with similar pricing and the handling and responsiveness on the trails has been more than adequate. It came stock with a Rock Shox Recon, Shimano M455 brake system (160/180), SRAM x5 shifters x7 rear derailleur, and a nice MTB seat. Nothing seems cheap except the paint job. I've seen paint chips around the chain stay, but this is typical for the riding I put it through (although I rarely got this on my Cannondale). Extremely happy with my purchase since I only spent 699+tax. I would compare this to ANY bike priced around 1100 or so. On a design note, while the frame (triple triangle design I believe) is cool to look at, the top tube size makes it difficult to fit some vehicle bike racks. I would recommend this bike to the beginner looking for their first 29er OR even an intermediate rider looking for an inexpensive second bike to simply have fun on.
Strengths: Great components for the money, Unique GT frame styling, Air fork with lockout and rebound adjust, hydraulic brakes, Great tires for my needs
Weaknesses: Ugly white stem/bars, seat is too narrow for me
I picked up the 2011 model on sale for $799. I prefer some the specs of this model to the 2012 such as the Recon Silver TK solo air fork and Shimano hydraulic brakes, but I missed out on the Deore shifters/derailleurs.
The bars and stem are white where nothing else on the bike is. I guess this is supposed to be fashionable, but it just looks out of place to me. Looks like leftover parts were used. I'm swapping in a black Easton setup. The gold details don't seem out of place as they stayed fairly conservative with them (pedals, hubs, quick-releases, and stem cap)
Seat is good quality but not very comfortable for me. The setup out of the box wasn't good, but that isn't surprising at all... most aren't. The front wheel's axle was tightened down so tightly that it would barely turn at all.
I really like the Kenda Small Block 8 tires for my riding... good for a variety of conditions, including paved bike trails, dirt, gravel, grass... but anything more and I wouldn't count on them. They feel like about a offroad-leaning hybrid tire to me. 2.10 width.
I'm a clydesdale, and the Recon Silver TK solo air fork is a huge plus for me. I dialed it up to 170psi and got just the right fit for me. And as I lose weight, I will be able to adjust it. This is without a doubt the primary reason I went with the 2011 over the 2012. This much shock on a bike that cost me $840 shipped was huge.
All in all, it is a great bike for the money. If you buy it online and aren't comfortable with setting it up yourself, have a pro do it or you will not be happy.
a Weekend Warrior
from Winston Salem, NC
Date Reviewed: November 23, 2011
Strengths: Great components for the money. Hydraulic brakes are awesome. Seat is fairly comfortable. Shifting is very clean. 29er climbs like a beast on steroids and I'm still coasting the ups after the downs while my 26" buddies are already hucking.
Weaknesses: None yet after 80+ miles on trails in 3 weeks.
This was my perfect "starter bike" for real MTBing. After test riding comparable Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Kona, Scott, and Felt bikes the GT fit me best. For the same money the Karakoram had the best components and I'm completely satisfied with my purchase!
a Weekend Warrior
from granville, ohio
Date Reviewed: October 29, 2011
Strengths: Great price, solid components including XT components, Elixer brakes, good tires and a comfy mtb saddle, good front shock, nice looks.
Weaknesses: Not the lightest bike ever, downtube makes a medium seem taller than it might be on another maker's bike.
This is a terrific bike for the money, it's nicely appointed for a new rider or weekend warrior like myself, and the bike tackles single track and bumpy trail without effort. It feels planted and predictable, and is forgiving. The XC front shock is a nice fork in a model range that often doesn't include adjustable air shocks. It's also a great looking bike. I'm really happy with it.
Similar Products Used: Haro Flightline, Specialized Rockhopper
Bike Setup: Mostly stock. Added Hell Bent riser bars, Easton EA70 stem, Ergon grips and ghetto tubeless setup.
a Cross Country Rider
from Madison, IN USA
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2011
Strengths: Value, good parts spec, solid frame, right gearing for a 29er, Avid Elixir 1 brakes.
Weaknesses: Heavy wheels.
After 2 years of demo'ing 29ers I finally settled on the 2012 Karakoram. It has the brakes, gearing, and geometry I wanted although I did swap the fork. That dropped the weight nearly a pound (the bike is now 30 pounds 0 ounces with platform pedals) and improved handling, although the stock fork was surprisingly good. I still prefer the snap and precision of my full-suspension 26ers for singletrack, especially technical sections. But for casual trails and country roads, the GT is a huge step up from the 26-inch hardtail it replaces.