GT Verb Expert 2018 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy this Bike?
Is the GT Verb Expert better than having no mountain bike at all? Yes. Would we recommend that anyone buy it? No. We honestly can't justify recommending this bike to anyone. Its performance on the trail was just plain bad. The bike's outdated geometry and poor component specification felt almost unsafe to ride on anything but mellow fire roads or paved bike paths. We would recommend any other bike in our test selection over the GT Verb, or even a budget conscious hardtail.
For only $250 more, the Marin Hawk Hill 2 is a playful and versatile bike that far outperforms the Verb Expert.
Riding bikes is always fun, well, almost always… The Verb Expert was more like type 2 fun, the kind of fun where it's better when it's over and is exhilarating because you're not quite sure how the bike is going to handle the obstacles in the trail ahead of you, or if some part of it might break while you're riding it.
The Verb Expert inspired little to no confidence while descending. The is mostly due to the old school geometry, with a steep 69.2-degree head tube angle that made you feel like you could go over the bars at any moment. The poor component spec didn't help matters, especially the suspension. The X-Fusion O2 Pro RL rear shock was by far the worst performer in the entire test, with a harsh top out after every bump in the trail. The Rock Shox Recon fork, the same fork spec'd on the Marin Hawk Hill 2 and the Kona Process 134 SE, also inspired no confidence with its pogo stick feel. The spec of narrower and round profile Schwalbe Knobby Nic tires provided minimal traction, especially in loose trail conditions.
In GT's defense, they did at least try to improve this bike's performance on the descents with the spec of an All Terra dropper seat post and relatively wide 760mm handlebar. Those component highlights certainly help, but don't do enough to make this bike shine in any way on the descents.
On the uphills the Verb Expert is okay, but it's still far from great. At 33 lbs, it's the heaviest bike in our test selection, and its steep seat tube angle, 74.2 degrees, and steep head tube angle, 69.2 degrees, put the rider in a very upright position. This upright position is fine, but the bike had a very unbalanced feel to it, requiring significant amounts of focus to negotiate obstacles in the trail. The rear shock also didn't do the rider any favors, with a sticky feel and harsh top out after every bump, even while climbing.
Perhaps the highlight of the Verb Expert's climbing performance is the Shimano SLX 11 speed rear derailleur with an 11-46 tooth cassette. This 11-speed drivetrain has a 30 tooth front chainring and provides a good range for most riders, and the clutched derailleur helps prevented unwanted chain drops.
There are a couple of highlights in the component specification of the Verb Expert, but in general, it has the worst build of all the bikes we tested. Our testers agreed that the All Terra dropper seat post benefits downhill performance, and certainly not something we'd expect on a bike at this price point. The 760mm handlebar is a good and comfortable width that attempts to improve this bike's otherwise poor handling. The addition of a comfortable WTB Silverado Sport saddle was also a nice touch.
The drivetrain was also a high point of the build, with a Shimano SLX 11-speed rear derailleur and an 11-46 tooth cassette paired with a 30 tooth front chainring to offer adequate range for most riders. We were a little confused by the addition of an upper chain guide, as it just seems unnecessary on a bike of this caliber.
The Verb Expert's suspension was unanimously reviled by our testers. The X-Fusion O2 Pro RL rear shock was among "the worst shocks I've ever used", and had sticky travel and a very noticeable harsh top out. The Rock Shox Recon Solo Air fork was another low point, with limited tuneability and a notable lack of smoothness and suppleness in its travel. The other interesting thing about the GT was the use of old school quick release skewers on both axles, as opposed to the stiffer and higher performance thru axles that are the norm on most mountain bikes these days.
The Verb Expert roll on a pair of Schwalbe Knobby Nic 27.5 x 2.25 tires mounted to WTB STP i23 rims and All Terra hubs. These tires were the skinniest of all the bikes tested, with a rounder profile that offered the least traction and confidence while out on the trail.
At a retail price of $1,699, the Verb Expert is the least expensive bike in our test selection, but we still don't feel that it is a good value considering its performance. If you're looking for a trail worthy bike we'd suggest spending a little more money and taking a look at any of the other bikes in this review.
Other Versions and Accessories
GT makes a full line of mountain bikes for all types of riding, with 2 models of the Verb including the Verb Expert reviewed here.
The GT Verb Elite retails for $1,299. The Elite model is equipped with an SR Suntour XCR 32 RL DS fork and an All Terra AO 42 AR rear shock. The drivetrain consists of All Terra cranks and a Shimano Deore M6000 1x10 speed rear derailleur. It comes with Shimano BR M315 hydraulic disc brakes and a variety of All-Terra Components. It doesn't come with a dropper seat post.
If you're looking for a full suspension mountain bike and you're on a tight budget, we suggest saving a little more money and looking into one of the other models in this review. The GT Verb Expert is the least expensive model we tested, but unfortunately, it also offers little in the way of performance out on the trail. If you primarily ride on fire roads, paved bike paths, and very occasionally get onto some mellower trails, then perhaps the Verb Expert could work for you, but for anyone who wants to really tackle some singletrack, we can't recommend it.
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