GMC Denali Road Bikes Reviews of 2018 & Buying Guide
GMC Bicycles is a division of Kent International, Inc. This bike distributor is based out of New Jersey, but ships all over the world. While they source all parts from China, assembly takes place in South Carolina. GMC is one of their most popular bike brands (along with Razor and Jeep, as well as their main brand, Kent Bikes), and specializes in mountain and road models.
The GMC Denali, in particular, is a consistent bestseller for the company. Available in sizes and designs for men, women, and children, these road bikes allow for speed on paved roads, whether riders are racing, commuting, or just looking for a fun way to exercise and get outdoors.
Our buyer’s guide will answer some common consumer questions about GMC and their Denali line, and look at the options buyers can consider.
What is a road bike, exactly?
A road bike, in general terms, is a bike that can obtain high speeds on paved, level surfaces. They feature dropped handlebars and high seats, so riders sit leaning forward for an aerodynamic design and greater speed.
Road bikes are meant for consistent speed, rather than extreme bursts (such as races); they’re best for exercise where one needs to maintain a certain heart rate. They can also be used for commuting and touring, depending on personal comfort and preference.
Road bikes have multiple speeds to help with steeper terrain and varying strengths. They’re lightweight, as well, and have narrow tires.
Technically, road bikes are both a type of bike in and of themselves, as well as a category with subcategories within it. This means you’ll find bikes specifically labeled as “road bikes,” but also notice that hybrids, touring cycles, and fitness bikes fall under this umbrella, despite different purposes and designs.
What makes GMC (Kent) different from other bike brands?
Kent is a family-owned business; its president’s grandfather immigrated in the early 1900s and started working in a New York bike shop, until he opened his own shop in 1909.
In 1947, he became a suppler to the east coast; 11 years later, the company became Kent International, Inc.While the bikes aren’t 100% made-in-America, they are designed and assembled on U.S. soil.
The founder’s lifelong love of cycling and understanding of the market has grown the company exponentially, without sacrificing its passion for the sport.
Today, Kent offers reliable customer service, strong guarantees, and quality control you won’t find from just any brand.
Will the Denali work for my budget?
A Denali will work for most budgets, but might be just out of reach for shoppers with very little to spend.
How do I know if I need a road bike vs. a commuter/hybrid/mountain/touring, etc. model?
There are some key differences between each bike type that consumers should consider prior to purchase:
- Road bikes are fast and light, and perform best on paved surfaces. They can be used for racing, and are also popular in fitness and general recreation. These are not suitable for off-roading of any kind, and can’t carry a great deal of weight.
- Commuter bikes can sometimes look like road bikes (and are technically in the same category), but they’re designed with daily trips in mind. Usually, these are intended for use in cities—where pavement is common, and hills are not. Most of these do not have multiple speeds; some come in a fixed-gear option, which requires the rider to pedal constantly (i.e., coasting is not possible). Typically, commuters can carry more weight than road bikes, and often have lights in the front and back for traffic safety.
- Hybrids combine the comfort of touring bikes with the speed of road bikes, along with the easy-to-control design of mountain models. Some also boast off-road capabilities.
- Mountain bikes feature very thick, knobby tires to handle rough terrain, including mud and rocks. They have multiple speeds to go up steep hills, strong brakes for sudden stops in compromised weather, and a design that lets the rider sit upright, for more control and comfort.
- Touring bikes have the same basic frame design as mountain bikes and most hybrids, which are also designed to place riders in an easy-on-the-spine sitting position. These bikes tend to have wider, padded seats, ergonomic handlebars, and mountain racks, all of which make it great for long trips (“tours”).
- Utility bikes are used for transportation, rather than recreation or sport. They usually have racks and baskets for carrying groceries, briefcases, or attaching children’s seats.
- Beach Cruisers are named for their popularity in seaside vacation towns, where tourists rent them for leisurely rides and short commutes. They feature balloon tires and upright seating arrangements, and are quite heavy; they’re not built for speed, but are preferred for more casual use. Recently, they’ve seen an uptick in sales across college campuses; commuters are turning to these models, as well, when speed and storage are not an issue.
There are many more bike types out there, but this is a good list to start with if you aren’t sure what you need. Consider your top “must-haves” and go from there. Will you require a rear carrier rack, for a child’s seat or gear bags? What kind of terrain will you be traveling on? How long will your average ride be, and how important is comfort during these? When you know exactly what you need, narrowing down the options becomes much simpler.
Does GMC/Kent have good customer service?
Kent International, Inc. features a Contact option at the top of their web page, prominently displayed; this is a nice change from some manufacturers and distributors, who make customers “hunt” for a contact form with tiny text or strange placement.
We were immediately taken to a contact page with an email form, mailing address, phone number (both toll-free and standard), as well as a fax line. Customer service is available between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, EST. We called the Toll-Free number and reached a live person in under 1 minute. The email form took only 2 hours to achieve response. In both cases, the representatives were friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Their website features a comprehensive video library, as well, to assist customers in basic repairs. Warranties vary by product, but seem pretty standard for the industry overall.
GMC Denali Road Bikes Reviews
1. GMC Denali, Dropped Handlebar Style Review
Riders looking for a road bike worthy of a good street race will probably veer towards this version of the Denali, which features 21 speeds, a light aluminum frame, and 700c tires with alloy rims built specifically for speed.
Make no mistake: this isn’t a bike for easy Sunday rides. The Denali is built for speed above all else, and is best for riders who plan on blasting past the competition—not pedaling casually through nature. While it might make a good commuter bike or casual ride, we suspect the Denali Flat-bar will be better suited to racing.
2. GMC Denali, Flat Handlebar Style Review
While it won’t match up to the racing quality of the previous model, this version of the Denali is still capable of higher speeds—and longer rides. This is best for riders who prefer cross-country trips over races: the flat bar design isn’t ideal for speed or quick turns, but provides a much more controlled experience.
If the name of your game is moderate speed for a longer ride, the flat-bar Denli is a good option. It offers a more controlled steer, and lets the rider attach more accessories than drop-styles.
3. GMC Denali, Youth Review
For the younger speedsters in your life, the GMC Denali is ideal. Whether your child plans on competing soon or just loves flying down the road, the Denali will deliver: it features all the elements of the adult drop-style Denali, including 21 speeds and handlebar shifts, but in a smaller, cuter (and maybe even faster) package.
Racing families would do well to consider the Denali youth model—but not if their junior cyclists plan on tearing up jumps more than winning races. The drop-style handlebars are ideal for speeds, but will hurt riders’ wrists when performing tricks or taking tight turns. If your child wants to race or train, though, the Denali can be a sound investment in their new passion.
GMC offers a high-quality bike in the Denali. The option for drop- or flat-style handlebars, depending on rider’s needs, is refreshing, although it would be nice to see those in the youth size, too. Additionally, the lack of women and girl models in each category isn’t ideal—but we think all three could make viable unisex options, just the same.