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.

Product Name

Ranking

Our Rating

More Detail

GMC Denali Road Bike

Top Best

GMC Denali Flat Bar Road Bike

The 2nd

Hybrid Urban Cruiser Commuter Road Bicycle

The 3rd

Buyer’s Guide:

What is a road bike, exactly?

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.

GMC Denali Road Bike

GMC Denali Road Bike

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?

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?

Gama Bikes Women's City Basic Step-Thru 6 Speed Shimano Hybrid Urban Cruiser Commuter Road Bicycle

Gama Bikes Women's City Basic Step-Thru 6 Speed Shimano Hybrid Urban Cruiser Commuter Road Bicycle

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.
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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.

Pros

  • 21 speeds; easy to change gears with handlebar shifters.
  • Dropped handlebars for racing, as well as the most aerodynamic rider position possible.
  • Pull-brakes (rather than disc) make the bike more lightweight, yet don’t sacrifice fast and reliable stops.
  • Aluminum frame is durable, but light; bike weighs 25-29 lbs. (depending on size).
  • Available in multiple sizes and colors, as well as men’s and women’s models.
  • Includes a sturdy alloy cage for water bottles.

Cons

  • Lack of disc brakes might be a turn-off for racers who plan on riding in rainy conditions (slick surfaces) and need a very powerful brake system.
  • Drop-style bars aren’t recommended for riders who will need to make tight turns or navigate bumpy terrain/trails, as this puts undue strain on the wrists.

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

Pros

  • Flat handlebars are ideal for cross-country use, as they provide better leverage when climbing hills. They also redistribute weight differently from a drop-style, so riders with back problems might prefer these.
  • Handlebar style also allows for more attachments such as lights, phone holders, and more.
  • 21 speeds with shifters in handlebars.
  • Lever brakes, rather than disc, provide clean stops without excess weight.
  • Aluminum frame is lightweight but durable.
  • Available in multiple sizes, but only in men’s model.

Cons

  • Not available in women’s model, although small to medium sizes could suit most female riders comfortably.
  • Not great for high speeds or jumping over obstacles.
  • Suitable for endurance races and long, steady rides, but might be uncomfortable for very long trips (tours), since rider leans forward and is not in an upright position.

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.

Pros

  • Ideal for riders aged 9-12.
  • 21 speeds; handlebar shifters.
  • Aluminum frame; lightweight, strong.
  • Pull-brake system.
  • Alloy racing rims.
  • Alloy water bottle cage.

Cons

  • Marketed as a “boy’s bike,” and only available in a black/red combo. Suitable for unisex use, however.
  • Drop-style handlebars might strain kids’ wrists on bumpy terrains, or if they frequently attempt tricks, stunts, or jumps.

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.

To Conclude:

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.