Our Comprehensive GMC Denali Review

Today’s review focuses on the GMC Denali Road Bike, which is a budget bike designed for road riders to ride casually or for basic cycling training. We’ll compare the bike to others from GMC and similar bikes from other brands so you can make an informed decision about the best bike for your needs. 

Quick Overview: what is the GMC Denali Road Bike Designed to Do?

GMC Denali Road Bike Review
Component Quality
Weight
Price

This bike is designed mostly for casual riding on the road in mind. Cyclists may find that this lightweight bike is perfect for a mid-range cycling experience, offering plenty of variety in speed.

This bike isn't meant for professionals who are in serious cycling training, but GMC does intend to provide long-lasting durability for casual riders with this bike. The GMC Denali is supposed to give a quick, smooth shifting experience between gears to offer cyclists a smooth ride on hilly, twisting, or flat roads.

Who is This Bike Good For?

This bike is a good option for a casual cyclist who wants a bike that will stand up to long-distance and speed riding on roads. The GMC Denali Road Bike also comes in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of cyclists of different heights and body types.

Beginner riders who want a durable bike that can last for years to come might enjoy this option from GMC, which has an aluminum frame that can resist wear and tear while keeping the bike lightweight. This bike offers a good balance between casual and speed riding, making it a good option for those who want to work up to a professional riding experience.  

  • Frame
  • Groupset

The GMC Denali Road Bike has an aluminum frame, which helps make this bike a less expensive option than bikes meant for professional cyclists. The aluminum frame keeps this bike relatively light for the price point, although, it's certainly not as light as some other options.   

The GMC Denali is a low-budget bike, though. Whereas lots of the bikes we review fall within the $1000 to $2500 range, this bike falls much below even the lower end of that budget. At least some of that is because of the use of an aluminum frame rather than stiffer, higher-performing materials like carbon fiber (there are, of course, great aluminum bikes out there; we're just pointing out this isn't a super high-end frame).

This component set is obviously going to be a step down from some of the other bikes we've reviewed here, but it's worth remembering that the GMC Denali is first and foremost a budget road bike. It won't be the lightest. It won't be the most spritely around a turn. It won't be the best climber. But it can provide a solid ride for a very reasonable price.

Pros

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    The price is a rather obvious (but still big) benefit for this bike
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    This low-budget bike that still offers some decent versatility

Cons

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    The brakes might not be as responsive as similar models, and the levers might require more strength to use
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    The gears may need to be fine-tuned after assembly, which could be confusing for some beginners.

This bike isn't something you'd stack up against some of the other mid- or high-range bikes you've probably seen. But it's a solid, versatile road bike whose bulk does add a rough-and-tumble sort of durability.

Expert Opinions

“You can get yourself a bike, a helmet, even lights, a water bottle, for [cheap], just to see if you really want to get into [road racing].” – Sean Symons

"I hadn't cycled for about a decade. This [bike] got me back into it. It was my first ‘road bike.' It's definitely a more aggressive riding style." - BikeBlogger

How does the GMC Denali compare to similar bikes?

 Here, we'll examine five bikes in the same class and roughly the same budget range. We'll look at the differences in fit, geometry, and weight, so you can get a feel for how the ride experience might differ. The bikes we're using for our comparison are the Diamondback Century Sport, Trek 1.2, Diamondback Insight, and Specialized Dolce.

Stack & Reach


The GMC Denali Road Bike has a stack of 57.0cm and reach of 40.0cm , both of which are a bit shorter than comparable bikes of different brands. The shorter stack makes the GMC Denali a bit more comfortable for cyclists to ride but may provide a less aerodynamic ride.

The reach on the GMC Denali is longer than all of its similar road bikes in our comparison except the Diamondback Insight 1, which may help contrast the shorter stack to balance its aerodynamic profile. Its reach can provide excellent stability at high speeds. Although the GMC Denali isn't necessarily for professional racers, it does have some helpful features for speed.

Chainstay Length


Chainstay length = the measurement from the BB (bottom bracket) to the center of the rear axle.

The GMC Denali has a chainstay length of 415mm, which is a standard size for bikes of this size. Longer chainstakes make a better choice for those who cycle uphill frequently, as the longer length can provide better climbing traction. But, for beginner riders who will be maneuvering smaller hills less regularly, the GMC's chainstay length provides a good fit.

However, you may notice that the Diamondback Insight 1 has a significantly longer chainstay length than the other similar road bikes in this group. Diamondback created this bike with utmost control for the rider in mind, giving it plenty of traction uphill. You won't necessarily have the most natural uphill climb with the GMC Denali, but the shorter chainstay can give you more control over your turns and an easier power transfer to the bike.

Weight


This GMC bike is significantly heavier than many similar bikes at 30 lbs. The weight may lend to the bike’s lower budget, but it could also be problematic for cyclists who frequently ride uphill. However, this weight can be a benefit for downhill riders, as it can offer extra stability when coasting.

GMC didn’t create the Denali for professional riders, though, which becomes apparent in its weight and some of its other features. This is more of an entry-level bike for casual road riders rather than professional road racers who need a bike that can navigate tough hills.

Head Tube Angle


Head tube angle = the angle of the head tube relative to the ground and/or wheelbase.

The head tube angle of the GMC Denali is 72 degrees, which is comparable to other road bikes from different brands. This angle helps keep your bike stable at a variety of speeds but may require a little bit more effort on your part to steer.

You’ll notice many similar road bikes with a head tube angle of 72 degrees, or close to it, because it offers better balance on turns you’ll take on twisty roads and may help you steer more quickly, even if it takes a little more effort.

Effective Top Tube Length


Effective top tube length = the level distance from the seat to the stem. 

The Denali has an effective top tube length of 67.9cm, which is notably longer than the similar bikes in this category (so much, so, in fact, it makes us question its veracity, especially since there's not a lot of primary-source info on this bike in general). For the rider, this translates to a more bent-over position when you ride. You'll notice a long top tube in many racing bikes built for the best aerodynamics and high speeds. Therefore, you'll be in an aerodynamic position on this road bike, more than the other bikes we’re comparing.

However, this may not be what many beginners look for when choosing a road bike. This bike is good for speed, but with a more casual riding experience than professional cyclists look for. The top tube length requires riders to reach out further to reach the handlebars, which may not provide the comfort riders want for a beginner’s road bike.

However, this may not be what many beginners look for when choosing a road bike. This bike is good for speed, but with a more casual riding experience than professional cyclists look for. The top tube length requires riders to reach out further to reach the handlebars, which may not provide the comfort riders want for a beginner’s road bike.

Component Differences

The bikes similar to the GMC Denali also have aluminum frames like the Denali that make them more budget-friendly and lighter weight than higher-performance models, yet durable and easy to repair. The GMC Denali stands out significantly in its shifting ability. This bike offers 21 speeds, while its comparable options from other brands provide between 7 to 8 speeds.  

The brakes on the GMC Denali is one component you may want to consider upgrading. The brakes will likely need quite a bit of adjustment when you assemble the bike, but they still may not be enough to stop on a dime as you’d need in quick situations. The Tektro rim brakes of the Giant Contend 3 and Diamondback Century Sport might be more reliable options for most road cyclists.