Following on from our look at GT’s 2008 all-mountain Force and Sanction bikes, here’s a couple of new things for the more wheels-on-ground amongst us. And first up is a real corker – the all-new carbon fibre Zaskar. The Zaskar is something of an iconic bike – the original aluminium model pretty much kickstarted the whole heavy-duty hardtail thing in the UK. This latest incarnation, though, is all about XC.
It would have been easy for GT to wheel out a me-too carbon race frame, but clearly too easy. Instead it’s gone to a lot of trouble to replicate its trademark Triple Triangle frame design in the magic blanket stuff. And it looks fantastic. The frame comes in at 1.2kg (2.64lb), which isn’t the lightest carbon frame out there but is certainly competitive. Pictured is the all-XTR Team model (complete with black-on-black decals) – there’ll also be a Pro, which, in a thoughtful bit of speccing, shares the Team’s Fox F100RL fork and simply substitutes all the XTR parts for XT. UK pricing has the Pro at £2,199 and the Team at £3,299.
What we really like about this bike is that it’s got potential way beyond just XC racing. It’s light, stiff and fast, especially in stock flat-bar form. But it doesn’t have the ultra-aggressive, stop-concentrating-and-it’ll-bite handling of some race bikes. Stick wider bars and fatter tyres on and you’ll have a great all-rounder that’ll retain a fine turn of speed.
There’s a treat for fans of the original Zaskar, too – GT is to do a limited-edition run of US-made Zaskar frames in the original Alcoa 6061-T6 tubing, but brought up to date with geometry for 100mm travel forks and disc mounts. And yes, they’ll be ball-burnished, and you’ll get spare decals in the box. We’ve no idea how much they’re going to be, but we do know that you’ll have to get in the queue behind us…
For the full-suspension fans, GT has the appropriately-named Marathon. It’s a development of the 2007 carbon i-Drive XC, marrying the front end from that bike to a new carbon fibre swingarm. The new back end is 200g lighter than the aluminium one and noticably stiffer to boot. Specs are the same as the carbon Zaskar (except that the fork has 120mm of travel), and indeed the whole bike feels very similar to ride – just comfier and less clattery on the rocks. Again, there are Team and Pro models at £3,999 and £2,499 respectively.