If you remember the launch of the original GT Zaskar, prepare to start wondering where all that time went – with the 2016 model the famous GT Triple Triangle hard tail will be 25 years old. GT even brought in the legend Hans ‘No Way’ Rey (who is about to celebrate 30 years with GT) to talk about the early days and development of the bike. As Hans puts it, he remembers the first experiments with aluminum which was quite a learning curve for the bike’s designers. After nearly two years of development, the first Zaskar was launched in 1991.
Called one of the first true do-it-all mountain bikes, the Zaskar achieved cult status as a bullet proof frame that became the only bike to ever win a World Cup in downhill, XC, slalom, and trials, all on the same production bike. We’re guessing the days of that being a possibility are long gone. While the times may have changed, the heart of the Zaskar is still intact. With the 25th anniversary build, GT wanted to capture the spirit of a bike that can do just about everything from aggressive trail to XC racing…
Settling on 27.5″ wheels as a happy medium between trail riding and XC racing, there is only one wheel size offered on the new bike. That decision was the result of GT’s COR (Centered on Rider) design philosophy which asks who can benefit from the design and what features should they include. For the Zaskar deciding factors included the lack of GT’s presence on the WC XC circuit and the desire to do a carbon hard tail, but one that stayed true to the Zaskar lineage. Starting with multiple geometries, GT ended up with the progressive geometry from their full suspension bikes that has a longer front center, slacker headtube angle, and a lower front end as well as a longer wheelbase and shorter chainstays. Combined with 27.5″ wheels GT says the bike provides a balanced feel that you sit in the bike more than on the bike.
Introducing the new design only on the four carbon models, the remaining aluminum bikes will continue with their current builds. GT also splits the carbon models between the top LTD with a more trail oriented 120mm Pike and Reverb dropper post while the Pro, Expert, and Elite go with a race oriented 100mm fork.
Citing easy serviceability and the ability for modern drivetrains to function well with full cable housing, all of the cabling for the new bike is run external with the exception of the Stealth dropper post which routes under the BB to the seat tube. The 1200g carbon frame uses a Shimano BB92 press fit bottom bracket and a 12×142 rear end and can be run 1x or 2x with a standard seat tube clamp front derailleur mount.
In addition to the $4999 carbon LTD (top) and $2999 Expert) above, there will also be a XC race oriented Pro build for $4500 around 22 lbs with a 100mm SID World Cup and 2x XTR drivetrain, and the $2299 Elite with a 2×10 drivetrain. One interesting and awesome inclusion for the GT 2×11 bikes is that they will include a 1x chainring in the box – 1x and 2x all in one. In total there will be 8 models of the Zaskar on the books for 2016 with 4 carbon bikes and 4 unchanged aluminum models.
On the full suspension side, the bikes don’t see wholesale changes, but they do see some significant suspension updates. The $4,340 Sensor carbon for instance now benefits from a full carbon rear end that makes use of the Locker axle system from the Helium. Due to the lack of the pinch bolt system the locking axle is lighter removing 184g from the weight of the swingarm combined with the carbon.
The entry level Sensor AL Expert also upgrades to the Locker Axle system but does so with an aluminum seat and chainstay. The move to aluminum allows for GT to up spec the fork, brakes, and hubs, while still dropping the retail $500 to $3,250. All Sensor models run 130mm rear and 140mm front travel.
The Force is strong with new graphics and colors as well as the full carbon Force X Expert priced at $5,420.
The Sanction frame also stays the same but is upgraded with a Fox Evol can for the Pro build as well as a Fox 36 Elite Fit 4 fork and is priced at $4,340. All of the new bikes will be available between now and September.