The GT Zaskar is one of mountain biking’s longest-running hardtail success stories. Cropping up in various incarnations over the years, it’s been ridden by pros covering the gamut from trials to cross-country racing.
This isn’t a bike that’s going to set pulses racing. It’s neither light enough to win races nor nimble enough for extended sessions of rock-dodging. What it is, though, is a thoroughly sorted all-rounder that’ll do most things well.
Ride & handling: Efﬁcient ride position makes mile munching easy
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It may be a well-worn cliché, but GT’s designers haven’t tried to redefine the trail hardtail with the Zaskar Comp, much less reinvent the wheel. The geometry is based on a tried-and-tested, cross-country friendly set of numbers that deviates only slightly from the NORBA norm of the 90s – and it’s all the better for it. Riders used to shorter cockpits may initially feel a bit stretched out, but the GT’s a comfy place to be for long periods of pedalling.
Perfect front-to-rear weight distribution makes getting the power down easy, while a frame that won’t sacrifice your fillings on the altar of pedalling efficiency works in tandem with the supple fork to keep the wheels stuck firmly to the ground. A shorter stem would make it easier to haul the front wheel from line to line in fast-changing situations, but there’s something to be said for the stability of the stock set-up.
Frame: Tried and tested formula
The remarkable thing about 2011’s Zaskar is that it would be immediately recognisable to a mountain biker from 20 years ago as a GT. There have been some geometry tweaks and tubing profile changes, but the distinctive GT ‘triple-triangle design’ – more of a design flourish than a functional benefit, despite the company’s early 90’s claims – makes it stand out from the crowd, even today.
In keeping with the trend to mould every tube in sight into a shape that’s anything but round in profile, the Zaskar Comp’s top and down tubes get the full hydroforming treatment. The cross-sections are gratifyingly narrow by current standards, though, hinting at an emphasis on comfort over outright rigidity. And, despite the high-tech tubing wizardry, there’s still a neat box-section reinforcing gusset up front.
Equipment: GT ﬁnishing kit looks a tad cheap
Unlike some of the competition, the Zaskar doesn’t get the 10-speed treatment. To be honest, the only time you’re likely to miss the extra sprocket is when winching yourself up the steepest of climbs. And the payback is that the cheaper transmission has left room in the budget for an air fork, in the form of a RockShox Recon. It’s head and shoulders above the coil alternative and well worth a bit of extra grunt on the climbs.
Finishing kit is mostly own-brand stuff, which works fine but lacks the kudos or finish of some of the brand-name competition. Oh, and the undeniably bright yellow and blue accents are only slightly marred by the fact that none of the anodised components match the blue of the graphics, saddle or grips.