GT introduced the full suspension Zaskar 100 26″ and 29er hardtail Zaskar this summer at PressCamp, and now they’ve got the full squish 29er, too.
The full moniker is the GT Zaskar 100 9R Carbon, and the Pro model is shown above. It’ll carry a retail of $5,500 and come in around 27 lbs without pedals. Rather than simply adjust the geometry for the larger wheels, GT designed this bike from the ground up to be a stiff racer but with improved small bump sensitivity and less ramp than the outgoing Marathon models. Like on the 26″ 100, they moved all bearings and linkage mounts to the outside of the frame to improve lateral rigidity and durability. The 29er also shares the commonly available 1-1/8″ bearings for all main pivots. They’re installed using a simple pinch bolt, which means parts are easy to find and just about anyone can make adjustments or repairs.
Out back, they’ve gone with a 142 rear axle on the 29er 100. The Pro model gets Shimano XT 2×10 with Formula brakes and DT Swiss’ all-mountain wheels for a pretty bombproof build that won’t damage the scales.
The Zaskar 100 9R Carbon Expert shares the same carbon frame but with a slight downspec to come in at $4,400 USD MSRP. In case it’s not obvious from the model name, the bikes have 100mm travel front and rear. One interesting design note on these is the water bottle cage mount location. It’s on the underside of the top tube, near the seat tube. GT says this offers easy access and allows for a full size bottle even on the small frames without getting in the way of the suspension. All threaded parts on the frame are replaceable, including the postmount rear brakes inserts, so all’s not lost if you strip something using your fleshy torque wrench.
Word is there are alloy versions in the works, too, which makes sense if they want to reach lower price point consumers. Until then, the Sensor 9R is still in the lineup:
The Sensor 9R has 120mm travel and is only available in aluminum. The Pro model, above, gets a lot of the same spec as the Pro Carbon Zaskar 100 and rides really well. I rode this one in France last summer and it climbs really, really well and scoots along XC-ish trails smoothly. By climbs really well, I mean I was able to remain seated and spin the granny gear up a loose-pebble incline with a 21% grade for about 500 feet without losing traction or control. It was impressive. And hard.
For the 29er hardtail fans, the Zaskar 9R alloy comes in three flavors. Pro with XT…
…the Expert with a mix of SLX, XT and SRAM X7…
…and the Elite with mostly SRAM X7 and non-series cranks.
For the pure racer, there’s the top of the line carbon fiber Zaskar Pro 9R Carbon with SID 29er fork and full XT drivetrain. I rode one of these at this year’s PressCamp and came away with this impression: The frame is stiff, definitely something for smoother trails or racers. It’s not quite a brutally stiff at the Niner Air 9 Carbon or Santa Cruz Highball, but there’s no discernible flex built in like with the Cannondale Flash Carbon or Scott Scale 29ers. It’s somewhere in between, leaning toward the stiff side of things. Maybe it was just me not being used to a hardtail anymore, but the 100mm travel in the front didn’t seem like enough to take the edge off, which is exactly how I felt aboard the Highball.
For GT purists longing for the glory days, here’s your ride. The Xizang is back in all its titanium wonder, and it’s made for 29 inch wheels. The frame is 3/2.5 polished titanium throughout the Triple Triangle tubes with postmount disc brake mounts, replaceable derailleur hanger and tapered 1-1/8″ to 1-1/2″ headtube. It’ll be available as a frameset only in M/L/XL for the U.S. for $2,200, and only as a 29er. Word on the street is it’ll have a 26″ option for a few foreign markets in smaller sizes. No official word on ship dates yet.
The other new bikes, including the adult-sized BMX whips and alloy Fury DH rig, shown above in it’s glamour shot, are covered here.