When Gary Turner built the first GT bike in 1979,
he probably didn’t know that GT would become
one of the most iconic brands in mountain biking.
While the company has been through its share of ups and
downs since the first bike rolled off the production line, their
lineage is second to none. The best riders in the world have
relied on GT bikes throughout the years, even if some of
them are no longer on the payroll.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
This carbon speedster is built for the rider who wants the
most from a full-suspension platform and refuses to give up efficiency or weight savings to have it. This bike is designed for the
cross-country racer who wants to have his cake and eat it too.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Zaskar uses GT’s “Independent Drivetrain” (iDrive) suspension system, which is designed to keep braking and pedaling
forces from influencing the suspension movement. The system
works by allowing the bottom bracket to “float” as the bike goes
through its travel. The Zaskar keeps the frame stiff by using
huge, oversized pivots that ride on the same-sized cartridge bearings used in a headset. The one-piece iDrive link holding the
pivots and bottom bracket is the heart of the suspension system.
The frame also sports a tapered head tube, 12x142-millimeter
rear axle and oversized carbon tubes throughout.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Formula R1 brakes deliver the abundance of power,
snappy lever feel and great adjustability that Formula is
known for without the squealing noise that’s plagued them
in the past. Formula finally has a brake that can hang with
the best out there in their new R1.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Maxxis Aspen tires are a great choice and feel both
light and grippy. They accelerate well and have enough traction for most conditions. They might look like cross-country
race tires, but the side knobs and excellent rubber compound
make them confidence-inspiring, even when the trail surface
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Right away we noticed the bike’s high standover height. This design makes room for a water-bottle cage
mount inside the frame triangle, but the bottle is precariously
placed under and at the rear of the top tube near the seat tube.
Suspension setup: The 4 inches of travel are effective and
easy to dial in. This bike takes full advantage of Fox’s CTD
(Climb, Trail, Descend) suspension damping options because
of a very active rear suspension. Luckily, the shock is
positioned where it is easy to reach the CTD lever.
Pedaling: This is a fast-feeling bike right out
of the gates when the shock is in the climb
mode. Put the hammer down and it jumps
like a scalded rat. Pedaling through rougher
sections can be a bit tricky, as the iDrive
suspension puts the bottom bracket very
low to the ground, especially when it’s
deep in its travel. We experienced a few
pedal strikes early in our testing, but it
became less of an issue as we got used to
Climbing: This is the strong suit of the
Zaskar. The geometry puts the rider in an
efficient position right over the pedals as long as
the shock is in the climb setting. The lightweight
tires and wheels keep the 29er bulk to a minimum and
give the bike a light and snappy feel when the trail points
Cornering: The low bottom bracket and relatively steep
geometry make for a bike that dives into corners quickly, so be
sure you’re ready for it when you lean in. The larger contact
patch of the wagon-wheel 29er effect is helped further by the
excellent traction of the Maxxis Aspen tires, especially on
hardpack and loose-over-hardpack trails.
Descending: If you’re expecting the Zaskar to be confidence-inspiring for plowing rock gardens, you bought the wrong bike.
Don’t get us wrong; the iDrive suspension works wonders to
level obstacles on the trail, and it makes the most of the 4 inches
it’s packing. The active feel can handle any terrain on an all-
mountain trail or racecourse. Just don’t expect it to feel as for-
giving as a trailbike. The 4-inch-travel Zaskar gives the rider
plenty to work with when the trail gets nasty, but it also
requires some rider skill to pilot down the roughest terrain.
Our test bike arrived with an alignment issue. The rear
wheel and swingarm did not align symmetrically with the
front triangle. This may be why we spent the first few rides
chasing down a “popping” sound as the suspension dipped
into its travel. While GT reps did not have a solid explanation
for the issue, they claimed they hadn’t seen the issue with
any other Zaskars. The “pop” sound did resolve itself
within a few days of testing, but eyeballing the swingarm
and seat tube, it never looked right.
The bottom line is that the iDrive suspension delivers
the goods as long as you are willing to work the CTD lever.
The Zaskar is a nice execution of a cross-country race
platform from the company that’s been doing it for over
The price of the Zaskar Pro is high, but there are plenty
of versions of this bike for just about any budget. If you’re
looking for a more confidence-inspiring descender, GT
makes the Force model, which sports the same iDrive suspension design with added travel and a more trail-friendly