In the third and final part of our report from GT Bicycle’s 2011 launch in the lovely alpine town of Les Deux Alpes we move on to the hardtails. GT’s bread and butter has always been in making robust and dependable hardtail frames and they’ve always been easily identifiable, keeping that Triple Triangle frame design even on their most modern carbon models. We’ll start with a little slice of mountain biking history, the Zaskar.
The Zaskar and Zaskar Carbon
Since being introduced in 1991 the Zaskar has always been a bit of a do-it-all bike. Light enough to race, solid enough to go and thrash about in the woods and tough enough to play on jumps and drops. There are six bikes in the range for 2011, from the mid range £799.99 Zaskar Sport to the top level XC race ready £2999.99 Zaskar Carbon Pro. On the lower two models, the Sport and £999.99 Comp, the frame is made from hydroformed 6061 T6 alloy , getting a bump in spec up to airformed Kinesis Superlight tubing on the top alloy models, the £1,299.99 Elite and £1,699.99 Expert.
The high end carbon fibre frames have had a rework for 2011, with GT’s Force Optimized Carbon being refined into FOC Ultra, a new way of laying up the frames using less resin. Resin, while essential to making carbon fibre frames, is both heavy and weak and this new technique shaves off 300g from a medium sized Zaskar Carbon while retaining all of the strength of the old design. Of course, this frame isn’t entirely focused on light weight – the Triple Triangle detailing remains, the rear brake mount is now a post type and there’s a tapered 1.5″ to 1.125″ headtube to keep everything stiff.
The Zaskar Carbon will be available in the UK in an Expert spec at £2,199.99 with 2x10spd SRAM x.7/9 mix drivetrain and a 100mm RS Recon Solo Air fork. The top Pro model will get an X.9/0 mix, Formula R1 brakes and a 100mm SID RLT and will cost £2,999.99.
The Karakoram has been resurrected for 2011 and during this rebirth the wheel diameter increased to 29″. GT now consider the 29er (or 9er in GT speak) market as a Big Deal especially in the US, where they offer most of their Endurance range with 29″ wheel options. In the UK we’re limited to the more affordable Karakoram models. They both use Triple Triangle constructed alloy frames with integrated headsets and are aimed at general trail riding, although we reckon they’d be a smart choice for people who do a bit of trail centre bashing plus a good chunk of commuting but don’t want two separate bikes.
The £799.99 Karakoram 1.0 comes with a SRAM X.7/9 9spd drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic disks, Rock Shox Recon air fork with 100mm of travel and rolls on Kenda Small Block 8 tyres. The 2.0 moves down to Alivio 9spd and a Rock Shox Dart fork, Tektro cable disks but still has Kenda Nevegal tyres and comes in at a non-wallet busting £649.99.
There will also be a full range of the entry to mid level Avalanche and Aggressor bikes, including women’s specific designs, ranging from the £299.99 Aggressor 3.o all the way up to the Avalanche 1.0 Disc at £699.99 which comes with Shimano Deore/XT 9spd drivetrain and M445 hydraulic disks.