GT's Oliver Munnik reviews the GT Zaskar 100 9r

Feb 6, 2013

Oliver Munnik, GT brand ambassador and pro rider in the Elite Category for XC, XCM & Enduro in South Africa, gives us his take on the new GT Zaskar Carbon 100 9r. You can follow Oliver on Twitter @olivermunnik, read the original post on Bicycling Magazine's website, or check out Oliver's blog

While many people are slowly easing back into their usual routines after the festive break, we mountain bikers have already shifted into the big blade and are cruising at full speed. With the XCO season having kicked off last weekend and the marathon season kicking off this coming weekend, riders have been training up a storm. It seems crazy though. We’re only in the 3rd week of January and riders need to be in fighting form! I mean, aren’t will still getting used to awakenings by alarm clocks? Clearly not.

In the aftermath of another deathly interval session last week, at the hands of Charlie Keey, I received the news that my 2013 chariot had landed at the Omnico offices in Cape Town. Yes please, the new Zaskar 100 had arrived. After years of punishing myself on a hardtail (think back to the 2010 Epic with its 8km train track section!), I will be riding the 2013 season on my first ever full-blown XC-bandit-style dual suspension, the GT Zaskar 100 9r. Having ridden loads of DH and Free-Ride rigs in the past, dual suspensions are nothing new to me, however, having a skinny XC dualie race machine between my legs is gonna be awesome. Dr. Evil, bring on the train tracks!

And what better way to introduce the Zaskar to South Africa, than a trial by fire this weekend. The 120km, see-you-on-the-other-side, Attakwas Ultra Marathon is sure to push the 29r dualie to its limits. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

With a few rides under the belt, I am loving this bike. Without sounding like a Muhammad Ali wannabe, it climbs like a butterfly and descends like a bee. The Fox suspension has been kitted out with Fox’s CTD integrated suspension system. This has been a revelation for me. I was dreading the need to individually lock out the front and rear suspension by taking my hand off the handlebar.

With the CTD, which stands for climb-trail-descend, the handlebar-mounted lever allows me to select 1 of 3 suspension settings at a moment’s notice. Why is this important? Well, as I’m sure every rider has experienced, mountain biking can be unpredictable! CTD gives the rider the chance to adapt to an unanticipated climb, rocky section or simply a rough section of road, without so much as a thought or the need to take their hands off the handlebar. This means no more fiddling around selecting your suspension setting. I’m certainly no tech geek, but this system has properly impressed me.

Now, as with any system there are drawbacks! The CTD has been heavily criticised for being as ugly as a toad. Looking at it, I have to agree with the style icons out there. But, and this is a big but, sometimes function has to surpass form – I’m afraid to say this is true even in cycling! The lever needs to activate both front and rear shocks and thus needs the big bulky lever to sufficiently engage both cable systems simultaneously. Being cable activated (as opposed to a closed hydraulic system) means that it will require routine maintenance during the year, much like one’s gear system. And lastly, some might not like the idea that front and rear systems are linked. Again, I was skeptical about the twinned idea, but so far, I haven’t even noticed it.

With the Cape Epic around the corner, this weekend’s Attakwas looms large for many riders. It will act as an acid test, gauging how their preparation is going. One can’t hide from the truth: The Epic takes no prisoners and is better ridden without a festive season spare tyre around the waist! And if you’re not riding the Epic, why not come and spend a few hours pleasantly ambling through the Outeniqua countryside? I’m sure you won’t regret it. Just remember to pack sunscreen and your emergency survival kit in case sh*t gets real out there, haha.

If you’re headed for Oudstoorn, I’ll see you there or at the finish line in Groot Brak. Come and say howzit.


Main photo: Kolesky/Nikon/Lexar