Having tested all my British Steel mtb's on my little 10 mile test track, I thought it was about time I did the same thing with the bike that started this whole thing for me, my 94 Zaskar.
As it's not been ridden for a while
I gave it a quick once over just to make sure all was well and as I did so the rain started! Once the deluge had reduced to just pouring I set off.
Obviously this is a very familiar bike to me, so I had to try and judge it in with fresh eyes (and legs) and the first thing my legs told me was that the seat was too low. Tool kit always to hand, an additional inch was soon added (fnar fnar), and all was well.
Into the woods and onto the gravel path and the first thing to notice is just how precisely the bike steers, it's a joy and really carves through the bends. The next thing I noticed was not so good, and this was the gearing on the bottom ring, it is too long. I give my younger self credit for being able to haul himself all over the Mendips with such long gearing.
Anyway, I got through the switchbacks fine and then it was onto the long rocky climb. Two months of dry weather followed by fresh rain.... I could not have made things more slippery if I had coated the tyres in axle grease.
That and the long gearing made the climb a bit more of a chore than it normally is, but as this is a (n off) road test, it all has to just be accepted, and what was becoming clear is that the Zaskar is as stiff as....keep it clean.... a very stiff thing that has had extra stiffening added. This was shown further when I was going down the banzai road hill home and I found man hole covers popping the rear wheel into the air.
I'll spare you the rest of the ride, as I cut out some of the rocky singletrack sections, but I will say the Zaskar did not disappoint, in any respect.
Once home and after a good clean and an inspection, I found that the granny chainring has 26 teeth on it, which is a fair bit longer than my other 3 chainring bikes, so I think a replacement will be fitted shortly and the same test run again.
How does the Zaskar compare with my other machinery? The main difference is the total lack of any give or compliance in the frame. This makes for very precise steering and a really sure footed ride on anything but rocky rooty surfaces. Trouble is, most of my local woods ride is... rocky and rooty.
Still love this bike though.
"Try not to punch any clowns"