It was only after I took my Zaskar around my test track yesterday and then searched my posts for the build thread that I realised there wasn't one.
So, here is the bike that started it all for me.
Back in the late 80's I bought the first bike I had owned since I was 16. It was a s/h Saracen. After that came a new Dawes New Wave, then a Llyang AL550 frameset and then this Zaskar in 1994. I would have loved to have bought a CATS WISKAS or DONKIS NOB or DOGS BOLX, but they were just too far out of reach, and despite living just outside and working in Bristol I am sorry to say I knew nothing of Overbury's, so the Zaskar it was and a frame supplied by the GT specialist dealer at the bottom of Park Street, later to become a Specialized concept store and recently closed.
The idea (even back then) was a British build, and so it was that my LBS was asked to open accounts with the likes of X-Lite and Hope, although the Middleburn RS3 cranks came from elsewhere.
I haven't a spec sheet yet, but the build goes something like:
Frame, 1994 Zaskar LE
Forks: Shocktech carbon, later replaced with Marzocchi XC700's
Wheels; Mavic 230 rims laces to Hope hubs in blue. The front hub was replaced last year after the original developed the cracks that we are all so familiar with.
BB: Hope titanium
Cranks: Middleburn RS3 with Shimano chainrings
Pedals: Time ATAC, which were released around that time, although I seem to recall DX pedals and toe clips at one point.
F&R Mech: Shimano XT
Cassette: Sachs 8 speed freewheel. 12-28
Saddle: Viscount titanium. This was a replacement for the original saddle which was destroyed when the bike rack came off the back of my car.
Brake: Shimano XT V-brakes, but these must have superseded something, as they didn't come out until 96 ish. Original build may well have bee Magura's.
Bars: X-Lite titanium
Brake levers: Avid
Shifters: Grip Shift
Grips: Grip Shift
Bar Ends: X-Lite
Tyres: all sorts over the years, Smoke / Dart combo for a loooong time, currently Smoke front and Specialized Cannibal rear.
It has always been a wonderful bike to ride, always a sharp steering stiff arsed nutter b'stard of a bike and after riding a whole host of British steel exotica my only complaint is that the seat was too low and the gearing is too high. As both of those are easy to fix, I'd say the ol'bugger has stood the test of time.
Here's what I said in another thread about yesterday ride:
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.
Last year, after my first time on the Mendips in nearly ten years.
"Try not to punch any clowns"