GT LTS DH 1997


Retro Guru
Hello again!

About four years ago I found a GT LTS DH frame from Germany and it was sitting a long time in my workshop waiting for the right kind of inspiration on how I should build it up. For me the 1st gen 'boomerang LTS DHs with the single seat tube curve , and these 2nd gen ones with the 'double curve' have always been one of the icons of 90's DH. And since seeing the first ball burnished Zaskars in the 90's I've been a big fan of that particular finish.

This frame was a little dull when I got it, but it was without any cracks or major scratches, so it had a solid foundation to build on. Someone had also installed a ball bearing upgrade set on the linkages to replace the original bushings which was a nice bonus. It had though the shorter stroke RS Super Deluxe shock on it (1.4") instead of the original one (1.65"), but as you could get about 145mm of rear travel with the original ones, it still was able to get almost 125mm with the shorter stroke shock. This was actually a bonus also as it allowed getting slacker angles for it (and there was issues back then with the longer stroke shock hitting the seat when fully compressed as it was longer).

The first thing I did to it was take it apart and polish the ball burnished finish on it, and replace the worn/missing decals. At this point I still had no idea what kind of build I'd like to turn it into!


With a frame as nice looking as these it's always really difficult to make a build that can match the frame itself 😅 But I dug an old Z1 from my corners and chose to try and build the project around two polished main pieces. I gave the same polishing treatment to the Z1, replaced the decals to match the frame, and also found an old 130mm upgrade spring kit from my parts boxes so installed it on the fork. This way I could get even nicer angles for the eventual bike. I also had a White Industries / RockShox disc front hub (with the brake and rotor) from the history, so I just located a matching rear non-disc one to have the key pieces of the build ready.


After this it was all about going through my parts bins (and some market places) and check what would fit the build the best. I tried to keep it as close to period correct as possible without being too picky about a few years here or there, going with parts fitting an old school DH bike, and tried to keep the color scheme chrome/black with small color details. The rarest parts on the final build were the IRC Dirt Bros 2.1" tires that I haven't seen too often, and the cable-actuated RockShox front brake with the specific White Ind. hub and a three bolt rotor. These I've seen around for sure, but mostly as parts and rarely fitted to bikes. Setting it up wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, and it seems to work pretty decently with the XTR M950 lever!

Only issue I had was that when I finished building the rear wheel, I noticed that there was some sideways play in the hub. So I opened it up and found out that the titanium axle had been slightly worn from where one of the bearings should rest.. I managed to help the case by adding some loctite bearing glue there, but hopefully someday I'll find a spare axle for it. Won't hold my breath though!

All in all the bike ended up weighing only about 13.5kg which was a surprising number considering most of the parts on this were parts that were used in many DH bikes during mid to late 90's. Here's some pics of the finished bike that I managed to get together last weekend!








Awesome build. I borrowed the V1 version of this back in the day from a buddy of mine as I was waiting on a warranty frame. It rode dang nice for what it was, I even took it to a bikepark in Germany. I did have Votec dual crown forks with 100mm (or was it 120mm, I forget) travel on it. I was sad to had to be returned. This is one of those hero's of the past you'd want to meet and not be disappointed (like I was with my RTS).
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What did you use to ball burnish it?

The frame was already originally ball burnished by GT, it just had gotten a bit oxidized from the surface. So only thing I had to do was go through the frame with some old cotton socks, aluminium autosol and hurting fingers!
I've come back and looked at this about 4 times now, so it's worth a comment.

That's rather lovely. it's got a lot of the mods we'd have done back then too.