Trailwright's 1991 GT Xizang LE

trailwright

GT Fan
Not a build thread, but a backstory on how I've come to own this old girl since new, plus a little bit of chat on her 30th birthday light fettle.

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So, what have we got then. Let's present the parts list first of all:

Frame: 20" GT Triple Triangle 3AL/2.5V TIG pulse welded titanium - made in USA serial # G20001 (which means the 1st made 20" frame for 1991)
Forks: GT 2x4 triple butted chromoly, threaded steerer
Chainset: Shimano XTR M900, 46-36-26, 175mm, XTR titanium crank bolts
Chain: Shimano Dura Ace 8 speed
Bottom bracket: Syncros titanium, 73mm shell, 113mm axle
Rear mech: Shimano XTR M900
Front mech: Shimano XTR M900, top pull
Cassette: Shimano XTR M950 8 speed, 12-32
Pedals: Shimano Deore XT M737, with GT clips and straps
Hubs: Shimano XTR M950, 32 hole
Spokes: DT double butted 14/15G with brass nipples (radially laced front and non-drive rear)
Rims: Mavic X517, 32 hole
Tyres: Tioga Factory XC 1.95, front and rear specific
Wheel quick releases: GT titanium with alloy lever
Rear brake: Shimano Deore XT M733 U-Brake
Front brake: Shimano XTR M900
Brake blocks: Scott Matthauser superbrake
Headset: Shimano Deore XT M737, 1 1/8" threaded
Stem: Answer Atac, 150mm, 10 degrees rise
Handlebars: GT super light aluminium, 540mm, 5 degrees bend
Shifters: Shimano XTR M910 STI
Grips: ODI attack
Seatpost: Shimano XTR M900
Seatpost quick release and clamp: GT alloy
Saddle: Selle Italia flight titanium
Cables: Shimano Dura Ace
Bottle cage: Blackburn, titanium cage bolts
Weight: 23.5lbs

Nothing particularly trick, but all good dependable stuff that's held up well.

Onto the backstory then. For the 1992 racing season, I was fortunate enough to get a ride with the GT Caratti team. First model supplied was a 1992 Zaskar, with Deore XT groupset. A great machine, superbly engineered and still with thumb shifters, although the bendy GT flip-flop stem was quickly ditched. Mid-season, bike replaced with a Zaskar LE, full XTR. Not any lighter than the boggo Zaskar, especially with Rock Shox Mag 20s, but a quicker machine thanks to the slickness of the XTR gearing. And then, right at the end of the season, just before heading off to Bromont , Canada for that year's World Champs, I received my beautiful Xizang frame and forks for the occasion. All the XTR and other bits were transferred across from the Zaskar LE. Most of that componentry is what remains on the bike to this day. This 1991 model must have been the first constructed in a 20" size due to the G20001 serial number, and having never been built up had sat with either GT in the US or with distributor Caratti until I received it mid '92.

The bike was then raced hard for both the 1993 and 1994 seasons across many races, sometimes using the rigid forks and sometimes on a set of Pace RC35s before being officially retired. The last 26 years has seen pretty much light use, and with the transfers having come off, the mild steel rivet bottle mounts corroded and fallen into frame, and the polished finish losing its lustre, it had become a bit tatty and fairly anonymous to anyone except those with the Retrobike eye for a gem.

So as a 30th birthday reward a light renovation was gifted. Every single part was stripped down and cleaned, with the STI shifters particularly gunked up and had at that point stopped working. The frame took a lot of buffing to get it back to a shine, and period correct transfers were reapplied, the only one having survived being the head tube badge. New stainless bottle bosses were pressed in, while the forks had become dull and scuffed up so these got a spray and lacquer as well. The result, well the bike is almost back to how it looked 29 years ago when I first raced it, but with a general patina that gives it a certain honesty. Enjoy the pictures....


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Archangel

Senior Retro Guru
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Thanks for a great background story and of course it's awesome that you're the original owner!
What's the story with M950 wheelset instead of M900?
 

27motorhead

Retro Guru
Awesome bike and backstory. Glad you managed to keep the bike and great to see it refreshed, it looks in great nick! Good to see it with the rigid 2x4 GT forks vs. MAG 20's - adds to the retroness (is that even a word?) along with the U-brake :)
 

Double-E F

Gold Trader
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Awesome bike and ditto history!
I think it looks really clean in this setup: bet it is an absolute joy to ride!
Do you have any pictures of your racing days on any of the GTs you mentioned? Would be a cool addition to the thread..
Great to see that you're taking such good care of this beauty: that's what she deserves!
 

trailwright

GT Fan
Thanks for a great background story and of course it's awesome that you're the original owner!
What's the story with M950 wheelset instead of M900?
Thank you. Yes, the rims are the one anomaly really. I originally had XTR M900 hubs with Araya RM400 rims but extensive racing wrecked them back in the day. If I recall, I folded the rear on a sharp left hander at the bottom of a fast steep descent in '93! These rims and hubs came off my 1997 Giant MCM which was XTR M950 equipped, another sponsor bike which I had to hand back, but kept those.
 
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trailwright

GT Fan
Awesome bike and ditto history!
I think it looks really clean in this setup: bet it is an absolute joy to ride!
Do you have any pictures of your racing days on any of the GTs you mentioned? Would be a cool addition to the thread..
Great to see that you're taking such good care of this beauty: that's what she deserves!
Thank you again. It does ride nicely especially with some nice Rockshox up front! I've a few pictures of the Xizang in race mode that I'll need to scan, so will do that this coming week. In the meantime here is a cheesy video of me on the Zaskar LE...
 
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trailwright

GT Fan
Awesome bike and backstory. Glad you managed to keep the bike and great to see it refreshed, it looks in great nick! Good to see it with the rigid 2x4 GT forks vs. MAG 20's - adds to the retroness (is that even a word?) along with the U-brake :)
Thanks. The U-brake is quite heavily sprung so takes a bit of a pull to operate but is miles off the performance of cantis. They only stuck these on because the original cantis were wide arms so the lower seat stays on GTs would cause the rider's heels to catch. Low profile cantis changed that which is why I'm surprised U-brakes were continued on 1992 frames.
 
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