1992 GT Zaskar 20" handmade in USA 6061 T6 Aluminium

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"The early nineties were the hey day of mountain biking, and Cairns was doing it in a way that no one on the planet was doing at the time." I reckon Shem Guthrie must have heard the panting, huffing and puffing before he could see me crest the short, sharp hill at the base of Brisbane's Mt Cootha.

The first production Zaskar's were made in 1991, being one of the earlier production aluminium bikes, available to the public. Originally prototyped a few years prior with Hans Rey being the primary test pilot. Handmade in the USA, producing a very strong and stiff frame, which at the time was a big advancement over steel.

Waiting at Slaughter Falls, Shem had brought along his '92 GT Zaskar. The plan, to photograph Shem's retro aluminium mount, in it's native habitat, the Mt Cootha bush. We headed for a goat track that took us to the top. Once the trail headed skywards the panting started again, so it quickly became clear that it was time for the photoshoot to begin. For the next couple of hours we talked bikes, kept pedalling and shot the Zaskar. In the end we'd drawn one conclusion …. individuality …. a bike can become anything to anyone … one major reason why bicycles have always been so popular everywhere.

Anyone remember that scene in the David Lynch film, Wild at Heart, with Nicholas Cage as Sailor Ripley, a punk says "You look like a clown in that stupid jacket." Ripley "This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it's a symbol of my individuality, and my belief... in personal freedom."

Here's why there's a '92 Zaskar in Shem's shed.

In 1991 I was at school in year 11, up in Cairns, FNQ. A good friend Ben Bramham was getting right into the mountain bike scene with the Cairns MTB club which was at the time really edgy, pioneered by a jungle culture and BMX, motocross, skate, punk rock, metal and just about any other alternate culture going. The mountains are big up there and loom large, brooding with cloud and rain, full of danger and excitement. Ben rode Glen Jacobs' 91 Zaskar to school one day, and I was transfixed. GT was the bike of choice, they were strong, looked amazing and had roots in BMX which many club guys came from. From that point essentially just had to have one. Over the years, I have owned a few, but this one is special, its a 92, and has all the details and graphics that transfixed me in 91. The font of the downtube really resonates with how the club was doing its graphics for posters at the time also. Glen, Tom Kosic and Wade Lewis were all driving members of that club, they were all traditional sign writers and had amazing graphic skills. They all rode GT and owned the first Zaskars in Australia. Its a big part of the way the club evolved.

I ride this bike for lots of reasons, but essentially it all boils down to one reason. It reminds me every time I ride it, about my childhood, growing up in a place I still think of as home, and some simply amazing rides in the phenomenal rainforest of the wet tropics in Cairns. The early nineties were the hey day of mountain biking, and Cairns was doing it in a way that no one on the planet was doing at the time.

All photographs by Robert Cobcroft

FRAME: 1992 GT Zaskar 20" handmade in USA 6061 T6 Aluminium

FORK: GT Bologna Cro-mo double butted fork.

PAINT: Fork resprayed by Roberto's Custom Powder. (guru)

HEADSET: 1 1/8th Tioga Alchemy Aheadset

STEM: Syncros Cattlehead 130mm 0 Degree. Courtesy of Chris Davis, who used it on is bike back in the day

HANDLEBARS: Syncros 7071 Hard Core. 580mm 5 degree sweep

GRIPS: GT A’ME waffle grips

FRONT BRAKE: Shimano M730 XT Cantilever

REAR BRAKE: Shimano M730 XT II U Brake

BRAKE LEVERS: Shimano M730 X

FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano M730 XT Band Clamp

REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano M735 XT Short Cage. Courtesy of my Brother, Jake SHIFT LEVERS: Shimano M732 XT Thumb Shifters (7sp)

CASSETTE: Shimano M950 XTR (12 cog not affixed to run as 7sp and better climbing ratios)

CHAIN: SRAM 7sp

CRANKSET: Cook Bros Racing RSR, 175mm 110 BCD. Courtesy of my Brother, Jake

CHAINRINGS: Onza Buzz Saw granny and middle ring. Shimano M730 XT SG-X big ring.

BOTTOM BRACKET: Shimano Cartridge

PEDALS: Shimano M737 SPD. The original first ever SPD design.

FRONT HUB: Shimano M730 XT 32H

REAR HUB: Shimano M730 XT 32H

SKEWERS: Ringle Holey. Courtesy of Chris Davis, who used it on is bike back in the day

FRONT RIM: Mavic 231

REAR RIM: Mavic 231

FRONT TIRE: Kenda Nevegal 1.95 folder

REAR TIRE: Kenda Nevegal 1.95 folder

INNER TUBES: Yep

SADDLE: Selle Italia Flite

SEATPOST: Tioga Carbo

 GT Bologna Cro mo double butted fork

GT Bologna Cro mo double butted fork

 Kenda Nevegal 1.95 tire

Kenda Nevegal 1.95 tire

GT-bicycles-Zaskar
GT-bicycles-Zaskar
 Tioga Alchemy head set

Tioga Alchemy head set

 Syncros 7071 handlebars

Syncros 7071 handlebars

 Crankset Cook Bros Racing RSR

Crankset Cook Bros Racing RSR

 Ringle Holey skewer

Ringle Holey skewer

 Selle Italia Flite saddle

Selle Italia Flite saddle

 1992 GT Zaskar

1992 GT Zaskar

 Shem's 1992 GT Zaskar

Shem's 1992 GT Zaskar

 GT Zaskar

GT Zaskar

 GT Zaskar in it's natural habitat

GT Zaskar in it's natural habitat

 GT All Terra

GT All Terra

 GT Zaskar triple triangle

GT Zaskar triple triangle

 GT Zaskar head tube

GT Zaskar head tube

 Mavic 231 rim

Mavic 231 rim

 Old GT Zaskar still in use

Old GT Zaskar still in use

 1992 GT Zaskar 20" handmade in USA 6061 T6 Aluminium

1992 GT Zaskar 20" handmade in USA 6061 T6 Aluminium

 Zaskar GT

Zaskar GT

 Prototyped for a few years prior with feedback from pro team riders like Hans Rey and Graeme Allbon

Prototyped for a few years prior with feedback from pro team riders like Hans Rey and Graeme Allbon

 The GT Zaskar

The GT Zaskar

GT Bologna Cro-mo double butted fork
GT Bologna Cro-mo double butted fork
 Cook Bros cranks

Cook Bros cranks

 Still copping a flogging Shem doesn't hold back on dishing it out to his old Zaskar

Still copping a flogging Shem doesn't hold back on dishing it out to his old Zaskar

 GT Zaskar trail destroyer

GT Zaskar trail destroyer

 Cook Bros Racing crankset

Cook Bros Racing crankset

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