In 1992 when I did my first custom build I choose between GT Zaskar and American CompLite. Because of tire clearance and since I prefered cantilevers over U brake I decided for the CompLite, but the Zaskar still remained a dream. 26 years later I was able to buy a wreck und perform a restauration.
It was almost surreal seeing this bike nearly everyday when bringing my kid to daycare. Identifying as Zaskar was easy: Only Zaskars have written 6061 and the frame number to the left dropout and only Zaskars have a flat cover on the top tube. Differentiating Zaskar and Zaskar LE of this era is done by the existence of a cantilever cable guide (the LE is V brake / Magura only).
The Zaskar was standing in the rain, with flat tires, dented rims and heavily corroded chain. After watching this for about a year I decided to to find the owner and buy it. I was successful and paid 150€ for the bike not knowing how many parts would be salvageable. Even calculating the worst and just be able to reuse frame, fork and crankset would have sufficed me at this price point.
Custom built in 1998
When disassembling the bike it was pretty obvious that this was a custom build with wave spokes and Rigida ceramic rims and the elastomer Rock Shox Indy SL instead of the catalogue Judy. From my experience working at a bike shop I know that Sport Import sold parts bundles (frame, fork, seatpost, crankset) of last years models relatively cheap. In this case I assume an immense discount since the 1998 Zaskar got more modern dropouts.
Besides such a parts bundle every other component was taken from 1994 to 1997 outgoing components. Some odd (but not bad) choices: No compact drivetrain (but a compact option for the smallest chainring), a Sachs front hub (made by Coda) with 36 holes, the aforementioned Rigida rims, a RaceFace seatpost and crankset, Shimano Deore XT derailleurs, shifters, the parallelogram V brakes with matching levers and rear hub. A Ventura needle bearing headset. I was pleasently surprised to see that the bottom bracket and the hubs were like new. The coda front hub didn’t even need new bearings.
Starting a budget restauration
I didn’t want to start a “NOS orgy” and thus decided to reuse as many parts as possible, replacing worn and ugly parts by slightly more modern replacements without shedding too much money. So the Kalloy Uno stem was replaced by a Ritchey Comp, the seat is from a 2003 Cannondale. Tires are Ritchey Speedmax I rode on my CompLite. Rims are rather cheap Mavic A117 and I choose to use not so correct black spokes. Besides this new parts are only chainring, chain, cassette, some small parts like seatpost clamp, pulleys, bolts, cables, brake pads…
Purists will note that the decals do not match GTs 1997 style. Honestly I do not care about the 2010s style decals: The character with the paint like “Zaskar” lettering matches the 1990s character of decals with the single color resembling more the 1993 style.
In the end the whole rebuild took around 20 hours with most of them polishing the frame, building wheels and disassembling and packing all bearings with grease. I had to buy new parts for another 130€, keeping the cost of the project well under 300€.