By Maurice Tierney,
Lucky me. I’ve been riding the new-for-2012 GT Xizang in preparation for a titanium grouptest in an upcoming Dirt Rag. Stoked I am—I always dug the GT hardtails back in the day (mid-90’s), so it’s something to write home about when one of your old favorites makes a comeback.
The Xizang was GT’s full-race machine back then, with many podium finishes by people like Rishi Grewal and Juli Furtado marking the history books. And while XC races aren’t always won on hardtails these days, the Xizang sure pays homage to the genre.
Lets take a look. Here she is in all her unpainted glory, thus showing off the finest welds a Taiwanese factory can make.
The details are enjoyable, especially around the area where the chainstays meet the seatpost, crossing over to the top tube and forming GT’s singular “Triple Triangle”. The GT-embossed cap on the end of the top tube is the badge of honor.
Updated for the ‘teens the Xizang is, with 29-inch wheels, a tapered headtube, and hydroformed seatstays and chainstays.
The replaceable derailleur hanger is nice, and of course it’s disc-only, no V-brake tabs (When was the last time I saw these anyway?)
While sold as a frame only, my demo bike is well equipped with Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain, racy Rock Shox Sid fork, Formula hydraulic brakes, DT Swiss wheels, and skinny 2.1 Maxxis tires. Check out the details like the brake mount here…
And Syntace was kind enough to hook me up with a VRO stem and Vector Carbon Lowrider bar to help me get the cockpit a little taller. I sure like its adjustability.
Rides have been great on this bike, I have wanted to get on a Ti hardtail for a while, and this fits the bill quite well. The racy 72-degree head angle was a concern at first, as I thought the bike was going to be twitchy, but no. I got used to it and I like it this way. “The Way” Is quick through switchbacks yet not unstable at speed.
The Xizang is even good on super-slow technical rock climbing, so I give the geometry an A+. And I have to say the ride is pretty comfy in the gluteus maximus (rear end), while still being able to get into a heap of trouble without flaking out (I’m talking about that 3 foot drop I did on the Schultz Creek trail the other day, I survived, and thanked the Xizang for pulling through).
Retail is $2,220 for the frame, and it’s available in S, M, L, and XL (tested).
Watch for our full, long-term review of the Xizang in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag, and if you subscribe now you’ll get it delivered straight to your door.