Dirt Rag Magazine

Review: GT Xizang

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Like a Phoenix, the GT Xizang rises from the ashes of the 90’s, when stars like Rishi Grewal and Juli Furtado marked the history books with their global domination of cross-country racing. Times have changed and cross-country racing isn’t the center of mountain bike culture like it used to be, but there’s still a place in many hearts for a bike like this.

GT’s product people, (some of whom were around for the last Xizang in the 1990’s) asked themselves “What would this venerable machine look like decades later?” After much consideration the Xizang has been updated with 29-inch wheels, hydroformed titanium tubing, and modern standards such as a tapered headtube.

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Every individually shaped tube has a story of its own. The gusseted top tube tapers, the down tube is curved as it meets the head tube for fork clearance, and the chainstays are finely sculpted vertically for tire clearance, then horizontally for compliance out back. At the tail you’ve got laser cut dropouts, a post disc brake mount and a replaceable derailleur hanger. Polished to a high luster, the Ti tubes are adorned with baked-on decals. These details are all worthy of drool, especially around the area where the chainstays meet the seatpost, crossing over to the top tube and forming GT’s signature “Triple Triangle.” The pièce de résistance is the GT-embossed cap on the aft end of the top tube.

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While sold as a frame only, my demo-truck refugee was well equipped with a Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain, RockShox SID 100mm fork, Formula disc brakes, DT-Swiss wheels, and skinny 2.1 Maxxis tires. No complaints here! Syntace was kind enough to hook me up with a VRO stem and bar to help me get the cockpit a little taller.

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Ride wise, the story begins at the front of the bike, where a steep 72-degree head angle suggests twitchy handling. Not so. I got used to it within the first mile and liked it this way, first noticing the bike’s quickness through tight switchbacks, then its excellence on super-slow, technical rock climbing—I’m going to give the low-ish 12-inch-high bottom bracket some credit for this as well. Then there’s the long 17.5-inch chainstays. Back in the day, long stays were the way to go for DH stability. And that still works. On paper this bike looks like an XC racer, but in reality it kicks butt in a wide variety of conditions. I give the geometry an A+.

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As for the comfort of Ti in a 29er hardtail format, I give more kudos. The comfort is great for a “seasoned” rider like myself, and combined with the geometry and tubing selection the Xizang delivers a highly refined ride. Refined in that it’s comfortable, while never being noodley or flexy. I tried to get the Xizang to break into bad manners, but it never materialized. Riding away from an accidental 3-foot drop was the proof in the pudding as I survived what could have been a trip to the hospital.

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The frame-only price of $2,220 is up into boutique builder range, but I am quite impressed with what GT has done here to use the full capabilities of an overseas production facility. That, plus a killer ride quality adds up to something uniquely special.

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Vital stats

  • Wheelbase: 44.17 inches/1121.9mm
  • Top Tube: 25.39 inches/645
  • Head Tube Angle: 72-degrees
  • Seat Tube Angle: 73-degrees
  • Bottom Bracket: 12.1-inches/307mm
  • Chainstay Length: 17.5-inches/445mm
  • Weight: 24.5lbs./11.11kg
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (tested)
  • specs based on size tested
  • Price: $2,220 (frame only)
  • Made in Taiwan

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