We often like to say the best way to learn how to carve up the trail is to spend some time on a hardtail. Nothing puts you in better touch with the earth than a hardtail, helping you feel what the tires and frame are doing before suspension components dull the trail's message. And, whether learning how to shred or just in the market for a solid, reliable, and fun hardtail, the GT Zaskar 27. 5 Elite Complete Mountain Bike is tough to beat. Of course, the skeleton of any hardtail mountain bike is its frame, and that frame informs every aspect of the bike's performance. GT has spent the better part of more than three decades studying this, and the Zaskar is a great demonstration of what its engineers have come to understand. The Zaskar 27. 5 frame uses a proprietary blend of aluminum alloys called Speed Metal Ultra, with each metal allocated specifically to various areas of the frame, including the top tube, seat tube, down tube, bottom bracket junction, and other areas wherein the demands on the material are unique to that particular section. The result is a fine tuned frame that's light enough to slay some cross country singletrack but tough enough to rip some serious all mountain trails, as well. A big portion of the frame's capability is owed to GT's famed Triple Triangle design. The seatstays are elongated to join the mainframe not at the seat tubetop tube junction, but further forward on the top tube. The seat stays are welded to the frame not just here, but also where they cross the seat tube. This configuration achieves several things. First, it shrinks the rear triangle. The tighter angles make it stiffer, for greater acceleration and less torque robbing torsional flex under load. Secondly, the fact that the seatstays stay straighter for longer before they join the frame means they are wider at the seat tube junction, again reinforcing lateral stiffness for greater stability and responsiveness. Of equal importance is the durability which the design affor...