I just picked up this 2014 GT Zaskar Elite 9R from PricePoint for $1,099 with free shipping.

GT Zaskar Elite 9R Bike 2014 | Cross Country Bikes | GT Bicycles

Not much on this forum about this bike, but after a bunch of analysis and shopping, it seemed like the best "bang for the buck" for my first MTB. I road ride and race CX and wanted to do some XC racing in the spring and summer, hence the purchase.

I looked at most XC-oriented 29 hardtails under $2k. The big-name bikes with these specs were all right at the $2,000 mark. The 2015 Diamondback Overdrive Pro made my short list and was very comparable with the Zaskar, but the lowest price I could find was $1,600. I also considered the Airborne Goblin, but prefer the Shimano components on the GT over the Sram components & Avid brakes on the Airborne.
My Zaskar, with a 22" (XL) frame, weighs 26.9 lbs. straight out of the box with no pedals. Although I don't have direct knowledge, my understanding is the Diamondback and the Airborne in the same frame size are right at 30 lbs. The wheels on the GT are 2,250 grams, which isn't horrible for OEM but lighter aftermarket wheels certainly exist. The GT could be brought down to 25 lbs. with a new set of wheels, going tubeless, and a couple of cockpit upgrades. If anyone wants a spreadsheet of the components and their weights, send me a PM.

I received the bike on Friday and assembled it this weekend. It came from PricePoint just needing the handlebars and the front wheel installed, but I decided to completely disassemble it first so I could check fastener torque, grease on bearings, etc. Everything was fine, and even the derailleurs were pretty well dialed in.

Hoping we have a little milder winter than last year so I can get some seat time in!

GT Zaskar Elite 9R-gt.jpg