Distinguished by its triple triangle design, the seatstays meet the top tube ahead of the seat tube, helping to disperse shock beyond your rump. The 6061 aluminium backbone features a stout hydroformed down tube and zero stack headset (the bearing race nestles in to the top of the head tube), and its burnished finish suits the industrial aesthetic.
Like last year, up front it’s the exclusive-to-GT Suntour X100 fork. Gaining 2mm in aluminium girth over Commençal’s suspension spec, it helps the imposing look as much as the design helps resist flex. It’s a very active fork, ripping through the 100mm of travel at the drop of a hat, and features the same mechanical lockout. This means it lacks a blow-off valve to save the internals should you take a locked-up hit, and sadly it also suffers the same top-out feedback.
Shimano hubs front and rear make this just about the most simply serviced wheel package of the final six. Kenda’s Nevegals are a straightforward, multi-condition square knobbed design and are certainly versatile in this 2.1in width.
As we’ve come to expect in recent years, GT supplies killer drivetrains at each price point. Here we’ve got a 9-speed set with Shimano LX rear derailleur and Deore front and shifters. A Shimano Octalink crankset is also a plus over flexier square taper systems. A SRAM freewheel is the only deviation from the theme while, like Iron Horse, Tektro Auriga hydraulics adequately bring things to a halt.
A full wide, 31.8mm oversized GT bar, moderately short stem, and locking grips makes for a sorted front end, balancing a fine line between play biking and trail abuse. Hammering home the competitiveness of the package, a rare treat is inclusive clipless pedals, making the Avalanche ready to go from the off.
Poised for anything, the Avalanche’s relaxed front end keeps the weight back and the rider out of trouble in most circumstances. The fork dives through its travel too quickly, but it at least offers a plush action and tracks effectively through the most disjointed terrain. Seated or honking, the GT feels supremely stable, thanks largely to the butch configuration of the tubes and complementary cockpit.
A nearly unbeatable sum of parts and potentially the most reliable build thanks to a largely mid-level Shimano groupset. Although no wimp, the rather specific (in long-term spares terms) and over-eager action of the fork may be the only limiting factor, especially if you’re a big rider. However, as a frame to build on, or something to mistreat for more than just a fleeting season, the GT appears to be one of the best choices around.
MBR RATING: 8/10