GT’s triple-triangle frame design is a company hallmark. Rather than welding the seatstays to the rear of the seat tube they are extended and welded to the top tube, resulting in a third triangle being formed. Forces from the rear wheel are transferred to the long horizontal tube rather than direct to the seatpost — and therefore the rider’s posterior. The extra tubing also offers excellent anchor points for the cable and hose stops: the GT had some of the neatest, smoothest cable runs on test.
Of all the Suntour forks fitted, on paper the (exclusive to GT) X100 fitted to the Avalanche is the highest spec. Its 32mm stanchions mean the fork possesses more accurate steering than its stablemates, but it suffers the same damping problems. As well as diving into its travel, the lockout is mechanical, with no safety blow-off valve. This means that if you forget to unlock the fork at the top of a descent, internals can be damaged by large impacts. On top of that our sample also developed a squeak, as if someone had brought along their pet budgie.
A Shimano rear hub means you could walk into any bike shop and buy spares should anything go wrong. Eyeleted WTB rims should mean you get no problems in this department either: brass sockets help spread the loads from the spokes. Surrounding these are some of our favourite tyres, Kenda Nevegals: grippy, trustworthy treads in almost all conditions.
Tektro’s Auriga dual-piston brakes — while effective stoppers — split opinions among the test team. Some testers simply didn’t get along with their pointy lever profile. The throw of the pistons is also the shortest on test, making them more prone to dragging when dirty. The splined Truvativ Five-D chainset will outlast many of its square-taper cousins and an alloy outer ring also saves weight.
GT-branded stem and bars will gain you little status, but they perform fine. The oversize clamp ensures reduced flex. We can’t help feeling that the Avalanche needs a much shorter stem than the 90mm fitted. Atop the narrow alloy post is another WTB Speed V saddle that shares the single position problem with that fitted to the Kona.
Relaxed geometry means the GT is a very safe bike to ride. A slack head angle keeps your weight away from the centre of the front wheel, making it less likely that a trip over the bars will occur on steep terrain. The long top tube plus a longer-than-ideal stem require a bit of a stretch though: a comfy, if uninspiring ride.
‘Volvo-like’ comes to mind when riding the GT. It’s safe, reliable, unlikely to go wrong and pretty bombproof. There’s nothing wrong with this – it will serve any new rider well – as the shape allows you to ride through most problems. However, others on test are a lot more interesting to ride and will grow with you as your riding improves.
MBR RATING: 7/10