This is the fifth placed GT Avalanche, but you can read the full feature in the July 09 issue, check out www.mags-uk.com/ipc for back issues.
GT Avalanche 1.0 Disc
Need to Know
Frame: GT Triple Triangle 6061 butted aluminium
fork: Suntour Mag 32 100mm with Speed Lock
sizes: S, M, L, XL
weight: 13.7kg (30.2lb)
Returning for a third season in a row with a tried and tested formula, GT seems to have
been hit worst in the pricing department, but thankfully the Avalanche retains the good bits and more from last year’s bike.
The GT’s defining trait is its Triple Triangle frame configuration, seatstays intersecting the top tube ahead of the seat tube, spreading rear-end feedback along the top tube rather than straight up the rear.
A concoction of 6061 aluminium and a changing-profile, hydroformed down tube helps maintain compliance. The average-height testers who rode it felt the position of this large was less cramped than the medium size tested last year.
Suntour’s Mag 32, the 32 referring to the fork’s stanchion diameter in mm, yet again is refreshingly plush for a budget shocker and has the useful Speed Lock switch. That said, we’ve got the same moan about this mode, as lofting the front wheel when locked causes a grating mechanical clunk to occur, the lack of top-out cushioning being very obvious. Still, as all of these coil-sprung variations on the SR theme that we’ve tested react the same, we can’t criticise this too much. At least when unlocked they provide a confidence to barrel into hits, as you sense that you’re getting the most from the modest bounce.
WTB’s SX24s, a popular choice among last year’s dozen, take care of the hoops, while stock Shimano hubs keep them spinning. Once again, Kenda’s Nevegal tyres tackle the traction. A no-nonsense pattern of square knobs at the fairly generous end of the 2.1in scale ensures confidence across a mix of terrain, although they tend to feel rather sluggish during tarmac downtime.
Shimano for the drivetrain, and never ones to disappoint on speccing, GT has squeezed a slimline XT Shadow rear derailleur into the mix. It makes you wonder about the sacrifice elsewhere, though. A splined BB arrangement, rather than the taper FSA in place, would have been a better upgrade in our eyes. Tektro Auriga hydraulics continue with the stopping business; reliable if not as subtle as the Avid and Shimano options.
We’ll forgive the slightly long 110mm stem, but a lot more fun could be had with a stubby equivalent. But at least the generous width of the GT riser aids confidence and stability along with solid in-house lock-on grips.
Butch in some respects, you feel as if you can barrel into all manner of trail obstacles. It remains the bike to chuck around, even with the longish cockpit, and is fairly forgiving in the rear, although helped by taller tyres. Yet again, the unfussy GT simply gets on with business, whatever you chuck at it, or chuck it off.
In a way, the Avalanche doesn’t shine in any one department; it just does everything efficiently. A versatility enables it to maintain a steady top-six position for a successive year, despite a significant price hike due to the current weakness in the distributor’s dollar-based purchasing power. There are no geometry niggles to iron out, important for a first-time buy where there’s no past experience to base overspecific layouts on. And most of the specification boxes are ticked, so there’s no rot to cut out before you even get started. It’s just saddle up and bomb.
Mbr rating: 8