GT's signature 'triple triangle' hardtail design, which joins the seatstays to the top tube just ahead of the seat tube junction, has survived almost unchanged for nearly two decades. GT has always claimed strength benefits; we've always been sceptical. Either way, it's a distinctive look which, in Avalanche 3.0 Disc form, won't cost an arm and a leg.
GT has opted for a compact rider cockpit that should, in theory, be newbie-friendly. However, the overall effect seems spoiled slightly by a surprisingly low handlebar which puts more of the rider's weight over the front wheel. Once you've grown accustomed to it, though, the benefits start to become obvious - a 'stickier' front end on steep climbs and better front-to-rear weight distribution through choppy sections of trail.
The triple triangle design, aside from boasting a distinctive look, also creates an extremely compact rear triangle which contributes to a ride character that varies between 'firm' and 'harsh', despite those generously proportioned 2.1in tyres. It's a good thing the Suntour XCM fork is quick to react, taking the edge off all but the squarest-edged of trail hits with just a trace of the over-harsh top-out that we've come to expect from this budget unit.
The brakes are adequate rather than spectacular, but riders with bigger hands may appreciate the longer than average lever blades which the GT shares with the Mongoose.
The WTB Speed V saddle - which blends beginner-friendly padding with plenty of support - and adjustable Alivio shifters are also common to both brands. The biggest component disappointment are the gears, which - for reasons we never got to the bottom of - just didn't snick into place with the smooth alacrity that we've come to expect on our test sample, particularly up front.
GT deserves kudos for getting some of the minor speccing decisions so right - from the upgraded shifters to a decent saddle. Tidy handling all round makes for a bike that'll handle most trail situations well, too. But the budget tyres and fork just aren't up to the job of disguising the reality: this is a potentially bone-jarring ride when the going gets rough.
© BikeRadar 2007