GT have always delivered good value mid-price bikes with well balanced performance. If you’re a powerful rider looking for a hard kicking smooth-trail bike, try the latest Avalanche.
As a calm, controlled cruiser or commuter it's solid, secure and accurately enjoyable. But push the pace on serious trails and the soft fork and rock solid frame are punishing, not performance enhancing.
Ride & handling: Surefooted and easy cruiser, but punishing on more technical trails
To complement the Avalanche Disc's chunky cosmetics, GT have laid on a suitably surefooted, solid ride. The 100mm stem is on the long side for a contemporary trail bike; combined with the 660mm low-rise bar, though, it removes the twitchiness and demand for attention that less experienced riders complain about with short stems.
The underlying 69° head angle also gives an assured and calming influence on steering, even when the trail falls away suddenly or slides around under your tyres. The low bottom bracket boosts confidence and stability, although the short rear end will flick round fast if you need it to.
There’s no deviation or indecision in the frame either. The big tubes mean zero twist or tracking softness between your hands and the back wheel, and it dishes out power with similar solidity. Even our most powerful riders could only spin the rear wheel and send up big rooster tails of dirt when trying to find flex in the frame.
Its relatively short top tube will make it feel cramped for those determined to cough their lungs up, though. Add the weight (over 30lb) to dull acceleration and its default setting is definitely cruising rather than carnivorous.
The GT’s Suntour fork is a real ride limiter. Its soft coil-sprung internals are comfy enough when cruising over ripple bumps or dropping off a kerb – but they solidify and spike like stress relief putty as soon as you work them harder. There’s no top-out clang or loss of control, but they feel really punishing through your palms.
The supersized frame tubes create a similar amount of abuse through the chassis as soon as you’re out of the meadow and into the mayhem. Some testers likened it to doing drop-offs sat astride an anvil, and you only need a short rockery to show you which teeth are going to be sensitive in the next six months. The limited ground clearance is also obvious in rooty or rutted situations.
Frame & Equipment: Muscular looks combined with decent spec
Taking design cues from GT’s big ‘Force’ full-suspension bikes, the Avalanche frame gets some seriously oversized hydroformed architecture. The integrated head tube has neat front-only reinforcing flanges moulded into it, while the massive main tubes wrap round it for maximum weld area. The inverted coffin top tube and polygonal down tube with moulded throat gusset also share a long weld junction.
The top tube tapers to the trademarked GT Triple Triangle seat cluster, complete with overshot rear stays and seat tube punching through the top tube. The down tube flares to provide maximum overlap at the bottom bracket.
The chainstays are suitably chunky too, while the triangular section seatstays are relatively skinny to reduce impact sting. Neat forged dropouts include disc brake compatible mudguard/three-point rack mounts for commuting. Tyre space is limited though, so a narrow 2.3 will be your widest rubber in the wet.
The Shimano cranks are reasonably stiff and the Deore Shadow mech is a highlight. Tektro Auriga disc brakes are fairly communicative, with adequate stopping power through the 6in rotors. Nevegal tyres are fat and predictable enough, and we’ve no complaints about the Jalco rimmed wheels.