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Back at the start of spring, I bought a GT Avalanche Sport mountain bike. I was pretty excited to write about this bike as soon as I got it but to properly review a bike it needs a good few months of testing. So now, after a few hundred miles of riding across a good mixture of terrains and conditions, I feel ready to share my thoughts on the GT Avalanche Sport.
I’ve got a long history with the GT Avalanche. Back in 2008, I bought the GT Avalanche 2.0 and that has been my only bike for almost 14 years. That bike travelled thousands of miles with me, on adventures all over the UK to forests, mountains and trail centres. Then, in more recent times, that old hardtail became my source of escapism throughout the stresses and strains of the numerous lockdowns of 2020.
It’s safe to say that I absolutely loved that bike, and I was also sort of proud that I’d kept it going for 14 years, lovingly maintaining it whilst resisting the temptation of upgrading to something newer and shinier.
But then I spotted the newest version of that bike, the 2022 GT Avalanche Sport, on sale online for an incredible price. And I decided it was time to upgrade.
GT Avalanche Sport Spec
- Frame: GT 6061 T6 Aluminum Frame, Triple Triangle w/ Floating Seat Stays, Internal Cable Routing, Dropper Post Routing, Boost 141 Forged Drop-outs w/ Disc Brake Mounts, Zero Stack Tapered 1 1/8″- 1.5″ Head Tube, 27.5/29″ Wheels
- Fork: SR Suntour XCT-DS, 100mm, Hydraulic Lockout and Preload adjust
- Headset: Semi-integrated, Sealed Cartridge, Tapered
- Stem: GT All Terra, 6061 Alloy, 31.8, 8°
- Bars: GT All Terra Alloy Riser, 25mm Rise, 8° Sweep, 6° Rise, 720mm Width
- Front Brake: Tektro M275 Hydro Disc, 160mm Rotors
- Rear Brake: Tektro M275 Hydro Disc, 160mm Rotors
- Front Mech: Shimano Altus
- Rear Mech: Shimano Alivio
- Shifters: Shimano Altus, 9-speed
- Speed: 18
- Rims: WTB SX19, 32h
- Front Hub: Alloy Disc, QRx100
- Rear Hub: Alloy Disc, QRx141
- Front Tyre: WTB Ranger Comp, 27.5/29 x 2.25″
- Rear Tyre: WTB Ranger Comp, 27.5/29 x 2.25”
- Seat Post: GT All-Terra Micro Adjust Alloy Seat Post, 30.9mm
- Chainset: Shimano MT101, 36/22
- Chain: KMC Z9, 9-speed
- Cassette: Sunrace, 11-36, 9 speed
- Pedals: GT Slim Line Flat Pedal
GT Avalanche Sport Review
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the vast majority of people reading this review will have skipped straight over that list of specifications. Maybe there are the odd few people that will have gone line by line down that list and understood exactly what components have been used to make up this bike.
But most people just want to know what this bike is like on trails, not on paper.
Who is the GT Avalanche For?
The GT Avalanche Sport is at the upper end of entry-level or lower end of intermediate on the mountain bike scale. But by that, I mean a proper mountain bike – not one of those cheap and heavy bikes with front suspension that are made to look like mountain bikes but wouldn’t last five minutes on proper trails.
The GT Avalanche is built for off-road riding. It’s designed for trail centres and will handle rooty, rocky terrain without issue, and will survive the small jumps and drop-offs that an average trail centre will offer.
For someone who is looking to progress their mountain biking from green and blue-graded trails to something more challenging like reds and occasional blacks, this is a great bike at a great price.
And I speak from a lot of experience when I say that GT Avalanche bikes are built to last. After all, my 2008 GT Avalanche lasted 14 years of regular use.
How Does It Perform?
Although I now live in Warwickshire, I grew up right next to Cannock Chase and I still head back there as often as I can to ride the MTB trails there. So although I’ve done lots of riding around my local trails and bridleways here in Warwickshire, they are about as tame as you can get, so the proper test of this bike came with a couple of loops of the Cannock Chase trails.
I find Cannock Chase to be a pretty good place to test a bike out as it has a good variety of trails. Follow the Dog is a hugely popular trail and that means there are some negatives at certain times of the year. The trail can become very worn after spells of bad weather, with ruts, exposed rocks and roots, and deep puddles full of thick mud. Perfect conditions to put a bike through its paces.
At the other end of the scale, the blue-graded Perry’s Trail is a smooth, fast-flowing track with endless berms and rollers to test out the handling of a bike.
The debate over 26” and 29” wheels is old news, but as I’ve been riding a bike from 2008 until now, this was the first time I have owned a 29er. The difference between my old bike and my new bike was huge – literally huge. The bike, although a size L like my previous bike, this one felt big and took some getting used to in the first couple of rides. But those 29” wheels made light work of those roots, rocks and ruts of the trails and the frame design allows a natural flex in the bike that compliments the front fork to smooth out the trail and makes a comfortable ride.
The bike is designed for cross-country and off-road riding and the gearing of the bike shows that. There is a gear for even the steepest of climbs and I found myself powering around the trails with ease. Moving up and down the gears, and adapting to the terrain is a great experience. A far cry from the clunky old gears of my 14-year-old bike. But at the other end of the spectrum, I soon found maximum speed on the smooth gravel sections and was left wanting a couple more gears to eat up the miles more quickly.
- Solid frame and great components for a really competitive price
- Versatile enough to handle a variety of terrains with ease
- Robust and hardwearing – designed to be on the trails for years
- The standard tyres really struggle for grip on dry and dusty trails
- Great for climbing but not built for speed
The Bottom Line
My 2008 GT Avalanche was the bike that made me fall in love with mountain biking. The 2022 GT Avalanche is the bike that rekindled that love.
My new home county of Warwickshire is relatively flat and it doesn’t offer much in the way of singletrack trails or steep descents. For those reasons, much of my cycling in recent years would have been better suited to a gravel bike. I’ve mainly been riding on bridleways, country lanes and canal towpaths. In that respect, buying the 2022 GT Avalanche could be seen as a mistake for me.
This bike is designed to tackle rough terrain. It performs at its very best on wet trails where it rolls over roots and rocks with ease. It climbs rocky trails with ease and makes light work of technical features.
All features are somewhat wasted in Warwickshire.
But the bike did remind me of one very important thing: there’s absolutely nothing better than throwing your bike onto your roof bars on a weekend morning and heading out for an adventure somewhere a bit wild. That’s what mountain bikes are made for.
Our Top Pick
GT Avalanche Sport
A great hardtail mountain bike at a great price.
Perfect for beginners and intermediate riders who are ready to take their riding to the next level.