[Bike] – GT Avalanche 2014 Review


It’s been a month since I bought it and now it’s time for an official review 🙂

Specifications


As some may notice…


This is the women’s version of the GT Avalanche, so really, the real name is GTW Avalanche.

There is nothing wrong with a guy riding a women’s bike. The difference is usually a dropped top tube and a smaller bike at the same size rating.

Dropped top tube – Historically speaking, this is done so that women can wear skirts on bikes. For me on a mountain bike, maneuverability is always welcome. Having a dropped top tube means I can get into more positions without smashing my crotch. Yup, I definitely don’t want to smash my crotch, therefore I conclude this as feature for guys too. The guy version of the GT Avalanche also features a dropped top tube, but not sure if it is as aggressively dropped as the women’s version though.

Smaller sizing – Just buy a larger size. I am probably a size S on guy bikes, but nothing wrong with going with a size M on women bikes. (Might be a problem if one is sized XL as there is no XXL to move up to)

Clean of stickers


Edmonton has a bike theft problem. Having all these fancy stickers on the bike just screams “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” (Bonus points for knowing what song this came from!) To me this bike already screams sexy in its sticker-less natural beauty form, so I took them all off.

But these stickers look good though, throwing them away is a bit of a waste…


So I stuck some of them on to my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet. Because you know, “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” 😛

The drive train

This is definitely an area of concern. Snow, slush and salt is just all bad for the drive train.

How I take care of it:

Every day after the commute is done, I rinse it down with water.
Every week I wipe the chain, lube it, run it through the drive train and wipe off the excess


So far the rear is looking good, no visible rusting. In combination with the Shimano Deore, the shifting is as smooth as I can imagine it to be.



The front is looking good too, no visible rusting as well. Even though the Shimano Acera is a lower-end part, there is no problem with it so far.

Shifters


I have to angle the shifters down quite a bit in order for my thumb to have full access to the rapid fire mechanism. This is a slight design problem as the “window” that shows which gear I am in is now completely facing forward, or away from me.


Yeah, because it’s facing forward, everyone can see the gear I am in except me. Not a big problem for me as I am pretty good at remembering what gear I’m in. Design flaw? Maybe. Or maybe I just have short thumbs.


Can be quite convenient though, here I’ve managed to slip the bell closer to my grip. A more accessible bell is always a plus on a commuter bike.

Braking


This is almost critical in Edmonton given the amount of snow that we have. They can lock the wheel way better than a v-brake system since the braking mechanism is much further away from the elements of the road.


The system is hydraulic based so it is very responsive. The reach is adjustable, I like it further away so that I can have my fingers (with gloves) under it even with it pressed down.


To those who are v-brake believers, this is why they don’t work well in Edmonton. This is my other bike, the NEXT Challenger. Yes, it has a cheap v-brake system but physics don’t play nice. No amount of money will buy you a v-brake that works well when Edmonton turns them into ice.

Handlebar


Not especially wide, so you are not going to be getting crazy controls out of it. That slope between the grip and the middle will make mounting a pain or impossible unless it’s rubber band based. Which is why I have nothing mounted at those points.

Suspension fork


A Rock Shox 30 Silver TK. I have the rebound set to “turtle” mode, aka slower rebounds. Mostly a commuter bike, so smoothing out the occasional bump is all I ask of it. I can’t speak for what happens to it when it compresses to the maximum 100mm as I’ve never had it go that far. I have had it go down to 50~60mm and no problems there. One thing about suspension forks on snow/ice is the extra movement sometimes makes you think you slipped when it is just the suspension moving. So sometimes I make some corrective maneuvers when it’s not necessary. Not a big deal, but might give some people a scare.

Frame


Features GT’s triple triangle design. Supposedly gives you a stiffer frame. This looks like it has some bmx DNA to it and kind of rides like it has some bmx DNA to it. I think it makes sense on a mountain bike.

Saddle


I mostly ride off saddle, so not very important to me. The slim shape is good, gets out of my way. The nose is long enough for my thighs to grip on to it while riding out of saddle for extra control. For the times that I do sit on it, feels ok, nothing special. Cosmetically, I like how it has some purple highlights to match with the frame, nice touch.

The accessories

These are not part of the bike purchase, but they do add to the experience. Since I am reviewing the bike as a whole as it is setup, these will be included here.


CATEYE Velo 9. Was debating on either this or the Sigma BC 5.12. Friend has it and said it worked reliably for years so I got it too. The quick release mechanism is slide based. Not a big fan of it as it looks like it might break one day, but we will see. Other than that, very typical wired bicycle computer. Current speed (with comparison to average indicator), average speed, max speed, total time, total distance, CO2 offset, calories burnt and time.


Planet Bike – Blaze 500 XLR. Given the name, it outputs 500 lumens for 2.5 hours, a low mode at 250 lumens for 4.5 hours and a blinky mode. I bike at night in ok-lit areas (like I could technically see without a flashlight), running this in low mode (250 lumens) was plenty for me. At 500 lumens it can light up around five meters of road, plenty for me to react. When it comes to lighting up street signs (which are reflective) the range is stupid far. It lights up signs that are beyond the resolving capabilities of my eyes. Mini-usb rechargeable means I need a separate cable because everything like smartphone nowadays use micro-usb ports.


Knog Blinder 4 – Rear version. Four red LEDs, 44 lumens and claims 50 hours on eco-flash. In eco-flash, only two LEDs come on at once, alternating creating the flashing pattern. I personally use the flash mode where it flashes all four LEDs at once. Battery life is closer to 4~5 hours in this mode.


Integrated charging solution. The USB port flips out for charging! Quite convenient as that means you can charge practically anywhere anytime.


Zefal Deflector FC50. The most useless front splash guard I’ve ever used. It basically blocks splashes that would otherwise been blocked by the frame already. Basically, you are still going to get splashed in the front with these. I have them put on strictly because it came in as a package with the rear splash guard.


Zefal Deflector RC50. The complete opposite of its frontal counterpart. This is the most effective splash guard I’ve ever used. Never had a single dot of mud or splash on my back with these on. Despite the looks it is very stiff. I can put a wet towel on it and yes it will bend, but not enough to hit the wheels. So don’t worry about it flapping around. The grey part is reflective material, bonus!


A Diadora branded ring ring. I like the tone that it makes. However, the color scheme doesn’t really match my bike.

Oh well 😛

Conclusion

To shorten my review into a sentence? This thing rides like a dream.

 


 

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