Tested: Avanti Competitor S Plus 2

A dependable option that gives you what you expect most the time, the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 is a trail bike that does the job but doesn’t set the world alight doing it. Is that a bad thing? Let’s discuss how the bike performed in the sort of situations you’ll come across on a trail ride first, and then ponder whether the Competitor S Plus 2’s lack of flair is a positive or a negative.

Plus bikes are ideal for tricky terrain, and a safe bet for beginners, also.

In terms of the bike’s spec, you can check out a comprehensive run through of what comes on the Competitor S Plus 2 in our First Bite, so let’s jump into what happened when we hit the dirt!


How does the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 ride in the singletrack? 

With 140mm of front suspension paired with 130mm in the rear, the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 is a bike we would define as a long travel trail bike, and the key to any good trail bike is the performance in the singletrack, so let’s start by discussing that.

The Competitor S Plus 2 provides a stable, balanced ride when the trail gets twisty and narrow. Its middle of the road geometry numbers paired with a long 450mm chainstays means that the Competitor clings to lines well, and is very predictable and planted through corners when you setup well and trust the traction of the big tyres.

This much grip changes everything.

When cornering aboard the Competitor S Plus 2, we found it far more critical than on other bikes to use the traditional outside to inside cornering method.

Compared with a bike like the Cannondale Habit, for example, the Competitor S Plus 2 doesn’t like being thrown in on the inside with a foot out and the rear wheel drifting, it prefers to use its stable geometry and predictable traction to cut a smooth arc when the going gets twisty. The exception to this is when you’re faced with repeated tight turns, where we found the best option was to  lift the rear wheel rather than drift it, as once you lose traction with the plus tyres it’s hard to regain it, whereas lifting the rear in tight, repetitive turns still gives you the traction of all your weight over the front tyre.


What about when you’ve got to go uphill as well?

In undulating singletrack, the Competitor is a comfortable bike to swap between seated and out of the saddle positions. This is a good thing, because you’ll find yourself cycling through these positions more than you would on a 130mm 29” trail bike, as the tradeoff for the Competitor S Plus 2’s confidence inspiring plus tyres and long-legged suspension is a weight of more than 15 kilograms once you’ve slapped on a set of pedals.

The Competitor S 2 Plus’s weight also becomes apparent on longer singletrack climbs, as well as punchy technical efforts. One saving grace for the bike’s weightiness though is the traction provided by the plus tyres, and the very active rear suspension, which mean unless the terrain is very soft or slippery you’ll almost always have traction.

Not having to worry about traction means you can focus on putting the power down to get the Competitor moving, rather than taking the line that you would have to take on a bike with regular tyres or less travel.


The Competitor has 140mm of travel up front, how does it go on rowdier trails? 

The Competitor is a surprisingly capable performer when the going gets rough, or steep. As we noted in our First Bite, for a trail bike in this relatively budget price point, Avanti has done a great job in speccing the bike with adjustable and reliable suspension front and rear. Once we’d set up the Yari fork and Monarch RT shock to our liking, we took the Competitor out on a couple of the more technical trails near Flow HQ.

140mm of travel, add the cushion of the plus tyres and you’ve got quite a lot of bounce to enjoy.

In the steep stuff, the Competitor holds a straight line impressively, and performs well under braking with its bulky rubber and planted rear end. The biggest limiter in throwing the Competitor into steeper sections is the Shimano M365 brakes, which lack the power of more premium Shimano offerings and require some serious forethought about your braking points when riding steep and technical terrain. In rough and choppy sections of trail, we were also impressed by this sub 4k bike’s ability to soak up the chunder.

The limiter on the Competitor S Plus 2’s performance in rocky or rooty terrain is preserving the tyres because we found running them at mid-teen pressures gave the best performance characteristics, but we flatted the rear twice pushing through technical rocky sections. These flats were a combination of the relatively thin WTB Ranger tyres and soft Alexrims rims, which were about as robust through rocky sections as an iPhone screen going on a date with the pavement.

Plus tyres are not immune to punctures, finding the right tyre pressure to suit the terrain is paramount.

We were riding the Competitor S 2 Plus in places that perhaps we shouldn’t on the occasions when we got flats, but we wouldn’t want to run higher pressures in the tyres, as running high pressures gives the bike no traction and makes it very bouncy, which are sketchy sensations we like to keep to a minimum!

If your riding involves lots of super rocky stuff, the Competitor can handle it, but we would recommend you swap out to a beefier tyre and wheel set combo.


I might still want to ride the odd fire trail, how does the Competitor S Plus 2 go on more sedate trails? 

Whilst we’re sticking to our guns in classifying the Competitor S Plus 2 as a trail bike, albeit one on the longer travel side for the category, it’s not the sort of bike that you’ll be wanting to take on sedate fire trail rides, or longer, smoother rides in general if possible.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times now, the Competitor S Plus 2 isn’t light. We can’t complain about this too much considering this bike is pitched as a budget oriented, confidence inspiring trail machine, but it does make the Competitor S Plus 2 a laborious ride on smooth, non-technical trails.

During our testing of the Competitor S Plus 2, we rode a few sections of fire trail linking up more interesting trails with riding buddies who we’d normally plod along just fine with, but aboard the Competitor S Plus 2 we finished these same rides feeling pretty hammered due to the Competitor’s portly figure and ground hugging tyres.

Despite our reservations about taking the Competitor S Plus 2 out on the fire trails or longer rides, having a lockout on both the front and rear suspension is a bloody brilliant addition if getting to the good stuff involves a road commute, as it does for us most of the time.


So, if the Competitor isn’t a ‘do it all’ style trail bike, who is it the right bike for? 

We’ve spent longer than we normally would in this review talking about what the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 isn’t, which has affirmed what this bike is perfect for. If you’re the type of rider who’s on a budget, but wants a bike that gives you grins in flowy singletrack, or when the going gets just a touch gnarlier without getting to the stage where you’re thinking about putting on body armour, then the Competitor S Plus 2 could be the ticket.

Choose wisely, the Competitor ain’t for smooth trails.

If you’re the type of rider who’s willing to have a bike that requires a bit more grunt on the up and the flats as a tradeoff for traction, stability and confidence on the way down, than the Competitor S Plus 2 is worth a look.

All in all, the Competitor S Plus 2 is just like a soft serve from McDonald’s, you know exactly what you’re getting every time.


How did the parts go, is the bike good value for money? 

As we mentioned in our First Bite, and also our Avanti Range Highlights piece, the Competitor S Plus 2 is a bike that represents pretty good value for money at under $3500 bucks, and Avanti specced this bike very wisely, for the most part, spending their dollars where they really count.

Of course, the heart of any bike is its frame, and the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 is an all-aluminium affair with pronounced welds and solid feeling construction. The bike’s suspension platform is a four-bar linkage that Avanti call Tru4, it delivers stability and grip through a fairly linear stroke, which promotes keeping the tyres glued to the trail rather than floating or popping over it.

Avanti’s long-serving four-bar linkage provides smooth and supportive suspension.

The suspension is handled by RockShox, with their budget oriented Yari fork and Monarch RT shock. The fact that these are closer to the entry level of RockShox’s line and they delivered outstanding performance is a testament to how good the suspension of today is, and with rebound and air volume spacer adjustments available, as well as compression adjustment on the fork, there were more than enough knobs to satisfy our inquisitive tweaking.

The drivetrain was Shimano’s SLX 1×11, and as we said in our comprehensive test of the groupset, it’s bloody awesome! We set the gears up on the stand for 10 minutes when building the bike, and a half turn of the barrel adjuster a couple of times throughout testing kept the shifts going smoother than Chris Froome’s legs.

The smooth and crisp SLX drivetrain was a real highlight for us.

The brakes were handled by Shimano, and whilst their M365 brakes aren’t top of the line items, they do the job most of the time. On typical singletrack rides and undulating trails their power and modulation is fine, although their initial bite is on the weak side, so think about your braking points in advance.

The M365’s budget price point becomes more obvious when the going gets steeper, but if you’re getting into longer, steeper riding than upgrading to something like an SLX brake set isn’t a hugely costly upgrade.

The brakes felt nice under the finger, but aren’t particularly powerful.

Wheels and tyres play an important role on plus bikes, the tyres need tough casings but can risk being too heavy, the rims need to be wide and should withstand dings, too. The wheelset on the Competitor S Plus 2 uses Shimano Deore hubs laced to Alex rims MD35 rims, the 35mm width is necessary to support the tyre. During testing, we noticed the rear wheel needing a little TLC with a spoke key to return it to true.

The wide rims give the tyres tremendous support at low pressure, but did feel a little soft when ridden hard on harsh rocky trails.

With the mid-teen pressures that the WTB Ranger tyres need to be run at to give the best compromise between grip, damping and avoiding tyre roll, the rims ding and dent remarkably easy. They’re also not the lightest wheelset out there, perhaps a wheel upgrade down the track to something lighter and stronger would take all the great handling traits of the Competitor S Plus 2 and amplify them with better performance on the climbs, flatter trails and inspiring confidence to give it a bit more of a nudge when the going gets rough.

The KS Eten dropper post, despite having the external routeing performed well, and allowed us to get the best out of the Competitor not just on the descents, but getting low and tipped in (at least in our heads) through the corners.


Any final thoughts?

The Competitor S Plus 2 might not be the most radical bike out there in terms of geometry, suspension design or spec, but its overall abilities offer consistency, and you’re not going to experience too many surprises out on the trail. Despite a few niggling issues with the Competitor, it remains a bike that is excellent value for money and sits right in the sweet spot for the sort of bike most riders should be riding, especially on loose and challenging conditions.

If you’re someone who takes predictably solid performance over potentially outstanding performance, and you don’t want to re-mortgage your house to buy your next bike, then the Competitor S Plus 2 is worth a look!

Flow’s First Bite: Avanti Competitor S Plus 2

The Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 has one of the loudest paint schemes out there.
The Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 has one of the loudest paint schemes out there.

Upon closer inspection, though, the 1×11 SLX drivetrain and Zero finishing kit reveal that this chunky trail bike is more on the budget end of the price spectrum, despite its lavish paint scheme.


What is the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2?

The Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 is a 27.5+ trail bike, offering 130mm of rear wheel travel paired with a 140mm fork up front.

The Competitor S Plus 2 pairs 140mm of travel up front with 130mm in the rear.
The Competitor S Plus 2 pairs 140mm of travel up front with 130mm in the rear.

The vibrant red frame is very sturdily built, with solid welds and chunky pivots that stick out upon closer inspection. Avanti integrates the main pivot with the bottom bracket on the Competitor S Plus series with a system they call ‘Trucore’, which they say creates more rear end stiffness and strength.

The Bottom Bracket and Main Pivot aboard the Competitor S Plus 2 are integrated.
The Competitor S Plus 2’s Bottom Bracket and Main Pivot are integrated.

Despite the sturdy design of the Competitor S Plus 2, one aspect of the frame that was overlooked was proper chainstay protection, as in only a couple of short rides aboard the bike thus far, the slim, clear chainstay cover has copped a beating and woken up local residents on early morning rides.

If we were to purchase this bike, we’d be popping on a proper chainstay protector before rolling out of the shop.

No chainstay protector makes for a loud ride.
No chainstay protector makes for a loud ride.

What can you expect from the Competitor’s rear suspension?

The 130mm of rear suspension is delivered via a pretty simple four bar linkage arrangement, and the resulting suspension feel is supple throughout the stroke, but a bit linear feeling. Luckily the shock features a wide range of adjustments to dial in the ride qualities, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

Avanti's suspension system, called TRU4 is a fairly simple four bar linkage.
Avanti’s suspension system, called TRU4 is a fairly simple four bar linkage.

Is that external cable routing?

Moving on from the chunky hardware and bulging welds, the cables on the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 are all routed externally, and the downtube mounted rear brake and derailleur cables are neatly executed.

One blemish to the otherwise well thought out routing is the externally routed dropper post. As the last mount for the cable outer on the frame is on the top tube, the line runs loosely and almost entirely exposed from the end of the top tube to the tip of the saddle, the exception of the KS provided a mount that attaches to the seatpost itself.

A welcome sight for anyone working on their own bike.
A welcome sight for anyone working on their own bike.
There's not really a way around this, but it still looks ugly.
There’s not really a way around this, but it still looks ugly.

What bouncy bits does it come with?

The suspension at both ends is handled by RockShox. The Yari fork has a similar chassis to the venerable Pike RC, with 35mm stanchions, the ability to install bottomless tokens, as well as rebound and compression adjustments. The difference between the two forks is that the Yari uses the ‘Motion Control IS Damper’ instead of the Charger Damper found on Pike models.

The different damper is noticeable if you’ve ridden a Pike in the past, but the Yari still offers excellent performance, especially at this price point. With the range of user-friendly adjustments available, you’ll be able to get the front-end setup in no time.

The RockShox Yari is a solid performer.
The RockShox Yari is a solid performer.

The shock is a Monarch RT, which offers fully open and locked out compression settings as well as rebound adjustment. We like the decision to pair the Yari and the Monarch RT, especially at this price point, as with their simple adjustments they increase the ability of the rider to fine tune their ride, and the ability to lockout both ends increases efficiency on smoother trails or when riding on the road.

The rear suspension is handled by a RockShox Monarch RT.
The rear suspension is handled by a RockShox Monarch RT.
The suspension choices for the Competitor S Plus 2 are sensible, and offer a variety of adjustments for different conditions.
The suspension choices for the Competitor S Plus 2 are sensible and offer a variety of adjustments for different conditions.

Considering the Competitor S Plus 2’s portly figure and wide rubber, locking out your suspension on smoother terrain will make a big difference, especially on longer rides.

There's lots of rubber on the ground at all times aboard the Competitor S Plus 2 with the 2.8" WTB Ranger tyres.
There’s lots of rubber on the ground at all times aboard the Competitor S Plus 2 with the 2.8″ WTB Ranger tyres.

What have Avanti specced in the shifting department?

The drivetrain is also a real winner. We can’t believe just how well 1×11 SLX just plain works, and minus the loss of the double downshift option XT/XTR shifters have, so far our shifting has been hammering home perfectly every time.

Our only complaint with the drivetrain is that with pedals, the Competitor S Plus 2 weighs in on the wrong side of 15 kilograms, so we wouldn’t mind seeing a bigger lowest gear than the 30-42 that comes as standard. We feel that a 28-tooth ring on the front, or speccing the 11-46 XT cassette would give riders a better range of gears for a bike as weighty as the Competitor S Plus 2.

Shimano's 1x11 SLX groupset offers outstanding performance at this price point.
Shimano’s 1×11 SLX groupset offers outstanding performance at this price point.
With pedals, the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 weighs in at over fifteen kilograms.
With pedals, the Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 weighs in at over fifteen kilograms.

What’s the finishing kit like?

The Zero (Avanti’s in-house component manufacturer) components such as the saddle, stem and handlebar look and feel up to the job, but we didn’t understand why the bike came with very thick push on grips. Not only were they squirmy, but they were unusually thick, which didn’t feel all that comfortable underhand. We’ve changed these out for a set of lock on grips for the review.

The stock Zero grips are about as comfortable as an economy flight from Sydney to London.
The stock Zero grips are about as comfortable as an economy flight from Sydney to London.

The 27.5+ wheelset uses Alexrims rims laced to Shimano Deore hubs and is shod with 2.8” WTB Ranger tyres that converted easily to tubeless. Run at mid-teen pressures, the tyres deliver the oodles of traction we’ve come to love from plus bikes.

The braking is handled by Shimano with their M365 hydraulic disc brakes. Whilst they certainly aren’t at the high end of the Shimano range, hooked up to 180/160mm rotors front and rear they do the job, and are a testament to how well modern componentry works, even at the lower end.

Shimano's M365 brakes offer consistent performance, but a bit less power than more premium offerings.
Shimano’s M365 brakes offer consistent performance, but a bit less power than more premium offerings.

Their overall feel is excellent, but one indicator that they’re a lower spec model is the lack of initial power in comparison to an SLX, XT or XTR brake where you can feel the power of the initial bite. The more gradual power the M365 brake provides requires you to think about your braking points a bit further in advance out on the trail.


What’s the geometry like?

A look at the geometry reveals the bike isn’t overly slack, low or long for a bike with this amount of travel, where we’re starting to see some manufacturers go quite aggressive with their geometries, however at this price point Avanti are clearly aiming for a bike that provides stability and confidence on the trail, rather than a bike that is super flick able, and demands the rider makes bold decisions and throws the bike around.

On paper, the Competitor S Plus 2 looks like it would suit the beginner or less aggressive rider.
On paper, the Competitor S Plus 2 looks like it would suit a beginner or less aggressive rider.

The 450mm chainstays in every size are a standout measurement that shows the intended audience of this bike. Whilst lots of experienced riders appreciate the flickability a shorter rear end provides, the slightly longer chainstays give the Competitor S Plus 2 a bit more stability, perfect for a newer or less flamboyant rider.

The 68.5 degree head angle isn’t overly slack either, but is a good choice from Avanti to get more weight over the front wheel, as the plus tyres and 140mm fork can feel vague through weaving singletrack if there’s not enough weight over the front.

Plenty of stack and a reversable stem allows for a range of cockpit adjustments.
Plenty of stack and a reversible stem allows for a range of cockpit adjustments.

How are we poised heading into the full review?

So, despite a couple of niggles, which are somewhat understandable at this price point, the Competitor S Plus 2 looks like a very solid trail bike at a great price that’ll allow both beginners and riders looking for a simple trail bike to have a blast out on the trails.

We're interested to see where the Competitor S Plus 2 shines out on the trails!
We’re interested to see where the Competitor S Plus 2 shines out on the trails!

On our first ride, we were committed to attending a ride with a mate on some more technical trails than we would normally take a bike like this out on, but it performed surprisingly well, so we’re excited to see the bike’s capabilities throughout the remainder of the test.

Avanti 2017 Range Highlights

The name synonymous with cycling design from Down Under, Avanti, is looking mighty sharp for next season. We dropped by the 2017 product range showing to see what is new, what has changed and what we’re most looking forward to.


Torrent CS 7.2

Our last experience with the Torrent was a good one, and a quick glance at the new version looks like it’s really brought up to speed and will satisfy the spec-conscious folks out there.

Read our review of the previous version Avanti Torrent CS here: Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 review.

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Top class, the new carbon framed Torrent is a seriously hot option for 2017. $5999.

While it retains the same frame, the new top of the line carbon frame Torrent is a completely new beast and totally on the money. Fork travel takes it up one notch to 160mm travel and is now the incredibly desirable RockShox Pike.

Out the back the RockShox Monarch with the high air volume Debonair air chamber handles 150mm of travel at the heart of Avanti’s long serving Tru4 four bar suspension linkage design.

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A 160mm Pike lifts the game.

Gone is the double chainring from the 2016 model in favour of a Shimano XT 11-speed drivetrain with e*Thirteen cranks and chain guide.

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Single ring, yeeha!

For a cool $5999, we think the Torrent CS 7.2 is mighty good value, and it’s certainly good to go right out of the box.

Torrent S 2

With the aluminium frame the Torrent S 2 hits the spot with a new singe ring drivetrain, RockShox Pike, DT Wheels and a KS LEV dropper post.

$4299 will get you a very capable bike for hard all-mountain riding or enduro racing.

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Subtle graphics on bright colours, the aluminium torrent is tidy.

Competitor

One of the oldest names in mountain biking retains its place in modern day with four new versions of wallet friendly bikes, from a womens and mens entry level hardtail, and new for 2017 there’s a 27.5+ hardtail and dually added into the lineup.

The Competitor S Plus caught our attention, aside from its new-look logo and bright red paint the parts look great. Shimano’s new SLX 11-speed single-ring drivetrain adds serious quality and meets the demands of modern day riders who prefer the simplicity of the new wide range drivetrains.

We’ve got the new Shimano SLX on review, take a look at the affordable groupset here: First impressions, Shimano SLX 11-Speed.

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The all-new Competitor S Plus 2, $3499 of trail shredding goodness.
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2.8″ WTB Ranger tyres, RockShox Pike, no excuses.
The new Shimano SLX 11-Speed drivetrain looks and feels very crisp.
The new Shimano SLX 11-Speed drivetrain looks and feels very crisp.
The Competitor Plus, $2599. Bargain!
The Competitor Plus, $2599. Bargain!

Competitor C

The Competitor first got its name from the cross country race track, and the 29er carbon hardtail is still a seriously good option for the racers with a lightweight carbon frame and a focussed parts spec.

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Avanti’s top-end XC racer, the full carbon Competitor C for $3999.

For the full range of 2017 Avanti bikes, keep an eye on the site, all the new bikes will be up there shortly. Until then, get on over to your local Avanti dealer and get hassling!

www.avantibikes.com

 

 

First Look: Scott and Avanti 2016 Range Highlights

One of the benefits of living in Australia, besides riding to school in the pouch of a kangaroo, is that each year we get to see the new range from Scott and Avanti bikes a little ahead of the rest of the world. On a sunny Melbourne winter’s day (an anomaly) we took a look at much of the 2016 lineup from Scott and Avanti, and here are our highlights.


Please note, many of these bikes are super-early samples, so parts spec isn’t always 100% correct and they’ve been assembled hastily, so things might be a little screwy. If in doubt, consult your bike shop, and if pain persists, please see a doctor.


Scott

[divider]Genius[/divider]

Sheppards 2016 20 On the whole, Scott’s super adaptable, long-travel trail bike is largely unchanged for 2016. It continues to employ Scott’s super effective (if slightly tangled-looking) Twin Loc on-the-fly suspension control, which is at the heart of this bike’s do-it-all abilities.

Sheppards 2016 21
The Genius 710 gets a FOX 34 fork this year, not a 32. We do wish all Genius models got the same treatment, but it’s a good move.

There are, however, two extremely notable additions to the Genius platform; the Genius Plus (27.5+ wheels), and a new Contessa Genius (women’s specific).

Sheppards 2016 33
Not obese, just a little chubby. At first glance, you could overlook the size of the rubber on the Genius Plus, with its 2.8″ tyres. They’re not nearly as in your face as some plus-sized offerings we’ve seen. The Genius 720 Plus weighs 13.8kg with an alloy frame.

The Genius Plus is, for want of a better word, a ‘sick’ looking piece of kit. With its 2.8” Schwalbe tyres on 40mm rims and stoutly proportioned FOX fork, it looks pumped up to laugh at all the trail abuse you can dish out. Only the Genius 720 Plus ($4499.95) was on hand at this showing, but the higher specced 710 ($5999.95) will also be coming to Australia.

 

The frame uses the same basic architecture as the rest of the Genius line, but the rear hub spacing is 148mm wide (the new Boost standard) to accommodate the huge rubber. Compared to the Genius 29, the chain stays are 3mm shorter, and the head angle is half a degree slacker, at 67.5 degrees. Travel is 130mm out back and 140mm up front, though with the Twin Loc system you can shorten the rear travel to 90mm with the press of a button, or lock it out entirely.

 

Theoretically, you could run a set of standard 29” wheels in this bike, if you wanted to have lightweight set of hoops as well for cross-country use. It’s an interesting idea, but not one that we’d bother pursuing.

Sheppards 2016 34
40mm rims with 2.8″ tyres should make for amazing tyre stability.

What’s really intriguing is how small the weight penalty is for all this extra traction. The tyres are sub 900g, which is only a smidgen heavier than a 27.5” trail tyre in 2.35”, yet the volume difference is tremendous. The rims themselves have a small weight penalty too, when compared to a narrower rim, but having had the pleasure of running 40mm rims already for the past six months (we’ve been using the Ibis 741 rims non-stop – read our review here) we know the extra weight is a small price to pay for the extra support.

Sheppards 2016 37
The width of the fork legs, more so than than the tyre, is what really stands out on the 27.5+ Genius.

All up, the complete Genius 720 Plus weighs in at 13.8kg, and the higher specced Genius 710 Plus is only 13.2kg (lighter once you go tubeless). That’s pretty respectable.

We have to say, we’ve really changed our thinking about this new wheel/tyre size. When we first heard of it, we wanted to scream, but now that we’re learning more, all we can think about is riding faster and faster and faster with more control.

Sheppards 2016 25
The Contessa Genius 700. 12.6kg, $6399. Note, this bike will come with a RockShox Reverb dropper post.

The women’s trail bike market in Australia has been neglected for a long time, but Scott are doing their bit to rectify things with two models of the Contessa Genius coming to Australia in 2016.

 

To be fair, the Contessa Genius is a far cry from the all-out women’s specific efforts we’ve seen from the likes of Specialized recently. Rather than being an entirely new bike, differences between the Contessa and the regular Genius are limited to component choices (shorter stem, narrower bar, different grips and saddle) and aesthetics.

What is cool about the Contessa Genius is that has the same 150mm-travel as the regular Genius – it doesn’t skimp on travel, because plenty of women like to shred too.

[divider]Scale and Spark[/divider]

Sheppards 2016 42
So light we had to tent-peg it to the turf. The Scale 900 is under 9kg. Yes, it’s very expensive at $7549, but this thing is a World Cup race bike in every sense. For 2016, the Scale RC will only be available in 29er in Australia.

 

Scott’s World Champ and World Cup winning rocketships don’t receive any overhauls this year, but they do gain a grippier counterpart, with a new 27.5+ Scale Plus joining the ranks. Unfortunately the Scale Plus wasn’t on display, but the catalogue tells us it’s a more trail-oriented bike with a 120mm fork, shorter stem and generally radical attitude. It’s also keenly priced, at $2299.

Sheppards 2016 41
There are precious few single-ring drivetrains in the Scott range, which is a pity, as having no front shifter allows for optimum placement of Twin Loc and reduces bar/cable clutter.

 

Sheppards 2016 45
The Spark 700 Premium. 10.35kg of singletrack destroying fun.

Sheppards 2016 43

Sheppards 2016 22
Contessa Spark 700. Pretty flash colours – it looks like my wife’s Nikes.

[divider]Voltage FR[/divider]

When Scott launched the Voltage a few years ago, it was met with mixed reviews. On the plus side, it was versatile bike that could be adapted for everything from all-mountain, to slopestyle to downhill use. Unfortunately it was pretty free and loose in the rear end and its chameleon-esque nature left people unsure of what to actually do with it.

Sheppards 2016 27
Refreshed and ready to shreddy.

For 2016 the Voltage makes a return to Oz. There are a few similarities with the Voltage of yesteryear; you can still adjust the travel (170-190mm) and the bike is suitable for either single-crown or double-crown forks. Like the Gambler, it’s also designed for either 27.5″ or 26″ wheels, the smaller wheels giving you the option of dropping the chain stay length to a sneeze-and-you’ll-wheelie 410mm.

Sheppards 2016 26

There are two Voltage models coming to Australia. The 710, pictured here, is $5499 and weighs in 16.7kg with a FOX 36 RC1 with 180mm travel up front. For $3599 you can pick up the 720, which has a cheaper FOX/Marzocchi suspension package.


 

Avanti

Hailing from across the lake in NZ, Avanti have been producing some outstanding, no-nonsense workhorse bikes lately. We recently reviewed Torrent Carbon, and earlier in the piece we tested their Ridgeline cross-country 29er duallie. For 2016 Avanti have added a whole new model to their dual suspension range, and made a well-considered change in the Torrent line-up.

[divider]Competitor Full Suspension[/divider]

The new Competitor S (is it just us, or has Avanti had a Competitor since Adam was a boy?) is a 120mm-travel, 27.5″ wheeled platform that represents extremely good value. With two models, priced at $1999 and $2499, it’s a simple range to get your head around, which is ideal given it’s aimed at the consumer buying their first serious mountain bike.

Sheppards 2016 14
The $2499 Competitor S7.2.

Both Competitors share many of the construction elements found on the bomb-proof Torrent frame, but get a quick-release rear end to keep costs down. It’s small costs savings like that which have allowed Avanti to put more money into the areas which are more likely to be appreciated by a newer rider, things like a reliable drivetrain, good brakes and decent, tough wheels.

$2500 will get you the Competitor S7.2 with Shimano XT/Deore 2×10 drivetrain and RockShox throughout, while the cheaper S7.1 gets X-Fusion suspension and full Deore with down-specced brakes. Either way, these are a really dialled looking pair of bikes and we’re going to aim to review one in the coming months.

[divider]Torrent S7.2[/divider]

Sheppards 2016 19
The bombproof Torrent S7.2, $3999.

We really like the look of this one. The S7.2 is the premium alloy offering in the Torrent line, and it’s got the kind of no-stuffing-about component spec that we like. It’s good to see a 1×11 XT drivetrain, along with SLX brakes, and a Pike is a unbeatable choice up front. The new Kenda Nevegal X tyres look pretty aggro too!

Tested: Avanti Torrent CS 7.2

New Zealand is home to some of the best trails in the world, don’t we all know that, but how many know it is also home to a well accomplished bike brand we’ve grown fond of over the years, Avanti. Their latest range of carbon suspension bikes have impressed us, the Ridgeline we reviewed last year was excellent so we eagerly hit the trails with its bigger 150mm travel brother, the Torrent.

We tested the Torrent’s slimmer brother, the Avanti Ridgeline 2 with a carbon framed 100mm travel 29er recently and loved it. (review here)

Catering for the growing segment of the market, the Torrent with 150mm of travel, carbon frame, stiff FOX forks and a wide range drivetrain, ticks lots of boxes. How’d it go on the trails?

Avanti Torrent 18

[divider]Build[/divider]

Avanti have built their dual suspension bikes around the classic four-bar linkage system since the late 90s, and they stick to it for 2015. The proven design may not be specifically unique to Avanti but they do a great job of incorporating what makes the four-bar system so popular into a solid and reliable package. Laterally the Avanti feels very sturdy when given the good old rear end flex test, and whilst we had a few bolts shake loose during our first ride the hardware and massive one-piece rocker arm gave us confidence that it will last the distance.

Avanti Torrent 2
A squarely shaped carbon front end meets an aluminium rear, tied together with a massive one-piece rocker arm.

A carbon front end is mated with an aluminium rear end, giving the bike the best of both worlds. The carbon gives the Torrent a very direct, sharply snappy handling ride frame, whilst aluminium out back is impact resistant and a less expensive to manufacture. At 13.4kg though it’s not a featherweight.

Avanti Torrent 29

With a matte black finish and vivid green highlights, you catch a glimpse of the shimmering carbon glinting in the sunlight. It’s a beautifully finished frame, and while it may not have all the colour matching components like some of the big brands, it makes up for it with nicely subtle branding and lack of silly in your face acronyms plastered over the place.

Avanti Torrent 11

There was a noticeable lack of a chainstay protector, whilst the e*thirteen chainguide roller and Shimano Shadow+ derailleur keep the chain from slapping around too much, we’d still appreciate one for cleanliness sake.

Cable routing is internal for the front and rear derailleurs, while the seatpost and rear brake lines run down the underside of the frame. The cables up an the handlebars are in desperate need of a little grooming and organisation to neaten things up a little, we’d re-route the rear brake around the other side of the head tube, too, end definitely trim a few inches off all the cables and brake lines.

Avanti Torrent 14

Our medium size frame had provisions for one bottle, but no regular sized bottles would fit in the tight space without rubbing the frame, so it was a Camelbak only bike for us.

The geometry chart displays pretty neutral and modern numbers for a 150mm travel bike; a 66.5 degree head angle, 438mm chain stay length, and a 595mm top tube (medium size).

Avanti Torrent 31
Note the carbon material shining in the sunlight, nice nice!

[divider]Spec[/divider]

The Torrent is a real mixed bag of great components from all sorts of brands, while they do have their in-house component line, Zero, they don’t extend to much high end kit, so it’s only Zero grips that make it on to this high end model. From Shimano, Easton, DT Swiss, FOX, Kenda, Prologo and X-Fusion the Torrent almost has a custom build feel to it, the designers behind the bike must know what components would suit the frame’s nature, rather than shopping from just one catalogue.

Avanti Torrent 9

The new DT Swiss Spline X1700 wheels with fancy straight pull spokes felt light and fast to ride, although we did dent and put a wobble in the rear wheel, luckily they use conventional spoke nipples for easy maintenance. Perhaps keep in mind they aren’t touted as an enduro ready wheelset, so if you’re keen to race it hard, take a spoke key along too. Tubeless ready though, tick!

The Star Ratchet system in the freehub is a real winner, simple to maintain and provides a quick and solid engagement when you put the power down into the pedals. Our first ride on the Kenda Honey Badger tyres was not exactly on their ideal terrain to be fair, so they lacked bite in loose surfaces but on hardpack or slick rock surfaces they really held on nicely. Their low-profile and sparsely set tread combined with a big volume would be ideal for drier and more consistently hard packed terrain. We did slice a hole in the rear tyre during the violent rim denting incident, and the Stan’s sealant we used wasn’t enough to seal the hole, so in went one of those old school inner tubes for the remainder of the day.

Avanti Torrent 23 Avanti Torrent 8

The Shimano XT drivetrain paired with a double chainring and chainguide setup will please those who haven’t fallen victim of the single ring fashion and actually appreciate a wide range of gears. Single ring setups are definitely increasingly popular, but with a Shimano setup it will take some aftermarket conversion parts to turn this bike into a single ring setup with a gear range that isn’t too hard. The added clutter that comes with a double ring if offset by the excellent range of gears on hand, we loved dropping down to the small chainring and cleaning the steepest trails without grinding our teeth of blowing our knees apart. Double rings still have a place!

Avanti Torrent 32

Our test bike needed a bit of setup tweaking to remove the chain from dragging on the inner plate of the guide, but the bottom roller did a great job of silencing and securing the chain when trails got super rough. It’s a double chainring setup without the noise or any unwelcome surprise of a dropped chain.

While we welcome the sight of any adjustable seatpost on pretty much any dual suspension mountain bike these days, the X-Fusion HILO STRATE post with 125 of infinitely adjustable travel lacked the speedy and slick action that we’ve become used to with a the popular offerings; RockShox Reverb, Specialized Command Post or KS LEV. The cable tension was a little finicky to, finding the exact tension in the cable was vital to stop either the remote lever rattling noisily, or alternatively the seatpost dropping in height as you sat on it. We eventually got used to its lazy action, learning to allow a little extra time for it to drop or return. But without an adjustable post the Torrent wouldn’t have descended as well.

We set up the X-Fusion post’s remote lever inboard from the brake levers, and it was always within reach with the left thumb, it is quite an ergonomic lever that can also be mounted underside the bar in place of a left hand shifter if a single chainring conversion happened.

Avanti Torrent 26 Avanti Torrent 6

We love Shimano SLX brakes, they feel like the higher level XT brakes just without the pad contact adjustment which we rarely touch anyhow. The power and control was what we’d come to expect from these reliable and mighty stoppers. Our set required a top up of the mineral oil levels, but that’s a simple job that can be done at home.

Avanti Torrent 15 Avanti Torrent 7

It’s a full FOX affair with the suspension, and it’s great to see the beefy legged Float CTD 34 leading the charge, and the steering rigidity that you gain over a 32mm FOX fork is stellar. Our fork felt a bit lumpy when in climb mode, but felt nice and supple on the whole.

Avanti Torrent 17

For $5499 the spec list is fair, not particularly amazing value but you can see the worth in the hand-picked nature of the spec.

[divider]Ride[/divider]

The Torrent’s heart is set on singletrack, it’s a bloody lot of fun to let fly in the tight and twisties. The super-short 50mm stem makes for lightning fast handling when weaving through turns and making quick direction changes, and takes very little time to get used to. Punching down rough lines with the big FOX 34 fork up front was plain sailing, and once we knew how hard we could push the front wheel into the rough stuff, we rode the Torrent harder and harder (until we flatted…) and loved it.

Avanti Torrent 5

The four bar suspension offered more of a tight and efficient ride than a super plush one, the top of the stroke felt firm and allowed us to really spin on the pedals hard without the suspension sucking away our energy. The CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) rear shock might lack some of the suppleness of the high end versions, but the three adjustments were perfectly effective and we found the middle Trail mode to suit the Torrent’s suspension system until the roughest descents where we’d flick it over to descend.

Avanti Torrent 13

The short 50mm stem on our medium bike would normally be found on bigger travel and downhill bikes, while it really lifted its descending and fast handling it did made climbing a bit of a chore at times. The front end was challenging to keep trained in a straight line when we were searching for traction up steep gradients. The bar and stem is from Easton’s new over-oversize standard with a unique 35mm bar clamp diameter in place of a 31.8mm that is found on the vast majority of bikes these days. Sure the oversize cockpit is stiff and solid to steer with, but switching stems for a different sizes will require hunting down an Easton one, or perhaps other brands will jump on board and make 35mm cockpits too?

We would have been keen to try a longer stem, and perhaps pushing the seat forward at the same time too, just to put the rider in a more aggressive position for climbing and aggressive pedalling.

Avanti Torrent 30

On flatter terrain the Torrent wasn’t the type of bike that we found ourselves jumping up out of the saddle and sprinting all over the place on, perhaps it was the short reach, low gear range and slack seat angle that made us spend a lot of time spinning around pushed back into the saddle. But when trails turned on their heads, we were popping off drops and launching blindly into rocky chutes with real confidence.

With such a wide and useable gear range, the Torrent made light work of long rides. Steep pinches at the end of the day became achievable without hopping off and pushing, nothing good about pushing.

[divider]What are your alternatives?[/divider]

There are more options than ever in the long travel trail bike or all-mountain category (or whatever it is called) these days, you can thank the increased popularity of the enduro racing scene for that.

At 150mm travel, the Scott Genius blurs the lines of an all day trail bike with adjustable travel and category leading lightweight (review here). Trek’s Remedy comes in two wheels sizes and its supple and balanced suspension is a real highlight (review here). Cannondale’s Trigger 275 Carbon is worth a look if you’re after an all day adventure bike with a unique take on suspension (review here). A Flow favourite, the Lapierre Zesty AM uses electronically adjusted suspension, and that is so cool! (review here). For killer geometry and Spanish flair, the BH Lynx is a great and close option to the Torrent (review here). For some classic Colorado craft, the Yeti 575 remains in the catalogue for 2015 for good reason, check it out (review here). Giant’s Trance SX Advanced was a real winner with us, and would make for a great race bike for the enduro nut, (review here). Or a GT will please the heavy handed rider with its efficient feel and unique suspension linkage system (review here).

[divider]Verdict[/divider]

Our time aboard the Torrent was certainly a good one. We enjoyed the chance to ride a bike from a local (well, close enough) brand which presents itself without all the hype and mumbo jumbo of some of the bigger brands. The finish and appearance is sweet, the components has been well-picked to suit the bike’s vibe and the suspension performed really well.

If you ride on looser terrain, we’d recommend seeking out some tyres with more bite, and perhaps a single ring conversion to clean things up if you have the legs to push a bit harder. Perhaps seek out a stem length option too.

We’d happily take a local enduro race on with the Torrent, or pack a bag and ride all day. It’s been great, cheers, Avanti.

 

 

Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 First Impressions

The Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 is a bike for riders who believe that awesome descents have to be earned. For 2015, the Torrent is available with a carbon front end for the first time and with componentry that make it an outstanding bike in its category.

Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 5

The clean-looking Torrent has aggressive geometry, and 150mm of FOX-perfected suspension with a 34mm stanchion-fork (a welcome upgrade from last year’s 32mm fork). The bike is kept nice and slack – a 66.5-degree head angle – without pushing into the realms of slackness that’ll make it handle like a ride-on lawn mower on the climbs.

Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 7

Straight out of the box, the bike weighs in at 13.5kg (before converting it to tubeless – valves are included), which does put it on the slightly heavy side for an all-mountain bike with a carbon front end. The Torrent comes equipped with an aggressive-style cockpit, running super wide Easton 750mm bars and a 35mm stem. The drivetrain is a 2×10 setup, using an XT derailleur on the rear, but with a chain guide to keep things secure. The e*thirteen TRS 2 crankset isn’t one we see often, but these are a tough set of cranks. The DT wheelset is a very tidy affair, with a crisp sounding Star Ratchet equipped rear hub, even if the rims aren’t as wide as we’re getting accustomed to on this style of bike. We’re interested to see how the Kenda tyres go too, as we’ve only ridden the Honey Badger tyre once before, and then on the rear only.

Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 8

Avanti have focused on eliminating frame flex to give maximum handling precision and confidence. The rear end is stiff as frozen arthritis, with a welded rocker link combined with the Syntax X12 thru-axle system. This frame ain’t twisting.

Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 3

At $5,499.95, this bike is appropriately priced, especially given the carbon front end and quality running gear, while preserving the scope for weight-saving upgrades down the track. The Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 definitely looks like a great evolution from previous versions we’ve ridden over the years.

Avanti unleash the 2015 Torrent range

Avanti have just given us a look at their 2015 range, highlighted by a revised Torrent series, which we’re very excited about. We’ve ridden a number of evolutions of the Torrent in past years – including the 2014 Torrent 2 recently – and we’ve always found them to be remarkably smooth bike with well-sorted geometry and faultless construction.

The new CS 7.2 sits at the top of the Torrent line.
The new CS 7.2 sits at the top of the Torrent line. 27.5″ wheels, 150mm travel.

In 2015 Avanti have given the Torrent series a number of revisions. Firstly, travel has been boosted across the line-up, with 150mm front and rear now. With the travel increase also comes a slacker head angle (66.5 degrees) and a 5mm longer top tube. All these tweaks should make an already superb descender even better.

But even more interesting is the introduction of carbon to the Torrent range, with two carbon ‘CS’ models, plus a carbon frameset option. Unfortunately Avanti didn’t have a Torrent CS 7.1 on hand for us to check out, but we got a good grasp of what the range-topping Torrent CS 7.2 is all about, and also had a look at two ‘S’ series alloy-framed Torrents.

Below are some of our initial impressions and observations about the Torrent range. We hope to have one on test very soon!

  • Torrent S 7.1 $2799

  • Torrent S 7.2 3699

  • Torrent CS 7.1 $4499

  • Torrent CS 7.2 $5499

Avanti 2015-13
The alloy Torrent S 7.2, $3699.
The Torrent S 7.1, $2799.
The Torrent S 7.1, $2799.

For the two CS models, a carbon front end is paired to an aluminium rear, and the mainframe looks fantastic, very beefy through the down tube, with a PF30 bottom bracket shell and Syntace X12 rear axle. Frame stiffness was a highlight of the Avanti Ridgeline we tested recently, and the new carbon Torrent follows a very similar construction by the looks of it. We don’t have a figure for the frame weight, but the complete CS 7.2 weighs in at just over 13kg.

A stiff, welded link is a key element in the Torrent's robust construction.
A stiff, welded link is a key element in the Torrent’s robust construction.

Avanti have continued to utilise their Tru-4 suspenion system, which is a proper four-bar configuration, using a chain stay pivot very close to the drop out. This should ensure very little pedal feedback and a very active suspension feel.

The new Marzocchi 350 CR is a 'bloody good fork' according to Avanti's Brent Burrows. We've been hearing a lot of positive talk about the performance on new Marzocchi products.
The new Marzocchi 350 CR is a ‘bloody good fork’ according to Avanti’s Brent Burrows. We’ve been hearing a lot of positive talk about the performance on new Marzocchi products.

While both CS carbon models are equipped with FOX CTD Evolutions series shocks, the alloy framed S 7.1 and S 7.2 get a Rockshox Monarch RT rear shock. Interestingly, the Torrent frameset gets a shock upgrade, with a Kashima FOX Factory shock.

In terms of the forks, it’s a mixed bag: the CS 7.2 gets a 34mm FOX CTD Evolution series fork, while the CS 7.1 gets the same fork in a slimmer 32mm format. Brent Burrows, Avanti’s mountain bike product manager, explained that he felt there is a market of riders who want longer travel but don’t need or want the extra beef of a 34 fork.

On the alloy Torrents, Marzocchi and X-Fusion are represented. These aren’t forks we see all that often, but they look great, the Marzocchi 350CR in particular. The X-Fusion Sweep fork on the Torrent S 7.1 is also highly acclaimed, and we’re looking forward to actually giving one of these a ride!

Avanti 2015-33

Dropper post routing can be run internally ‘stealth’ style (perfect for X-Fusion Hi-Lo post on the Torrent CS 7.2) or through the top tube, popping out just before the seat tube junction for posts that have external actuation.  Only S 7.1 misses out on a dropper.

On the carbon CS models, any unused cable ports (for instance, if you decide to run a single chain ring) can be fitted with the supplied ‘blanks’ to keep the frame neat and smooth.

Neat 'blanks' fill any unused cable ports.
Neat ‘blanks’ fill any unused cable ports.

In keeping with the push towards wider rims, the Torrent range comes with fatter hoops, with wide-ish DT1700 wheels on the CS 7.2, DT1900s on the CS 7.1 and Mavic 421 hoops on the S 7.2

Kenda Honey Badger tyres feature across the whole range. These gummy treads are quite low-profile with a 2.2” width. The CS 7.2 scores the new Kenda SCT tubeless-ready rubber, for easy tubeless conversion.

The TRS+ crankset on the CS 7.2 has a removable spider, allowing easy fitting of e13's spline-mount 1x chain ring option.
The TRS+ crankset on the CS 7.2 has a removable spider, allowing easy fitting of e13’s spline-mount 1x chain ring option.
With the longer top tube and slacker angles, Avanti have been able to spec a short and more aggressive cockpit without fear of cramping the ride.
With the longer top tube and slacker angles, Avanti have been able to spec a short and more aggressive cockpit without fear of cramping the ride.

All the Torrents feature multiple chain rings, bucking the 1x trend. Brent Burrows explained that he feels 1x is too limiting for the average rider, with a 2x system suiting most. The cheaper S 7.1 actually gets a triple chain ring for maximum versatility. However, going to a 1x system on CS 7.2 is pretty easy, as the new e13 TRS+ cranks can easily be converted to run the new spline-mount e13 narrow/wide chain ring.

avanti 2015 2 -36

The Torrent CS framset is a hot looking piece of kit. Included in the package is a headset and the new X-Fusion HILO Strate dropper post with 125mm of adjustment.

Unfortunately a test ride of these bikes wasn’t on the cards today, but we’re hoping to secure a Torrent for a few weeks on our home turf soon. Stay tuned!

Tested: Avanti Torrent 2

The Avanti Torrent 2 is an excellent all-mountain machine. It’s stiff, strong, has good angles, and rides aggressively and with just a few little touches it can become even better.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-44
The Avanti Torrent 2 in all its glory.

This 140mm 27.5″ all-mountain machine is a breath of fresh air from a local manufacturer (well, NZ anyway) and really sets the scene for Avanti to increase its trail presence. You can really trust this bike to hold up to the serious trail shredding.

[divider]Build[/divider]

The NZ bike manufacturer has a long history in our region (Nathan Rennie was with them back in his beginnings) but up until recently their bikes lacked that competitive look, performance, and design to match it with the big players in the market. All that has changed now and the Torrent is a worthy looking and performing competitor. To quote a fellow rider, “That’s an Avanti? I though they were average. That looks the goods.”

The Torrent looks and feels strong with large aluminium tubing, a tapered head tube and full cartridge bearings throughout the rear end. Its hydroformed sloping and squarish shaped tubes are reminiscent of a Giant Trance however its very different rear end sets it apart.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C2
Even if the head tube decals are something from the Transformers we still think the bike looks good from all angles.

The suspension platform is a 4-bar system and taking the words from Avanti: “The Tru4 4-bar mechanism positions the rear axle on the isolated seat stay. This optimises the “virtual pivot point” so the suspension system operates efficiently and independently of rider effects.” We found the performance of the suspension pretty good overall however you will see in our “Ride” notes that we did have few little set-up issues.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-31
The Avanti has another variants of a 4-bar linkage, with a Horst Link system.
WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C7
Just like the rest of the bike, the rear end and suspension is all strong and well made.

The geometry of the Torrent is great (if you like your bikes slack), and even greater that you can adjust it (if you like them less slack). The Torrrent ranges from a 67-65.5 degree head angle and up to a 5mm drop in the bottom bracket height. The chainstays are in the mid range however the bike was easy to manoeuvre and lifting the front wheel a breeze. We preferred the slacker setting, so that’s how we left it for the majority of our testing on the faster trails of Stromlo Forest Park.

[divider]Spec[/divider]

At a smidge over $3500 the Torrent 2 is very well priced, though there are some spec sacrifices to meet that mark. We’re not saying it has a bad spec, it’s just that it’s spec weaknesses are for a reason – to keep costs down.

Suspension is handled by FOX. Up front is a 32mm, 140mm-travel Float CTD fork and out back the 140mm travel is handled by an Float Evolution Series CTD shock. Both performed well for their lower end of the suspension chart and having the CTD is always a nice addition for on-trail adjustability. We did have some issues setting up the rear though and you will read later in this review.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C1
Simple, yet effective. Like a number of FOX forks we’ve tested lately, we felt these forks could have used a strip and re-lube.
WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-14
This is what makes the magic happen and if it’s not right you’re in for a bad ride. We found it hard to get the right balance between too soft (sucks for climbs) and too hard (sucks for the downhills) and ended up on the soft side. A little sacrifice on the climbs for a bit more fun.

The 2×10 drivetrain is taken care of with a mix of SRAM X9 and X7 components. The X9 Type 2 (clutch) rear derailuer is a must on trail bikes and matched with the e*thirteen TRS dual chain device was relatively quiet and secure. The e*thirteen crankest was an interesting (but great) OEM spec and the big burly cranks add to the feel of strength in the bike.

We did get some bottom bracket creaking pretty quickly but as with many a bike it probably came out of the factory with a little less grease than needed.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-35

Big strong cranks and 2x chain device worked well. We still prefer a single on the front and with ISCG tabs that’s an easy upgrade to the Torrent.

The stopping is taken care of by Shimano and even though Deore is a lower spec, the 180mm rotors on the front and 160mm on the rear did a great job of stopping us. They worked well and are easily adjustable, what more could you want?

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C3
As always Shimano offers great stopping power.

The wheels were a nice touch and Mavic have always been favourites of ours. The wheels are strong and the 142mm rear axle made the bike that much stiffer. Our only gripe with the wheels is lack of tubeless compatibility however we converted them using some tape and they held air without a problem. We noted no issues with the true of the wheels during our testing.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C6
A view of the Mavic hubs. We have always like Mavic and these hoops didn’t let us down. No quick release either – perfect.

The Kenda Honey Badger tyres are a good fast rolling opten however we changed them to something more aggressive from Maxxis as they were better suited to the type of riding the Torrent 2 was designed for (we also needed some tubeless tyres for the conversion).

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-C5
The Kenda Honey Badger is probably better suited to a XC machine.

We would have just loved to see a dropper seat post squeezed into the spec of this bike – getting off a bike to adjust the seat post quick release is so 2010. The bike has cable routing for a dropper so we recommend you go an add one ASAP.

 

[divider]Ride[/divider]

The Torrent preferred being pointed down. We ran the Torrent 2 in the slackest setting for the whole test period as we found it suited the strengths of the frame design better and more matched the target market. We did play on the steeper setting for a little but but quickly went back to slack.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-1

A shorter stem and wide bars gave us a more upright riding position – ready for more aggressive riding. This is a bike that wanted us to play a little more; 27.5″ is the new 26! The Torrent did take a little more work than expected to get off the ground, but that’s more a product of weight than it being an energy sapping design.

In a famous story, Goldilocks found one bed too soft, one bed too hard, and one bed just right and that’s how we felt about the suspension on the Torrent. We found it a little harder to get that “just right” feel and after some playing we actually ended up running the bike a little softer than recommended, which improved the handling on descents, however did add an extra log to drag up the hills. Not a worry though – we just used the CTD lever a little more to stop the bike sagging too much on the climbs.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-2

The stiff frame and rear end made the Torrent a cornering machine and when pushed hard in the bends the bike help up well. This is one reason why we changed the tyres. The Honey Badgers, while being great at straight line speed, just couldn’t hold the corners the bike wanted to. Once some more aggressive rubber was added the bike was able to corner superbly.

Big hits were comfortable on the Torrent and even though we were running the bike on the soft side bottoming out was never a harsh experience. We did tend to keep the bike in the “descend” mode most of the time when the trail was pointed down as the “trail” mode felt a little too harsh.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-3

Overall the spec of the Torrent worked well and we had no issues with anything other than previously mentioned. The brakes worked well and the larger 180mm rotor on the front was a great help. The e*thirteen device did its job however our test rider would prefer a 1 x setup. As mentioned previously our only testing issue was some noise from the bottom bracket under load and that would be just a simple re-greese to fix.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-4

[divider]Overall[/divider]

Overall the Torrent 2 is a great all-mountain trail bike. It rides well, has great geometry, handles well in corners, and takes the bit hits. It did lack a little on the climbs though and we think the bike is best suited to the person who prefers the descents (isn’t that all of us?). We also found it a little harder to set-up with the suspension and feel that you should ensure your local bike shop helps you out in the department. Also, we’d love to see a dropper post and a 1x set-up however you can always add them easily as there routing for there cables and ISCG mounts.

At $3649 it’s a great mid-level trail bike with an excellent frame that is worth of component upgrades down the line.

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-39
Even from far away the bike looks slack – that’s a good thing for the aggressive rider.

 

[divider]Test[/divider]

Test rider: Damian Breach

Rider weight: 72kg

Rider height: 172cm

Size tested: Medium

Changes made prior to testing: Grips, Tyres, Tubeless

Test location: Stromlo Forest Park

 

 

 

Flow’s First Bite: Avanti Torrent 2

Despite being somewhat a local brand (New Zealand) you don’t see too many Avanti bikes on the local trails. We think the 140mm Torrent may change that.

 

WEB_TEST_Avanti_Torrent_2-1-2

The Torrent 2 is a good looking, stiff, and very capable 27.5″ all-mountain machine. The 140mm travel market is pretty well saturated and you have to be a good bike to stand out in that crowd and on paper the new Torrent 2 really does stand out as a viable option against some of the bigger brands.

The all aluminium bike has striking looks and a good relaxed stance. Not that you’ll see it advertised anywhere but the geometry of the bike is adjustable via a little chip at the bottom of the shock. We love this little tune-ability and the aggressive angles of the Torrrent range from a 67-65.5 degree head angle and up to a 5mm drop in the bottom bracket height.

The standout features of the Torrent 2 are a Fox CTD fork and shock, Mavic Crossride wheels, e*thirteen cranks, and a mix of SRAM X7 and X9 components.  There’s even porting for an internally routed adjustable seat post should you want an upgrade.

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e*thirteen crankset matched with a 2x chain device makes for a pretty strong and secure drivetrain.
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“The Tru4 4-bar mechanism positions the rear axle on the isolated seat stay. This optimises the “virtual pivot point” so the suspension system operates efficiently and independently of rider effects.” – Avanti
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Mavic wheels are nice touch and something you see less of as original stock items these days. We’ve always had good experiences with Mavic and we’re hoping the same.  Not tubeless out of the box though so that’s a downer.
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FOX CTD front and rear gives some excellent on-trail tunability. We’ll see how much we need it, especially for climbing.
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The rear end of the bike is really stiff and our initial testing (one ride) showed it to work very well on the bigger hits and held well in corners.

So far we’re loving the whole package and with a few minor changes (the grips suck and we’ll be going tubeless) this bike is ready to be ridden hard.

We’ll be blasting the Torrent 2 up an down our local trails over the next few weeks and give you a full run down soon. On our first rides we found the Torrent pretty lively so we’re looking forward to see how much fun we can have with it.

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Tested: Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-34

FACT: There are almost as many bikes in the Avanti range as there are sheep in New Zealand. This well-regarded Kiwi brand has options from some of the sweetest beach cruisers going, through to triathlon, road and of course mountain biking. They’re very much the big little brand.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-2

The Ridgeline Carbon 2 is Avanti’s peak cross-country dual suspension offering; a taut and efficient 100mm-travel carbon main-framed machine. With a few long days on the trails planned scouting out the Port to Port MTB course, we thought the Ridgeline would be just the ticket.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-16

Build:

Magic plastic out front, metal out back. The carbon/alloy construction combo of the Ridgeline is a sensible choice, making for a light yet robust frame. That’s really the gist of the entire frame build – light enough, but built for the real world, where crashes and cack-handed riding happens.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-4
Alloy out back, carbon out front, and a FOX shock in between.

From the stout head tube, to the oversized PF30 bottom bracket shell and compact dimensions of the front triangle, this is a frame that is built to resist twist. The rear end keeps that theme running, with what Avanti call their Integrated Rocker, which is really just a massive welded rocker link. This link drives a FOX CTD Evolve shock, for 100mm of suspension travel.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-8
The beefy, welded rocker link is a the heart of the rear end stiffness. Note the cable routing for the rear shock remote lockout.

There are no undersized pivots, just large diameter bearings, all culminating in a Syntace X12 rear axle which ties the whole rear end together ferociously. Wibble wobble like jelly on a plate, she does not.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-6
Both gear cables are internally routed, while the brake and shock remote run underneath the down tube.

Lockout cables have the potential to ruin a bike’s clean lines like bird crap on a freshly polished Benz, but Avanti have done a decent job of preserving the bike’s aesthetics, with the shock lockout looping up to launch a surprise attack from behind the seat tube. The gear lines are internal through the front triangle too.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-18
With a short seat post and seat tube, we were forced to run the seat post just beyond the minimum insertion mark. Not advisable.

One element of the compact front triangle is the short seat tube, which is bizarrely paired with an overly short seat post. Our medium sized test bike was so low slung in this area that we had to run the seat post just beyond the minimum insertion point (DON’T DO THIS) in order to get the right seat height. As as many will attest, our test rider for this review is quite a stunted fellow. Taller riders will need to buy a longer post or opt for the more stretched-out ride and taller seat tube of a size large.

Spec:

Shimano XT is a truly ace groupset. When you say ‘shift’, its only answer is ‘how fast, sir?’ The brakes still have the best lever feel of any offering on the market (in this reviewer’s opinion anyhow) and while 2×10 drivetrains aren’t as hip and happening as the latest 1×11 setups, the gear range is much appreciated.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-24
Shimano XT all over.

Wheels are one of the most important items on a 29er, and they can really make or break the way a bike rides, so it’s fortunate the Avanti have gone high-end with the rolling gear. The DT X1600 wheels are light and the hubs have the hassle free performance you want, especially if you plan on tackling longer events or stage races on this beast.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-28
A good set of wheels is critical to keep a 29er feeling lively. The DT 1600s are up to the task.

Unfortunately the Kenda Slant Six tyres are an overall poor choice. Too narrow, too heavy for their meagre tread, and frustratingly stubborn in their refusal to be converted to tubeless. We wasted a lot of sealant trying to get these buggers to seal up before reinstalling the tubes.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-14
We don’t mind the tread pattern of the Kenda Slant Six tyres, but they’re very narrow and can’t be run tubeless, which lets the bike down.

Some will love the dual remote lockout, made by Shimano for Fox. It allows you to simultaneously toggle the fork and shock between the three compression settings: Climb, Trail or Descend. On the whole, we think it’s a great system, though occasionally we did wish we could just adjust the rear shock to Trail or Climb mode while leaving the fork in Descend. It’s the kind of feature that racers will undoubtedly love.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-27
This neat junction box allows both fork and shock lockouts to be actuated with a single lever.

For the price tag, we do think it’s a little disappointing that the Ridgeline misses out on a carbon bar or seat post. It’s still a good value bike, but some carbon in the cockpit would’ve been a nice touch.

Ride:

This bike oozes reliability on the trail. Despite some horrendously dusty riding, the Avanti never so much as murmured during our testing, remaining tight, true and quiet. That’s the exact traits you want if you’re planning on racing this bike, so you can just concentrate on the pain you’re in, rather than worrying about the bike!

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-1

With 100mm travel, you shouldn’t expect a plush ride, and the Avanti is certainly on the firmer side when it comes to suspension feel. Even though we had no troubles extracting full travel when needed, that upper half of the suspension stroke is fairly stiff. It kind of suits the bike’s style though, and we embraced the notion of switching the fork and shock into Trail mode and getting out of the saddle to attack climbs. With the firm suspension and stiff frame, it really responds well to hard efforts. We think that changing the tyres to a tubeless setup with slightly more volume would make a lot of difference to this bike’s compliance over the small bumps. We also diligently cleaned and sprayed fork legs with Finish Line Max Suspension spray before every ride, as we did find the fork had a tendency to get a little sticky in dry, dusty conditions.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-10
In dusty conditions, we found it important to keep the fork legs and seals clean and lightly lubricated.

Speaking of compliance, the saddle on this bike treated our undercarriage like we had just insulted its family. Damaging stuff. But anatomy is personal, so maybe it will suit you better!

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In terms of handling, Avanti have the numbers spot on for cross country riding. The 70-degree head angle is stable enough for all but the roughest, fastest riding and still sharp enough to slot into a single track corner nicely. With 447mm chain stays, it’s not overly ‘flickable’ but it settles into long turns well, and the climbing position is nice and neutral as well, so there’s not a lot of weight shifting needed to maintain traction. With some tyres that deliver a bit more bite, we’d like the Avanti’s handling even more.

Overall:

This is a very solid offering from Avanti, both figuratively and literally. As a cross country machine, it feels a damn sight more reassuring beneath you than many others, but without becoming too hefty. It’s a great overall package, and one we’d happily put in the same league as bikes like the Giant Anthem or Trek Superfly as a ready-to-roll marathon, cross-country or all-day machine. With a new set of tubeless rubber, and perhaps a carbon bar or post, the Avanti would reach another level too, so keep some change aside for these little upgrades down the line.

Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2-33

Flow’s First Bite: Avanti Ridgeline Carbon 2

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Avanti is a brand we’ve somewhat neglected here at Flow. Despite the popularity of the bikes both here in Australia and in New Zealand, this is the first Avanti we’ve actually had on test! Shame on us.

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The lines of the carbon front end are very sharp, as in looks-nice-in-a-suit sharp.

Avanti’s dual suspension range has three bike lines to suit your flavour of riding. There’s the all-mountain 27.5″-wheeled Torrent, the longer-travel 29er trail machine Coppermine and the racy 100mm-travel Ridgeline series too.

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Real world sized pivots and welded linkage plate. It’s all nice and robust.

With a two-day mission to film the trails that will be used for the upcoming Port to Port MTB stage race, we thought we’d opt for a lightweight, race-ready bike and selected the Ridgeline Carbon 2. With front and rear remote lockouts, narrow rubber and a geometry chart that is unmistakably cross-country oriented, this bike sure fits the bill for long days reeling in distant finish lines.

XT all over.
XT all over.

With a carbon front end and an alloy rear, the construction looks and feels robust – the frame is mighty stiff, especially out the back with sturdy 142x12mm dropouts using a Syntace axle. The bottom bracket shell is a solid looking PF30 affair too.

Internal gear cable routing keeps things clean (though we don’t know why the bike wasn’t configured so that the cables entered on the opposite side of frame from their respective shifters – this would have prevented cable rub). Faffing about with the remote lockouts took less time than expected, and the novel routing for the rear lockout works nicely. The Shimano-made lever actuates both fork and shock lockouts simultaneously, which is really ideal.

Tubeless ready rims, non-tubless ready tyres. This does not compute.
Tubeless ready rims, non-tubless ready tyres. This does not compute.

Interestingly, while the wheels are tubeless ready, the tyres are not. We wasted plenty of time (and sealant!) trying to get the Kenda Slant Six tyres to seal up, but it wasn’t happening. Our first move would be to get some new rubber on there. Setting up the Shimano XT brakes was a pleasure as usual, same with the XT 2×10 shifting.

We’ll be taking the Ridgeline to our favourite cross country trails over the coming weeks, but our impressions so far are positive enough that we’re already looking to test other bikes in the Avanti range soon.