Avanti 29 Competitor – thoughts so far after 500km on gravel and single track (grade 1-4).
Note – I am an amateur rider who frequently crashes because of poor judgement and co-ordination.
I am going to start with the RRP which at $4,199.90 for a Carbon Bike is pretty darn good. I have been using it factory spec’d and so far am impressed.
Balance and feel. After years on 26inch bikes with full suspension and hardtails I thought it would take me longer to get used to the bigger wheels – especially when on tight single tracks. I have been amazed at how fast I have transitioned. I hit Grade 4 routes today after only 30 minutes and felt totally comfortable. I am pretty uncoordinated and this is the first bike I have jumped on and been immediately able to ride with no hands. I have shortened the handlebars about 1.5 inches which suits my frame and the long distances we are going better. It still feels fine.
I am finding that many drops and jumps that I may have struggled over in the past I can roll over now at higher speed – the big wheels make a huge difference. I didn’t think I would ever ride a hardtail again. I have had a Cannondale and Specilized Full Sus bikes and loved the softness of the ride. After a day in the forest I don’t feel I am loving the hardtail. I love the power I keep on the uphills and it forces me to ride well balanced on the downhills rather than cruise down seated.
I should add that Del Woodford who is based at AvantiPlus Waipuna in Mt Wellington gave me a full bike fit after I had done some rides and this made a huge difference to my comfort and control (more on this another time). I have changed the saddle but that is such a personal preference thing and because I am doing such long hours I needed a saddle similar to my roadbike seat as that is what my butt is used to.
SRAM X9 Rear Derailleur. After using X0 I thought I would find this less reliable and clunky. I have been pleasantly surprised. If I was going to start upgrading this bike I would not start with the Derailleur. The reliability has been proven so far as I have never used a double on an MTB before and I am doing heaps of gear shifts as I get used to it. That said I would never go back to a triple again.
Front Forks/Suspension. It is too soon for me to make a call on these. I still have to work on getting the settings right. This has proved difficult as I am continually changing the weight I am riding at. I have started a couple of rides with 5 litres of fluid and kit so weight is well over the air I put into the shocks based on my weight.
Brakes. Because I am so bad at riding I use the brakes a lot more than better guys and girls. I punish them. They have been good but I have always liked Shimano brakes and may do an upgrade to these. I have used the XTR before and they are legend. However if you are an average to good rider and not doing long gravel downhills at high speed the Elixir 5 that the bike comes with are probably fine.
Kenda tyres and wheels are great – no complaints there at all. I will probably get better and tubeless wheels for the weight and convenience for the race but for New Zealand riding you don’t need anything other than what the bike comes with! I have used these on gravel, trails and 6-10 inch deep mud. I was pleasantly surprised that they were great both uphill and down in the mud with no loss of traction – especially for a tyre that does not appear heavily treaded.
The Alloy version of the Avanti 29er is the Aggressor 29.2. RRP $ 2,399.90 – if I was getting my first Mountain Bike this is what I would buy! If money was no object however I would always get carbon. It is stiff and yet forgiving on your body. However if you are not doing 4+ hour rides the alloy is worth a good look.