GT Upgrade?

hellsteeth54 Posts: 111
edited February 2009 in MTB buying advice
Ok I'm just gonna throw this one out there...

I bought my GT Avalanche 2 about a year ago, having been out of MTBing for a loooooong time. I wanted something relatively cheap to get me back into it, with a view to maybe splashing out on something a bit more advanced later on. Well, I've definitely got the bug, but don't think the budget can stretch as far as a new bike for a while, so have thought about just upgrading some components on the GT.

Some things I've looked at:

- New forks, not keen on the XCR, they seem really heavy and take a lot of force just to get them moving, and the preload dial does sod all. Something like a Tora air fork looks good, and there seems to be some good deals at the minute.

- Brakes, the Tektro Hydraulics are ok, to be honest I just don't like the huge levers that need 2 fingers to operate. WMB has just reviewed the Shimano M575 and rated them well, and cheap as chips, but the Avid Juicy 3s seem uber popular.

- Wheels are unbranded, I saw a pair of Bontragers in my LBS the other day for £100 down from £150.

So, first of all, do you think the frame is worth keeping? And if so, what would you upgrade first? Any components you can recommend, or know of good deals at the minute? I think I've given a rough idea of my budget.

Most of my riding is XC stuff, nothing too drastic, but anything to make the bike lighter would be fantastic!


  • my avid juicy 3 's are my first disc brake and i am impessed. good feel and power
    m-trax ti 1000- back when i was rubbish.
    evo 8 - i am continuing to be rubbish.
  • Whytepeak
    Whytepeak Posts: 2,616
    The frame is worth keeping and upgrading, but dont go mad.
    First upgrade should be the fork,
    For the price Toras are excellent, bit heavy but performance is great. Get one with motion control - so you can tune it to your needs.
    Then wheels, buy the lightest you can, again be sensible and bear in mind the type of riding you intend to do, a good, handmade wheelset will transform a bike. Pop down to LBS suplies and see if they will build you a pair.
    The review of the shimano brakes seems good, value wise, they should give you the confidence you need to launch the trails!

    For pure weight saving, upgrade:
    then stem bar and seatpost
    them od bits aroung the bike.
    Weight lost in the centre of the bike will have less effect than weight lost round the edges.
    Now that we are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. ROMANS 15:1
  • and there is nothing wrong with the frame. so get a fork - wheels and brakes.
    m-trax ti 1000- back when i was rubbish.
    evo 8 - i am continuing to be rubbish.
  • Andy B
    Andy B Posts: 8,115
    1st upgrade should be forks. Reba's if you can afford them, or Recon's or Tora's

    Then tyres or wheels, whichever you can afford (folding tyres can save a lot of weight (up to 200g) for not much £££) Good wheels handbuilt are well worth the cash (XT & mavic, or Hope & Mavic from Merlin or Stif)

    Most brakes are designed for 2 finger braking as that's what most folks use, although some do only use 1 finger, I prefer 2 fingers as it just feels right for me.
  • Northwind
    Northwind Posts: 14,675
    Yep, the tektros are hardly bling but they work as well as anything else when they're set up right, should be low on your priorities I reckon. Wheels, fork and contact points maybe. Tora air isn't actually much lighter than XCRs, but a lot better.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • dav1
    dav1 Posts: 1,298
    Is there anything on the bike that has worn out and requires replacing?
    Is anything on the bike limiting its performance when you ride it?

    If the answer to either of the above is yes then you have your answer, from the list it sounds like the fork fits the bill as it probably needs a strip down and service which on an XCR is barely worth the money and effort if you want it gone anyway.
    Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
    Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
    Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
    Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

    Carrera virtuoso - RIP
  • I've had a GT Avalanche 2 since 05 and slowly upgraded it. This is what I've done which may or may not help you:

    New RS Recon 351 forks, 95-130 adjustable travel. These have made a huge difference to the bikes handling and my confidence on it.(cost about £200)

    Shimano Deore Hydraulic (M535 I think) again much better than the Tektro's (which I was constantly having to fettle with!!!) (£100)

    With mine the shifters and brake levers were integrated so you might need to upgrade the shifters, I initially got some ebay Shimano Lx which worked well. But my freehub seized over xmas so I got a new rear wheel with 9sp cassette and upgraded the shifters to the new 9sp shimano slx. Working a treat now. (in all about £130)

    I have also put some continental verticals (cheap deal on Stif) and again I'v been surprised had much difference this had made to the handling.

    Been riding it around Afan and the Gower since I bought it and the frame is still going strong. Definately worth upgrading if you don't have the money to buy a new one.
    Good luck!!
  • Ok thanks all for the prompt input!

    Some good comments there, I think I'll sort the fork first, seems to be the thing that'll make the most difference. As I said, I was looking at the Tora air, but what would be the difference between those and the Recons? Also, I've just noticed the Reba SLs going for £250 on Merlin, would they be worth the extra cash?

    Gibbonsimon, that seems pretty similar to what I would upgrade to, but as far as your fork goes, does the u-turn make a noticeable difference? And does it affect the handling/ride of the bike when you have it fully extended?

    Sorry about the huge number of questions!
  • The GT was my first step back in to Mtbing after a good fews away from the sport. It came with some RST's which you could adjust the travel from 85-120mm. But these always bottomed out, felt like pogo sticks and I never quite felt in control on some of the descents around Afan/GC.

    I went for the Recons as I like the option of dropping the travel for climbs and extending it for the downs, Plus i think they were a bargain from CRC and since having them fitted last summer I immediately felt a difference (which you should after spending £200 on a set of forks). I think my speed on the downhills has increased and my confidence definitely has and I'm having more fun on the bike now. When they are fully extended the front does tend to lift on the climbs but maybe it's my riding position (the RST's did this aswell).

    There will be many more people on here that can tell you the benefits of x fork over y fork, but upgrading the fork on mine was probably the best thing I have done.
  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    The Recon is Tora with steel legs. Heavier, but sturdier. Many sub options though. I would have a top end Tora over a bottom end Recon though.

    Reba is lighter still.
  • Ok been having a closer look at the Toras and Recons on SRAMs website, didnt realise how many sub-options there are!

    The Tora Race is the top end model, can be picked up for around £250 at the minute, but the 318 U-turn model is about £100 cheaper. There's a bit of weight difference, I presume due to the air-sprung nature of the Race. Is there a difference in the "ride" between an air and a coil sprung?
  • Oh and on the subject of contact points, whats your opinion of the charge spoon saddle? I can get it for £20 now, but would it be an upgrade on the WTB that came with the bike?
  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    For 2009 the Tora has two series the XC series (XC, SL, Race) and Trail (318, and 302). The latter series has a heavier construction and goes upto 130mm of travel. The same goes for recons.

    Race and 318 get the superb Motion Control damper.
    SL and 302 get the more basic turnkey damper.
    XC (confusingly this model has the same name as its series!!!) has just a rebound damper.

    As the GT can take upto 130mm fork, the 318 coil uturn would be a good bet.
  • Thanks supersonic and gibbonsimon, I think I'm gonna go with the Tora U-turn.

    I've just seen some cheap ones online, but they are only available with a 195mm steerer, 205mm has sold out. Is this a problem, will the shorter steerer tube only fit certain bikes?
  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    You need to measure the tube of the existing fork.