The reborn GT has been making lots of progress over the last few years, and 2006 should be something of a watershed for the company. The last models carried over from the “old” GT have gone and there are some tasty new treats in store.
Recent Avalanche incarnations have had universally good reviews, and it’s not hard to see why. You’re getting a lot of bike for not much money – the Avalanche 1.0 Disc you see here packs a RockShox J3 fork (with lockout), Deore/LX transmission mix, Tektro hydraulic brakes (which bear a remarkable resemblance to Shimano’s Deore units) and Truvativ cranks for a trifling £569.99. You even get SPDs on it. The same butted 6061 frame features on the non-disc 1.0 for a hundred quit less and the 2.0 Disc, which gives you an RST fork, entry-level Shimano bits and Tektro cable discs for £369.99. There’s also a £299.99 Avalanche 3.0 Disc with a plain-gauge frame and a V-braked 3.0 for £249.99. Going the other way, there’s the Avalanche Expert (£799.99 with RockShox Tora fork, SRAM X-9 transmission and Shimano Deore brakes) and the range-topping £999.99 Avalanche Pro featuring a Kinesis Superlite frame, RockShox Recon fork and an LX/XT component mix.
As the iDrive XC, the iDrive 4 platform was the first of the reborn GT’s next-generation iDrive designs. The 2006 version looks the same in profile, but the 100mm travel frame is completely new. It’s got some lovely cosmetic touches on it – we particularly like the bullet-tipped seatstays with internal gear cable routing. Specs across the range are impressive. This is the £1,899.99 iDrive 4 1.0, with a complete Shimano Deore XT groupset, Fox Float R 100mm travel fork and some top-flight finishing kit – DT Swiss XR4.1D rims, Thomson post and the like. There are three other bikes in the range, kicking off with the iDrive 4 4.0. The entry-level bike gets SRAM X-7 transmission and a RockShox J3 fork. It’s only got V brakes, but then it does have the same frame as the 1.0 and costs £799.99.
The mid-travel iDrive 5 was introduced in 2005. We’ve only ridden a 5 briefly, but we liked it a lot. We’ll try and get some more miles in on an ’06 bike – the frame is unchanged from 2005, with changes limited to components. The line-up mirrors that of the iDrive 4 range, with fairly similar (or almost exactly the same in the case of the 1.0) specs at broadly the same price points. The bike pictured is the entry-level £899.99 4.0 – RockShox J4 fork, Tektro Auriga hydraulic discs, SRAM X-7 transmission.
Need more travel? The all-new iDrive 7 may fit the bill. Last year’s Ruckus bikes were the last hold-out of the old-style iDrive system, which is now no more – the 7 uses a pumped-up version of the same suspension configuration as the 4 and 5. We really like the look of the 4 and 5 models, but we have to say that the 7 isn’t conventionally attractive. It looks better in real life, though, and there’re some neat details. All three bikes in the range have 7in of travel and run 12mm rear through-axles and twin-and-bash crank setups (does no-one like to go fast any more?). Fork travel is at least 150mm, with the mid-range £1,699.99 2.0 packing a 170mm travel Marzocchi Drop-Off Triple. Entry level is the £1,499.99 3.0 with a Manitou Stance fork, Truvativ cranks, X-7 transmission and Hayes Sole brakes. Top of the tree is the 1.0 at £2,499.99
Top of the GT travel tree is the all-new IT-1. This has been in development for quite a while, with various prototypes putting in appearances at trade shows over the last few years. It’s the first internal transmission bike from a major manufacturer. The bike works along similar lines to the G-Boxx bikes built by Nicolai and other niche brands, but rather than a Rohloff hub-derived transmission the IT-1 uses the guts out of a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub. You don’t get the range or number of gears as a Rohloff, but you still get a decent range. You can tune which particular range of gears you get by swapping chainrings up front. Inevitably each gear is going to end up feeling quite a long way from the next, which might limit the DH race appeal of the IT-1 – it’s more in the heavy-duty freeride camp. You get 7-9in of travel at the back from a Fox DHX5.0 shock, while a Fox 40 RC2 fork does the business up front. Cranks are Shimano Saints, while the UK bikes will run Hope Mono M4 brakes. Start saving now – an IT-1 will cost you £3,999.99.
With the introduction of the i-Drive 7 bikes, the Ruckus name is now confined to a pair of jumpy bikes. The top one is the Ruckus UF, or “Urban Freeride”. It’s a singlespeed chromoly bike aimed at street riders, kind of bridging the gap between BMX and trials bikes. You get chromoly three-piece cranks and a ground-clearance-enhanced 28:14 gear ratio. The fork is an 80mm travel Suntour Duro D with 32mm chromoly stanchions. Tektro cable brakes slow it down. The UF is £499.99 – one size fits all. The bottom bike is the Ruckus DJ, essentially a pure dirt jump bike. The 6061 aluminium frame has huge box-section chainstays, hydroformed top tube, extra gussets and rather nice forged BMX-style dropouts. They’re horizontal and have integrated chaintugs so you can singlespeed it if you like. The £799.99 asking price gets you a Manitou Stance Static fork, Truvative Hussefelt cranks, bar and stem, Hayes Sole brakes and SRAM X-7 transmission. In a similar vein to these two there’s also a range of Chucker hardtails.
If your tastes lean more towards the XC, the Zaskar Pro could be for you. At £1,299.99 it’s a full-bore speed machine built around an all-new Kinesis-built frame – hydroformed main tubes, tidy new dropout design and lovely silvery finish. Spec is straightforward – 85mm travel Reba SL fork, full Shimano XT groupset, Syntace bar and stem, Crank Bros Candy C pedals and Tioga tyres. We like.
Finally we have the slightly-quirky ZUM range, essentially slick-shod MTBs for blatting round town. The top two (1.0 and the 2.0 shown here) also have road bike 50/34 chainsets for added speed. The 1.0 has an LX groupset including disc brakes and costs £899.99. The 2.0 has Deore and V-brakes and is £599.99 and the 3.0 and 4.0 have Alivio and Acera and cost £469.99 and £349.99 respectively.