HALF FAT, HALF FULL
THE AVANTI COMPETITOR PLUS 2
Avanti are as Kiwi as they come, and the bike brand that is synonymous with making great value and great riding bikes was launched in 1985. Two years after they brought out their 10-speed road bike, Avanti sent the Revolution to market, which was their first foray into mountain biking. From there it was a story of growth, with unique designs coming out of New Zealand to the local market and to Australia from 1990. Nathan Rennie raced on Avanti in the late 90s and since then, Avanti’s bikes have won national, world and Olympic titles across various cycling disciplines. With Avanti’s mountain bike focus leaning mostly to trail riding, they were quick to jump into plus-sized bikes - with a 2.8” (or larger) tyre on a 27.5” rim. The Competitor range of bikes was the perfect fit, and Avanti have full-suspension and hardtail options in aluminium frames. The Competitor Plus 2 that we received to test is their top-specced Plus hardtail, with two fullsuspension options as the Plus S1 and Plus S2 that both offer a trail-eating 130mm of travel, compared to the 120mm travel front end that the hardtails have. Avanti state that when riding the Competitor Plus 2, “traction and control are taken to new levels”. Which is a mighty claim. But given our previous experience with plus-sized bikes, it’s not an outrageous statement of intent. We just needed to prove it with this bike, and see how it fared in the competitive (excuse the pun) market of $3000 trail bikes.
I picked up our test bike from AvantiPlus in Brisbane. It was all set and ready to roll. The alloy frame is custom shaped 6061 aluminium, with all the modern standards you would expect. From an integrated headset in the tapered head tube, to routing for an internally actuated dropper post, 148x12mm Boost spacing and integrated disc mounts. There are a few handy features that you might miss, but that mechanics around the world (or at least in Australia and New Zealand) will appreciate. The standard thread (or BSA) bottom bracket is no-nonsense and the external brake hose and gear cable routing makes servicing and maintenance much easier. While the dropper housing shoots into the base of the seat tube, it’s one straight line and easy to thread, without needing to remove the crank set or bottom bracket. That means greater serviceability, and faster serviceability too. So it’s either easier for you, or faster for your mechanic, which is lighter on your wallet. Dropper posts on hardtails are ‘a thing’, and especially on Plus bikes with trail geometry. The X-Fusion HILO post has a thumb lever that interferes a little with the brake mount, but it depends how you mount it, for your ergonomic choice. It has 100mm of drop, which is about right for a bike like this. There is a quick release lever too, which seems a bit odd but it does make it very easy to get your seat height right. As noted by Plus aficionado Adam Macbeth in a previous issue, much of the joy of Plus bikes comes down to getting the rim and tyre combination right. Or, more specifically, the rim width. Avanti have chosen the Weinmann X-A40 for the Competitor Plus 2, and its internal volume is spot on for the WTB Ranger Comp 2.8” tyres that come stock on the bike - allowing pressures around the mid-teens for the test period. The Shimano group set, although it’s a bit of a pick’n’mix of parts, is a smart choice. The better parts are in key locations with some non-series selections to keep the total price down. The Shimano SLX 11-speed shifter and cassette are matched with an XT 11-speed rear derailleur, and a SLX crank with a 30T chain ring that features the updated tooth pattern. There’s a generic guide on the bike, which is a smart move as an alloy hardtail with trail geometry and a dropper is going to be ridden hard. The chain is from KMC, and brakes are Shimano’s M506 series, which lack a little bit of bite compared to something higher up - but a switch out to sintered pads will change a lot of that. The levers use the older style clamp which takes up a bit of room on the bars, but at 730mm wide there is enough real estate on the handlebars for clamps that are 5mm wider. Up front, the RockShox Reba RL runs a Solo Air spring, and has rebound adjustment and low speed compression options to tune your ride. It’s a reliable fork for XC to trail riding, but it’s not in the realms of stiffness of a Lyric or Pike which some higher specced (and priced) Plus hardtails come equipped with.
ON THE TRAIL
The real test of any bike is always going to be in the ride. The numbers on the Avanti were promising. A 69 degree head angle and low 100mm head tube meant that the ride wouldn’t