One thing that should be evident from our feature article on the development of the Torrent is that Avanti believes it has done its homework thoroughly in developing this bike. The design team is confident that it knows exactly what the average Kiwi weekend warrior wants, and that the Torrent is it. So this review, I guess, is somewhat rare. It’s rare because it’s the closest I have ever come to riding a bike that was purportedly designed specifically for where and how I ride. According to Avanti, the Torrent should be the bike I’ve always been looking for. That’s a big call. Not surprisingly, I was very curious to see whether it was true.
There are three models of the Torrent available, with recommended retail pricing ranging from approximately $3000 to $6000. Our test bike was the Torrent 2, the middle of the three, and came with a well-considered component spec that promised to be up to the task at hand. The highlights are: Fox 32 Float RL fork with 1.5 inch tapered steerer and 15QR axle; Fox Float RP2 rear shock; Avid Elixir 5 disc brakes; Easton Vice wheelset; X7/X9 drivetrain; and quality Enduro MAX bearings.
Out on the trail, what was most noticeable initially was just how lively the Torrent felt under acceleration. It’s relatively light, which is of course a contributing factor, but also the Tru4 four bar suspension appeared to be doing a very efficient job of transferring pedalling force into forward motion. It seems that the time Kane Alward and Mark Landsaat spent refining the bike’s instant centre was time well spent. Switching the rear shock to ProPedal and locking out the fork was rarely necessary but these were still nice features to have for those long smooth climbs and feverish caffeineaddled sprints home from the café.
Of course, the curse of do-it-all bikes is that inevitably they only do one thing well or alternatively they do everything averagely. Having discovered that the Torrent was actually enjoyable to pedal, I was fearful that coming down would be a disappointing experience. I needn’t have fretted though as I soon discovered that the Torrent is also very capable in the down department. The 135 mm of low-ratio rear suspension is plush and, dare I use this cliché, seemingly bottomless. The geometry also seems to be spot on. I felt comfortable at speed, carving through corners, off small drops and tackling rooty steeps. If anything I felt that the frame was out-performing the fork, and I would be very curious to see what the bike was capable of with the likes of a Fox 36 on the front. Despite a relatively narrow 20 mm rim, the Easton Vice wheels are intended for heavy trail riding, all-mountain and light freeriding. I was a little nervous about how they would handle the fast rough stuff but they remained mostly true for the duration of the review. The Elixir brakes performed flawlessly, as I’ve come to expect. The Torrent 2 comes spec’d with a 3×10 drivetrain (yes, 30 gears). I would have preferred the 2×10 setup that is standard on the Torrent 3, as I found the additional gears to be somewhat superfluous, and I had a couple of incidents with fallen trees that reminded me why people started running bashguards on all-mountain bikes.
Is this the one bike for me? I’m still not sure. What I do know is that I finished every ride feeling that little bit fresher than I normally would, as well as having a huge grin on my face. That in itself is very telling. To decide for yourself whether the Torrent is the bike for you, visit your local AvantiPlus store and take one for a spin. Leif Roy