Fresh wheels on happy trails

After my neighbour/friend Evan bought himself a Polygon 29″ mountain bike a few months ago, I pulled out my antique 2008 Trek Fuel EX 5.5 and began riding again. After hitting the Maydeena Bike Park featured a few post ago, and the North-South track on kunanyi/Mt Wellington, I blew out both front and rear suspension, developed brake issues and will soon need to replace the drive-train (chain and sprockets) as well as requiring a full service.

I took it to a bike shop for a quote – which came back at an estimated $1200!! It just didn’t make sense to spend so much money on a 12 year old bike as technology has changed on modern bikes. Turns out, this is an expensive sport!

Trek Fuel EX 5.5 after a ride in 2009

After reviewing my budget, I put my name down on a new $3700 Kona Process 134 29 but could only get a medium frame without waiting until March 2021 – there’s currently a world shortage on all large framed mountain bikes – with first option to test before deciding.

While waiting for the shop to build the bike I scouted the second hand market and found a barely used 2017 Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 – ADT Large. After a quick test ride, I negotiated a deal for $1900. A bargain considering it sold new for $3500 and still had the beads from the tire mold in the middle of the tread!

Avanti Competitor S Plus 2 – O’Grady’s Falls

I could only find one review on this bike before purchase so I’ll offer my first impressions after a few weeks of ownership:-

New Zealand bike makers Avanti are well known and respected in road-bike circles but lesser known for their mountain bikes, probably because they only offer a limited range. However, the German designed frame of the oddly named “Competitor S Plus 2” appears if anything, typically over-engineered, solid and well balanced. With the supplied tubed tyres it weighs in at just under 16kg – a little lighter than the Kona. If you’re after full specs go here.

I think the manufacturer’s description sums it up quite nicely:
“It’s all about traction, control and more time rolling over whatever crosses your path. A flex free rear triangle and lightweight 1×11 [SLX] Shimano drivetrain help to make this machine more agile and quicker than it looks, with plus tyres taking the technical out of the terrain.”

Solid rear suspension and frame geometry.

After the original wide 27.5 x 2.8 tubed tyres let go on me through a dry, gravelly berm, eroding my confidence in them, I have swapped them out for lighter tubeless Maxis Minion’s for much better grip over the boulders, roots, mud and gravel tracks encountered on my local mountain trails, while providing a saving of almost 1kg. The frame and forks can actually accommodate 29 inch wheels, but I stuck with the supplied tubeless ready rims for tighter cornering and agility on our winding trails.

I’ve come from a much older 26 inch dual suspension “trail” MTB with 120mm of travel. With larger, much wider tyres, 140mm travel, heavier, chunkier frame – though not overall much heavier, in comparison, the new “enduro” bike eats up-hills and down-hills for breakfast and after dinner 🙂

Mountain trails in kunanyi/Mt Wellington Park.

Previously I would struggle to keep up with my mate on his 29″ Polygon. Though I have gotten quickly fitter in my few months of riding again, I no longer need to pick my way over every root and boulder on the uphills, the Avanti climbs comfortably and controlled and even on the road I now not only keep up, but can out-pace him … sometimes anyway, we usually end up egging each other on uphill which motivates both of us to push harder 😀

Downhill, this thing feels bomb-proof and very solid. Turn off the suspension lock-out, drop the seat and send it! I feel much more confident on this bike, it rolls over everything I point it at, takes modest jumps and drops with ease and I find I’m pushing my limits and aging body perhaps a little more than I should! This is where I leave my mate behind after spending my youth on dirt bikes.

After dinner ride, an evening on the local trails.

Though I haven’t yet come unstuck, I’ve just bought knee-pads and ordered a full face helmet with removal chin bar, because I value my head – and to be honest, it’s probably a little bit soft 😉

The only negatives so far I’ve found – and this really is nit picking:
– external cable routing – as well as looking untidy, it runs down the front underneath of the frame which seems very exposed and will cop a lot of mud and stones from the front wheel.
– frame design has lots of areas where mud will collect like bottom rear suspension brackets.
Overall I’m really happy with this purchase 🙂

First image taken with Nikon D40, remainder Galaxy S20.
Less time blogging lately and more time biking, because blogging doesn’t get me fit 🙂

9 thoughts on “Fresh wheels on happy trails

    1. Despite the name “Competitor”, I’m only in it for fun … and a perhaps a little friendly competition with my mate ;P It’s way more fun having someone at a similar level to ride with 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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