2014 Avanti Torrent 2 review – one month in New Zealand

Avanti treated me to a loan of their brand new Torrent 2  for my recent trip to New Zealand.

I used the Torrent as a holiday get-around, explored home-made bike parks that ended on the beach, smashed out laps of Queenstown’s best trails (pedalling, shuttling and on the gondola) … I even strapped it to a helicopter and hammered a 4000ft rock-infested dream-trail.

Here’s some thoughts on the bike!

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The 2014 Torrent is Avanti’s first 650b offering and is a bike that has been proudly “designed Down-Under”. The 2014 bike sees completely rethought geometry and tweeks to the suspension over the 2013 bike.  There’s a Fox 32 Float CTD up front and a custom tuned Fox Evo Float CTD out back.

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Putting the miles in.

I won’t beat around the bush – the Torrent was a great all rounder. One Friday night I was hacking round one of Wanaka’s pedallier trails (Dean’s bank) for a leg-burner, the following day I was on the Queenstown gondola rattling through braking bumps and battering down rooty chutes. The Torrent isn’t a race whippet but pop the suspension onto ‘trail’ and get the seat up and she’ll happily chomp through as many miles as your legs are up for. I’d be happy to ride the Torrent as my day to day trail bike back home, with a few component changes.

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The fun stuff.

When things get fast and rough the Tru4-bar suspension is really impressive – no surprise once I found out that the Torrent uses a very similar linkage to Specialized’s FSR design. Whilst rattling through the braking bumps in the bike park will never be a pleasure the Torrent never felt too out of control or too sketchy. Don’t get me wrong – the Torrent isn’t really designed for smashing white-knuckle-rough tracks in Queenstown Bike Park but for a bike that you can ride big miles on its pretty damn good – if you don’t mind getting a bit wild and holding on tight!

Steep, loamy, technical trails were also a blast on the Torrent, the 67d head angle felt good and (after a bit of hack-sawing the seat post) there’s loads of room to move around on the bike. The Deore brakes were a surprise – they never skipped a beat despite some serious anchoring and long descents. We tested this on some of Queenstown’s less established trails out the top of the Bike Park.

These Zero (Avanti’s sister brand) grips are awesome by the way, I want some…

SDG Tellis V2 Dropper Leaderboard

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On the limit.

The steeper, rougher, faster trails were where I started to find the Torrent’s limits and I was reminded a couple of times that I was trying to push a short travel bike a bit too-hard. The bike is definitely capable of riding challenging terrain and I had a blast pushing it hard, but a mini-downhill bike it isn’t. As I said, hold on tight and you’ll get down, it just might not be as fast or pretty as some other bikes. A bit more length in the wheel base and top tube might help there. A super wet and greasy run of Signal Hill in Dunedin proved a pretty wild outing for the Torrent!

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What else?

The bike needs a dropper post. The interrupted seat tube means the seat post is too long as standard and too short when chopped.  The pay off from that though is that you have plenty of stand-over height and the saddle can be slammed right down for steep trails. The E-Thirteen TRS dual guide was a waste of time, the bottom guide broke almost immediately and left the chain rattling wildly and jumping off. The hilariously named Kenda Honeybadger tyres are – surprisingly – very good summer tyres. I’d change those if I had the bike for longer in the UK but really enjoyed my time on them in the dry to damp conditions in NZ. Oh – and the 70mm Zero stem needs 20mm shaving off, but isn’t actually as bad as you’d think.

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The verdict?

I have fond memories of my holiday romance with the Torrent. It’s a fun and fast trail bike that’s perfect for blasting technical single track. It’ll get you up and along with minimum hassle and is surprisingly tough when faced with gnarly descents. Sure, a few component changes would be nice but that’s no big deal. Any bike that I can do a big pedal in the morning and then ride the bike park in the afternoon has got to be pretty fun right?

Like all good holiday romances I do still wonder what could have been if I’d brought her home to meet the family. I’m sure the Torrent would be a hell of a lot of fun here in the UK.  Can we get a UK distributor again please Avanti?

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Thanks to Avanti bikes and the Avanti+ Richmond and Wellington stores for making this happen! 


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