Readers’ Rides: Carl’s 1997 GT Avalanche


Readers’ Rides: Carl’s 1997 GT Avalanche

For this morning’s Readers’ Rides, we’ve got Carl’s ’97 GT Avalanche, with its signature triple triangle, amidst some glowing gold aspen leaves. Read on below for more!

This spring, I was searching for a bike to be my commuter/everyday ride here in Silverton, CO. For those unfamiliar, Silverton is a tiny mountain town with only one paved road. I wanted something with knobby tires that would be equally at home cruising to work and hitting some of the fun little trails on the edges of town. I decided that a 90’s mountain bike would be just the ticket. I searched and searched, but nothing spoke to me. Finally, just as I was about to give up, I found it: a 1997 GT Avalanche frame, with decals already removed and sporting a beautiful polish. It was so shiny and perfect. My heart sang out. A rainbow burst across the sky. I bought the frame without a second thought.

With the frame in hand, I embarked on my own strange version of a dream build. The most important part to get right was the fork, and I considered many options. Although a suspension fork was tempting, the options for decent forks with a 1″ steerer are pretty limited. I ultimately stumbled upon the perfect fork to go with this bike: a gorgeous segmented chrome-plated steel fork, provenance unknown, popped up on eBay. I was worried that the axle-to-crown dimension being a bit short would throw off the feel of the bike (the ’97 Avalanche originally came with a suspension fork), but I went for it anyway… because I am a sucker for shiny things!

From there, the rest of the build came together mostly from parts I had lying around, including an XT shifter and derailleur that I found in a free box in Durango the very same day that I picked up the frame. At the front of the drivetrain, some beat-up Saint flat pedals mate to an older Deore triple crankset and a nice Wolf Tooth narrow-wide chainring to put the power down. A Paul chain keeper holds things in place while I bounce down Silverton’s famously chunky trails. Wheels are a set of Mavic Cross Lands liberated from a friend’s abandoned 26″ dirt jumper, with Michelin Wild Racer tires set up tubeless. Paul cantilever brakes do the trick when I need to slow things down, and are paired to some lovely blue anodized Dia-Compe short pull brake levers.

Up front, a Thomson X4 stem holds tightly to a 1″ quill stem converter-thingy, with a whole mess of spacers underneath. I searched long and hard to find an extra-long quill stem converter that would make this possible with enough insertion depth to avoid too much sketchiness. Handlebars are the fantastic Soma Dream bars, which add some comfort and (crucially) stick to the shiny silver theme. A Brooks C17 saddle and a budget seatpost support my cheeks while I try to navigate home riding no hands holding a pizza. Finally, a Spurcycle bell helps express my joy when I am having a good time, which is basically every time I ride my bike.

This bike is unbelievably fun to ride. It feels like a grown-up BMX bike! It urges me to pop off every curb, skid around every corner, and wheelie down every street. The shorter fork doesn’t seem to mess with the geometry too much, or at least not in any negative way. I ride this bike every single day, and it puts a smile on my face every time. I’ll add some fenders someday (polished aluminum, of course), and a front rack could be handy. But for now, I like it just the way it is. Time to hit the pump track!

Well that was a lot, I ended up just waxing poetic about this thing! I love this bike. I wouldn’t be offended if you axed all or most of my narrative, I just hope you can feature this ride on the site!

I don’t have a website or any social media to plug. Just stoked to share this fun bike. If this isn’t quite the right fit, in terms of either photos or narrative, let me know and I can re-work things. I’d be happy to shoot more photos if there’s anything specific you’re looking for.

Bikes! Yeah!

Carl Schnitker
Silverton, CO

We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!