Orbea Avant M20D review£2,637.00

Updated and uprated disc endurance machine

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The original Avant Disc impressed us; back in 2014 it took our disc brake Bike of the Year award. Impressing both with Orbea’s early commitment to discs and the thoroughly good job it did with implementing discs into its endurance platform.

In a few short years things have moved along a fair bit, we’ve seen the disc mount standard change to the more compact and lighter flat-mount, the availability of full hydraulics at much lower prices, and of course the implementation of thru-axles front and (in most cases) rear.

The revamped Avant takes many of its styling cues from the race bred Orca, adopting a much more angular profiling to its main tubes and the deep broad head tube looks like it came straight form a race special — even if it’s a bit taller.

Orbea like Focus has been clever in its front geometry adjustments for endurance purposes, choosing to keep the head tube a more regular length and instead adding 10mm to the fork, which gives the added bonus of bigger tyre clearance.

With the stack and reach figures hitting 614mm and 390mm respectively, the Avant has a comfortably semi-upright ride position that makes it a nice place to be without compromising the bike's agility too much.

Under the skin Orbea has also taken its time to improve the Avant as a marathon machine. Inside the bottom bracket shell and in the head tube it's introduced polyurethane inserts that alleviate stresses on the carbon and reduce vibrations. Orbea also claims this make for a marginally stronger and lighter structure.

Orbea Avant M20D ride impression

Out on the road, the Avant feels wonderfully at ease, this is a bike built for big, challenging distances.

The smoothness of the ride is ideally balanced with a light and responsive forward motion, while direction changes are quick enough and the steering requires little effort to hold your chosen line through twists and turns.

Some may knock Orbea for fitting an FSA chiainset over Shimano, but the latest range of four-arm designs from FSA are light, stiff and good looking

It's not race-bike sharp like Cannondale’s Evo or Canyon’s Ultimate, and it's no F1 race machine, think of it more like a luxury GT — as fast as you’ll need and beautifully balanced.

On the climbs the de riguer climbing combo of 50/34 and 11-28 makes it a great companion for challenging ascents, and I particularly like both the speccing of Ice Tech rotors and the 160mm front/140mm rear pairing, which gives balanced, smooth and progressive stopping power whatever the weather and with little drama or noise.

The Avant like many of its rivals comes with Mavic’s Aksium disc wheels, and as I’ve previously mentioned, these are a decent set of hoops, well built and smooth running, but a little on the weighty side.

The textured Vittoria Pro Rubino 25s are a decent all-weather tyre and proved more than capable at handling both greasy and frosty road surfaces during test rides.

Over recent years, Orbea has upped its game again and again on the value front, and while the M20 was one of the most expensive in our Road Bike of Year testing category it still outshines much of the competition on the value front: Ultegra, BR-RS805 brakes, Ice Rotors and a quality ProLogo perch all impress.

Some may knock Orbea for fitting an FSA chiainset over Shimano, but the latest range of four-arm designs from FSA are light (751g compared to 765g for Ultegra 6800), stiff and good looking with it, so not exactly a downgrade in my book.

Orbea offers a range of upgrades when you’re selecting your bike from Orbea.com, along with an customising option called MYO which allows you to choose the paint scheme and even have your name painted on the frame for an extra charge.

I couldn’t resist making a couple of changes; opting to upgrade the alloy FSA cockpit to a smattering of carbon. The K-Force bar has a great shape, is stiff yet vibration reducing, and the matching OS99 stem is a simple design but well matched to the bar. Yes, this did put the Avant £37 over budget, and that’s all my fault, but if you can’t treat yourself once in a while.

Overall, the Avant a seriously compelling offer, and its closest rival in the Road Bike of Year category is the equally smooth and endurance focused Fuji Gran Fondo. If racing isn’t your thing and you're looking for a light, comfortable endurance machine then this Basque-built beauty is well worth your consideration.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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