Orbea’s all-carbon M series Avant 50D was the top disc bike in our 2014 Bike of the Year test. Its light and lively frame combined the comfortable riding position of an endurance bike with positive, sporty handling, great braking and decent quality kit.
With its H series the long-established Spanish company has taken that formula and applied it to a less expensive butted alloy frameset. But it still features the same well-designed full-carbon fork with a 1 1/8-1 1/2in tapered steerer tube – now with the front brake cable routed neatly through the left fork leg. Unusually for a bike at this price the fork also has carbon dropouts.
The front brake cable is very neatly routed through the left fork leg
You get mainly Shimano 105 components, including the shifters, rear derailleur and 12-28 cassette. The front mech is Tiagra, while FSA supplies its Omega compact chainset, which combines with the cassette to offer a wide gear range, and the brakes are also Shimano: its entry-level BR317 mechanical discs. Most of the finishing kit is good quality, if somewhat basic, though it is very good to see a 27.2mm carbon seatpost.
The downside of this modest build is that the Orbea is carrying a bit of excess baggage – our 57cm test bike weighed a pretty hefty 10.58kg. Half of that difference is down to the own-brand wheels, which contribute over 4kg, a lot of which will be all-important rotating weight. This mass really made itself known to us when we reached our test route’s climbs – and if it wasn’t for the generous gearing we would have been even slower on our longer ascents.
Heading uphill is when you'll really notice the H10D's hefty own-brand rolling stock
But we have no complaints about the Avant’s geometry. Orbea’s H series bikes share the same frame angles as its excellent M series carbon machines. This helps to make this Avant comfortable and its handling engaging and reasonably swift. Once you’ve overcome the inertia and wound it up to speed the quality of the frame design shines through, and it still feels like a bike we’d be happy to ride for hours.
Taking the Avant down descents – where its weight is no hindrance – its disc brakes also have a chance to shine. While Shimano’s budget cable discs don’t have the feel or offer you the same ability to fractionally adjust your speed as hydraulic setups, they are still leagues ahead of a caliper rim brake, especially in the wet.
We think that the Avant H10 has the potential to be a decent all-rounder. It certainly has the right feel, handling and comfort. But for the upgrades that you’d need to get it down to a more competitive weight, you’d be spending something approaching the cost of Orbea’s excellent M50D – and frankly we’d rather spend our time on that.