Every brand worth its salt has its own take on the now ubiquitous endurance road bike, and Orbea invited us to the brand’s native Basque country to check out its updated long distance bike, the Avant.
Updated frame tech
The Avant sits alongside the racier Orca (which we will be covering in a later article) in the Orbea range, and borrows a great deal of tech from it.
Starting with the basics, Orbea moved to laser-cut carbon sheets for 2017, which allows all sorts of funky shapes to keep the amount of material that makes its way into the mould to the bare minimum.
The carbon that is used throughout the frame is slightly heavier than what is used in the Orca, but the weave of the fibres is said to improve the compliance of the ride.
The use of polyurethane inserts in the bottom bracket shell and head tube is also said to put less stress on the fibres around these areas during the manufacturing process, making for a stronger and marginally lighter frame.
The Avant also makes use of an aggressively downward sloping top tube, with 80mm more drop than the Orca, which ensures that as much of the 27.2mm seatpost is exposed as possible to improve compliance.
Front end tweaks
One of the key differences between endurance road bikes and all-out race machines is their higher handlebar position. This is normally accomplished by increasing the length of the head tube, but on larger sized bikes in particular, things can begin to look a little odd as it becomes excessively tall.
Orbea have aimed to address this issue by decreasing the length of the headtube on the updated Avant by 10mm, while making up the difference by increasing the axle-to-crown length of the fork. 1cm doesn’t sound like a great deal, but it does help to keep things visually balanced.
Increasing the length of the fork legs also allows them to flex a smidge more, which is said to help improve the comfort and tracking of the bike when things get rough. The increase also improves the clearance around the crown should you want to fit some meatier rubber.
The new Avant comes stock with 23mm, Vittorio Corsa tyres and has clearance for tyres up to 28mm in width. This is somewhat diminutive by modern standards given that many bikes are coming with at least 25mm, if not 28mm — and some are even going to 32mm for 2017.
Also slightly disappointing is the lack of eyelets for mudguards/fenders. Although the geometry screams ‘ride me really, really far’, the bike won’t be a perfect long-distance machine for those that live in wetter climes as mudguards are a key part of being comfortable on a long ride.
Pricing and availability
The Avant range starts at £549 (€699, N/A US) for the entry-level alloy H70 and rises to a heady £4,699 (€5899, $5,999) for the top-end, Dura-Ace spec M10iTeam-D. All bikes are available for order from your local Orbea dealer (Australian pricing unavailable at time of writing).
Every bike in the top three tiers of the range from Orbea is available through their Myo, customisation program. Much like Trek’s Project One, for an up-charge (a very reasonable €250) you can choose the paint scheme and spec of your bike.
Our test bike is a M20i Team D, which features hydraulic brakes and a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset. Our bike was also outfitted with the optional carbon, Vision Metron 40 Disc upgrade wheels. Look for a first ride report on the bike shortly.
Although most pros will opt to ride the more spritely Orca for the vast majority of events, Orbea are hoping to see the Avant featured at some of the upcoming season's spring classics.