Impressively versatile new bike from Orbea arrives with latest Shimano hydraulic disc brakes

The Avant from Spanish manufacturer Orbea was one of the real standout bikes at last year’s Eurobike show, offering as it did a glimpse at the possible future of road bikes. Provided your idea of the future road bike is one with a carbon fibre frame with capacity for 28mm tyres, mudguards, racks and disc brakes (or with the option for caliper brakes). On paper the Avant looks impressively versatile providing a number of potential builds.

Our builld for this test is the range-topping Avant M10D, costing £4,449 and built with Shimano’s latest Ultegra 6870 Di2 11-speed groupset with hydraulic disc brakes. All wiring and the hoses are routed internally, giving the frame a very clean appearance.  Rotor sizes are 160mm at the front and 140mm out back, and they’re bolted to Shimano’s RX-31 wheels wrapped with 22mm Vittoria Diamate tyres - though the website does list 25mm tyres. If you're interested in knowing more about these new disc brakes, you can read Dave's first ride impressions here. 

The finishing kit comprises an FSA Gossamer stem, Wing Compact handlebar and SLK 27.2mm seatpost, finished with a Selle Italia Nekkar Flow saddle. This build produces a weight on the road.cc scales of 8.55kg. That’s quite a bit lighter than the recently reviewed Colnago CX-Zero with its mechanical Ultegra groupset and brakes, and lighter than the Culprit Croz Blade with the same brakes and groupset, though that was a much larger size. But it’s still clearly heavier than an equivalent non-disc bike of the same money, Orbea's own Orca with Ultegra Di2 is 8.1kg. It's clear these early disc-equipped bikes are carrying a bit of extra weight, we reckon it's most likely in the wheels. 

That’s just one example of how you could built the Avant anyway. It’ll take a mechanical groupset and caliper brakes if you’re not into discs and electronics quite yet. And Orbea have cleverly concealed mudguard and rack mounts in the frame and fork so you could turn it into a nice winter training bike, commuter or touring bike, with just a few changes. Add some fatter tyres too (which we'll probably do during the test) and you’ve got a comfortable endurance bike suitable for the British roads. 

Compared to the Orca, the company’s race bike, the Avant is designed to be more comfortable over longer distances, tapping into the growing popularity for endurance bikes, like the Cannondale Synapse and Bianchi Infinito CV (both of which are offered with disc brakes). Those two examples though are bikes born from the classics racing, and while on paper they share a lot in common with the Avant, the Avant trumps them with its ability to take mudguards and racks, making it a more appealing prospect for cyclists wanting a do-everything bike.

The geometry chart yields a shorter top tube and taller head tube, with the frame will be available in seven sizes from 47 to 60cm. Orbea use a fork with a 53mm rake on the three smallest sizes, and a 43mm rake fork on the larger sizes. This here is a 55cm frame, with a stack of 596mm and reach of 383mm. The effective top tube is 56.3cm with a 18.8cm head tube and 100.5cm wheelbase.

But what about the aero performance with the disc rotors? Well, Orbea claims they’ve tested the Avant with and without disc brakes in a wind tunnel, and claims there’s 'negligible' difference between the two, caliper brakes only offering a clear advantage at yaw angles greater than 10 degrees. They haven’t offered the data from their findings, so we do have to take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s interesting still. We'll see how that claims stands up in our testing.

To be compatible with both disc brakes and calipers, the rear dropouts can be adjusted between disc-friendly 135mm and 130mm rear spacing with adjustable chips inside the dropouts. All cables are internally routed, as we’ve said already, and pass into the top of the down tube. When in caliper brake guise the rear brake is located under the chainstay. The cable routing through the fork is possibly the cleanest solution we’ve seen on a disc-specific carbon fork so far.

The frame gets other modern details like a tapered head tube and BB86 press fit bottom bracket. The mounting hardware for the calipers and disc brakes has been designed to be removable, so it's both an easy swap from one system to the other, and you're not left with redundant mounts. That’s a nice touch.

So, an interesting bike on paper, it’s currently out on the road being tested and we’ll report back soon with our findings. More at www.orbea.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.