We test ride the Orbea Avant M20Team-D, a bike in the middle of the range of endurance machines from the Basque manufacturer
Orbea traces its origins back as far as 1840, when the Orbea brothers started selling handguns. It abandoned firearms in the 1930s, switching to a cycle manufacture and sponsoring its own team.
In 1969, the company became a co-operative owned by its workers, again sponsoring a team with its star signing in the 1980s being Pedro Delgado. It’s a proudly Basque company and for 20 years sponsored the top-flight Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi pro team.
Orbea divides its road bikes into two families. Its race machines come under the Orca banner – a compound of “Orbea” and “carbon”. The Avant is endurance focussed, with a range of models from a £700 flat-bar hybrid up to the £5,000 M10iTeam-D.
The Avant comes with a monocoque carbon frame. There’s a gently sloping top tube that gives plenty of shock-absorbing length to the carbon seatpost. It’s a chunky design, particularly the down tube, the BB386 pressfit bottom bracket shell and the chainstays.
In common with many modern disc frames, it uses flat mount disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles. It’s also got a lot of clearance: although supplied with 25mm tyres, Orbea says it will fit tyres up to 30mm on wide rims. The thru-axles come without levers. This looks nice and streamlined but does mean you need to carry a multitool with a 6mm allen key to be able to take the wheel out and repair punctures.
The skinny fork looks particularly attractive, with a slight bow and a tapered crown which merges seamlessly into the head tube. Again, there’s plenty of tyre clearance.
Finished in pearlescent off-white with white logos, the Avant is a good looking machine and a refreshing change from the usual black, although it does show the dirt. Orbea quotes a sub-kilo weight for the frame.
The Avant M30Team-D comes equipped with Shimano Ultegra-level components, including R805 hydraulic disc brakes with Icetech fins to improve cooling. The front disc is 160mm, while the rear is 140mm.
The chainset is an FSA Gossamer 50/34 compact unit with four arms and a fifth hidden bolt behind the crank arm. Along with the 11-28 cassette this gives enough range for most UK road conditions. The 386mm bottom bracket means that it’s well supported for good power delivery too.
Wheels are Mavic Aksium Disc. They’re a well-built all-round wheelset, with a reputation for longevity. The 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres are also a good choice for riding on indifferent road surfaces, although they’re not quite as grippy as some.
Cockpit and seatpost from FSA are comfortable and effective. The carbon seatpost adds a bit of compliance, while the Prologo Scratch 2 saddle is a curved design which I find suits me well.
Orbea lets you upgrade many of the components from the standard build when you specify the bike on its website.
Often endurance machines come with a lot of compliance built in. This can result in a rather unengaging ride with a floaty feel that impacts on handling. The Avant does not fall into this trap: it handles and tracks well, and feels particularly assured on fast descents. Orbea says that the Avant’s shorter reach and higher stack than the Orca leads to a more upright riding position and better weight distribution.
Watch: Eight things to know about disc brakes
The front end is still low enough to get aero downhill and into headwinds, without it feeling like too much of a stretch to ride in the drops for extended periods.
There’s good power delivery on climbs too, although I did find it quite easy to induce wheel slip from the Vittoria tyres on wet back roads. This would be easy to sort with gripper tyres, while a switch to a 28mm version would give a larger contact patch too.
Much of the compliance seems to come from the slender forks and the long carbon seatpost. These are very effective at soaking up road imperfections without impacting progress.
At £2,400 the Avant M20Team-D is comparable in price to many other disc-equipped road bikes with a similar spec. Its finishing kit is well considered too, including quality wheels which should last well and a top notch, comfortable saddle.
It’s also nice to see a full Icetech set-up for the disc brakes, which should avoid any problems with heat build-up even on long steep descents.
Although billed as an endurance machine, the Orbea Avant doesn’t feel far away from many race-oriented machines. You’re not sitting particularly upright and the ride feels comfortable but not overly plush. If you’re looking to put in the miles without sacrificing too much in speed and handling it’s a good choice. You’re not too bent over the bars either, so the bike works even if you’re not that flexible and the long seatpost, nice saddle and thin forks soak up a lot of road vibration. A set of 28mm tyres would only add to road-holding, comfort and shock absorption without taking too much away from performance.