Strengths: Carbon stiffness and comfort, relaxed geometry, attractive, fender & rack mounts, 135 mm Rear spacing
Weaknesses: cable routing, tire clearance/fender space, matte finish holds onto dirt/grease, fender/rack mounts are 4 mm (why?! everything else is 5 mm!!), 135 mm spacing (ya, it's a strength if you can afford new rims, I had to space/re-dish my 130's)
Where to begin? I can't review the bike as a complete purchase since mine was cobbled together, so this is mostly a review of the frame and the ride characteristics. Lets start with the frame-
I am riding the 55 cm bike and the sizing was determined using stack & reach. Despite nearly identical S&R to my old bike, the Avant was still "large" and I ended up revising my -10' stem to +, and added spacers. Not a big deal, or in fact a deal at all, just an fyi. I stated in weaknesses the cable routing and here's why- I don't like the routing for the rear brake line going under the frame. I feel like if it entered more towards the side or on top of the downtube the routing would be smoother and less "odd" looking. It's less function on this point and more fashion. At the rear of the bike however, the exit for the rear brake is less than ideal unless if you're running discs. The final bend on the cable housing is kind of extreme and I believe it is a point of concern/causal to my less-than-ideal braking performance. The only other complaint/nag is that the fender and rack mounts all utilize 4 mm bolts.
Standard bottle cage and rack mounts are all 5mm, so it may sound nit-picky, but I find that I'm less confident in the smaller thread size with my rack. Clearance for tires and fenders is definitely tight here as well. I'm running 25 mm tires f/r and using Planet Bike fenders. The clearance on the fork is so tight in fact, that you can't run a fender through the fork and have to install at the rear and front- this sucks in my case since I had to custom fabricate a front fender piece, and due to that, it tends to slap the tire on big hits on the road. I believe a full length under-fork fender would avoid this (it never happened on my previous bikes). It may seem like I'm complaining about little details, but in the grand scheme, this are very minor quibbles, I just want to make sure anyone reading this has more information than I did when I purchased.
Now the important part- the RIDE!!
I love being on this bike. I was riding a Kona Honky Inc (steel frame) prior to this bike and logged over 5k miles on it. That bike was great, but it was a beast at over 33 lbs riding weight. The Avant absolutely re-invigorated my love for commuting where the Kona made it a chore. Each pedal stroke feels directly translated into forward movement, there's no slack, no lag, just absolute responsiveness; Steering is direct, deliberate and in no way twitchy as some tighter race geometries go for, nor as laggy as others. Over the rough stuff, this thing just eats up road chatter and hard/sudden hits. On two commutes of 34 miles each, the bike never left me feeling fatigued, and on my daily 5 mile commutes the bike leaves me feeling less drained than my Kona did. I attribute part of this to the 26.1 lb riding weight (in both cases includes lights, fenders, pedals, rack and U-lock which is mounted to the rack) and the general comfort/responsiveness of the bike itself.
Overall, you'll notice I gave the bike 4/4 in both value and overall. I imagined this as the perfect bike, and for all the riding I've done, it's the CLOSEST to perfect I've ever encountered. I think the issues I have with this bike are more personal preference than flaws of the bike itself, though I do believe there is room to improve. It is now my only road bike as I've sold the race bike and dismantled my commuter and I have no regrets about being a one-bike-man now. I am absolutely confident the Avant will carry me through the century rides and gran fondo's, daily grinds, weekend 40+ mile rides, and of course the rides to my local breweries. Orbea figured out that some folk just want a bike that does it all, even if the end user doesn't even know what "all" can encompass.
Strengths: Comfortable geometry for the less-flexible. Soaks up road chatter, bumps, etc. Very stable on descents. Full Ultegra. Handles well without being twitchy. Easily upgradeable/changeable. Will handle wider-than-usual tires due to the disk brakes.
Weaknesses: A little noisy on rough roads. The unpainted, “raw” carbon portions of the frame look a little blotchy for my taste.
I was waiting to get a few more miles on the bike before posting an in-depth review. With about 650 miles on the bike (including 1 hilly century), here are a few thoughts on the Avant.
I’m riding an M30D Avant, with full Ultegra componentry and the Shimano BR-CX77 disc brakes. I had a professional fitting done at a local shop that uses the Body Geometry fit system and ended up changing out the saddle and stem for a more comfortable fit. I also use Shimano PD-M540 pedals and mountain bike shoes. I often ride into town to meet my wife at work and ride back with her, and road cleats wouldn’t be much appreciated where she works.
So, how does the bike work for me? Very, very well. The riding position is very comfortable for a 50-year-old guy without a lot of flexibility. I particularly appreciating the shallow drop handlebar that allow me to ride for extended periods in the drops without my back hurting. It’s not a racing position, but it helps when I’m heading into the wind or when I just want a little change of position.
The bike is very stable even at high (for me) speeds. When descending at around 40 MPH, the handling is solid and the bike tracks well. My LeMond, for all its good points, would often begin to shudder at those speeds but the Avant is steady. Adding to the feeling is the solid performance of the disk brakes. These are my first disk brakes and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d like them, particularly since mechanical disk brakes seem to be held in lower esteem than hydraulics. Well, I like them fine. It’s easy to modulate braking power, and there’s plenty of braking power. I’ve noticed that after braking heavily at the bottom of a descent, sometimes I’ll hear a slight rubbing sound for a few seconds due to the rotors heating up, but it quickly goes away and a look at the front rotor while riding shows that it tracks true and doesn’t show any warping due to heat buildup.
I found the Selle Italia seat that the Avant came with was too narrow for me, and I swapped it out for a Specialized Toupe, and when that proved uncomfortable on longer rides I went back to the Specialized Milano. Likewise, the stock stem was too long and too flat for my tastes and I swapped in a Specialized 60mm stem with a 24-degree rise. These are, of course, personal tastes and your mileage may vary.
On a century ride, I found that the comfort held up for the whole ride. The ride has about 7,500 feet of climbing and some of the roads have broken asphalt that rivals cobblestones for a rough ride. Even with all of that, the Avant soaked up the bumps so well that I felt pretty good at the end of the ride. It fits the “endurance bike” category to a T.
I don’t have a scale, so I don’t have a weight for the Avant fully outfitted. I will say that it’s not a noticeably heavy ride, but I’m not a weight weenie to begin with. If I were, I’d have skipped the disk brakes. I’ve done a fair bit of climbing on the bike and it seems like a better climber than the LeMond. The climbs in my area are shorter but steep, with the steepest climb on the century being a 20% grade and the top 10 climbs all 14% or greater. The Avant works well on the climbs, maintaining traction even on the steepest climbs without undue effort.
From as aesthetic point of view, it’s a good-looking bike in general. I’m not a big fan of the dark color scheme of the M30D, although the blue accents on the frame do help. However, others have complimented the looks of the bike so it’s very much a personal opinion.
All in all, I’m quite happy with my Avant. It’s my first new bike in a number of years and I’m happy to say that I feel like I made a good decision in going with this bike.