The Story of the Orbea Avant
The bicycle is so much more than just a collection of tubes and hardware. Each of them has a unique story, a reason the engineers and designers created the bike. Sure, sometimes it’s simply the need to fill a niche in the marketplace, but occasionally the inspiration for a bike is as tale hundreds of years old, in a region known for massive mountains. Orbea is not the most well know bike in the US and a used bike search on Bicycle Blue Book will reveal more Treks and Specializeds than Orbeas. But each Orbea has a story, and that story is usually fascinating. Their latest bike, the Avant, has perhaps our favorite genesis story.
It’s a mythical tale, two villages cloistered deep in the Pyrenees with a history of violence finally make peace in 1375. For the next 638years they celebrate this peace, called the PaxAvant, by exchanging cows. When you are a cycling mad company like Orbea, in a cycling mad country like Spain, it’ a great excuse for a bike ride. Called the PaxAvant it’s a new Grand Fondo, an epic through the heart of the Pyrenees in July and with 15000 feet of climbing, it may be the toughest in Europe.
Avant also happens to be the name of Orbea’s latest bike, and like the two villages that inspire its name, Orbea is trying to make peace between competing ideas – aerodynamics and fit, comfort and power transfer, utility and performance, new technology and traditional equipment. The result of all of this is a bike like no other.
Its geometry immediately signals the bike’s different intentions. Designed around reach and stack, rather than an arbitrary point in space based on a traditional top tube, the Avant delivers a relaxed, endurance fit with shorter reach and more stack than their race bikes.
To ensure all seven offered sizes provide the same handling two fork rakes are available, keeping trail the same on all sizes and making sure there is no toe overlap on the small sizes.
Mated to this endurance fit are high performance features – a tapered head tube, monocoque construction, 86mm bottom bracket and chain stay mounted mechanical brakes. The brakes themselves are perhaps the Avant’s best trick. Each frame can be used with rim calipers or disc brakes. The discs brakes can be removed in favor of rim calipers leaving only discrete mounts, or run discs and thanks to the chain stay mounted rear caliper, the brake hole in the fork is the only evidence of it’s rim capability. 135mm disc spacing is used for all Avant’s and small insets reduce it to 130mm for calipers. The bike also has internal cable routing optimized for both electronic and mechanical drive trains. Combine all of this with room for 28mm tires, hidden fender and rack mounts, and the new Avant is perhaps the most versatile bike on the market.
Orbea’s Avant is available in five different builds, four are Shimano Ultegra based and offer choices between rim and disc brakes. The top of the range is the SRAM Red 22 with hydraulic disc brakes and Zipp 303 wheels for $8500.