My last chance to test ride an Avanti was when I was test piloting the award winning time trial rocket the Chrono Evo. Beyond its design awards I bestowed upon it the highest accolade one can impart upon anyone from the Shaky Isles. I thought it was good enough to be called “Australian”. Now I have the chance to test the Avanti Cadent ER3 to see if that is good enough to be considered for honorary citizenship.
The Cadent 3 ER is Avanti’s offering in the ever burgeoning sector that is “endurance road bikes”. These are bikes with more forgiving geometry that allow a greater range of fitting opportunities especially for those not looking for a solely race focussed bike. This style of bike is starting to be taken very seriously by bike manufacturers with most now having a bike that fits in this category. That competition has meant these models not only need to be functional but also need to look good, and still incorporate the technology that is being utilised in the race models.
If you were to ignore the dimensional aspects of the Cadent, what you would see is one very smart looking bike. It proved to be a real head turner wherever I took it. The matte black carbon with white and blue accents is quite an attractive combination and enables the Shimano 6800 Ultegra components to blend in nicely. The new Cadent is resplendent in Shimano’s new 6800 Ultegra 11 speed groupset. Ultegra has, for many years, been the groupset of choice for value and reliability and once again it has benefitted from trickle down technology from the Dura Ace 9000 series. This iteration of Ultegra has inherited from its Dura Ace brethren the four arm crankset that gives a wider range of chain ring options and on this model is the 50-34 compact version. Apart from the usual weight loss and tweaks the best upgrades to this version of Ultegra would have to be the brakes and the new front derailleur. The new brakes are claimed to improve braking performance by about 16% and I must say that these new stoppers can certainly pull you up in a flash with consistent power and the upshot of this is that when you feel confident braking you can allow yourself to go faster. The other big improvement is the front derailleur, which with its longer leverage makes the changing from small to big ring silky smooth and seemingly effortless. The hoods of the new Ultegra are also similar to the Dura Ace 9000 which means they are a much better ergonomic fit especially for those with smaller hands. The Avanti accommodates a shimano press fit bottom bracket, so there is no need to swap out parts or to use adaptors and the frame is also capable of utilising electronic components should you wish to upgrade in the future. The seat post, bars and stem are Avanti’s own brand “Zero” which are adequate for the specified task and the wheels are Mavic’s Aksium Race which are a dependable choice.
Seeing as the endurance road bikes are being touted as a bike for those who need some compromise in the setup of their bikes I have on recent tests taken to perching the stem high on the steerer for a few rides to see how the bike behaves in a scenario that will no doubt be thrust upon it. Pleasingly the Avanti was still stable and secure with the stem at the top of its range. The four bolt stem and alloy bars combine well with the tall stout head tube to keep the front end from getting whippy or the bars feeling sloppy when climbing. The other selling point for endurance geometry bikes is the comfort factor for longer rides. While many of us have racing bikes that is fitted well are capable of much more than simply racing duties, for many the mere thought of long rides on a race geometry bike will automatically send lower backs and shoulders into spasms. The Cadent with its taller head tube affords a more upright position which when combined with a slightly shorter top tube alleviates overreaching for the long hours in the saddle. The Mavic Aksiums roll well and are a durable wheelset and are shod with Kenda’s 25mm Kriteriums. 25mm tyres are becoming increasingly popular, the seemingly minor change in section size gives a greater degree of comfort with a negligible drop in rolling resistance. The Zero Zelix saddle was more comfortable than I expected. I’m not usually a fan of saddles with cut-outs, so expected the worst but was pleasantly surprised at the comfort of the Zelix, but as always saddles are personal things and your anatomy may not agree with mine.
To classify the cadent as a comfy long haul bike is fair, but to pigeonhole it as that only would be doing it a disservice. As with all the test bikes I ride, I like to take them racing as often as possible and the Cadent was a worthy companion on such outings. While the position wasn’t exactly my preferred setup, for those that fit well on this rig, using the Avanti Cadent as a race bike is certainly not out of the question. The bottom end is stiff enough to reward effort, the BB86 full carbon bottom bracket shell mates with the Maximum Output Differential Stays to get every watt to the rear wheel whether climbing or sprinting. The steering, while not being lightning fast, was certainly responsive and precise enough to enable a safe navigation through a racing bunch and the tapered head tube ensured the rigidity of the front end when wrestling with the bars in the finish straight. The Cadent also bears a UCI approval sticker to keep the commissaires at bay should you decide to line up in a more formal race environment.
Climbing on the Cadent is a comfortable task, and this is where, who would generally only ride a race geometry bike I was thankful for the accommodating nature of the Cadent. The range of gearing offered by the compact cranks and the 28 tooth cassette make even the largest cols manageable and while it is no featherweight at 8kg’s it is not prohibitively weighty.
I must say that the overriding feeling I got while riding the Cadent was one of sheer comfort. The Avanti employs Vibration Reduction Stays for it’s the rear end which in combination with the tyre and wheel choice gives a ride quality that is almost sublime. Avanti, in recent years, have been touting their technological innovations and the way this is incorporated in the bikes they build. While this may give rise to a website full of logos and acronyms, this is all for nought, if the end result is not up to scratch. The Cadent is a harmonious blend of race technology and comfort, and while many endurance geometry bikes claim to be in it for the long haul, the Cadent is able to attack the long haul at speed and arrive in comfort. So I think it is time we started on the citizenship paperwork and claimed the Avanti as one of our own.
The Avanti Cadent ER3 may be a mouthful, but it is worth the time to write it on your wish list if you are searching for an endurance geometry bike. A great looking frame, 11 speed components to future proof your purchase plus comfort and performance will encourage you to ride more, and that’s what it’s all about.
Performance: While the frames dimensions may not suit all racers, for those who struggle to fit on a race rocket this is a great option for going fast without the discomfort of trying to fit on bikes designed for pro riders. Thankfully the performance aspect of the Cadent has not been overlooked in the pursuit of comfort.
Value for money
At $3,399.00 the Cadent is a great package, the frame looks great and has performance to match. Shimano’s 11 speed groupset is the best bits of Dura Ace in an affordable package and will future proof your investment.
The Cadent is a race capable bike for those who maybe aren’t in perfect racing shape themselves or for those who want to finish off a Fondo with a sprint. It is a touch heavier than expected at 8.05 kgs for the 56.5 cm version but that is negligible in the whole bike/rider equation.
Frame: Avanti ADT Carbon
Fork: Avanti ADT Carbon Monocoque
Head Set: Integrated
Stem: Zero Attack Pro
Handlebars: Zero attack Pro
Saddle: Zero Zelix Pro
Seat post: Zero Attack Pro Carbon
Shift Levers: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-28
Chain: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Crank: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Bottom Bracket: Shimano SM-BB71 Press Fit
Wheels: Mavic Aksium Race
Tyres: Kenda Kriterium
Bidon Cage: N/A
Weight: 8.05 kgs
Distributor: Sheppard Cycles Australia