The times they are a changing. As I type this review news is filtering through that the UCI is going to allow all World Tour racers to use disc brakes from the start of 2016 and all amateur racers to follow suit in 2017. So it is just as well that disc brake technology is well advanced and that most brands are at the stage where they are refining their disc brake range rather than inventing it. Disc brake bikes will no longer be categorised as ‘recreational’ but can be fully compliant red blooded race bikes. Where this takes us and what percentage of race bikes end up being disc bikes is anyone’s guess at the moment but in the mean time we can just enjoy the innovations that new technologies bring and watch the evolution.
The Avanti Corsa ER is Avanti’s latest foray into the disc brake road bike market. Visually it is a very impressive bike. The colour choice is very much to my liking and the paintwork has a deep lustrous look to it. In a break from what has become the norm these days the Corsa is not busily emblazoned with countless trademarked logos or crazy acronyms but only sports a few tasteful logos which I think ads greatly to its appeal.
One doesn’t need to be a bike expert to be able to sidle up to the Corsa, cast a quick eye over it and be able to gauge its intent in a manner of minutes, if not seconds. Its design cues are obvious and while I know it is becoming clichéd you can see from the tube shapes and sizes that the dynamic duo of stiff and vertically compliant were at the forefront of the engineers minds. The downtube where it meets the bottom bracket area is a massive squared off tube which covers the full width of the frame allowing for maximal stiffness to be designed in. The seat stays by marked contrast are spindly affairs as you would expect from the major contributors to ride quality. The ER in the Corsa’s name stands for ‘Endurance Road’ and the ‘tell’ here is the taller head tube which, which though it may be taller than standard race geometry, is subtly disguised with the two colour paintwork.
The Corsa ER has an interesting component spec. The front derailleur is Ultegra, the rear derailleur is Dura-Ace and the cassette is 105. One can only assume this is being done to give maximal spec where it is needed but still hit a sensitive price point, yet I can’t help thinking that going Ultegra overall would have been a less controversial option.
The wheelset is DT Swiss’ R23 Spline Disc Wheelset, DT Swiss are always a dependable choice and should give good service and longevity. They allow for larger tyres to be used, in this case running Kenda 28mm tyres and the polished hubs are a bright departure from the usual hub choices. The DT Swiss wheels feature thru axles which, apart from generally being stiffer than standard axles, allow the skewers to be torqued up tighter and more accurately for precise alignment with the disc brake setup.
As for the brakes on the Corsa, they are Shimano’s flat mount standard hydraulic discs. Now I’m not going to try and convince you that I’m the most knowledgeable person when it comes to disc brakes. The truth is that I have spent more time riding on fancy carbon fibre TT disc wheels than disc braked wheels. Whether you are a fan of the system and the move towards hydraulic brakes or not the benefits are undeniable. The absolute stopping power, as with rim brakes, may be limited by the tyres contact patch but the lever feel is what makes the hardened cynics raise an eyebrow.
Getting the Corsa set to roll out had me mentally on my toes. When the Avanti arrived I was told the mechanics couldn’t get the seat level due to the clamping mechanism. Like any good home mechanic I considered that more a challenge than a statement of fact. As it turns out the clever DiffLock clamp is infinitely adjustable once you figure out how it works. The seat post also has an elastomer to further help dampen vibrations. The seat post clamp is a neat integrated number that looks really well engineered and sis within the flowing lines of the top tube, however indulge me one whinge. When a bike contains a part as critical as a seat post clamp that bolts into some delicate looking carbon, that no doubt would not be warrantied if cracked due to overtightening, then some torqueing numbers would be really handy. Another interesting part choice is the Tranz-X stem which is a shock absorbing stem, which works by having the upper and lower steerer bolts clamping independent pieces of the stem which are hinged together to allow a smidge of movement to take the edge off the road bumps.
Throwing a leg over the Avanti, what is immediately noticeable is the position. Trying to replicate my normal road position on the Avanti meant ‘slamming’ the stem and even then I was still a good 30mm too high. For the easy days it made for a very relaxed ride, and when in the drops there was no shoulder discomfort or overreaching issues. For those not after a racy geometry, or with flexibility issues impeding a racy stance, the Avanti offers a fine place to perch.
The braking of the Corsa ER is dependable, repeatable and easy on the hands. The front brake line is routed inside the fork which keeps the front end looking neater than could otherwise be the case. The Kenda tyres however I felt let the package down just a touch. They are touted as being race ready and puncture resistant but even at 28mm they still seemed a little hard for a bike trying to showcase its comfort. Saddles and bars are very personal choices and while the Zero bars and saddle aren’t my personal choice they were perfectly functional and with all the good things to on the Corsa ER to keep me engrossed they didn’t pose me enough of a distraction to warrant swapping them out.
Endurance road bikes along with their higher front end position often come with slightly slower handling but that was not the case with the Corsa ER. The front end was surprisingly spritely (despite the ‘suspension’ stem) and the seatstays are particularly slender. They do a good job of smoothing out the ride, which is exactly what you would be looking for in a bike like this. It would have been going against the design intentions of this bike but, had it not been sporting disc brakes, I would like to have tried my luck racing on it. C’est la vie. Bring on the long days in the saddle.
A super slick finish to the frame makes this bike look very special, and while spec level of the full Shimano componentry varies between Dura-Ace and 105 the feeling of quality is remains.
The handling and agility of the Corsa ER2 belies its Endurance moniker. Dependable Shimano shifting and brakes that will get you safely down the other side of any hill you can climb.
Value for money
$3,999.95 would be great if it was all Dura Ace and a bit expensive if it was all 105. With its mix of component spec. the Avanti is a decent and dependable buy for the money with all the major components being from reputable brands
While looks may not be everything, no one wants an ugly bike. The Avanti Corsa ER2 is a fantastic looking package that will make the dearest of race bikes feel a little self-conscious. A durable and dependable package that should give plenty of enjoyable hours in the saddle and no reason for excuses.
Frame: ADT R5 Carbon
Fork: ADT R5 Carbon
Head Set: Integrated Aheadset 1-1/8″ – 1-1/4″
Stem: TranzX Antishock 31.8mm
Handlebars: Zero Attack Pro-S 31.8mm
Saddle: Zero Zenith Pro
Seatpost: 3T Ionic Team Comfort
Shift Levers: Shimano ST-RS685
Brakes: Shimano BR-RS805 Hydraulic Disc, 140mm Rotors
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace 9000
Cassette: Shimano 105 5800 11-28T 11-Speed
Chain: Shimano HG600 11S
Crank: Shimano Ultegra 6800 Compact 52/36T
Bottom Bracket: Shimano SM-BB71 Press Fit
Wheels: DT Swiss R23 Spline Disc Wheelset
Tyres: Kenda Kountach Endurance 700 x 28c
Distributor: Sheppard Industries