Product review: Avanti ‘Shadow’

Adelaide Car

Avanti have two top end racing road bikes. The Corsa SL is the light weight climbing weapon of choice by the skinny men of Avanti Racing Team. The Corsa DR is the more aerodynamic machine, engineered to be launched at the highest of speeds. Could there be room in the Avanti Racing Team’s stable for a third top end race bike?

I’ve now had the chance to see the new Shadow in the AvantiPlus Collingwood, and The Full Cycle Albury. After taking the bike for a few short spins, I thought I’d write a quick review. The Shadow is without doubt the most innovative and experimental race bike Avanti have delivered to the Team. Here are a few of the key differences to it’s Corsa brothers (or maybe even distant cousins?)

Soon after getting started I realised geometry was altered. The slack head angle made for exceptional handling and gave the Shadow a very nimble feel. While I only rode the Shadow on my own, up and down Smith and Dean Street, I can imagine it being very handy when trying to squeeze through (or perhaps beneath) a tightly packed peloton. I also felt way more aero than even on the Corsa DR! Not from funky shaped tubes, but purely from a reduction in frontal surface area of the rider- On the Shadow, you feel like a shadow, moving through the wind almost undetected. Unfortunately it wasn’t all positive. The radical geometry caused radical muscle recruitment patterns compared to riding a Corsa DR. I also struggled to get the seat height right. I was assured by the staff at AvantiPlus Collingwood that this was the largest model of the Shadow.

Notice the EXTREME hip and knee angles.

Notice the EXTREME hip and knee angles.

Another innovative design was the rear braking system. Rather than squeezing brake levers, the rear brake engaged simply by back-pedalling. I thought this was genius. I hate it when you jump on a team mate’s bike to take it for a gentle spin only to end up looking like a first time dirty mountain biker, all covered in grazes, only because he runs his brakes “euro” style. What a dick. Do you ride “euro style” into oncoming traffic too? Of course you don’t; we’re in Australia. But get angry no longer! The Shadow fixes this problem entirely. Ease the pedals backwards to slow down, or jam it back to do a big skid. I was thoroughly impressed with this feature, however have reservations if it is UCI legal.

The Full Cycle Albury wind tunnel indicated VERY impressive sprint aerodynamics

The Full Cycle Albury wind tunnel indicated VERY impressive sprint aerodynamics

Verdict

The Shadow is an exciting bike that bucks the trend and has some great features such as the aero position and innovative rear braking system, but they do come at a cost. I really struggled to feel comfortable on even a short ride, and am sceptical if I could handle it for an entire criterium, let alone 200km road stage. I also wonder if these wacky features will render the bike illegal by the UCI. Ultimately, the Shadow looks great, is cheap, exciting, but in my mind fails to reach the high standards set by the current Corsa models.

The Shadow is without a doubt, as striking as the Corsa models

The Shadow is without a doubt, as striking as the Corsa models