Our ‘first look’ at the Avanti Corsa DR4 left us impressed by several neat design touches, and six weeks of riding have done nothing to harm our good opinion of this upscale, aero-profiled carbon race steed.
A £5,800 superbike that tipped our scales at 6.9kg, we began testing with every hope of experiencing a ride above the norm, and the Corsa DR4 largely met this expectation.
It revealed a ‘light’ characteristic that extended beyond its feathery weight. Easy to turn in and to move around, it had a delicate but precise feel in the steering. Incredibly confident in turns (we threw it down a twisty descent that has been known to catch out the unwary rider in the past), the Corsa DR4 exhibited a smooth, flowing character that we settled into enjoying quickly.
There was an ample stiffness in the bottom bracket and chainstays that extracted all of the (limited) power from our legs and placed it on the tarmac. Such brutal efficiency was not to the detriment of the ride quality, which we considered good for such a stiff, aero-profiled tubeset. Riding the Corsa DR4 both in a pack and at its head, we found it capable of covering ground very swiftly indeed and had this been racing season, we would have been very pleased to take it to competitive outings.
The Corsa DR4 frame is woven from unidirectional carbon fibre, whose aero-profiled tubes are based on research with Computational Fluid Dynamics, and include a massive BB86 standard bottom bracket. The steerer tube of the full carbon fork tapers from 1-1/4″to 1-1/8 and we felt this played a role in the very positive steering.
Our 55cm frame was probably a fraction small for me, a 5’10” rider normally found aboard 56cm machines, but the 1.5cm increments in which Avanti frames are supplied makes it only a short hop up to the 56.5cm version and a closer fit.
We noted many of the Corsa DR4’s neat design touches in our first look. The integrated headset spacer, stays with small depressions to house the quick release levers, a replaceable rear mech hanger that allows the cable to smoothly exit the drive side chain stay, and internal routing for mechanical or electronic cables from any of the major component manufacturers impressed us.
Fellow riders commented on the graphics, noting that the seatpost with it’s green strip aligned with the stripe on the frame and super clean clamping system lent the Corsa DR4 the appearance of a bike with an integrated seatmast. It’s a reminder of just how carefully the New Zealand team have thought about the Corsa.
We were pleasantly surprised by the comfort derived from the in-house Zero Attack finishing kit. The stem and bar made for a comfortable cockpit, even though the 55cm size, with its 142.75mm head tube was pretty low (the 56.5mm frame offers and extra 20mm at the headtube). The profiled handlebar tops and a wrap of Zero Gum tape gave us a nice upright position for longer rides and gentle climbs.
The Dura Ace 9000 proved impressive: a great step forward from the mildly flawed 7900 version. We noted improvements in shifting at the front and rear mechs which, coupled with a reduced lever throw, made changes a little swifter.
Sadly the Dura Ace C50 wheels remain untested. Our machine, as is occasionally the case with ‘industry’ bikes, was supplied with prototype wheels not intended for use, and making discretion the better part of valour, we slotted in the Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels we have on test; a switch that was in its own way revealing.
Swapping a £1,200 deep section carbon wheelset for aluminium clinchers might reasonably be expected to dull the performance of the bike, but the Corsa DR4 racked up all of the many positives noted above on rolling stock a third of the price than that with which it is supplied. Impressive.
Our final ride out on the Avanti Corsa DR4 was this weekend, and it was something of a traditional UK send off; a wonderfully misty and murky dawn with a touch of moisture on the tarmac. The Antipodean machine is probably looking forward to a return to warmer climes. It will be a sad loss to our corner of Britain.