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Orbea Orca OMR first ride review

14 Sep 2016

Page 1 of 2Orbea Orca OMR first ride review

Verdict:

We’re back from a 55km ride at Orbea's launch of the new Orca OMR. Here’s what we think so far.

For those of you who haven’t read the announcement [skip to page 2], we’re at the launch of the new Orca, Orbea's flagship road bike whose prototype ancestors can claim to be the last bicycles actually produced in Orbea’s Spanish headquarters in Mallabia, northern Spain, back in 2001. Still, Far East production has smiled upon the Basque marque and the lineage endures, with the latest creation a marked step up.

Visually there’s a lot to write home about where the rim brake version is concerned – the one we’ve just been riding. For our money the Orca always trod a very fine line between looking bold and overbuilt, but the 2016 iteration (which they’ll call the 2017 model as bike manufacturers like to live in the future) is actually kind of understated. Tubes are now more rounded, the frame more homogenous looking than the angular beast before it, and everything is brought together neatly by a slick looking integrated seat tube binder that immediately draws the eye and lends the Orca a true look of class.

The Orca is now lighter – a claimed 795g unpainted plus 315g for the fork – but stiffer, particularly up front: according to product manager Joseba Arizaga, the fork is now a 26% improvement. As such, this test bike weighs around 6.2kg including an FSA K-Force Light crank mated to a Power2max power meter, which can be specced at source. That figure is undoubtedly helped out by the very light 1,250g (claimed) Vision TC24 tubular wheels and Vittoria Speed tubs, but a more usable clincher build should happily make the 6.8kg grade. Orbea will release more price information soon, but as yet all we know is the non-power meter version – weighed at 5.63kg before our very eyes – costs €6,999.

The good, the bad and the speedy

Given all this, initial early pedal strokes felt great. The Orca looked resplendent in the afternoon sun and thanks to the lightness in the overall build the Orca felt borderline sublime.

Acceleration was spot on. Arizaga was right, this is a stiff bike. Not crazily so, it still had some give at the rear end, and over-exaggerated high gear, low cadence efforts did produce some detectable flex, but overall we felt the Orca engineers had done a fine job blending weight, stiffness and comfort.

The geometry has been tweaked this time around, with Arizaga citing that Orbea wanted something more aggressive, so the relative stack is now lower (the fork has been shortened 5mm to achieve this), the wheelbase a touch shorter and the BB lowered. This equated to a noticeably lower position, so good news for aero, and very fast handling. But there were a few quirks.

The good news is that the Orca really whips through fast corners and relishes sudden changes of direction. On a crit circuit we could see this going down a storm. But the bad news is that for fast, long corners and straighter, 50kph+ descents we felt some stability was lacking, and the bike felt a bit nervous.

The fact Orbea felt it needed to lower the bottom bracket makes us think it knew something here, that maybe the bike wasn’t as planted as they’d like at speed and so felt a lower centre of gravity would benefit it. However, in the Orca’s defence 55km is not a lot of riding and it was a gusty day, so we would hasten to point out this is early feedback, and that over the course of this short spin we did feel more at one with the handling. Still, though, we can’t imagine the Orca’s overtly racy demeanour could hide itself for long.

All we can say for now, then, is we’ll need a lot more time on the Orca before we’re prepared to pass judgement. However early signs all point towards this being an exciting, accomplished race bike.

Page 1 of 2Orbea Orca OMR first ride review

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