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Orbea Gain M20i e-bike review

10 Dec 2020
Verdict:

A great ride and visual control of the motor’s support level from the bars

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Well specced • Head unit to control and monitor motor
Against 
Battery easy to deplete quickly • No mudguard mounts

The Orbea Gain was one of the first e-road bikes out there, with a profile much like a normal road bike with drop bars. For 2021 it’s had a makeover, with frame features more like the Orbea OMX performance pedal-powered bike and an updated Mahle ebikemotion X35 Plus rear hub motor.

All Gains now come with a head unit too, which gives info on range and the assistance level you’ve selected. Plus, rather than having to use the top tube button to change assistance levels you can also do this via the buttons on the head unit.

 

It’s a bit easier than the two push method using the top tube button, where you also have to scroll through the assistance levels if you want to drop to a low level of support. With the head unit, you can push the left button to reduce support or the right one to increase support by one level.

Buy the Orbea Gain M20i from Leisure Lakes Bikes now

The range estimate is another nice feature of the head unit, although I found it increased, rather than decreased, my range anxiety. Heading out from home, and running at speeds above the 25kmh at which motor support stops, I was serene with the 100km-plus range routinely shown.

 

Coming home through the Chilterns involves at least two significant hills and the temptation is to engage the highest red support level to get up them more quickly and comfortably, particularly since it makes a change from crawling up them under my own steam in the lowest gear, which is the norm on non-assisted bikes.

But that led to an alarmingly fast drop off in range, with the top tube battery level light quickly changing from showing over 50% capacity to less than 25%.

I never ran out of power, but the setup did seem to run through the juice quickly and, unlike the Ribble SL e which I have also tested, I needed to recharge the Orbea after every ride.

 

The Pulsar One head unit is easy to read and uses ANT+ to connect to the motor’s electronics. That means that you can also link it to a heart rate monitor and a power meter for more ride data.

What it doesn’t have is GPS capability. If you know where you’re going and don’t care about having a record of your route that’s fine. But if you want Strava stats or route guidance, you’ll need to stick another computer on your bars or use an app like Strava on your phone.

Buy the Orbea Gain M20i from Leisure Lakes Bikes now

On the plus side, without a GPS chip the Pulsar One will run for ages on its coin cell battery. And its out-front mount is very neatly integrated into the front of the stem and is compatible with Garmin and other brands’ computers if you don’t mind forgoing the motor controls and just using the top tube button to change assistance level.

 

Neat integration

Also integrated into the computer mount is a 60-lumen daytime running light. It’s a neat feature, upping your visibility, although there’s no flashing mode. There’s a 12-lumen tail light cleverly integrated into the seatpost clamp too – again there’s only a constant mode.

Since you’re carrying a battery around with you to run the motor, it makes sense to use it to power your lights rather than adding yet more batteries to your load.

 

Back at the front, there’s also clean cockpit integration, ported from the Orca. There’s a short external run of cabling from the end of the bar tape, but this quickly disappears into a groove on the underside of the stem, covered by a plate, never to reappear until it reaches the mechs and brake callipers.

The front end of the frame in particular looks suitably aero, with a svelte fork that melds smoothly into the head tube and a kamm-tail profile to the chunky down tube which hides the battery. At the rear, there’s a standard round seat tube and post.

 

Orbea has upped the Gain’s tyre clearance too and you can fit 40mm tyres if you want. The road-going Gains get 30mm Schwalbe tyres on Orbea’s own wide, 42mm deep carbon wheels, but there are also single ring gravel-oriented options with 38mm tyres.

Buy the Orbea Gain M20i from Leisure Lakes Bikes now

Despite the wide spacing, Orbea doesn’t include mudguard mounts on the Gain. They’d be nice to have and mudguards would have saved me a lot of post-ride clean up on damp autumn excursions.

The frame’s reach and stack result in quite an upright ride position, so a lot of your weight is on the saddle, a Selle Royal Asphalt GR. It’s quite unusual to see a road bike with a saddle branded Selle Royal rather than from its Fizik performance brand, but the well-padded design is well shaped and comfortable.

 

As with all Orbea’s bikes, you can vary some items on the spec during the order process, including the saddle and tyres.

The weight over the rear wheel and the wide tyres meant that I never slipped the rear tyre, even on steep damp roads when using max assistance. The motor provides its best support if you sit in and spin rather than trying to climb out of the saddle, which helps limit spikes in power delivery.

There’s research showing that e-bike riders ride further and more frequently than riders of conventional bikes. That looked at commuters, but I found the same effect on longer excursions with the Gain. With less peak effort, I finished rides feeling significantly less tired and more ready to head out again without muscle aches and pains.

My heart rate was around 10bpm lower than I’d normally find too, both peak and average. One trick the ebikemotion system has is to use the accompanying app to couple up the motor to a heart rate monitor and up its assistance level once your heart rate reaches a predefined number.

 

In conclusion

At just over 12kg, the Gain M20i is around 300g heavier than the Ribble SL e, but that still puts it at the lightest end of the electric bike market, so it’s no slouch even with the motor switched off. The top spec Gain M20i with Dura-Ace Di2 should pretty much match the Ribble’s weight.

The Gain is a bit more of an all-rounder than the Ribble too and with the cleverly integrated motor and battery looks and performs every inch like the performance road bike which it is. Having a motor to help in the hills and headwinds is just the icing on the cake.

Buy the Orbea Gain M20i from Leisure Lakes Bikes now

Spec

Frame Orbea Gain Carbon OMR
Fork Orbea Gain OMR carbon
Motor Mahle ebikemotion X35 Plus
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra 50/34
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 11-32
Bars OC2 Road
Stem Orbea ICR
Seatpost OC2 carbon
Saddle Selle Royal Asphalt GR
Wheels OC2 Carbon 42 tubeless ready
Tyres Schwalbe One TLE 30mm
Weight 12.1kg
Contact orbea.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£5,299

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