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Introducing the new Orbea Orca Aero

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26 Oct 2021
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The Basque bike company has reimagined its aero road bike offering, and the results speak for themselves

Traditionally, aero bikes are designed for one thing and one thing only – speed. Optimised to reduce drag and turbulence while ensuring the most efficient transfer of power, they are renowned for being stiff, aggressive and a sprinter’s weapon of choice.

One thing they have historically not been famous for is their comfort. Ergonomics and rideability are usually overlooked for eking out a watt saving here or there, and the result is a machine that, while impressive in a wind-tunnel, can actually be more inefficient when in the wrong hands.

That is, until now. The new Orbea Orca Aero redefines what it means to be an aero bike. Taking design cues from the brand’s Ordu triathlon bike, it balances the key components (aerodynamics, stiffness and handling) while also factoring in ergonomics and the rider-bike interaction. The result is a machine that leaves you with more watts for less input, whatever your size or bike fit.


Striking a perfect balance

A top tube and chainstays that run parallel to the road. A down tube and seat tube designed to leave minimum clearance between frame and tyres. A carbon fibre construction with no air turbulence-creating joins or welds. The Orca Aero looks absolutely rapid when standing still, and has the science to back itself on the road too.

‘The Orca Aero is the perfect bike for riders concerned about aerodynamic efficiency, and the watt-saving game,’ says Joseba Arizaga, Orbea’s road product manager. ‘We understand that the most efficient bike is the one which finds the perfect balance between aerodynamics, stiffness and handling and have built this bike on all our aerodynamic knowledge and experience.

‘Computer simulations and wind-tunnel tests are key to the development, allowing us to test multiple solutions that reduce drag and air turbulence. But it is during field tests where we really see the effect of wind, gravity and rolling resistance. After an impressive number of calculations, our Orca Aero revealed itself as the fastest aero road bike we've ever designed – measuring a 15-watt improvement at 40kmh and a massive 28 watts at 50kmh when compared to the previous model.

‘It’s not just efficient on the flat either. We measured rider-bike interaction on 6% and 10% slopes to check the performance at lower speeds, and contrary to what happens with aero road bikes, the Orca Aero doesn't show any efficiency loss on lower speed climbs.’


Amazing handling, whatever size

Speed in a straight line is all well and good, but is useless unless the bike can be coaxed round corners. Fortunately, Orbea hasn’t forgotten about the rider in its pursuit for aerodynamic excellence.

‘Good aerodynamics and power transmissions are a must when designing an aero bike, but being fast requires precise control over the bike,’ adds Arizaga. ‘The Orca Aero’s geometry is the perfect balance of responsiveness and stability. The position is more aggressive to maximise both the aerodynamics and efficiency, but the handling remains precise and intuitive.

‘Its shorter wheelbase and chainstays have made the bike more responsive and improved acceleration. Stability is also improved by having lower stack and BB drop, which also means better ergonomics as the rider is closer to the ground.

‘At Orbea, we believe that every rider should have the perfect bike. Angles and dimensions are carefully considered, one by one across all sizes to ensure every size works perfectly, from the smallest to the tallest rider. The Orca Aero is available in seven sizes, from 47cm to 60cm, and each has a specific fork offset to give improved control, no matter what frame size.’


Ergonomic efficiency equals more speed

Seven sizes might sound impressive, but cyclists don’t just come in seven standard configurations. A bike that fits you perfectly is not only going to be more comfortable on longer rides, but will also make you more effective – meaning even fewer wasted watts. Orbea knows this, and has bucked a recent aero bike trend in favour of ergonomic efficiency.

‘For many years, fully integrated one piece handlebars were claimed to be the aero solution for aero bikes,’ says Arizaga. ‘But we are convinced that steering away from a one piece set-up gives massive ergonomic gains. Being able to rotate your handlebar, choose any stem length or choose any handlebar width lets riders get the perfect position, improving rider comfort, aerodynamics and control in the process, which means more speed.

‘Our sprinter-proof ICR road stem is available in seven lengths – from 70 to 130 millimetres – and is a perfect match for the new aero handlebar, the OC. Available in three different widths, its five-degree flare makes it 20mm narrower at the hoods to ensure a more aero position when riding on the hoods and a wider, more stable position when sprinting or riding on the drops. There are 28 different combinations of the OC handlebar and ICR stem, meaning you can find your perfect fit. Each not only reduces drag, but offers an excellent stiffness for the most aggressive riders.’


Additional comfort through improved clearance

The shift away from narrow, rock solid tyres to wider, more compliant models run at lower pressure is an innovation made possible thanks to the shift to disc brakes and increased frame clearance.

‘Modern road riders have discovered the advantages of bigger tyres – a wider tyre inflated to lower pressures can reduce rolling resistance while the added air volume dramatically increases compliance and traction,’ Arizaga continues.

‘Even though the frame’s aerodynamics have been optimised for 25-28mm tyres, we know that some people believe that comfort is fast, so we designed the Orca Aero to be able to fit 30mm tyres.’

Extras that actually make you faster

Strapping a saddle bag or attaching a bottle cage to your aero bike has historically meant negating some of those wind tunnel-research benefits. Orbea has a solution though which means you can have your cake (well, water and inner tubes) and eat it.

‘Modern aero bikes require modern solutions that not only make the bike look better, but also make it faster,’ says Arizaga. ‘The age old question of where to carry essential tools is answered by the integrated toolbox behind the front wheel. Big enough for two inner tubes, tyre levers and a CO2 canister, the Cargo Foil is aerodynamically beneficial whether you fill it up or leave it empty.

‘The same goes for the aero bottle cages and bottles. Slick and stylish in design, they enable you to stay hydrated without interfering with the Orca Aero’s aerodynamics.’

The Orbea Orca Aero 2022 is available in six different builds starting from £3,999.99. Find available stock here