Road Tested: Orbea Orca M20 Team
One of the world’s oldest bike brands, Spanish manufacturer Orbea, is closing in on its 200th anniversary. But the company hasn’t been making bikes since the get go; in fact, they started out as a rifle and gun producer. Nowadays they are better known as a gun bike producer.
Taking delivery of an Orbea Orca M20 team just before Christmas, the bike was boxed, ready to be built up and waiting at the local Orbea / Schwalbe Australia dealer.
First impressions do count, and before the box was even opened, three key points were glaringly obvious: the Orbea branding, the proud inclusion of ‘Since 1840’ and #MyOrbea messaging on the protective cardboard casing.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to choosing, selecting and customising a new bike, Orbea do things quite differently to the majority of manufacturers. The hashtag that’s proudly printed on top of the box is a reference to the journey the bike has made to date. This is an offering that evolves from a digital depiction on a computer, tablet or smart phone screen, is hand-assembled in a factory in Spain then eventually ends up on a front deck in Sydney.
The ordering process is an important factor of the Orbea experience and well worth highlighting. Selecting the one of the various Orca models on the company website, two levels of customisation are available.
‘We choose the components, you select them’ is the first. All items on the standard build are listed with drop down menus available on certain components. For example, the standard issue crankset for the Orca M20i Team is the Shimano Ultegra R8000 34x50.
However, if you select the ‘Consult Other Components’ tab, you can select from five other options and have one of them factory fitted. This is the same with handlebars, wheels, tyres, the saddle and numerous other components.
The next level of customisation is Orbea’s ‘MyO’ offering. As its name suggests, this is a full blown paint scheme where you can design and create any colour combination bike you want. It’s interesting to play with and worth checking out on the Orbea website. Another interesting point is the availability of the bike’s ‘Blue Paper’. This can be read and downloaded from the company website and is a tech head’s dream—all measurements, facts and figures are itemised and listed.
Back to the real world and, factory assembled to around 90%, the bike was lifted from the carton and put together on the front deck at home. To see the build process, and take a closer look at the bike, check out the video on the Bicycling Australia YouTube channel.
Starting up front and the Orca is now a disc-only build. The M20 features Shimano Ultegra hydraulic discs, the rotors attached to the standard Fulcrum 700DB wheels. While these did hold up well and have proven solid and dependable training wheels, at 1740 grams they do add weight. Back to those aforementioned factory upgrades via the dropdown menu, Orbea offer a number of options including Vision 40 SC Disc Carbon tubeless ready wheels for an extra $1196—a worthy upgrade in terms of both performance and aesthetics.
To the cockpit and the M20 build features a factory ‘OC2’ carbon bar with a reach of 80mm and 125mm drop. You’d swear the stem was carbon as well, but it’s a beautifully crafted alloy unit with six common lengths available.
One of the super slick inclusions is the integrated out-front mount. This is attached after removing a small insert in the stem faceplate and securing the mount via two grub screws, and both a Garmin and Wahoo mount are included.
Just like the ‘magic mount’ that vanishes into the stem, so too does all cabling, which is internally routed via Orbea’s ICR system.
To the main triangle and the slick, minimalist theme continues. ‘Orca’ is subtly featured just behind the stem as the top tube gently angles back toward the neat rubber boot that covers the internal seat tube clamp.
Aero is everything these days, and the Orca seat tube features in the design. On top of this is a very neat Prologo Scratch-M5 saddle. At 140mm, this proved comfortable during the test period and, although purely subjective, is a saddle I’d certainly keep if I owned the bike. As we touched on earlier, and similar to many other components, four alternate saddles are available with the bike.
On-trend and providing comfort and a degree of compliance, the seat stays flow rearward and down toward the rear thru axle before morphing into the beefy and boxy chain stays.
Stiff and sprightly, all of the above merge to create a high performance bike. Extensively tested over close to a month of lockdown over the Christmas period, the Orca was a sanity saver. It is a lot of fun to ride and a bike that really puts out what you, the rider, put in.
…The test bike was finished in Orbea’s ‘MyO’ custom paint scheme and featured faultless crafts‘person’ship…
If a simple and leisurely ride is on the agenda, the Orca feels perfectly at home in ‘cruise’ mode. Feeling the need for speed, a shot at some local segments or a PB up that nemesis climb, and the bike will respond and react accordingly.
It is a comfortable bike to ride, one that laps up rolling hills and rolls smoothly on the factory wheels and Vittoria Rubino 28c tyres. But stomp on the pedals and take your turn spearheading the bunch and this rig will hold its own and perform like a pedigree well above its price point.
Most impressively, it’s a bike that comes in at the relatively affordable $5,699 with Ultegra Di2 and standard factory paint.
It may well be my 50yo legs speaking, but the only change I’d make to this machine is the cassette. It comes factory fitted with the Ultegra 11-28t 11-speed cassette. I found this to be a little under gunned on a local 10%, 3km climb—the ability to order the bike with an 11-30 would be very welcome option.
The 2021 Orca is stiff, rigid and responsive. The factory fitted 28mm tyres help smooth out coarse to rough roads, and the frame offers a degree of forgiveness and compliance. It’s a comfortable bike to ride, one that feels like it’s always on standby and raring to go.
Beautiful attention to detail. The test bike was finished in Orbea’s ‘MyO’ custom paint scheme and featured faultless craftsmanship (should that be crafts‘person’ship). A seriously eye-catching bike.
Value For Money
A noticeable trend over recent years has been the ‘complete package’ factor when it comes to new bikes. At around 8kg this build is just a kilo—less than two bidons—above race weight of a WorldTour bike. It’s a stunning looking bike that punches well above its weight.
FRAME Orbea Orca carbon OMR Disc, monocoque construction
FORK Orbea Orca OMR ICR fork 2021, full carbon
CRANKSET Shimano Ultegra R8000 34x50t
HEADSET Acros Alloy 1-1/2" Internal Cable Routing
HANDLEBAR OC1 Road, reach 80mm, drop 125mm
STEM Orbea ICR -8º
SHIFTERS Shimano ST-8020
BRAKES Shimano R8070 Hydraulic Disc
CASSETTE Shimano Ultegra R8000 11-28t 11-Speed
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Ultegra R8000 GS
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Ultegra R8000
CHAIN Shimano HG 701
WHEELS FULCRUM Racing 700 DB
TYRES Vittoria Rubino IV G2.0 TLR 700x28c
SEATPOST OC2 Carbon
SADDLE Prologo Scratch-M5 Pas T2.0 size 140mm
HANDLEBAR PLUGS Orbea Anti-Slippery/Shock Proof
PRICE From $6999