Posted by: bikenfool | July 9, 2009

New Rooster in the Hen House

The Bike: 2008 Orbea Orca
Size: 51cm
Miles to Date: 100
The Rider: Bikenfool
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 163

From the top…
Spain’s Samuel Sánchez piloted an Orbea Orca to Olympic glory during the road race in Beijing. It boasts stunning good looks and solid tubing has shed enough weight to bring this iteration squarely into the ultra-light category. Now the total package of stiffness, weight and ride quality, help the Orca offer up an outstanding ride. This bike is the real deal. 

Orbea Orca...

Orbea Orca...

The design:
A look at the Orca confirms that aesthetics were high on the designers’ brief. It’s a beautiful machine: organic curves and scolloped tube profiles are neatly set off by clever design touches. The Orca frame is carbon and with a base color band that runs along the main tube to the rear. The head-tube badge acts as a pair of matching cable guides and the dropforged seat clamp is an elegant and simple way of designing out a source of potential weakness on carbon frames. Orbea’s are hand built and have a beautiful finish with a carbon weave that looks spectacular.  

Details...

Details...

Framing it…
But successful bikes have to be more than just pretty and those curvy looks serve a purpose. In fact the curve that runs from the inside of the head tube around the down tube and chainstays then back up along the seatstays and top tube is the ‘Nerve’ in SSN. To be exact it’s the defined outer edge of that curve. Orbea went to a lot of trouble when designing their moulds to get that edge, it adds strength to the frame while the curve allows good load transmission and helps dissipate vibration and shock. Like the tub e profiles the exact shape of the curve is different for each frame size. 

 

Nice Finish...

Nice Finish...

 

The Ride:
The Orbea Orca’s frame design is certainly different from other brands. Orbea may have been able to jack up the stiffness numbers by increasing the tube sizes even more, but the Orca’s moderately oversized pipes feel reassuring solid and the thicker-than-paper tube walls bode well for long-term durability. I have put about a hundred miles on this bike in about a week must say I am impressed. My build is Dura-Ace components including the crank mated to Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. It goes without saying that Dura-Ace components work great. Crisp shifts from the hoods. A solid and positive engagement makes shifting a quick and easy.

Rear clip...

Rear clip...

Handling is reassuring solid overall with neutral manners and good stability at speed. Under power, the Orca is competitively stiff and silky smooth over the horribly rough roads of Cape Cod. Light weight and rigidity notwithstanding, the Orca’s dominant characteristic on the road is its absolutely superb ride quality. Much like that German car, the feel is taut and communicative yet still remarkably comfortable for all-day jaunts.

Bars up...

Bars up...

The brakes are strong and positive gripping hard on the Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. The Mavic wheels are well built and handsome boasting bladed spokes. They have minimum flex and provide a smooth ride. Albeit not the lightest rims out there (1732g) they do work well and look great.

Have a seat...

Have a seat...

The cockpit is spacious and was easy to set-up. The Selle Italia Signg seat is very comfortable and produced no discomfort during extended rides. The ITM carbon stem and bars are general comfortable whether in the drops or on the hoods. However, I am thinking of switching out bars to a compact bend with an 80mm reach with a shallow 125mm drop. Now bear in mind that I am used to riding a Time Trial bike (Cervelo P2c) so I am not used to traditional bars. 

 

Good Looks...

Good Looks...

 

Verdict: a compelling overall package
Orbea has done an excellent job of taking its gorgeous Orca shape and infusing it with more performance to improve its standing in an increasingly competitive market. While not the absolute lightest (my build weighing in at 16.13lb) or stiffest rig out there, the overall package is incredibly compelling and undoubtedly capable in the right hands (or legs).  Sprinting and climbing are a breeze and the bike makes me feel very confident. When something like this is just so flat-out fun and fast to ride, it will be hard to choose which bike to take for the daily ride.

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