Back in 2003, Spanish brand, Orbea, launched the first Orca, their flagship carbon steed, now ridden in cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour peloton by the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad.
There have been five iterations since this first machine, garnering Bike of the year awards, Eurobike awards, and even an Olympic gold medal (courtesy of Samuel Sanchez).
The Orca is a monocoque construction used to yield a frame that Orbea claim is 10 per cent lighter and eight per cent stiffer than the previous model. The frame is mixes large diameter tubes with aerodynamic flourishes that include an aero seat-tube and post, seat and chain stays that only flare out towards the drop outs at the last possible moment and internally routed cables. The frame is available set up for DI2 or mechanical groupsets; we have a Campagnolo 11-speed Athena mechanical set up on our test bike.
A press-fit bottom bracket is specified and it is worth mentioning that Orbea have had the foresight to place a small stainless steel plate on the chain stay just inside the chain rings to prevent any damage from dropped chains; a nice detail.
The aforementioned seat post is an in-house carbon affair that utilizes the Selle Italia mono link system. Selle Italia claim lighter weight, more fore/aft adjustment and better strength from this system, one that replaces the traditional twin-railed saddle with a single central mounting point. Our early concern about compatibility with our favourite saddles is allayed by the availability of a conversion kit. Height adjustment is controlled by a Torx fitting; uncommon on road bikes.
Orbea have fitted a tapered carbon steerer, straight-bladed, aero-style fork, that pass very closely around the wheel, before splaying dramatically at the hub. The blades are also paper thin, and end in alloy dropouts (used also at the rear), rather than the full carbon units deployed by other manufacturers with increasing frequency. We’re certainly not prepared to criticise Orbea for placing longevity at the top of their agenda in such a critical area of the bike, and is perhaps a key contributor to the lifetime warranty offered with the Orca.
As mentioned above, our test bike is equipped with a Campagnolo Athena groupset (black, rather than polished alloy). Athena is fourth in line to the Italian manufacturer’s throne and available in electronic form, too. The rolling stock are Mavic’s excellent mid-range Ksyrium Elite S, shod with the French brand’s own Yksion Griplink (front) and Powerlink (rear) rubber – a set-up we’ve been impressed by in other settings.
We’ve dealt with the seatpost above. Other finishing kit includes an FSA K-Force compact carbon handlebar (a pleasant surprise – carbon bars are rarely supplied as standard equipment) and an FSA OS-99 alloy stem equipped with Ti hardware.
The net effect of such an impressively consistent build – full groupset, respected wheelset, third-party groupset and a total absence of unbranded or third-party finishing kit – is an overall weight of 6.8kg. We’re looking forward to seeing if the Orca’s performance matches its specification. Check back soon for a full review.
Size: 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 60
Colour: Blue and black