Orro Gold STC Dura-Ace road bike - review - Road Cycling UK

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Orro Gold STC Dura-Ace road bike – review

British brand's gran fondo bike impresses with responsive frameset, endurance geometry and top-level spec

The Orro STC Gold is a mix of two animals – an epic ride sportive bike with the genes of a race machine mixed in at its heart through the use of a well-balanced carbon frame lay-up and cutting-edge Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 groupset, though we’d swap in a carbon seatpost to get a little more comfort from the complete build.

We recently took a look at Orro’s 2017 range and it highlighted where the British brand is focused: the sportive market. Instead of bringing rip-roaring aero race machines to the market, owners Ian Wilson and Paul Butler wanted to direct their efforts towards the kind of bikes most cyclists would want to ride all day.

The Gold STC, which is the current flagship frameset, is intended as the ultimate expression of this laudable aim and in this guise, complete with Dura-Ace 9100 and finishing kit which includes Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels, it’s topped only by the Di2 model. As a result, it was a premium ride we were looking for – and a premium ride is what we got.

The Gold STC is British brand Orro’s flagship frame

The frame – British-born carbon and all-day geometry

At the heart of the Gold STC frame is a partnership with Sigmatex, a British-based carbon fibre specialist. Orro have utilised Sigmatex’s spread tow carbon fibre, which gives the Gold its STC suffix and results in the frame’s distinctive layup.

  • Specification

  • Price: £3,499
  • Frame weight: 985g (claimed)
  • Complete bike weight: 7.06kg
  • Sizes: 50cm, 53cm, 55cm, 58cm, 60.5cm
  • Website: Orro Bikes
  • UK distributor: i-ride

In short, STC, which is used throughout the frame, is said to reduce the amount of resin needed to create the Gold, with the intended result to increase stiffness, reduce weight and improve comfort. Claimed weight for the Gold STC frame is 985g, which in this spec makes for a very light build – just 7.06kg.

Indeed, as Orro claimed in our 2017 range overview, the Gold STC frame is “designed to provide race ready responsiveness teamed with all-day comfort – the perfect gran fondo bike, with the layup using more carbon and less resin in its overall makeup.” To be honest, ‘the perfect gran fondo bike’ is a claim we often hear from brands with the latest and greatest endurance frames – look no further than giants Trek and Specialized with the Domane and Roubaix respectively – but the proof is  in the riding.

Anyway, you’ll find the STC layup in the tubing throughout the frame, with the paint job exposing it on the underside of the downtube, toptube, seattube and chainstays, as well as a similar-looking pattern in the fork.

Geometry is key as far the Gold STC is concerned. It may be Orro’s flagship frame but, in line with the brand’s DNA, the Gold’s geometry is aimed at the endurance rider.  For our medium model, that means you get a 554mm toptube and a 174mm headtube, for a stack and reach of 572mm and 384mm respectively. The long 1005cm wheelbase means the bike feels fairly relaxed beneath you, responding to inputs with a calmness and stability, while the 71.4 degree steerer angle pushes the trail forwards to give a relaxed feeling through the front of the frameset.

Downstairs the frame houses a PressFit BB30 bottom bracket, although the frame is relatively slender around the area compared to some race-endurance bikes. If Orro’s claims ring true, the STC layup should help compensate for this. The seatstays also follow this trend and follow a slim design before joining into a flat, leafspring-like shape at the seattube junction.

The ride – gran fondo pedigree with a racy instinct

The one area where the Gold STC really flies is in how it seemingly glides over the road with such little resistance. Naturally, this is partly down to the rolling stock, which we’ll cover more later, but the frame does its part by providing a stiff and responsive platform on which to put the power down.

Reminiscent of bikes with a racier focus, there’s no discernible flex or lag beneath you – a characteristic you might expect more of with a bike that has to distribute power input across a long wheelbase. Instead, on rolling terrain, you can really get down to the business of powering over short climbs out of the saddle, giving the Gold STC a rewarding feeling when you chuck it around beneath you, helped by the low overall weight. The Gold STC may be aimed at the gran fondo market, but it’s ideal for those riders who want to set a quick time.

The long wheelbase naturally means the frame isn’t as immediate in its feedback as pure-race-bred machines, but as soon as you sit down and settle into the all-day kind of riding Orro expect you to do with the Gold STC it sings, effortlessly and smoothly progressing up the climb. No, it’s not all things to all climbers, but it’s a great middleground for the endurance rider.

Orro Gold STC Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 2017 road bike
Orro Gold STC road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Orro Gold STC road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Cornering through the tapered steerer is sharp and informative – but above all isn’t tiring. Some brands can get the front end either feeling too soft and vague or too pointy and harsh, and while the Orro leans towards the stiffer end of the spectrum it is easily manageable. The long trail and wheelbase add the welcome predictability and stability you’d expect from a gran fondo bike but, above all, the handling is lively enough to ensure the Gold STC is a fun but well-mannered partner.

However, it also has the tendency to let some unexpected road vibration get through the rear half of the bike when the surface becomes pimply. At first I thought I’d just happened to find a few particularly poor patches of road on my first ride out and thought nothing of it, but with my senses attuned on subsequent rides, it was a characteristic I couldn’t help but notice that kept on rearing its head over broken tarmac. It’s certainly not unbearable, but it seems over certain textures in the road, the rear end becomes a little flummoxed through the saddle when you compare it to a fully-fledged, comfort-focused endurance bike like the Trek Domane, for example.

It got me thinking, so I swapped out the 3T Stylus seatpost – a perfectly adequate alloy component on its own – for a carbon Canyon VCLS post, and switched the supplied Prologo Kappa Evo saddle for my preferred perch, the Fizik Antares. The additional compliance of the carbon seatpost helped soak up a little more vibration from the road and we’d prefer if the Gold STC were supplied with a similar post, of which 3T make many.

The Gold STC isn’t an uncomfortable frame by any stretch, but it’s not as plush as some of the more endurance-focused competition  – instead, Orro have put together a machine which retains a racy instinct alongside a more relaxed geometry.

The thin seatstays meet in a flat, leafspring-like design

The build – clean-as-a-whistle Dura-Ace 9100

This is the first bike we’ve had to test which sports the new 2017 version of Shimano Dura-Ace, in this case the 9100 mechanical groupset. Shimano claimed at the launch that the new Dura-Ace was all about improving the system as a whole (or ‘system integration’ in their words) with subtle but important tweaks across the board, rather than any headline changes.

To be honest, I marked it down as a little bit of hokum as the Japanese manufacturer bought extra time to decide where to go next with their flagship groupset; namely, to go wireless with the electronic model, or not. Of course, we’re working with the mechanical groupset here and we’ll need more time to deliver a full review, but it’s still given us the opportunity to get to grips with the new Dura-Ace and the changes Shimano have made mean an already superb groupset is better than ever.

Shifts are sublimely smooth and immediate, with a positive and light-to-touch shift action through both levers, and an equally positive and reassuring feel of the chain engaging different sprockets and rings.

The shifter ergonomics have also been redesigned, with a slimmer design, larger shift paddle and textured brake hood. It’s more customisable, too, with a reach adjustment that now spans 14mm rather than the previous ten. Consequently, riders with smaller hands are less likely to feel as if they’re stretching for the brakes and shifters, especially while on the drops.

Orro Gold STC Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
Orro Gold STC road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

It’s also testament to the work Shimano have done that Orro have paired the semi-compact 52-36t chainset with an 11-30t cassette, made possible by R9100’s new longer cage rear derailleur. You still get a little chain rub at the extremities of the gear ratios, but the transmission of power is super smooth throughout the range, even when shifting under duress, and both the front and rear derailleurs do their job without fuss and remarkably smoothly.

Having the range of an 11-30t cassette with the semi-compact rings is very helpful when climbing, giving you a low end similar to that a compact chainset teamed with an 11-28t cassette, except you have that bigger top-end for when you want to get a shift on descents. Following the theme of the bike, it’s an ideal setup for gran fondo riders. Targeting a mountainous sportive? This setup will have you covered. The ratios aren’t too spaced, although the final jump from 27t to 30t is quite a big gap, meaning you tend to treat the 30t as a bailout gear, rather than a natural go-to ratio.

The direct mount brake calipers are also excellent, giving great modulation and feel through the levers while offering a little more clearance than the 9000 predecessors. The Gold STC’s internal routing – which is also capable of taking electronic wiring if you wanted to upgrade in the future – helps keep everything looking clean.

Elsewhere, as we’ve mentioned, the bike is finished with quality, recognisable kit from i-ride’s (Orro’s distributor partner) stable of brands: 3T, Prologo, Fulcrum and Continental. The 3T Ergonova bars are ergonomic as the name suggests, with a wider palm area to support riding on the tops for long periods of time. The wide-arcing drops won’t appeal to everyone – I felt I could’ve done with a slightly more compact shape to make the transition a little easier – but it provides a comfortable position once you are there.

The Orro Gold STC is specced with quality components across the board

One area your money certainly does go on is in the excellent Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset married to Continental Grand Prix 25c rubber. The tyres give good grip and low rolling resistance, but it’s the low weight and ceramic bearings of the hoops that give the setup a touch of class, and help the bike as a whole maintain its momentum as well as it does. Where bigger brands sometimes stick lower-end or own-branded hoops on their bikes to keep costs down, Orro have made sure the rolling stock can do the frameset justice from the outset, with the Racing Zero wheels coming in at £799.99 on their own. As a result, the only ‘upgrade’ in this area might be a cheap set of hoops for when the weather is mucky, just so you can save your nice wheels for the better days.

And, as an aside, you also get a small LED rear light as part of the rear seatpost clamp – a convenient little addition for when your days in the saddle might start or end in gloomy light, or if the weather gets grotty. It’s powered by a small CR1632 coin battery and has two LEDs that can either stay on or flash, with the setting determined by pressing the light itself. It’s not exactly super-bright and not helped by the fact it points slightly downwards, rather than at approaching road users, so I think it’s best used in the dark, rather than mist or fog, but should you forget your lights or get caught out, it’s a decent back-up and a nice nod towards rider safety.

Conclusion

The Orro Gold STC is a great performing bike, and fitted with mechanical Dura-Ace 9100 and the excellent Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels, has a lot going for it at a good price. It rides like a mash-up between a fully-blown endurance bike and a sharp race machine thanks to the stiff, responsive carbon layup and a more relaxed geometry than an all-out racer. It’s a shame the seatpost doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the spec, because it could use a little extra dampening through the rear, but if you have you sights set on a fast, exciting and premium sportive bike, the Gold STC is well worth considering.

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