As most high-end bicycle manufactures outsource product engineering, Orbea demonstrates a rare paradigm of in-house engineering. By conducting all engineering within the walls of their Basque foundation, Orbea is able to relentlessly tweak until perfection is met. Orbea has repeatedly placed the Orca frame under the loupe and scalpel in an intensive operation to trim weight from its already insanely lightweight frame. while not sacrificing strength or ride quality. To accomplish this, Orbea reshaped or simply removed any design features from the preceding Orca frame that proved trivial to stiffness and ride quality, resulting in thinner seat stays and reduced cross-sections and tube diameters to provide graceful support for the seat tube and nothing more. One visually noticeable weight reducing difference is the traditional seat collar that replaces the aero collar of past. The seat tube now employs a square-round shaping that places material only where it is needed, while the 27.2mm seatpost tenders the lowest weight and plushest ride.
Not all cross sections and diameters went under the shrinking ray. The 2018 Orca displays massive tube cross-sections in the critical bottom bracket junction via a wide PF86 bottom bracket shell, as the headtube, downtube, and chainstays have been given larger diameters to work seamlessly together to resist twist and more efficiently convert pedal strokes to watts. The meeting place of top tube and head tube have been beefed up to increase torsional stiffness, but doesn’t hesitate to taper as a means of eliminating unnecessary material. Where the Orca frame really goes the extra step to save weight is through its EPS construction process. By compressing the carbon more efficiently in the mold, the EPS construction process eliminates pooling and variation inside the tubes, using less material and further increasing strength.
Borrowing ride quality concepts from their World Cup Winning Alma mountain bike, Orbea implements them directly into the Orca. After doing some homework on the way bumps and vibrations are transmitted through the frame under a rider’s weight, Orbea was able to create a carbon layup that entails natural flex patterns to greatly smoothen the ride out, even if it’s over, dare we say, cobbles. Exerting a long, hard effort to the finish line is an inevitable sacrifice thats often made in the sport of road racing, but having every joint in your body rattled around on the way there is something the Orca sees differently.
As Orbea’s dedicated race horse, the Orca occupies their revamped geometry and fit philosophy. The phrase “race geometry” can often produce assumptions of merely a steeper head angle and a smaller wheelbase. As these are true in the Orca, Orbea didn’t stop there. The distances between axles drop allow for a snappier bike that take corners with ease and has exceptional footing when you standup out of the saddle and kick, conserving both time and power at the same time. Additionally, Orbea’s sizing system puts a heavy emphasis on stack and reach, versus the much more common effective top tube measurement. Stack and reach are more truthful measurements because they define the spatial relationships of two important contact points between your body and the bike; pedals and handlebars. Stack is the vertical distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the headtube. Reach is the horizontal distance from the center of the bottom bracket to that same point at the top center of the headtube. Orbea’s logical sizing allows the Orca to accommodate a wider range of riders and aligns with a more linear size progression. A lower stack and longer reach give the Orca a more aerodynamic position that’s consistent across all size options for a more efficient use of energy for short riders, tall riders, and any rider in between.
The Orca M20 Team model features Orbea’s OMR (Orbea Monocoque Race) carbon fiber construction. OMR represents Orbea’s top tier frames, utilizing the most the most meticulous blend of high-modulus, low and standard carbon fiber to reach an optimum balance of performance, durability, and weight. This works out to create an ultra-lightweight frame with a veracious appetite for racing. Pair the race-hungry OMR carbon fiber Orca frameset with Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9100 11 speed mechanical drivetrain, FSA’s cockpit build, and Mavic’s fast and reliable set of hoops, and you’ve got a lightweight, and aggressive steed that’ll see you through the offseason base miles and then happily toe the line come early spring.
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