Review: Orbea Ordu Triathlon / Time Trial Bike
Apples and oranges: both fruit but clearly disparate. The Orbea Ordu and any other time trial bike are all TT bikes nonetheless, but after riding it, I’d say the Ordu is certainly in a league of its own.
Tyler covered the launch of the new Orbea Ordu at PressCamp last year. Following the show I was sent the Ordu to train and race on, and then give my honest opinion in regards to its overall performance, component specs, and price point. You know, the whole sha-bang, so that those looking to buy an Ordu will have honest answers to their questions before they shell out $7999.99 (or thereabouts).
The bike is about 96% carbon and 4% other stuff (cables, titanium, ceramic, etc). Weighing in at a very light 17.6lbs, this ride was a light, stiff rocket under my butt.
There are those that can hop on a bike, any bike, $100 or $8000 and ride as if it’s an extension of their body. Not me. I suppose it is due to my interestingly proportioned body (long appendages and squished torso), and on the first ride I wasn’t so sure this bike was going to live up to the hype, or the price tag.
Did it? Hit ‘more’ to see if the Ordu redeemed itself, and get the tech specs and lots of photos…
2011 ORBEA ORDU – FRAME DETAILS AND WEIGHTS
The Orbea Ordu, as tested, retails for $7,999 and comes with a complete SRAM Red groupset, which is (my opinion) undoubtedly one of the best groupos on the market. The wheels are Reynolds Strike 66cm carbon clinchers. The tech specs are below followed by a more in-depth description of the whole “sha-bang”.
- Crankset: SRAM Red 39 x 53 (11-26 cassette)
- Handlebars/aerobars: Profile Design Cobra T2+
- Stem: Orbea Carbon Zeus
- Shifters: SRAM Red R2C Aero Shifters
- Brakes: SRAM Red
- Front derailleur: SRAM Red
- Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
- Chain: SRAM PC 1090
- Wheels: Reynolds Strike 66cm Carbon Clinchers
- Rear cogs: SRAM OG-1090 11-26 10S
- Seat post: Orbea Ordu Carbon 74/76
- Saddle: Selle Italia SLR T1
Weight is 7.98kg / 17lb 9oz.
The nose cone is heavily shaped (as is the entire frame) to slice into the air and streamline its flow around it. Yes, we trimmed the cables more before riding it.
The Ordu has an interrupted seat tube design that arcs the frame around the rear wheel. Rear-opening sliding dropouts (below), let you push the wheel as close as you’re willing to get it.
The seatpost has a diamond shape that mirrors the hard angles of the frame. cap bolts onto the frame (right), which clamps the post at the desired height.
Two mounting positions at the seat clamp offer a 74º or 76º effective seat angle.
Unlike some triathlon/TT bikes, the brakes aren’t hidden into the frame, although they don’t protrude too much.
The bottom bracket junction is fairly large, with the downtube flaring out to the width of the BB shell and the chainstays continuing almost straight backward from that width.
HOW’S IT RIDE?
As I mentioned, some people can just grab their size bike off the rack and toe the start line. Unfortunately, my proportions push me toward custom, but my budget and the budgets of most of my friends mean pret a porter. So, after Tyler built it up, I made an appointment at my favorite local bike shop when the bike first arrived to have everything tuned up and a professional fit kit done. I rode it a few times before the fit and could honestly say that I was disappointed since I was expecting this sucker to pedal my legs while I sat there looking fast and cool. After the fit, I began to understand this whole “extension of one’s’ body” thing. I did have to switch out the saddle to an Adamo since the Selle Italia felt like I had a piece of metal wedged into my crotch. Everything else was kept as noted.
So, how did it compare to other TT bikes that I have ridden? The most surprising performance feature was how I felt climbing. It is well known that TT bikes are not good climbers and most triathletes complete a substantial amount of training on their road bikes and opt to race on a road bike if the bike leg is on a hilly course. In fact, my prior “tri” bike was an Orbea road bike kitted out with aero bars. But the Ordu tackled many a hill, and I passed many a cyclist up many a hill. Sure, the rider has something to do with it but it far surpasses the geometry of any other TT bike when it comes to climbing. Note to triathletes: have a hilly race coming? The Ordu is your answer.
Having an aerodymanic focus, one would expect this bike to lack in absolute stiffness. Not true. Between the SRAM Red components and the design and quality of carbon used to build the frame, very little energy and power get away unused. The vibrations caused by bumps, potholes, and rough asphalt is severely diminished without any major affects on speed. In addition, shifting is as smooth as butter resulting in immediate energy transfer: body to legs to pedals to road. Close to nada is lost when going from one gear to the next.
It is also noted that TT bikes don’t “handle” as well as road bikes. Turns are taken with more caution and swerving is always apparent due to the unique headset of TT bikes. The Ordu handled with precision. And once I got over the “price tag” shock I realized that this bike is a lot more durable than it appears. Thankfully, since I rode it on just about every version of asphalt or concrete I could.
Aerodynamics: the website touts that this bike was built to be as aerodynamic as a bike can be without having a negative affect on stiffness. However, this is where I fail to offer a complete review. When considering aerodynamics you must factor in the body type of the rider, the position the rider is when pedaling the bike, the clothes the rider is wearing, the helmet the rider is wearing, the flexibility of the rider, etc. Yes, the bike is a major factor however, it is difficult to notice when so many bikes these days are built with common aerodynamic properties.
Negatives: There weren’t many. However, the biggest complaint I have in regards to the Ordu is the shape of the top tube. My medial femoral condyles/medial epicondyles (the part of my knee joint that is closest to the bike) are consistently fashioned with bruises. The top tube is so wide the when I pedal I frequently hit the inside of my knees to the frame. Something that I am sure can be adjusted with awareness. But when you are racing in a tri, clipping down the road at 22-24mph, awareness is on speed and positioning, not how my knees feel when they hit the frame.
My experience in a nutshell: Subjective feedback…confidence at races or while training increased tenfold. Knowing that I was riding on a superior piece of equipment somehow changed the way I felt about my own capabilities. I put in the arduous and dedicated training but knew that I would be supported by an exceptional bike. Is it worth $7000 to $8000 is the question I know that everyone wants the answer to…and I can only give you an ambiguous answer. That is something you must ask yourself. Is absolute superior and precise performance from a bike your top priority? Are you willing to dedicate your time and efforts to 100% focused training and racing? Are you willing to sacrifice comfort for speed?
I had a professional fit kit done and the bike is now built to be an extension of me but it is not always comfortable. I’m in this sport to be the best I can and to win races. I’m in it for speed. In other words, this probably isn’t the only bike you should have for regular riding, but it’s the only bike you need for winning races.
Semi-objective feedback…did my times improve? Yes, by at least 1mph in most races, sometimes 2mph. Did my legs feel ready to run fast off the bike? Yes. Is all of this due to the Ordu? Perhaps, but I am not one to cut corners in training or when I race. I give it all I have got once the gun goes off. All in all, I put about eight months on this bike during the review and when it came time to ship it back, I ended up buying it from them instead. That should tell you everything.