Orbea Occam 29’er Mountain Bike – Initial Test Report
I first had a look at the twenty nine inch version of Orbea’s Occam at their Basque Country press launch in August and, based on a few hours of riding, was very impressed with the stiffness and suspension performance. A few weeks ago I received a test bike for a longer term test.
The model I am testing is the Occam S10, the top of the range carbon bike with the SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels. Over the last couple of weeks I have racked up plenty of miles, and plenty of vertical kilometers of descending, so read on to find out how I have got on with Orbea’s new 29er.
THE RIDER & TEST CONDITIONS
Some of you who are reading this will have had a mountain bike holiday in the Basque Country with BasqueMTB, but for those who don’t know me, or the trails in this part of Spain, it’s worth giving some information on this area before starting my test report. Trails in the Basque Country and the Pyrenees are generally rough and rocky, with plenty of technical challenges, long descents, and are tough on both the bike and the biker. I weigh in at around 90kg with all my riding gear, am 5’10” and as the main guide at BasqueMTB I ride around 5 or 6 full days a week.
Occam, the top of the range bike with 100mm travel front and rear courtesy of a Kashima coated Fox CTD shock and a Fox FIT 32 fork. The S10 comes equipped with XTR drivetrain and brakes and SRAM’s Rise 60 carbon wheels. I am testing the medium (18.5″) bike.
The bike came with a 90mm stem as standard and I believe Orbea are mistaken in supplying such a long stem on an already long 29″ bike. I found it made the steering too slow and puts too much weight over the front tyre. I changed to a 60mm stem and instantly felt more comfortable, with the bike’s long top-tube ensuring I was still in a fast position and the shorter stem moving my weight back from the fork, letting me move about more and quickening up the steering. Tyler had a similar comment on the 26″ version launched a year prior.
I also replaced the Raceface Next SL seatpost with a Rockshox reverb which makes more sense to me for this type of bike. The Geax AKA tyres were fast and really grippy on dry trails, however winter is coming and when the trails got wet the tyres lacked any bite and made for very scary corners. I replaced the front tyre with a Kenda Nevegal 2.2 and with front end grip restored I felt I was now comfortable on the bike and ready to test out its capabilities.
The S10 version of the Occam really is an undeniably beautiful bike, with clean lines helped by stylish graphics and clever cable routing. The Occam is rated for marathon-type riding, XC and light Enduro / All Mountain and SRAM also state that the SRAM rise 60 carbon wheelset is only intended for XC and Marathon riding. With this in mind I initially only used the Occam for our easier rides, where the Occam felt really fast and capable.
Climbing is really efficient, a product of the low-ish weight, stiff frame, light wheels and lack of bob, meaning that every pedal stroke shoots the bike forward, whether you are in the saddle or standing on the pedals. If I was keeping this bike for long I would remove the remote CTD lever from the bars, it is just in the way and I only feel the need to use it on long road climbs. On swoopier trails the bike is very quick through the corners, helped by it’s low center of gravity and efficient suspension, and it accelerates quickly as you pump through the curves making it a really fun bike to ride.
After a few rides on easier trails I felt that I wasn’t using the full potential the Occam and wasn’t giving it the thorough test that I wanted to. So, carefully at first, I started using it for more technical rides. This is where the Occam really impressed me. The 29″ wheels smooth out the bumps and, despite its low weight, the Occam maintains momentum through rough sections. The suspension is really efficient, definitely letting you feel what is happening on the trail but finding grip in rougher corners and giving enough control to pick accurate lines. There is no getting away from the fact that there is only 100mm of travel between you and the rocks meaning that you need to pump and work the bike in the rougher sections, and inevitably there are times when you run out of travel. However, the progressive shock rate ensures that this doesn’t happen often.
One huge factor in how fun this bike is to ride is the low bottom bracket, giving the bike great stability through the corners, albeit at the expense of a few pedal strikes at first. The other big factor in the ride of the bike is it’s stiffness and I really like the fact that Orbea haven’t aimed for a super lightweight bike but instead have built the Occam to be tough and stiff. This makes the Occam track well in rough terrain. It does sometimes get knocked off line as you would expect from a light, short travel bike, but the deviation from my intended path wasn’t due to frame flex. The stiffness of the Occam 29er undoubtably contributes to that slightly unscientific feeling that the Occam is a strong bike.
It is worth quickly mentioning the stiff and light SRAM RISE 60 wheelset which has shrugged off anything I throw its way, and to be honest I haven’t been taking it easy. The graphics on the rims have a few marks from rock strikes but, as far as I can tell, the rims themselves are still perfect and I really like the quick engaging but nearly silent freehub which feels of a quality commensurate with the steep price tag!
Over the next few weeks I will continue to test the Occam on some of my bigger days out. I have the bike set up exactly as I want it so I won’t make any more changes but I want to see how reliable the bike and wheelset are. Towards the end of the test period I will also try to get some time on the 120mm forked, aluminium Occam 29 H30X to compare how this longer travel, more affordable Occam rides.
SPEC AND HIGHLIGHTS
- Weight as tested: 12.35kg, (27lbs)
- Weight before my changes: 11.35kg, (25lbs)
- Fork: FOX 29 FIT 32
- Shock: FOX CTD BV SV Remote Kashima
- Wheelset: SRAM 29 RISE 60
- Other Parts: XTR everything with Race Face Turbine flat bars.
- Head Angle: 70 degrees
- Chainstays: 445mm
- Top Tube effective length: 612mm
- BB Drop: 44mm
- BB Height: 326mm
The Occam is available to buy from Orbea’s website. Prices range from $6,999 for the S10 down to $2,599 for the aluminium H30.