Orbea Occam 29′er Mountain Bike – Initial Test Report

Riding the Orbea Occam in the Basque Country

Riding the Orbea Occam in the Basque Country

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

orbea occam test

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.

BIKE DETAILS

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.

orbea occam test

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.

Orbea Occam Review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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!

Orbea Occam Review

NEXT STEPS

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.

Comments

ascar larkinyar - 11/27/12 - 2:04pm

meh………single pivot heavyish old design frame. millions already out that are cheaper, lighter. why bother.

bigrider - 11/27/12 - 3:34pm

Really? A 60mm stem and a dropper post on a cross-country bike? Should have had a cross-country rider review this bike, not someone who is clearly only focused on all-mountain. Also, WHY are you posting weight AFTER you’ve changed components? Nobody cares what you put on it after you’ve bought it…

Xizor - 11/27/12 - 3:44pm

@ascar larkinyar: Where do you see a single pivot? Isn’t the Occam’s suspension similar to Split Pivot and Trek’s FullFloater?

And care to share which carbon 29er FS-frame is lighter AND cheaper?

Saris - 11/27/12 - 4:10pm

@Big Rider

There are weights listed for both the stock and modified configurations.

The modifications Basque Doug made are totally reasonable. They’re the first things a trail oriented rider would need to make . Leave the 90mm stem on your road bike and put some real knobbies on your dirt rig. It’s good to know what the bike would weigh when reasonably set up by your average rider.

@Basque

Does Orbea also spec super narrow bars with that super long stem?

Dan - 11/27/12 - 5:12pm

hate to say it but when did a 90mm stem become superlong? I remember running a 135mm stem on my first good XC bike.

G... - 11/27/12 - 5:38pm

…what’s wrong with a single pivot? A good SP mated to a good suspension system is bombproof, light and flawless. To believe otherwise is just parroting marketing department hype.

*Disclaimer* Not saying there are not ‘better’ systems around but looking down one’s nose at something that’s been proven to work tirelessly for years, and fits the needs of the vast amount of real world riders out there, is ignorant.

Chris - 11/27/12 - 7:02pm

Really a 90mm stem too long? It is a XC race bike – name one World Cup racer in XC that uses a 60mm stem and dropper post? This review is a complete fail.

Alan - 11/27/12 - 9:52pm

I noticed he was wearing baggies and had a visor on his helmet. XC riders moan away. but really, 27 lbs for a top end XC carbon bike is a little too much churn for the butter, if you catch my drift

MulletRacer - 11/28/12 - 12:11am

90mm stems are short unless you are a midget.

BasqueDoug - 11/28/12 - 1:33am

Guys, where to start… The Occam isn’t Orbea’s XC race bike, for that you want the Oiz. You can see the Oiz here: http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/08/27/sneak-peek-catherine-pendrels-wc-winning-orbea-oiz-mountain-bike-prototype/

I’m not an XC racer. But that’s OK, the Occam is rated for XC –> Light Enduro. I am using it for pretty much the whole range of that spectrum. I generally get through a couple of hundred km of offroad riding with several thousand meters of climbing every week so don´t worry, the bike is going up plenty of hills. Of course I´m going down them as well.

For me the 90mm stem is too long. The top tube on the Occam is long and I feel that the bike is a lot more balanced with a 60mm stem. No, you won´t find a short stem on many XC race circuits but that´s not what this bike is designed for or what I´m using it for. Similarly with the dropper post.

On the weight. The Occam arrived at 25lbs including pedals. I rode it like that and enjoyed it but prefered it after making some changes. If you think 27lbs is too heavy for what you want to use the bike for then you could also ride it at 25lbs. The Geax tyres didn´t cope well with the mud and I put on some heavy Kendas I had in the garage but you could find a lighter tyre with more aggressive knobs if you wanted to and keep the weight closer to 25lbs. There are lighter 29″ Carbon bikes out there but like I said in my review “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”.

Saris, thanks for the comments. No, the bars are a really nice width, they are 670mm according to the spec sheet. I´ll measure them today to check that they are that width and post if different.

I hope that answers some of your questions and criticisms of the review. I´ll be out riding the Occam today but will check back this evening and answer anything else.

Bill - 11/28/12 - 1:34am

I agree with both the stem/dropper comments and weight. I live in the Midwest, where short travel and hardtail 29ers reign supreme. On a medium bike, which is the size I ride (5’9″) I run a 100mm stem turned down with a low rise or flat bar. I am put off by all these Cali Boys trying to turn CC race bikes into AM bikes. Not all bikes are Trail/AM bikes. This is a “race” bike ( too heavy but whateve). Leave race parts on it. If you want to review a AM bike, get one. Don’t bastardize a CC bike to do something its not meant to do. BTW if its over 24lbs, its not a top tear race bike FYI. Don’t care what it has on it, the frame is too heavy!

Xizor - 11/28/12 - 3:19am

@Bill and others:

You can easily make a 100mm FS 29er a decent trail bike (not AM though) by using a shorter stem, wider riser bars and a dropper post. I have a Anthem 29 X with 60 mm stem, Easton Haven bars and a Reverb and it really is a good trail bike!

Also how on earth do you see the Occam as a pure race bike? The geometry certainly does not seem to be made for just XC- racing? (70 degrees HA, short chainstays, steep SA and support for 120mm fork)

And about the weight, Orbea says Occam frame weights 5.1 pounds. (probably size M) Could you tell me how many FS 29er frames are there which are lighter by a margin? Trek’s new Super Fly is in a league of its own but I would take a stiff 5.1 pound frame any day over a slightly lighter flexy-as-shit frame!

BasqueDoug - 11/28/12 - 8:30am

Just to add that the bars are 700mm.

Nicholas - 11/28/12 - 11:05am

@basquedoug don’t pay any mind to all the negative comments from the XC wannabes who only care about how light their bike is and how fast they can get to the top of a climb. Shortish stem and a dropper is a recipe for good times on the trail. The way I see it is, XC obsessive rider is focused on the finish line and nothing else. Kind of like a lot of roadies and tri geeks.

Enjoy the ride!

ascar larkinyar - 11/28/12 - 12:48pm

@Xizor

try riding a few bikes designed in “this” century.

single pivot= bobbing suspension while pedaling if you set it up to have fast enough small bump compliance. or no bobbing while pedaling and horrible too stiff, might as well be rigid suspension.

even with a fancy “brain” barley works, it still does the same thing. isolating pedaling and braking forces thru design, not shock correction, is where we have gotten to today. this manufacture is trying to save money and only pay for an outdated design which is cheaper for them to copy.

and yes trek, specialized, cannodale, divinci, etc…. in fact most manufactures came out lighter in their carbon frames.

my comment was in reference to why come out “now” with a old flawed design in a over saturated market of better bikes?

Xizor - 11/28/12 - 1:46pm

@ascar larkinyar

It’s obvious that you haven’t got a clue about suspension design. The Occam is clearly a small evolution to the 4-bar (or Horst-link) design with the rear pivot at the axle like Trek’s Superfly. So basically if you call the Occam single pivot then every 4-bar design including Specialized would be single pivot??

As for outdated design at least they are trying something new to them. Cannondale and Specialized for one have been using the same crappy stoneage suspension design for ages.

Still I think the top-3 designs are DW-Link, Maestro and Niner’s CVA, but it would be interesting to test the Occam…

G... - 11/28/12 - 2:11pm

I PROMISED myself only one comment on this…. but there you go.

@Xizor: “As for outdated design at least they are trying something new to them. Cannondale and Specialized for one have been using the same crappy stoneage suspension design for ages.”

And therein lies the heart of the problem, only perpetuated be the endless marketing drivel of the industry. Last time I checked, cars, motorcycles and pretty much everything else has been using the “same crappy stoneage suspension design” for ages as well. Probably because… they work.

@ascar larkinyar: “single pivot= bobbing suspension while pedaling if you set it up to have fast enough small bump compliance. or no bobbing while pedaling and horrible too stiff, might as well be rigid suspension.”

Simple BS. I am riding a SP system that is nothing like this.

As one of the eminent suspension designers in the industry has said to me, and I would agree, suspension design is tapped out. The next step will only happen when electronics become commonplace.

Xizor - 11/28/12 - 2:40pm

@G..

You really can’t compare motor vehicle suspension to mtb suspension since the latter must be much more efficient. Otherwise a single pivot would be all that is needed ;-)

But you are right that the suspension design evolution could be at it’s peak and there might not be anything revolutionary in the near future.

bin judgin' - 11/28/12 - 10:58pm

internet bikers GOOO!!!!!

g - 11/29/12 - 9:09am

hey bill from the midwest: why don’t you go ahead and tell us all about how you ca’t use this trailbike to ride mtb trails and have fun with it, because it’s an ‘xc race bike’. go pedal in circles in the woods.

Fdub - 12/04/12 - 5:35pm

The Occam is not an XC race bike.
The Occam does not use a single-pivot design.
90mm isn’t a long stem.

Thanks @Xizor for bringing some sense to the table

@BasqueDoug – good answers, get ready for 100 more ignorant questions/comments.

sbrdude1 - 10/23/14 - 3:46pm

I have owned this frame since march of this year and I love it. Currently I have it set up with a 70mm 90deg EA90 stem with 785mm Raceface SIXC low rise bars and a 120mm Fox Factory CTD. I was originally on a SC TB 1 and while it was a fun light bike the TT was far to short for a large and the VPP suspension would pack into it’s travel horribly on climbs and well as bottom out on hard turns. The new bike, Orbea Occam 29 Carbon in size large is a mix between a Trek superfly and Fuel EX with a longer TT. I have a dropper post (Specialized Blacklight Command Post 100mm) and Roval Control Carbon 29s with a mix of XX and XO. In the aforementioned setup the weight is just under 26lbs and I’m running 2 Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 29×3 tires. For local rides I have a custom set of http://www.light-bicycle.com wheels with Bontrager XR1 tires and the weight drops to 25.5lbs. When I put on my Romin Pro saddle with CF KHS seat post the weight drops to the low 24lb range. If I eventually go 1×11 it will drop more (250g average). The large with remote and stock QR and head set came in at 5.64lbs on my scale. The split pivot suspension system climbs much better than my Tallboy and takes rock gardens in a more composed fashion. I have almost 2k miles on it this year so far and like with every new bike I purchase it is far better than all of the previous ones.

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